Panorama by H. G. Adler

Book: Panorama by H. G. Adler Read Free Book Online
Authors: H. G. Adler
the sofa and holds his stomach, no one able to help him, though Anna is nice and brings him a warm compress, which she has carefully rolled up in a brown rag, so that Josef always has a compress on his stomach, though it continues to hurt. Aunt Gusti can’t believe that a stomach can hurt that much, for stomachaches are more of an annoyance than anything, but Josef doesn’t get the kind of upset stomachs that Aunt Gusti gets, his hurt lower down, the pain coming in sharp bursts, causing him to feel quite hot, and it’s no better if he closes his eyes, but he doesn’t want to keep them open, so he closes them anyway. Once a week Aunt Gusti has a migraine, for which she takes some powder that then causes her to barf, though the mother can’t stand that word and has forbidden Josef to use it, because she says it is foul and is used only by crass, vile people, even though Aunt Gusti has herself used it, and she’s not vile, only the migraines are vile. When they occur Aunt Gusti can no longer visit the war widows, but she can give lessons from her sofa, where she lies with a damp cloth that she continually freshens and places on her forehead, next to her on the floor a bucket of water into which she dips the cloth every half hour, wringing it out and laying it on her brow once again, the cool water helping a bit, though the aunt’s face remains entirely green and she looks like an old woman, her hair disheveled because she has so much hair and she has squashed it so while lying there, wearing a shabby yellow nightgown that’s seen better days, spots and stains all over it, the father not at all pleased with how the aunt lets herself go, though the mother says, “Don’t be so heartless, Oskar. One can’t help pitying Gusti. She has a heart of gold. Which is whyyou just have to forgive her for not being as fussy about her appearance when she has a migraine.” But the father replies, “She’s always a slob, not just when she has a migraine.” The mother doesn’t like it at all when the father talks about his sister that way, though Aunt Betti also believes that Aunt Gusti doesn’t take good enough care and often spills something on herself, or she always eats sour pickles, which don’t sit well with her, and even though they remind her of this a hundred times over, she won’t hear anything of it, there being no help for those who won’t listen.
    When Aunt Gusti is so bad off, the grandmother comes and cooks for her and helps out in the house, but even when the aunt is so ill she still gives lessons, though some children dread coming to her and want to get away as soon as they can, migraines being a terrible sickness, the aunt continuing to take medicine that helps only a little. Josef doesn’t understand how doctors are worth anything, for they can’t do anything to help most illnesses, and maybe Tata is right when she says, “Nature has its own healing ways.” Josef asks the mother why there are doctors at all if they know so little about how to heal sickness, and if perhaps a book like
The Housewife as Doctor
isn’t enough in itself, since everything is inside it, though the mother explains that medicine is actually the greatest science and art one can practice, there is not a more wonderful profession anywhere, for nowhere else can you help so many people, and without doctors things would be much worse, advances are continually being made. For example, when the mother was as old as Josef is now there was hardly any way of filling teeth, so they just had to be ripped out, which hurts a lot, and isn’t it wonderful how today you can be X-rayed if you break a foot, which was once not possible, the bones often not healing properly as a result. “Many illnesses that cannot yet be healed today will perhaps be able to be healed when you grow up and are a doctor yourself.”
    But it will be a while before Josef has to decide about becoming a doctor, though this week his birthday will be on Thursday, and since

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