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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 2

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
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“And the baby’s father? Who is it?”

“It’s a young lad the same age as Mabel. He doesn’t know what’s happening; my sister has kept it from him. We can’t ask him for anything, he’s in no condition to face up to the situation, he’s a child.”

Álvez spoke ironically. “Yes, a child, but he wasn’t ashamed to act like a man when he went to bed with your sister. Look what a disaster he caused.”

“That’s true doctor, you’re right...”

Seeing her lower her head, Álvez asked, “Do you have any idea how to solve this problem? You don’t think I can help you, do you? I can tell you now I don’t do operations when the pregnancy is so advanced. And certainly not on a thirteen year-old girl. It’s very dangerous, you know that, don’t you? At this stage of my career I don’t want to take any risks. There’s no need, I want to live in peace. You shouldn’t have come, I can’t help you.”

Álvez put more and more pressure on her, he wanted to see her beg, collapsed at his feet. He waited for the girl’s answer. She was trembling, she couldn’t get a single word out. Finally, mumbling, with her eyes full of tears, she implored:

“Doctor, please help me! I’ll pay you, I swear! I need you, you’re the only one who can do anything for my little sister.”

The crying made her stutter, her suffering was for real. He knew it, he could read her like an open book. When he saw her conquered, all her strength exhausted, he prepared to control her. He would take advantage of this unrepeatable opportunity to convince her.

“It’s very risky and expensive,” said Álvez. “Have you thought it through seriously?”

“Yes doctor,” answered Alicia.

“I don’t believe you,” said the doctor. “You haven’t considered the consequences. You can’t mess around with minors, it’s reckless. This matter is beyond you, you ought to admit it.”

“Don’t dash my hopes, doctor! I’ll work for years if necessary, I’ll pay whatever it costs.”

He answered sardonically, “Am I to understand that you haven’t got money to pay for the operation either? That’s just what you needed. Do you take me for a hopeless idealist? Do you think I like committing suicide every day? Please, dear! Why would I compromise myself in such a risky situation? I told you, I don’t do abortions when the pregnancy is that advanced, and definitely not for free. One of these operations costs three thousand dollars at the very least. Have you got the money?”

Alicia’s silence was a clear answer. She carried on crying inconsolably.

“Can you pay this price or not?”

“I’ve already told you doctor, believe me, I’ll work hard, I’ll be able to get the money together. I’ll sell everything I’ve got, I’ll borrow it, in the end I’ll see you right. Please, I implore you, make an effort. Save my little sister!”

As if to corner her as much as possible, Álvez said to her, “I’m sorry girl, this is not for me. Don’t worry, you’ll find other doctors, less demanding and cheaper than me.”

“Doctor, my family is poor but honest... Give me time. You wouldn’t believe how much I’ve traipsed all over the place. First I went to the hospital to see Dr Quiroga. My cousin gave me a recommendation. He treated me like a criminal, he kicked me out. He said I had a lot of nerve, he shouted that nobody there did abortions. He also shouted that to do them was a serious crime, that I was incriminating myself, compromising my sister.”

Álvez interrupted her with a smile to say, “Of course, of course, Quiroga doesn’t do abortions, he sends his patients to me... His share is thirty percent, he never forgets to ask me for it.”

Alicia kept quiet. “Everything’s a load of rubbish”, she thought. But she mustn’t lose heart, Mabel needed her.

“What else happened to you?” said Álvez.

“All sorts, doctor, it’s incredible, they don’t allow contraceptives in the hospital, coils are banned. The government maintains that they induce abortions. There was a humble woman who didn’t want to have any more children, they chucked her out quick-sharp, she was crying, she said that they’d humiliated her because she was destitute.”

“That’s the reality,” said Álvez. “Those that don’t have economic resources have no way out, they can’t get private attention, they’re condemned because of their poverty. That’s how it is, that woman wasn’t lying. This policy of silence makes the population ever more ignorant. The number of unwanted pregnancies grows inexorably. When the problem presents itself, it’s too late, there’s no solution on offer.”

“It’s horrible, doctor, I assure you I left the hospital terrified that they would report me to the police. I’ve never felt so degraded.”

“Didn’t you visit other private doctors?”

“Yes, two of them. They said the same as you. The risk of surgery, Mabel’s age, the price...”

“A lot of money, eh?”

“Lots and lots, doctor, two thousand dollars cash.”

Nodding his head, he said, “It’s not that much, believe you me, they offered you a knockdown price.”

She didn’t know what to say but then clarified, “I know the cost depends on many factors, near my house there’s a midwife who doesn’t charge very much. Two women have died on her. One of them due to a haemorrhage, the other because of an infection. Mabel wouldn’t survive, she’d be bound to bleed to death.”

Álvez nodded his acknowledgment.

“It’s true, they work without asepsis, they’re ignorant, incapable. It’s almost preferable to be attended by a butcher.”

“I no longer know what to do doctor, I’m scared of seeing a midwife, I don’t trust them.”

“You’re doing the right thing, dear. Nowadays they’re just simple nurses, they’re scared of their own shadow. The poor things who fall into their hands!”

Alicia was respectfully quiet for a moment, then she continued her story.

“You realize doctor, I must insist on seeing capable professionals, trustworthy people. Only that way will I allow Mabel to have an abortion. She could die... I would never forgive myself for that.”

“That’s good, dear, but I’m not the only doctor in this city. Why did you take a shine to me?”

“The others want cash up front, I haven’t got it yet, it’s a fortune for me... I need time.”

“Time? How long do you need?”

“I don’t know doctor, seven or eight months. I’d sell some things, a few friends could help out. Mum’s got a gold ring and a cultured pearl necklace. They’re not worth much, but I’d be getting closer.”

“Look dear, nothing’s on HP in this activity. Once the crisis is over everybody jumps ship. Go on telling me, what did the doctors say to you?”

“As I told you, Doctor Álvez, it was impossible to persuade them. What’s more, even if I’d had the money, they demanded that mum and dad be present. That’s impossible, my father’s very ill, he’d die. You’re my last resort... I beg you. My little sister is what I love most in this world, it tortures me to see how her pregnancy is advancing. More and more each day... Take pity on us, give me time, I swear on my life that I’m going to pay. If you want, I’ll sign a document... But don’t leave me adrift, I beg you, doctor.”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationMay 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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