Doctor of the Heart    Chapter 11  (Epilogue)


[ As originally posted on the Nifty Archive at the end of 2009, "Doctor of the Heart" ended with Chapter 10. I believed the story was complete.  Some kind and concerned readers did not agree.  For them, and in particular for fellow authors and encouraging friends Tim Mead and Drew Hunt, I offer this concluding effort. These are the last words.  Thank you for pushing me to produce them.]



Thank you for the kindness of your writing about my father and his dieing.  Yes, I had enough of timing to be with him almost for two days.  He did not have strong speech but I was able to be telling him of love and respect.  In the hospital  I holded his one hand at the very end and my mother's hand also.  I felt great sorrowness, but I had happiness that I could be with them at such a finish to the life they had so many years together.

The university made a very big funeral seremony.  His students carried casquet from the history faculty to the cemetiere, three kilometers.  Many of them were on tears all the way.  My mother was in much emotion and even pride, but she is also in much grief, and I must to stay with her yet.  Please tell Yves he should let Elaine back to her room since I cannot to return to Canada so fast.  Mitya





Dearest Mitya,

I have bought a computer, and the duBois boys are teaching me how to use it, so that I can send e-mails to you.  This is my first.


It comes with my deepest sympathy and shame.  I was so very hurt that you left without telling me that I did not think of your troubles, only my own loss.  Tommy has made me see how much you loved and admired your father and how much pain you must feel with his death coming so soon after Rifat's.  I had hoped so much that you were recovering from one tragedy, and now I worry about you more than ever. 


Please, please come back to Montreal as soon as you can.  Elaine can live somewhere else.  Love was helping you to find yourself again, I know.  My love is still here, ready to help you again, to hold you again and to be held by you.


I miss you terribly.  Yves




My loved Yves,  I think of you very much and of the so great good you have done for me.  Do not be of worry for me now.  I will be coming to Montreal as soon as I have the trust that my mother will not need me with her.  She is strong and has many friends here.  Only for now must I to be of help a wile longer.

Still, you do not have need to send Elaine away.  The medicine school has places for me to live when I begin at studies in September.

Please say my best to Tommy and the boys.  I miss them and you very much.   Mitya


Tommy,  I write you wonderful news and terrible news that I cannot to tell Yves by myself.  Please to decide for me how I am to do.  For now I ask you to hold this as secret between only us.

Rifat is alive.  I saw him at hospital when I was going to have talk with one professor who is friend and was doctor to my father.  Rifat is in strong health.  Only the top of his left ear is gone by the bullet shot at him.  It pushed along his scull but not far in so that he has striping of white hair where it went.  He is so beautiful, Tommy. 

But he has not a memory.  He does not to know his own name and is like child in lerning of our languige.  He has been at hospital for all the months of this summer since driver of a truck found him on road near where I am thinking he was hurt.  His body health is excellent, but the doctors cannot to fix his mind.  So he works with the dvornik. It means a man who keeps hospital floors to be clean and takes away waystes. Rifat is his helper.  It is so saddening.  He was so smart.  Now his eyes look mostly dull.

Also, he does not know me.  I cannot to write more. I am too hard with tears.  Mitya




Dear Mitya,    I am so happy for you.  I am sure Yves will feel the same when you tell him.


The most important and wonderful news is that Rifat is alive and strong and that you are near him.  Yes, it must be awful that he does not recognize you, but as a medical student, as someone who will surely be an excellent doctor, you must realize that the amnesia he is suffering will probably go away.  Maybe it is due to the wound from the bullet, but isn't it just as possible that he is still in shock?  He could be suppressing all his memories so that he does not have to face the horror of what happened to his family. 


I am not an expert, but there must be good psychiatrists in Montenegro who can advise you.  You know a great deal about him.  If you tell others, maybe they can help you help him.  You saved his life once.  You must not give up now.


Please do let Yves know what has happened.  He loves you and will want the best for you.  


So do I.   Love,  Tommy




My Yves, my healing love,

You know how unsure my English is in speaking, so you must to understand how too little I am feeling able in explaining you of very important things with rite words.  I wish so much I could be talking to you and close for telling of the mirakel and torchure which has happened to me here.

