Mr. K.P. is a neurosurgeon. Despite his relatively young age (only 47), he is considered the leading doctor in his country. For him, there are no working hours, schedule or public holidays. He’s treated an array of patients and, if there is something he is proud of, it is his guaranteed success rate: nearly 90%!
Today had been a difficult day. He had just finished a long operation— a brain tumour almost no doctor would have taken the risk of operating on. But Mr. K.P. didn’t just take the risk – he managed to save the patient’s life. Although the next 24 hours after the surgery would be crucial, K.P. was certain that everything had gone well.
Now, in his office, he was trying to calm down. He had closed his eyes, sitting comfortably in his chair —a habit that helped him distance himself from his environment — while the sound system played one of his favourite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach. As he was relaxing to the music, he heard some whispering, people talking to each other… about him? Immediately, he opened his eyes to an empty room. That frustrated him, because it was the seventh time that this had happened lately, always accompanying intense mental fatigue. Although he was a doctor, he paid no attention. He looked at his watch; it was already night time. After talking with his secretary about next day’s schedule, he left the hospital to go home.
Mr. K.P. lived alone. His hectic working life had deprived him of a wife. He’d only had short term relationships, nothing more substantial. A part of him might like the idea of getting married and having a family but his life was dedicated to medicine. Each day passed in the same way: going to the hospital and, rarely, going out with the few friends he had, and, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, he was approaching fifty.
He arrived home and, tired as he was, he poured a small glass of red wine to drink. He had no appetite; he just wanted to relax in his armchair before going to bed. But then again, sometime after he had closed his eyes, he heard the same voices; people whispering about something incomprehensible. This time, Mr. K.P. was scared because this had never happened at home before. All previous occurrences were in his office, after a long operation. He assumed (probably out of fear) that he would have to worry only if it happened again.
He lay tired in his bed. He calmed down, although it took him some time and fell quickly asleep waking up terrified a bit later. He heard the same voices again but now one of them was heard very clearly. It was a woman’s voice, but what shocked him was that he heard her calling his name! Was it reality or a dream? He did not know what to believe.
It was already four o’clock in the morning and K.P. could not sleep; such was his anxiety. Fortunately for him, he didn’t have to perform an operation the next day; it was a day for seeing patients in his office. He got out of bed, went to the living room, and poured himself a glass of red wine again to calm himself down. He didn’t even think about sleeping any more. He was afraid of hearing the voices again. Sitting in his armchair, he started thinking happy thoughts, being with a nice woman, holding her close.
Suddenly, a loud noise was heard—like an explosion. But quickly that noise disappeared. He started to worry: this has happened for the third time in such a short time! He was a doctor; he’d had his six-month check-up a month before. His health was just fine. So, what could it be? Besides stress, he couldn’t think of any other cause of this. K.P. felt very bad because, out of nowhere, he was starting to suspect that something was wrong with him. Tomorrow after the clinic he would undergo some new tests.
He got up from his armchair. Anxious as he was, he began to walk up and down in the living room. He was trying to think about different things only to relieve his mind from the voices and the “explosion”.
But in vain! No matter what his mind returned to this. He’d been walking for a long time, but when he looked at his watch he realized only ten minutes had passed. “Time flies – sometimes in strange ways!” he thought. Disappointed so, he continued to walk until suddenly he heard the same female voice calling him by his name, talking to him: “K. can you hear me? Can you hear me talking to you? He tried to reply, to ask her who she was, but he could not open his mouth! He tried to move his hands to show her that he could not speak! But the female voice asked again: “K. can you hear me? Can you hear me talking to you? “
Some time later, K.P. opened his eyes. He saw some strange shapes in front of him. In the beginning he didn’t realize what they were, he needed a few seconds to understand that what he saw were the legs of a table and chairs. K.P. had fainted.
He got up slowly and sat with difficulty in the armchair. His head was about to explode from intense pain. “Tomorrow I will run tests immediately”, he thought. His fear began to have a name. He was afraid that he had a brain tumour. What an irony! He who had saved all these people, now becoming ill with the same disease! But that’s life; it comes and goes through our hands in any way it wishes.
Naturally, his psychological state was quite weird now, wanting to cry and somewhat to explode, but trying to keep calm. Anyway he was not sure exactly what he might have. Anything was possible.
The next day would be the most critical of his life. At least that’s what he thought. Of course the truth was very different. So different, that it’d be better if he never found out about it, because then he would surely die.
Mr K.P. was not a doctor. He was a simple employee in a company. Yes, his dream was to become a doctor, but life most of the time has its own laws. Seven months ago, Mr K.P. had fainted. Since then he had never recovered. His wife took him to the hospital. The diagnosis was that he had a brain tumour. He had had surgery as soon as possible, but after the surgery he fell into a coma. The voices that he was hearing were the dialogues between his wife and the doctors. They were the words his wife was telling him every day while gently holding his hand. While the ones around him knew K.P. was in a coma, he (unknowingly) was trying to live a life that he really thought he liked. The life of a doctor who saves people!
Who knows if we who now live our lives are not ourselves in a deep coma? How many of us would like to awaken to find our true family? Would we leave what we had created, family and friends, for the truth? Or would we be afraid that this truth would be another death for us?
Story by: Konstantinos Pamfiliss
Translated by: Laurence Pilfold
Illustration: Sofia Kyrisoglou