Part of the ‘Cazique of Poyais’ story – read more here
As another monotonous day came to an end for Jose, Noemi continued her steady pace of keeping as many of the Poyais sufferers alive, which, from the right perspective, could be momentous indeed. It had only been an extra day and about four in total, but she was at the end of her tether. She wanted out for reasons not entirely different to Jose, but which were leagues different in others. She was suffering for a cause that wasn’t her own. If she was going to suffer, and she was sure she would wherever she was, it may as well be for her own cause.
It could sounds selfish, from a distance, wanting to fight for ones own cause, but this wasn’t how Noemi framed it in her mind. There was not a singleminded desire for success or wealth at the cost of others. She wanted enrichment of the soul and if there was a way of doing this and being comfortable, that is the path she was going to pursue. At the moment that path was to London and away from the increasing misery and insecurity of Belize Town.
Noemi sat in the office area where she had spoken to Leaverson and Smith an eternity ago. Fourteen hours to be exact. An eternity when you can’t stop people in your care from dying and those who are clinging on are in pain. It was a rare respite. Head in hands she contemplated Daniel Perez’s offer. If Uncle Tito could find a way, then perhaps she could drive the adventure. Jose wanted out, Noemi wanted something more.
Jose stood silently outside the hospital staring in, frozen as much as Smith had been, but with different concerns for entering. He was convinced that he had stumbled upon their only ticket out of Belize Town. Noemi was cagey at best about what she wanted from life so it was impossible to tell if she was only being stubborn on this because of her concerns for Uncle Tito or because she simply did not want to do it. She was likely extremely tired now and so Jose was most likely to receive the full truth if he went in and spoke to her. There was a strong nagging at the back of his mind though reminding him that if he entered and opened this door there would be no return from the knowledge he gained. He dreaded most that it might ruin the bond they had or at least damage it.
Each time the hospital doors opened, Jose hoped that a decision would be made for him with Noemi coming out and there being no need for any conversation. He dreamed that she would come out without a fight. In his heart he knew this was fruitless. She may well still agree to his desires, but it would be on her terms and she would have to find fulfilment as well. Their bond as twins dictated that it would be so and he wouldn’t really have it another way when all was laid to rest.
With a gloom written across his face that would have easily been mistaken as a fear of the ill and of becoming ill, he entered the hospital and began his search for Noemi. Wandering the halls for a short period brought no real progress. None of the nurses, few as they were, had time for him and the patients barely knew where they themselves were. The thought crossed his mind of the sadness of this all. These poor people only wanted a better life and this is what they got. It was an injustice and Jose also mused that it may just be a risk that had to be taken. Just as there was know real certainty for these people here, he did not believe that there was a magical and beautiful end for him in London. To be sure, that’s not entirely what he wanted anyway. It was opportunity he wanted and there was little of that here, but perhaps some in London. Noemi did not need to know these thoughts.
Continuing along the small dark corridor, as this was by no means a large hospital, Jose came across the small office room to witness An exhausted Noemi with head in hands. He thought that she looked as though she has reached the end of her tether. Jose thought, hopefully, that it was quite possible that this wasn’t just down to the exhaustion that multiple days of almost non-stop work had brought on, but the exhaustion with her life here.
Noemi’s thoughts were not as Jose expected, though they involved the same subject matter, per se. Her exhaustion wasn’t just down to the amount of work, that was sure. It wasn’t a tiredness with her life. No, it was Jose that made her tired. She thought she could thrive anywhere, given the chance. Ultimately she was drifting towards going. Only the question of Uncle Tito hung over her.
After giving his sister another moment, he knocked on and then immediately opened the small door to the office.
“It’s custom to wait for a reply before opening a door that you’ve knocked on brother,” Noemi said with head still in her hands. She stayed still bar her heavy breathes and Jose stopped in his tracks.
He had never been the best at responding to Noemi’s directness, so it took a few moments of this quiet, painting like scene before he responded, “you’re quite right there sister. My apologies, but I thought as it was just me there would be no problem. You know I like to give a small warning before I enter.”
“Yes, and time and again I tell you to wait before entering. You are incorrigible. I love you no less, but it is a glaring flaw.”
The conversation certainly hadn’t started the way that Jose had wanted. For Noemi’s part she was just glad that Jose was on the back foot. He wants this change so bad, the least she can do is make him work for it. More than he expected at least.
“I guess if that’s the worst you can say of me, I’m doing alright,” Jose responded with a grin.
To this, Noemi finally lifted her head to show her bloodshot eyes and exhausted face. She wasn’t sick, but the back to back shifts had taken their toll and she stared so intently straight ahead that he felt she was boring into his soul. In a way she was. She was looking for something she could borrow. A bit of excitement, a touch of the magic. Even with twins, it wasn’t possible.