I have found Rifat.  He is living and strong in his body.  But he has not memory. It is called amnesia. He cannot to speak well in our Serbo-Croatian languige or very much in Albanian. He does talk in English but only words from Shaykespeer that he learned in school.  Some of times he calls himself "fortune's fool" so he must to think he performs the person of Romeo which he did at school. 

Even he has found a Juliet.  She is nurse at the hospital where he was bringed by driver which found him on highway after shooting.  Bullet only cut off top of his ear and left not deep a cut on side of his scull.  Lots of young nurses wanted him after doctors said they had no more way to heal his mind.  But he picked Yulya, maybe since her name is like Juliet.  He works as cleaner at hospital, but he lives with nurse Yulya and her mother.  And I think almost surely they make love.

I tried to talk with him in English, but he said I must to be a Kapyoolit, an enemy to his house. I do not know what to do.  I want him again to know me and to love me, but I want also that he will be happy.  And he is.  But without memories of me. Meaning without me.

Please, my loving Yves, to understand why I must not to make return to Montreal in so soon a time. How can I have great joy and such sadness all at same time?  Maybe I am one who is "fortune's fool."

I send you much love.  Mitya  


Oh Mitya!, my poor Mitya!


How amazing for you to have Rifat back.   And how awful that he does not know you.  But he will.  I am sure of that.  A love like yours is too strong and beautiful to fail, even if right now, you are in despair.  Just a little while ago you thought you had lost him forever.  And now, anything can happen.  You can make anything happen.


Do you know Yulya, the girl he lives with?  That's where I would begin.  You may be wrong about the sex part, too.  Maybe she just wants to help him, and you could tell her how you know him, how you saved his life.  Even if he rejects you, she could help him see you as a friend.


Surely it is worth a try.  Tommy says he is writing to you about his research on amnesia.  He has dropped everything else to learn about it and how to cure it.  A funny thing, your anguish and your joy have pulled Tommy and me closer than we had been in a long time.  We both care so much for you that we are finding out how much we still care for each other.  And we have you to thank. 


Also, Madame duBois says she will pray for you and for Rifat.  Luc and Jean-Pierre leave prayer to their mother, but both of them are very anxious to know your news.  They want you back in Montreal almost as much as I do, but they agree that healing Rifat is what matters most.


Have you told your mother?  My mother says she is sure everything will be all right.  And, remember, she told your fortune at the lake.  So she knows.


Be strong, my love.     Your forever Yves   





Dear Mitya,    I have been trying to read medical texts on amnesia, but the language is very specialized.  All I learned from the books is that the disease comes in many, many forms and usually cures itself over time, sometimes with the help of hypnosis, sometimes by recreating the shock that induced it in the first place, but never with any certainty that a particular method will work best or even well.  I also told Rifat's story, somewhat changed, to a medical school professor, telling him that I was doing research for a film. He had worked with injured and traumatized soldiers, but said his experience was too limited to let him suggest a cure that moviegoers would believe in.


He was interested in the idea that the patient had taken refuge in the role of Romeo. For a movie script, at least, he suggested it might be worth staging the play around him and making it enough like a real feud between modern rivals like Serbs and Albanians that Rifat could carry a pistol and think he had used it to kill Tybalt.  It's a very strange idea, but if there are university students studying Shakespeare in English, maybe they would be willing to help.


I wish I had a simple idea to suggest.  I will keep working.  Yves and I are going to his family's summer house for several days.  Together we may come up with a better suggestion. 


Mitya, you should know that Yves and I are together a lot.  He misses you, so he has turned to me, and I am very glad.  I want you to come back to Montreal, but I am also getting pleasure from your absence.  Yves and I were in love for a long time, and I am beginning to believe that he could love me again.  I have never stopped loving him.


Love,  Tommy




Tommy, Yves, my dearest friends

Pray for me.  Tomorrow I will to go where Rifat lives with nurse Yulya. I have told the doctor of my father that I know Rifat even if he does not know me.  I told how I found him in Kosovo and sended him to live with my parents and how Rifat tried to help my corporal Mirko and was shot. The doctor has said to Yulya she should listen to what I know. 

