RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRACY
15 September 2021
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I was greeted again by a mix of day D, just as befits it. I was overwhelmed by the crowds and city transports where I can find not only mirror of my town, but of most cities that have a common “future“.
- If we split my name in two, the first letters of my name would be: N O B O D Y. But you do not need to know my name. You can call me Nobody. Consider this my introduction.
That was my first encounter with the magical woman who would come out for a ‘psycho-drive’ every Wednesday, for exactly 40 minutes. My colleagues and I, as final year psychiatry residents, worked on a project in which sessions were conceptualised a bit differently than others. People would call in to book an appointment and specify the time and place where the ‘psycho-taxi’ would pick them up. They would also need to specify the route they wish to take during the session. The ones driving were psychiatrists and the clients, or customers, were patients. The goal was to create an atmosphere of a regular taxi drive around town as people often, very eagerly and openly, talk without set limits or rules.
Mrs Nobody would schedule regular sessions, every Wednesday afternoon from 5:20 to 6 PM. She would ask to be picked up on the street, in front of a handmade candy store. She would ask for the same driver (me) each time and ask for an identical route for each session. In return, I would get a gingerbread cookie wrapped in cellophane with a bow on top.
I really loved my drives with her. The first time I saw her, I thought to myself: A woman who puts in effort into her appearance. The fact she did not want to reveal her full name did not bother me, as it was not significant for the session itself. Mrs Nobody was very tall and lean. Her toned arms revealed the limits of her biceps and other muscles of the upper arm. The enhanced Slavic cheekbones stood red under her large green eyes. The eyelashes were both long and thick, almost looking like they were threaded onto her lid in smaller bundles. They were always coated in mascara and lined with eyeliner in order to frame the two green lakes. The lipstick was always applied perfectly and the lips looked full and voluptuous. She never repeated an outfit. A new tasteful outfit every Wednesday. Elegant, but modern. She looked like one of the models you would find on the cover of Burda, a magazine I would flip through as a kid while I waited for my mother at the hairdressers. Her hair was always up in a bun, which she never touched with her hands. Mrs Nobody is 52 years old and was born a Leo. With her she would always carry a hard-covered, burgundy diary with nothing written on the covers. As she entered the taxi, she would pass me the gingerbread cookie and say what she wanted to talk about right away. We often talked about her parents.
- You know, when I was 18, my parents made me move in with another family. They gave me up for the benefit of the people who could send me abroad to study at prestigious universities and give me much more than my own father and mother.
Every time she spoke about them, she would start off with the same sentence. It was as if she was convincing herself in the validity of their decision, trying to justify their decision because she was, as she would say, an ‘educated woman’.
We talked about horse-riding, horses and their species.
- My hobby is expensive, but I can afford it. Horse-riding is an elegant sport and has the power to free me of the dark demons that sometimes take power over me.
We would talk about her husband most often.
- As you know, he is a wealthy man. When we met, he told me: ‘Those who are similar find joy in each other’. He proposed to me rather quickly and we became inseparable. We have been married for 22 years. I would not say he was right as we are not all too similar. But that does not mean we are polar opposites. As you know, he does not shower on vacation. No matter how long we are there, he sometimes does not shower for days. Sea salt makes his skin youthful, as he says and just like that, salty, he usually makes love to me. He travels a lot for work, although he insists I wait for him home when he returns. I never accompany him on those travels. On average, he travels once a week. I miss traveling, but I am not allowed to show it.
She sometimes spoke about him as if he was the best husband in the world, and sometimes I would get the impression that it was a man with a lot of requests. However, she never gave out too much information and it did not seem as though she was unhappy. I would joke with my colleagues that I would like to be Mrs Nobody when I grew up. Last Wednesday, she came to her last ‘psycho-taxi’. She mentioned this would be the last ‘psycho-drive’ she would ever book. A colleague let me know that Mrs Nobody changed her pick up address. I was surprised.
- Similarly, she mentioned she would like to change her usual route. In fact, she wants you to take her to the airport… This ride will surely be shorter than the usual 40 minutes.
I was confused and dumbfounded, but not too worried as this woman was a satisfied customer and not exactly a patient. At 5:20 PM I arrived at the address my colleague wrote down. I stopped the car outside a grand and luxurious gate which was distinct due to the wrought-iron ornaments that covered it. The house was straight out of a fairy-tale, the balconies were covered in flowers and on the staircase – a peacefully sleeping cat. A suitcase in one hand and her burgundy diary in the other. She somehow managed to lock the door. She did the same with the gate. She got in the car. I saw her face in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes tired… she had no make-up on. Although her lips were pale with no lipstick on, they were as full and voluptuous as ever.
- I apologize… I did not bring a gingerbread cookie this time. Can we get going to the airport, if it is alright?
I drove quietly, waiting for her to say something.
- My name is Nikoleta. I am determined to win and that is the reason I am leaving. I decided to leave the house before he got back from his business trip. It is 5:46 PM… He is expecting to see me looking the same as you expected me to look today. He will be surprised when he realises I am gone.
Considering I did not know how to act in that moment, given my limited experience, I decided to engage in an informal conversation. By doing this I hoped to change her mind… Maybe she should not stop the sessions and maybe me taking her to the airport is perhaps not the smartest idea.
- Mrs Nobody, I am twenty-something years younger than you. I even, jokingly, say to my colleagues, that I want to be you when I grow up.
- Thank you. But I trust you will change your mind.
She gave me her diary. I took it and put it in on the passenger seat.
- Leave me at the airport when our 40 minutes is up. I paid for my session in an orderly manner.
I told her I would do as she asks. Once we arrived, I got out of the taxi too. Two women, on a no-man’s land. No doctor’s office, psychiatrist or therapy. She gave me her hand and we said goodbye. Mrs Nobody, suitcase in hand, was headed toward the entrance of a grey building, behind which stretched out a runway. Completely torn, I hurried back to the car to find my phone so I can call my colleagues and tell them what happened. The diary stood there waiting to be picked up. Annotated inside was every Wednesday of the past year.
Time: 5:20 PM – a short note from the ‘psycho-drive’
Time: 6:45 PM – He entered the house.
Time: 6;47 PM – SLAP
On the last page, after all the annotated Wednesdays (with the exception of this one), it wrote: ‘I did not write it down for 21 years. I wish you luck in your personal life and your work life, you will need it.’
I never saw Mrs Nobody again.