Sunday, March 30, 2014


This was Saturday almost midnight.
I could hear a soft male voice telling someone to get all the relatives in. I could hear loud painful sounds telling me someone was really sick. There was a coded whisper on the walkie talkie she was carrying in her pocket, or maybe it was a pager.... and the pleasant lady attending me just dropped everything, said, "I will be back in 5" and went to the nursing station to find out what she was required to do.
I sat on the bed, with the half cotton half net curtains aound me, fully drawn as if to protect me from everything outside- but it could not drown the voices. I heard a child cry somewhere.  I then heard the oxygen cylinder drop with a crash! Oh My God who was on it, I wondered and peeped out of my brilliant white curtains. The boy in blue overalls and a mask ran to pick it up and spent a good 5 minutes trying to fix the regulator which had come off and rolled away under the third bed in the row... what if the patient is deprived of oxygen for those 5 mins and dies, I thought, so alarmed. But the uneducated, semi skilled man in blue overalls knew that he did not have to worry. The gas was flowing through for the patient, only the regulator needed fixing with a fist- he brought it down hard, and the regulator clicked into place. I sat back and heaved a sigh of relief mixed with dread. Had it been someone close to me who was inhaling that oxygen, I would have gone berserk. And would have doubted the gas supply efficiency, the correctness of the regulator  and the hospital's capability. But apparently the oxygen hungry soul had no one around- because I heard no admonishes and no protests and no commands to please change the apparatus.

I sat, my right hand in my left, waiting to be bandaged. Such a small thing as compared to what the people around me were going through. The pleasant lady dressing up my wound came back and hurriedly shed her gloves to put on fresh ones. She looked harried. "I asked her if today was a particularly busy day? "More sad than busy," she said, intent on getting the gloves on. I noticed a wedding ring on the third finger of her left hand- she was at work while her family was home this Saturday night. I thought of my Saturday nights which I did not like to share with any work- Saturday nights were meant only for fun and pleasure.

"Ouch! That hurt!" and also broke my reverie. The lady was trying to pull off my bandage in order to clean the blister and put a fresh one. I was in tears and she looked at me incredulously as if saying "shame on you! Crying over such a minor thing- one silly little blister because of your own carelessness in your own kitchen? Look at people around you- they are suffering from maladies totally beyond their control and comprehension. But they are taking it- even faking good health for the sake of their relatives.They feel like pits but they smile. They dont want to see anyone but they are courteous when people ask after their health. They go through descriptions of their illness some 10 times a day but they do not feel low- they still have faith that they will live and tide over this illness. Shame!"

From the bed I sat on, I could see the nursing station if I parted the curtains. A woman was there crying asking for her child to be resuscitated once again. The nurse on duty was holding her hand and telling her it was of no use... but the mother would not give up.

I looked at my hand- it had gotten better and the blister had turned a rich purple. The lady told me it was healing well. Suddenly I did not care. I did not even think of the plastic surgeon, nor the scar!I was hungry, happy, tired, angry, hurting, recovering, all at the same time. I was normal and revelling in my avatar as a human-  I suddenly wanted to make my sojourn on earth meaningful- not by doing all those fake little philanthropic gestures, but more by containing my own joys and sorrows. More by understanding that there are so many people I have to learn from. That my distress is small when compared to some distresses which defy description- imagine the mother begging the nurse to resuscitate her dead baby- I am sure she must have pleaded with her Gods and told them she would offer them a gift or sacrifice if that God brought back her baby. We all know there have been cases when people have pledged their wealth and whatever for God's favour. The Gods don't want it but we insist in the hope that the Gods will then listen to us. Thats funny but true at least in India.

So I walked to my car and drove to my workplace, asked the watchman to unlock the premise. He was surprised to see me there at this hour. I sat at my desk, called up home and told them I would be in office for half an hour after which I would come home. They must not worry I am fine.

But they worried and called every 5 mins. I realized what it is to feel loved. What if my oxygen cylinder had toppled?

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