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MonkeyNotes-Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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When he had first returned from Europe, he had visited his patients in the family carriage pulled by two horses. Then he changed it for another kind of carriage and one horse. He continues to use it even though it is now far out of fashion. He is aware that he is only called in for hopeless cases these days. However, he thinks of this as a form of specialization and prides himself on being able to diagnose a patient just by looking at her or him. He hates the fact that so much surgery is being done now, calling the scalpel the greatest proof of the failure of medicine. He is distrustful of patent medicines and thinks of all medication as poison. He tells his students that everyone is the master of her or his own death and that the only thing doctors can do for them is to help them die without fear of pain. Even with these extreme ideas, his former students still consult with him because of his "clinical eye." He is an expensive and exclusive doctor. All his patients live in the ancestral homes of the District of the Viceroys.

Because his schedule is so strict, his wife always knows where to send a message to him if needed. When he was a young man, he had always stopped at the Parish Cafe for a game of chess with his father-in-lawís friends and some Caribbean refugees, but he hasnít been there since the turn of the century. It was then that he had met Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, who arrived in the country with his legs still intact and not yet a photographer of children, but a great chess player. No one could beat him. For Dr. Juvenal Urbino, it was a miraculous meeting and he never gave up his passion for chess after it. Dr. Urbino became Jeremiahís "unconditional protector, his guarantor in everything" without learning anything about his past. He later lent Jeremiah the money to set up his photography studio and Jeremiah paid every cent back.


The whole friendship was based on chess. At first they played with a handicap for Jeremiah since he was so good, but eventually they played as equals. Later, when Jeremiah developed a passion for movies, they played only on nights when a film wasnít showing. When they became closer friends, the doctor went to the movie with Jeremiah, but he never took his wife. She didnít like following the complicated plot lines and she also didnít think Jeremiah was a good companion for anyone.

Dr. Urbino always spends Sundays by attending High Mass, returning home to rest and read on the terrace. He doesnít see patients or visit friends on Sundays. On this day of Pentecost, two things had happened: Jeremiahís death and the silver anniversary of his student. Instead of going straight home from Jeremiahís house, he gets into his carriage and looks at the letter again. Then he tells the driver to take him to an address in the old slave quarters. He looks again at the letter. It contains a "flood of unsavory revelations that might have changed his life, even at his age, if he could have convinced himself that they were not the ravings of a dying man."

The streets are crowded with people who have just gotten out of mass. Dr. Urbinoís is the only horse-drawn carriage. It is distinguishable from the other few that are still used in the city by its immaculate patent leather roof, its brass fittings, and its fancifully dressed coachman, who wears velvet livery and a top hat despite the heat of the Caribbean summer. Dr. Urbino knows the city very well, but not the former slave quarters. They pass the marshes whose smells Dr. Urbino recognizes from having smelled them on sleepless nights. "But that pestilence so frequently idealized by nostalgia became an unbearable reality when the carriage" lurches through the muddy streets where buzzards fight over the leavings of the slaughterhouse as they float by. This neighborhood is vastly different from the city of the Viceroys. Here the houses are made of old boards and zinc roofs and they sit up on pilings to avoid the overflow of open sewers.

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MonkeyNotes-Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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