Thursday, December 11, 2014

"I See You"

The screaming was screeching in its tone, yet faint. Distant as a background noise. Like a desperate, final cry before eternal silence could surround him. The silence never arrived. He knew the screaming was just in his mind. But it was more real than anything else. With a harsh gasp, as if he was surfacing above water after almost drowning, he opened his eyes.

Outer reality was calm. There was the ambulance siren, the expected bumpiness of the potholed roads, and the diffused amber street lights. But no noise. No traffic, no honking. The typical 4 AM. Keeping his head rigid, why he knew not, he scanned the interiors of the vehicle. Completely bare. The plank he felt below him was bare metal. A flimsy bedsheet, sourced from their house was all that kept the metallic coldness from seeping into him. Even the pillow supporting his neck was a piece of sponge that usually lay forgotten in a corner of the house. Where was the saline equipment, the oxygen masks, and all those other paraphernalia? Can this be called an ambulance? It was just a discarded shell of one.

The inside was becoming louder again. He knew he was sliding again. Sliding back. At least, this time, he was already lying down.


Surreal, yet ordinary. The bed wasn't surrounded by white or blue coats. No frantic discussions were being held above him. Of course, some needles had been poked and some sensors wired up to his chest, but all that kept him company now was the constant beeping behind his head. He could see five curtained chambers on the other side of the big hall. The large desk in centre, perhaps the nurses' station, was where a frantic debate seemed to be taking place.

“B positive, they tested thrice.”
“Medical history says O positive!”
“B positive...”

The beeping behind him had quickened somewhat. What happens if blood of the wrong group if transfused in? The beeping was louder. He had to see what it was about. How many of those machines were there, standing guard over him as robotic sentries? Careful not to disturb the arm that was hooked up, he tried to lift himself slightly to look around. The beeping quickened its pace. He could feel his heart beating faster. Was the beeping quicker because his heart had quickened, or did his heart quicken in response to the faster beep?

It was loud now, like an alarm. Quickly, he sank back, worried that they might come and castigate him for moving. But no one seemed to notice. Clearly, the beeping hadn't reached the stage that summoned attention like it always managed to do in those hospital-based television shows. His arm hooked up to the saline might have moved slightly. The coldness of the liquid seeping into his vein was more stark now. He could feel it flowing in, drop by drop.


8 AM. A female battalion in blue strode into view and stood in a line. Another battalion assembled itself from the far unseen corners of the room. The leaders approached each other and exchanged notes. One queen bee handing over responsibility of the hive to another. Allocations were done, and the new battalion moved into their stations. The previous ones gathered their things and, with their chattering taking on a sunny tone, disappeared.


Daylight, or no daylight, mornings were mornings. The buzz was more. Humans were more. Cleaners abound. Doctors could be sighted. But only one among the five beds on the opposite side of the hall stirred. These five beds were the only ones he could see. And only one among the visible five seemed capable of being conscious at will. The conscious one called out for the busy ward boy with authority and demanded his bed be raised so he could sit up. Clearly, he was a highly experienced comrade. A veteran of an inmate.


“Amma! Amma!”

Must be evening visiting hours. Even the visitors had to don the blue hospital gowns and masks over their faces. One per bed. Only one among the 4 unconscious beds received a visitor. A man with distraught eyes.

“Amma! Amma!”

The visitor patiently kept shouting into the unconscious ear. Was it more than a myth that coma patients are capable of hearing?

Another blue-clad visitor walked up to another unconscious bed. She settled comfortably on a stool nearby.

“Attamma, attamma!” She began her intonation too, though more gently than the other one.
Does the same person visit a patient every day or did all relatives take turns? To diligently visit every evening calling out their names, their nicknames, to retrieve them from their distant realities, and awaken their comas.


Darkened room simulated the outside night. The far corner of the five visible beds had attracted a gathering: all the nurses and both the doctors. Defibrillators made an appearance. The doctor held them up silently. Everyone stepped back silently. He placed them on the chest silently. He looked up silently. He removed them silently. He repeated the whole process, again silently. Everyone else stayed still. So the histrionics on TV shows when a patient ought to be revived -- the frantic movements, the shouts, the drama – are all perhaps just that. Dramatisation.

The only time the silence was broken was when the doctor announced the time.


New morning. A new body in the far corner bed. With a new attendant. With tears shimmering in his eyes, arms folded to avoid wringing, the son listened intently to the doctor. His face unabashedly displayed the pain within. The doctor, trying to be both professional yet sympathetic, focused on the explanation to avoid the emotion. Reluctantly, the attendant walked towards the exit with one final glance at the bed of his sleeping mother.

Presumably as soon as he left, the doctor shouted for the ward boy. He then began to angrily castigate the ward boy for daring to speak with the attendant, and probably giving him false information about the patient.

“NO ONE! No one is allowed to speak to the attendants except doctors. Not even nurses!”


“Arrre! Please!! Koi hai?”

Loud pleads in a crass voice broke his sleep. He looked to the source. An old man had replaced one of the unconscious comrades. And old man who was both conscious and seemingly in extreme discomfort.

“Arrre!! Evaranna!”

He kept calling out for anyone and everyone. But no one stirred. The nurses were all happily chatting with each other, the ward boys flirting with the maid, the doctor immersed in a file. The pain-ridden calls emanated, wafted through the room and dissipated through the roof without bothering anyone. How could all of the staff, who were otherwise so attentive, so blatantly ignore him?

Another doctor walked in.

