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Full Circle

Day 112: Kuching

Michael Palin - Full CircleMy first reaction is to abandon the journey and fly home, but the more we talk, the more Helen persuades me that the time she really wanted me there was over the last few nights when I was incommunicado at the longhouse and she was suffering the worst headaches she has ever had. Now that time is over she feels much better. She is on medication to reduce the chance of any further headaches and she has complete trust in the surgeon. The children are all at home and so many friends and family are helping out that she would rather I stayed working than came home to answer phone calls and pace up and down with worry. She cannot, of course, see me pacing up and down with worry in a hotel room in Kuching.

We both agree that I must talk to the surgeon as soon as possible. This is arranged and he gives me a long, detailed and thorough assessment which concludes that Helen's case is straightforward, will not involve surgery inside the brain and that he doesn't think it necessary for me to return until after the operation.

This is the decision which Helen and I come to.

By the time I finish these, and many other calls, it's dark and I've no idea of the time. My bags lie where I dropped them, unopened, full of muddy boots, wet plastic capes and four days' dirty laundry. The curtains remain un-drawn. I walk to the window and stare out at the Sarawak river. It's high tide and the palms that line the opposite banks are half-submerged. Must eat, though I don't want to, so bathe and clean off the mud of the jungle and join the rest of the crew. By appalling coincidence Steve has heard that during the last three days his youngest daughter has had a fall from a window and injured her head. A few hours later his wife went into labour and he now has a third daughter.

We sit in the River Café on Kuching waterfront. A glum, tired, downbeat group tonight, the bad news outweighing the good.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 112
  • Country/sea: Malaysia
  • Place: Kuching
  • Book page no: 163

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