Maybe, together, we can to help Rifat to know himself again.  Or maybe she will be jealous, like man in Toronto who destroyed Ivo.

I am very much with frite.   Mitya




Dear, strong Mitya,


We are at the lake with my family.  All of us are full of hope.  Also, my uncle Benoit says that if you remember the names of  the relatives Rifat was looking for when you found him, he could ask the Canadian commander in Kosovo to try to locate them if they have come back with other refugees.  It is a long shot, but we should try anything and everything.


Tommy sends all his love.  We have been out in the canoe being Canadian.


Your still and always, Yves




My beloving friends,

Yulya will to be help.  She is a not so young woman who has bringed Rifat to her home to help with taking care of her son who must to stey much of time in wheelchair from serebrall palzy.  Yulya works night times in hospital so Rifat sleeps in boys room in case help is to be needed.  Yulya says Rifat watches much television and is learning language very fast.  She loves him, too, because he is so good with her son.

Now she and I are to think with doctors what way is best to tell Rifat who he is and where he comes from. 

I am starting to fill up of hoping.



I forgetted: I do not understand what is long shot, but please to thank Yves uncle for me. Except if aunt and uncle have last name Ilo and live in town of Prizren, I cannot to think search for them will to much help.  Rifat did not say if uncle was father brother or had other name.  Rifat came, I think, from town of Vushtri, but all his famelie there was killed.





Dear Mitya,


Yves is not sure that I should give you this advice about meeting Rifat tomorrow, but from what I have read about amnesia, memory loss can be a kind of subconscious protection against acknowledging something terrible that the person did or that was done to him.  In such cases, there are doctors who say that a strong shock can break down these emotional defenses.  If they are right, it would not make sense to set up a pretend "Romeo and Juliet" as the doctor I talked with suggested.  The play is probably a pleasant memory, and it is the awful ones that he wants to erase, wants to escape from so badly that he does not want to know anything about himself.


Yves does not think you should try shock treatment first. He says that you should not try to confront him right away with all the terrible truths about his history.  He told me that he had tried to make two likenesses of Rifat with your guidance and that you took them home to Montenegro.  What if you took the drawings to the meeting?  If Rifat recognizes himself in them, you could tell him how you had become so close to him that when you heard he was dead, you asked a friend to make the portraits so that you would not forget him. 


If you can calmly tell the story of your first meeting and how you saved him only to lose him, perhaps he will begin to understand that you really cared for him.  That might awaken good memories.  Has the season of nettles ended in Montenegro?  One article I read reported that strong tastes or odors from the past of an amnesiac patient triggered the start of memory recovery.  The idea is something you might consider.


I wish you every good fortune, but, above all, I wish you patience.  This may take a very long time.


Love, Tommy





Rifat has runned away.  I could not to see him this afternoon at the home of the nurse Yulya because some time befor I came to their, she asked him to help her put new cloths on her son, but she said to me that in the boy bedroom when they laid him on the bed to pull the new pants up his legs, Rifat looked at the costume and started to screem and cry. Then he runned away. 

That was maybe five hours ago.  I have looked all over the city for him, but it is now gotten very dark and I cannot to find him. 

Yulya showed me the cloths. They were the blue track suit with green strip.  Yulya could not to understand, but I did. The costume was like what I had found for Rifat that he would not to put on because his brother had weared the same when he was killed. 

Rifat must be in terribal, terribal fear with some memory coming back.  And I cannot to call police for help, because only they would to friten him the more.

And I, too, have awful fear.  Awful. I cannot to lose him again.  Mitya    




Dearest Mitya,

Uncle Benoit could not reach his Canadian colleague in Kosovo, but he says the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has offices in Montenegro and might have records of an Ilo family escaping from Prizren last spring.  Still it is a long shot, which means that something is very unlikely, but it cannot hurt to try.


Love, Yves.





Dearest Mitya,


How terrible!!  I just read your message about poor Rifat running away.  Did you look around the hospital?  It is the one place in your city that he knows and was protected.  Maybe a janitor's closet?


I'm not making any sense.  You probably went to the hospital first.  And I guess I can understand why he would be afraid of police in uniform.


