The Cardiologist told me this beautiful tale about our hearts. I love the stories he tells, because they are shrouded in Eastern esoteric knowledge, folklores from a bygone world and also cutting edge medical research. He tells these stories when we walk my beloved South Downs, the Itchen Valley of my youth, the magical New Forest, the streets of London and in distant countries by the sea.
Over the years, it seems to me that he straddles the realms and he seamlessly merges the knowledge together oh so beautifully, though in the beginning I doubted him. But I have seen his strange beliefs working, in me, in my beating heart: he had patiently rebuilt my heart muscles every single evening during the dark nights and days of 2015-2016, when I was too weak to climb the six flights of stairs up to my eyrie. We ran along the Embankment by Battersea Bridge every winter evening with my heart hooked to his. I still don’t know whether his contraption really worked, but it was a lifeline that I clung on to until I found my my own in my rebuilt heart.
When my heart went into difficulties, it sought his to find its life-saving rhythm again. It trusted his to lead it out of the infinite loop that it found itself in, that it was unable to escape from without help from somewhere, someone. My belief in him saved me.
He would put his ear against my chest with a frown on his face. “Ah,” he would say mysteriously. Sometimes, a smile would flit across his face. He told me that during his training in cardiology, he would tape the heartbeats of as many patients as he could find and play those heartbeats back to him on his Sony Walkman, permanently attached to his ears, until he was fluent in the language that hearts speak.
“That’s why I don’t always hear what you say, Jac, especially when you are nagging,” he often joked, and then with seriousness, “But I hear your heart all the time.”
This is something beautiful he told me a few evenings ago in rainy London, sitting in a pub near where we used to run every evening. He told me that when a person suffers emotional trauma, his heart shifts its position within the ribcage. It could be a few millimetres or even centimetres. I guess that’s why it feels like a physical pain sometimes, when someone or something hurts us deeply.
“Is it possible for a heart to move physically?” I mused.
He who held beating hearts in his hands many times said “Yes” with utter conviction. “The power of thought alone can move a robotic arm, so this is no different. Science will bear this view of mine out in a few years’ time.”
He said that his heart had shifted a lot in the year that his mother died (when he was eight) and the brutal years in an English boarding school that followed his mother’s early death. He grew up learning to live with his heart in a different place.
“But when I walked into your mother’s house for the very first time, when she opened her arms to me and smiled at me with that big smile of hers, I felt something move in me. It was my heart, Jac, going back to its original place.”