Jose stared back at her, and said as calmly as possible, “we should take you home. I don’t want to hear any questions or debates about it.”
“Thanks for your faux chivalry brother, but you’ve come to late and not for that reason. I was just resting here before going home to put myself to bed. I’m fairly certain you knew I was about to end my work and decided to catch me at my lowest point. What for brother?”
The assertion wasn’t entirely true, but there wasn’t much benefit in trying to argue the point, so he responded, “you’re right, I’m not here for that. There’s only one thing hanging over my mind at the moment. If Uncle Tito is successful, which I think he will be, then we will have our tickets to London and a new, wider, life. Do you want this or not?”
It was ‘the’ question indeed, but it missed the point for Noemi. She stared him down further and said, “you seem to lack an understanding of what it is I want and not. There are times when I think is the same person. Throughout our lives we have been referred to as ‘the twins’, as inseparable troublemakers or saints, as partners, and identical in all but gender. That of course isn’t the truth. We’re two people connected by common parentage and birth date. We are not the same though and moments like this make that fact shine through. I want a new life as well. Adventure and all sorts are in touching distance on the horizon. For me though, none of that is worth the risk to Uncle Tito’s life. That is where I stand on this. So don’t come here and claim that it is my lack of imagination or desire for something different. I just care more than you do.”
It was a as if she had taken a sewing needle as strong as steel and rammed it straight into his heart. The pain was not life threatening, but he could feel the life draining from him slowly. He had misjudged so much and thought so little. It was not what he had envisaged and his lack of speech reflected this.
“There is my brother,” Noemi said, not smiling, but content she had properly shone the light on the dark area that Jose’s thoughts dare not look.
Where Noemi saw a breakthrough, Jose saw an impasse. How could they proceed? Neither ventured any decision they might make, choosing to instead wait in silence, contemplating their own existence in a small part and clearing their minds with a large part.
Jose looked despondent. He searched the room for clues of what to do next, knowing in any event that was a fruitless exercise. Somehow it made him feel slightly better though. As he scanned over Noemi he saw a small grin appearing in the corner of her mouth. She was happy. At his sadness?
“What’s with the grin? Are you happy with my sadness sister?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, brother. I’m happy that you finally see truth rather than your own selfish view of everything. How could we possibly have travelled across an ocean when you thought you were the only one that really wanted it, or worse, that you didn’t care?”
“So you want to go?” Jose asked with a flicker of hope.
“You’ve entirely missed my point dear brother, but yes I do want to go.”
Noemi smiled as a smile returned to Jose’s face. She cautioned him though, “you must understand my point though, brother, or I won’t be going anywhere with you. So, tell me what I mean.”
Jose wasn’t bad man by any stretch, though sometimes he was singleminded which caused problems with seeing how others saw a situation. He didn’t know what his sister meant instantly. That would have meant that he knew it and decided to ignore it. No, he had to get there in a short stretch of time to salvage what he wanted and what he truly believed was best for both of them.
This wasn’t the first time there had been a fundamental misunderstanding between the two of them, so Jose was not a complete stranger to trying to reconcile a difference of point of view, he just wasn’t accustomed to it. It struck him in that moment, in the little room where Noemi worked away when there wasn’t the present chaos, that there probably were more times that they did have differing views. Noemi, being her, must have decided not to burden Jose with these differences as she didn’t care much. Each time she did this though, it was another time she didn’t do anything for herself. That was the point. What Jose was missing.
Confidently, but still reserved and deferential, Jose got down on his knees and ventured an explanation to his twin sister, “I don’t ever think about what you might want and so assume that if you do not argue, that you agree with me. This is a foolish way of thinking. It also distorts the truth profoundly. You don’t agree and in fact you would be happier with a different version of the world, in which decisions had been taken by you. There is such a capacity for love and caring in you though that you decided to allow me these many victories as each one did not cause material detriment to your desires or quality of life. That is what you mean. You want to live your way, with me in your life. If you are just a part of my decisions, you have no life at all.”
There was a long pause where Noemi absorbed what Jose had said. She didn’t want him to get off so quickly, despite him understanding. He looked at her like a puppy that knew he had done something wrong, but could be easily forgiven under the right circumstances. So, she stood up and came over to him and gave him that rare type of all embracing sibling hug. All was forgiven for the time being.
“What next?” She asked.
“What do you mean sister?” Responded the bewildered Jose, looking around to check she wasn’t speaking to someone else.
“We’re in agreement I think of what we want to do. We have a pact. London is calling to us if we can figure a suitable way to bring Uncle Tito with us.”
“Of course. That’s all provided that Uncle Tito can negotiate something with Perez. I believe in him, though I’m not sure what he has to offer.”
They both nodded and then Jose suggested, “Shall we get you away from this place sister. It looks as though you could sleep for days.”
“A fine idea indeed Jose. Let’s go home.”