Still, they might have gotten reports of a terrified boy looking for a place to hide.  And you have the drawings of him to show them.  Here there are shops that could make smaller copies of the pictures that you could use to show people or even put up in store windows and places like that with your telephone number or Yulya's. 


I know I won't hear from you for hours now, and I can't stand knowing that you are going through such pain alone.  I wish I were with you.  Would you like me to come?  I will check the airlines to see about flights.


I do still believe that your love for Rifat (and his for you) will make everything right.


Please do not lose your hope.  Do not forget how much you are loved here.


Always your Yves





Mitya, I have found a flight from here to Montenegro through Vienna.  I can get a ticket to leave tomorrow afternoon and be with you Saturday afternoon.  Do you want me to come?   Yves






Yves,  You are so much kind, but I must to ask you pleas coming to me now would not be good idea.  I have been doing what you said and taking Rifat's pictures by you everywhere to ask if people have seen him.  My telephone and Yulya telephone are on printing.  So I wait for calls.  And wait. And I have hope.  Always.  Mitya




I understand.  And I am sure you will find Rifat.  So is Tommy.  So is my mother.

We all send love and hope.  Yves





Nothing.  No calls.  My mother says I must to leave house so I take cuhsin's cellphone now to walk in city again. I may go to church even and light candeles.




Mitya are you all right?  I check my e-mail every hour, but no word.  Please answer.




Yves, my wonderful, loving friend, please to forgive me. I have found Rifat again and in most strange way. I wish to tell you of every thing but maybe time will not be all that needs.

Yesterday and this morning, the telephone did not to ring at all. I was full of fear and sadness. My mother has all of her life been beliefing person.  She asked me to go church with her which she does every Sunday and I went mostly to be of comfort to her. Still I found the seremonies very beautiful and calming for me even thow the Christ god is not something I believe like my mother does.  Today was the feest for the killing of John the Baptiser, and that remembered me how much I do not like these Bybal stories of blood. 

Afterward, we went together for walk in the Njegosev Park which is named for the great Prince Bishop of my family.  It is very nice and was full of people taking sun baths or pikniks.  After time, my mother finded friends and staid with them.  I walked on and saw in one place several men were doing chess. Rifat was one of them.  He did not see me, and I understood after watching that he plaid two quick games how he was winning money.  After he beet third person, I sat down across him as he aranjed pieces back on board.

He did not look up until I asked would he give me lesson and how much it would cost.  I said, once, you promised to teach me, Rifat. Do you remember?

Then he looked at me, and something seemed to come living in back of his eyes, but he shuck his head. He was surprized that I knew his name, but he said he had no memory of me.  I am player, not teacher he said but I will play you. He also said loser would to pay winner, but prize in dinars was only about three dollars of Canadian money. 

Because of Tommy's lessons, I played good game.  First was a draw, and so was next.  But Rifat did not want third match because he said he needed to earn money to go back to home.  He did joke a little that he could not to have ever said he would give me lessons.  You don't need them he told me and smiled.

Then everything I had been holding inside me fell down.  I cryed.  Very big tears.  Very loud.  First was Rifat angered and some fritened.  He backed way as if could be I was crazy.  He said me to stop, to go off. I was scareing other chess players meaning he could not make money from them.

Please, please, Rifat. I held hand out to him.  I will not to hurt you.  Once I saved your life and we were very much friends.  I am so very much sad that you do not know me.

I had printed portraits of him which you made and I pulled them from my pocket.  Look I said him these pictures are you that a friend of mine did from my strong memory.  Believe me please, please that I know you, that I care you.  I only want to help you, Rifat Ilo. You are good muslim boy from Vushtri brother of Alik.

Those words I said very strong and loud, and I did rite.  Rifat put hands over face and he started with tears like I had.  He was shayking and noises coming from him were like houls by dog or wolf.  I pulled him by head into me and held him.

He is now asleeping in my mother house, but I have fear that he will wake up and not understand what has happened.  So I go now to wait him, to be with him and make him strong again. 

Like you made me, Yves.  Just like you made me.

Always with love,  Mitya