THE MAN OF SMALL DETAILS

‘Two Talking’ [2014] Clara Adolphs

Over and over again for two years, Lucia had seen him climb the empty stairs at night, walking steadily toward the hospital office where she was comfortably installed, absorbed in her reading, drowning in smoke and coffee, waiting for him to arrive. A tormented soul in need of help and medicine.

She had learned to recognise the footsteps of her friend, Mr. Alejandro, and when she saw him enter, she got up to shake hands with that man who “by force of destiny clung to solitude, without remedy and with consolation.”

Her friend Alejandro always told her that she had the faculties of a medium. On those occasions, Lucia answered him: “Yes, I serve as an intermediary between sanity and madness,” and he laughed. It was her destiny — she thought — to have a friend of that age, almost half a century older, a talkative friend, half visionary, a man with a great philosophy of life who understood her impatience as a young man would, but who scolded her like a father.

Perhaps, she mused, if he had been her father, they would not have communicated so well. Her father was not a great conversationalist, in fact he was ignorant of the art; he was pragmatic, he looked at things from a functional point of view.

Her mother, on the other hand, was an insightful conversationalist. She knew how to enjoy the company of people, she knew how to laugh at herself and make others laugh with her poignant black humour.

Her father — such a busy man, so preoccupied and always so eager for new and more complicated concerns. Her mother — so jovial, so eager to say goodbye to obligations and ties. When she saw her parents together, who were so different, she thought: “This is life, one always surrounds oneself with the opposite, as if to counteract oneself, as if bartering with destiny.”

Lucia had talked about this with her friend. Tenderness was drawn on his face and she felt sad because the memories were suddenly piling up in her head. A feeling of emptiness took hold of her at the thought that her father would die and the abyss between them would still be there. Inert. Without solution.

Human relationships can be so difficult. She thought it was a hopeless relationship because both she and her father were hiding from each other. It was stubbornness and intransigence.

With Mr. Alejandro, the relationship was very different. He was a friend and not a father, after all! He had a broad concept of people’s decisions, he was not authoritarian. He liked to talk and when they sat down to talk in the office there was an atmosphere of security and human warmth — after being in a cold world like the one on the street, where disappointments abound.

Mr. Alejandro was the man of small details. He was an inveterate idealist and a perfectionist. An observer and a very analytical being who constantly made an effort to understand, to help, to accompany — to delve into the small but important things in life. To enjoy the beautiful and pleasant and get away from what caused him discomfort and pain. And above all, he strived every day to be a better person.

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com