It was a Friday in June, the last day of school before the long-awaited vacation. And like every weekday, my father came to my room at 5.30 in the morning to wake me up because of my lack of will to get up only with the sound of an alarm. I did not feel tired, despite the fact that the night before I had been watching Russian film that my teacher had sent as homework, but I also did not feel very energetic, just normal, as if I had awakened from a afternoon nap.
After brushing my teeth, taking a bath, and putting on the uniform of the private school I attended, I went to the kitchen to wait for my father to come out of his room. I had my arms on the black counter in the kitchen while I was checking Facebook notifications on my phone, and I was listening to my mother, who was keeping a call with a distant aunt. They spoke of the recent and unexpected death of my uncle, who five days ago had entered the hospital with pains in the chest and difficulty breathing and had left in a coffin, before the astonished gaze of my aunts and cousins. My mother told my aunt how confused she was, she could not believe that she still had on the table the medicines that the doctor had prescribed for my uncle. I did not notice sadness in his voice, but a mixture of tiredness and stress.
Suddenly my father left the room. I said goodbye to my mother, who answered me with a sign while holding the phone with the other hand, and we left the apartment to go to the car.
The journey to school was routine, with the same blue light that in the morning seems to emanate from the sky, the street, people, animals and all the other components of a town. When we arrived at school I said goodbye to my father, got out of the car and went through the small white metal door.
I spent the whole morning in what I call automatic pilot, without being able to fully concentrate on any of the subjects (in which there was no more content to be given), with a scattered mind, thinking that in less than a month and a half I would leave my country to move to another continent. At 1.30 p.m. I left my last hour of classes and called my mother to come for me, but she did not answer me, she was probably busy with the paperwork to get my passport, I thought. So I asked Juan, a classmate who lived near my house, if his father could take me: - Sure, he's about to arrive - he answered me.
After about thirty minutes his father came looking for us. He had an old Toyota Samurai of a pale red color worn by the sun, with yellowish headlights that seemed to have more decades than the high school in which he studied. The interior was completely messy, full of papers, dirt and tools; It was the car of someone who works the land. Juan climbed forward in the passenger seat and I climbed back, trying to make a gap between everything in the seat. When I managed to sit down, his father took off, and looking at me in the rearview mirror, asked me if I was in a hurry, without thinking I answered no.-I just have to go to Rincon Moreno first. -
No problem. -I replied.
Rincon Moreno was a rural place, where there were many farms frozen in time that seemed to be taken from a nineteenth-century agronomy book. It was about thirty minutes from the town where we lived, so I thought about text my mother to let her know that I would be late for launch. But when I pulled out the phone, the first thing I saw on the screen was the brand's logo, indicating that battery was dead. So I told Juan to lend me his, since the last thing I needed before the holidays was a punishment from my mother, but his phone had no signal, we were on the road and from that area it was practically impossible to communicate. I resigned myself to seeing the trees through the window, thinking about how I was going to explain to my mother the reason for my delay.
After almost forty minutes, we arrived at a small farm surrounded by trees in the middle of the field. Juan's father got out without saying anything and entered the humble house that was in the middle of the plot, while his son and I remained silent inside the truck. After five minutes, due to the heat, Juan got off to get some air, and as I had nothing to do, because my phone was dead, I got off too.
While we were throwing rocks at a gigantic mango tree, Juan began to tell me what his father was doing at that place: "It's Mr. Carbelis's house, he has heart disease and my father helps him to vaccinate the little cattle that he has remains. He has no children and his wife is almost as old as he ...
At that time I was much less empathetic than I am today. I felt cheated on the part of religion, since I had lost my uncle a few years after the death of my grandmother without any apparent explanation. For that reason, I declared me an atheist and renounced everything that had some sentimentality. Because of this, the story that Juan told me about the man who lived on that farm did not have any kind of effect on me at first, and I say at first because just when Juan pronounced the last word his father called us with a shout- Boys, come and say hello.
When I turned I saw Juan's father, who was a man of about two meters, next to another who seemed almost the same height but bent to the point that seemed to measure little more than half. He had a long white beard and golden skin, tanned by the sun. His gray eyes seemed to be full of stories and a straw hat showed gray hairs, I thought I was seeing a winemaker recently arrived from the slopes of Vesuvio in the middle of the Venezuelan western plains. Suddenly, he coughed and crouched even more, but as fast as he hunched over, he straightened up almost completely and sat on a blue and white wicker chair. When his chest was visible I could see a huge scar that extended vertically from the base of the throat to below the sternum.
We present ourselves with a strong handshake. While Don Carbelis was talking, I listened attentively to everything he said, even his voice seemed to have been taken from a 1950s vinyl, velvety and husky at the same time.
He told us how things had changed since his youth, when he grew corn in his land and went to the city to sell it to earn a living; now he could not cultivate anything, because thieves stole the whole crop, and going to the police was a joke. This, combined with the incredible difficulty of getting the medicines prescribed by the doctor who came to see him twice a month, consumed his life little by little. He had suffered two heart attacks, and a surgery in which he nearly died. We talked for twenty minutes, while Juan's father vaccinated the cows of the old farmer one by one. Although perhaps talking is lacking in truth, since the man could not link more than ten words without pausing to place a hand on his chest and recover.
I saw Juan's father, who had finished vaccinating the last cow, and I could see how his eyes became glassy when we started to say goodbye. Carbelis thanked him and told him that it had been a pleasure to see him again, he explained that he said goodbye in that way because without his benazepril (the medicine that his heart desperately needed) he did not know how much longer he would be able to endure. -Give your wife greetings from me. - He said, to then say goodbye to Juan, his father and me with a handshake as strong as the one he had given us minutes before. I was witnessing how a man in his 70s accepted his death as imminent and irremediable, and all for not being able to get a medicine that two years ago I could have obtained in a pharmacy ten minutes from my house. Then we left the house to get on the Samurai and go back to town. In deep silence.
I was greatly shocked by that farewell, so much that I had forgotten that my mother did not know where I was, and that she would probably be furious with me when I got home. With this in mind, I borrowed the phone from Juan to give signs of life to my mother as soon as I found a little coverage. So I did, my message was simple and concise: "I'm Alejandro, I'm with Juan and his father, we went Rincon Moreno and that's why we take so long, I'm on my way ". I sent it with the hope that it would not call me furious back, but to my surprise not only did it not call, but it also answered with an "OK, I leave the food on the table."
I was another forty minutes of trip back to the town, plus another ten minutes from the center to the urbanization where I lived, convincing me that my assumption was not wrong:" God did not exist "and the situation that poor man was going through Man, who added to the death of my grandmother and my uncle and countless other barbarities that passed every day in the world, verified it.
When we got to the urbanization I got off the Samurai, I said goodbye to Juan and I thanked his father, who despite having said goodbye to a great friend for perhaps the last time almost an hour ago, gave me a smile and He dismissed cordially to later make a 180 degree turn and leave. I approached the pedestrian door of the development and with a whistle I let the guards of the booth, which was about five meters from the door, know that I was there and that I needed the door to open. One of them poked his head with a black cap out the window and saw me, then the latch of the door moving made an electric sound, I pushed the door and entered. When passing in front of the gate, I thanked the guard, who answered me with a "see you later".
When I got to the door of my house I took out my keys, and while I was looking for the right one for the white iron door, I heard that they opened the second wooden door from the inside. It was my mother, opened the metal door and entered. I was surprised to find no hint of anger on his face, but I was even more surprised that he continued with his pajamas on.
-Blessing."God bless you, son." His voice was the most calm. There's the food, I made mashed potatoes.
The hunger was killing me, so I sat down to eat at the black kitchen counter without paying much attention to why my mother was not mad at me and I focused on her pijamas.
"And those clothes? I thought you were with the passport." I began to eat.- No, I was sleeping all morning, I felt bad - sat in front of me and began to send messages from the phone. And what did you do?
I told him only the basics, without going into much detail since I've never been the kind of person who engages in long conversations with his parents. But for some strange reason, which I still do not know today, when I was telling my mother about Mr. Carbelis' situation, tears started coming out of my eyes. My mother noticed and asked me what was wrong, we were both surprised. I did not feel sad, I do not really remember having any specific emotion, but there I was, crying as I told my mother the story of a man I had just met and who was living an hour from my house, between of the field. My mother got up and grabbed my face, I told her I was fine, but suddenly she started crying too. Apparently, what I was telling him had affected him, and when he saw me cry, he exploded. He sat down and wiped away his tears with a napkin. Then I continued telling him the story of that poor man, and it happened: at that moment, from my mouth came the name of the medicine for the impossible heart, Benazepril. I stopped short when I said it, because I did not even know I remembered the name (I've always had a terrible memory), and when I looked up I found my mother with her eyes like saucers fixed on me. Without a word he got up from the chair, and passing behind me, went to the cupboard, where besides the food we kept the medicines too.
He sat down again and put three boxes of pills on the table.
Immediately I picked up my mother's phone, looked for Juan's number in the message history and called him. In less than ten minutes his father was at the entrance of the development.
That night I could not sleep. I felt the most ignorant and arrogant person on the face of the earth for having blindly assumed that there is nothing more than what can be seen and touched. That event was like a ray of light entering the cave of Plato in which my life had become. And although it did not make me believe in God or in destiny, at least it made me stop denying the existence of both.
The fact that the last day of school (which could have been missed perfectly) my mother did not answer my call, and had to ask for the first time a neighbor (with whom he almost did not speak) to take me, and that his father had to go that same day to a place to which I only knew by ear, and also in that place was a man dying because of the absence of a medicine that I had in my house, it could not be a mere coincidence. It seemed that everything had been destined to happen at the right moment, from the sudden death of my uncle to the sudden sudden lucidity I had when I remembered the name of the medicine.
A week later Juan wrote to me. He told me that Don Carbelis had started the treatment again, those medicines would be enough for another two months, enough time to wait for a new operation that he would undergo, and that he had also sent me a bag with eggs from his own hens in thank you I felt that my life had served a much greater purpose than anyone could have imagined. Two days later I went to the entrance of the urbanization to pick up the blue plastic bag that contained the eggs, and when I touched it I felt that there was something else. Some people call it God, other destiny and other chance. I did not find any word that defined it.