“I'm dying! Bachaoo koi toh!”

Hearing the pleas, the new doctor threw a questioning look at the head nurse.

“That's the patient with the failed liver.”
“Oh! That guy. We could have put him in the ward but he just refuses medication!" 
“How long will the withdrawal last?”

The doctor just shrugged in response.


The phone rang in the middle of the night. The head nurse picked it up immediately. Then she walked up to him with a smile.

“Good news! Your room is ready.”

Being wheeled out, it was the first time he got to see the rest of the hospital. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The world 'not' through 'untinted' glasses

I remember when my eyes were renowned among local relatives for their sharpness. Or maybe they just praised me because I was a little kid.

I remember the year my eyes deteriorated to such an extent that I when I went for my first ever eye test, I couldn't even decipher the big A on the test-screen.

18 years later I no longer remembered what it was to be able to see without having the contraption constantly perched on my nose. When not so disinterestedly looking at the lists people made of the things they can't live without, or things they can't leave the house without, I used to think that if I ever bother with such a list, the top position would have to be taken by 'my glasses'.

And now, barely a month or two after the 'surgery', I'm so used to the new liberty that it feels like I never used to wear glasses at all! What this essentially tells us is that liberty is always underrated until it is experienced;)

Anyway ... let's make a list to denote the change :P

↑ Reaching for the glasses is no longer the first action upon waking up.
↑ No longer uncomfortable going for a haircut. I know now that the primary reason I used to find the experience daunting was because, having been forced to remove my glasses and going blind, I had to face the unknowns of what shenanigans were being played out above my head with my precious hair. But now, I can see!
↑ Being caught in rain no longer means suffering blurred vision through water laden glasses, but getting refreshed the most natural way ;).
↑ No longer do I have to put up with unusual refractions of light due to the dirt and finger-prints hosting lenses.
↑ No longer is the spare set of glasses the first thing to go into my bag when packing for a trip.
↑ Can actually consider going swimming or other 'watery' activities without going blind and without worrying about becoming that fool who waves at all the wrong people.
↑ Protecting my glasses no longer needs to be my top instinctive action when playing sports. Sigh, if I do actually play any more, that is .
↑ No longer do I need to avoid peering too closely into steaming food or bubbling liquids.
↑ If I were still in the UK, I would have written -- no longer would I have to temporarily go blind due to the rapid condensation on my glasses when I step indoors from the brutal cold outside.
↑  Can finally enjoy 3-D movies without getting a headache or being weighed down by the two sets of glasses (yet to try this out).

For the last one in today's list, a somewhat ironical liberty:
↑↑ Can buy sun-glasses and wear them without having to get them tailored first!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let's go back to the start

Can't turn around
Can't hold on
Time keeps dragging me on
But I still am where I was

This is not the path for me
A path to nowhere
Would have taken a different turn
If only I had known ahead

Stuck in sinking sand
Grasping for a helping rope
Passers-by hurried by their burdens
No time to lend me hope

Let's go back to the start
Let me begin again
This time I'll not explore
And just follow the herd until decay.

Friday, January 31, 2014

ILL's well that ends WELL

We can think of health as denoted by a point on the x-axis. In that representation, -inf would be I suppose 'dead' :P, and +inf would be, err, superhuman? I suppose people who consider themselves reasonably healthy would lie on the positive side of the origin, and the sick people would be negative. I think I might be quite close to the origin now, but the direction of movement is never certain ;).

When we are ill, we become a somewhat different person to when we are not.
Before I become too well, I thought I better note down a few differences ... you know, before the memory gets blurred and becomes all rosy :P

Grey Power
£ It may not be a direct effect but caused transitively (less nutrition -> less Hb -> less blood/oxygen to the brain etc :P), but the mind becomes dull. Yes, truly. When faced with a reasonable puzzle, the challenge feels overwhelming. After more than a few seconds of focus, it would feel as if the brain is suffocating. You know, the mental equivalent of panting after a quick dash! Consumption would be simple and easy - reading, watching, listening. But if you are asked to produce something - write, talk, do etc - oh no, that's an impossible task.
+£ But if you are well, well, you do well! Sometimes you even amaze yourself and pat yourself on the back (if you are that good a contortionist :P)

Will Power
$ If you are not well, there is no will :P. If you seek to do something, your brain questions: 'What's the £*€%ing point?' And there is no good answer to that! Any effort seems invariable more than the possible fruits. So path of least effort makes most sense!
+$ If you are well and idle, well, there is always the itch. The itch to do something. It feels hard to just sit and stare and do nothing whatsoever. You will actually need the will to stay completely idle. Whereas, when ill, absolute inactivity used to be my favourite activity ;).

More Powers
€ The future feels tiring. Even making hypothetical plans for say travel, career, et al. feels unattractive. You don't even seek the so called pleasures of life. You just wish you weren't troubled by these silly things called aims, actions.
+€ But if you are well, you are eager for things. You'd want to see the world, own the world and all that.

A downside of being well, though, is that you are less tolerant of circumstances. You want and seek to make them better. I suppose that's what drives most of humankind :P

Does this mean I am getting back to blogging? It's been 7 months without a post. I suppose that's the longest hiatus this blog has ever had but I wasn't bothered about it, and I hope the blog bore the wait with patience too. I suppose we both (the blog and I, in case you were wondering :P) have matured into stoic beings that pretend to accept all circumstances with equanimity. Anyway, I didn't even attempt to post in this period because I seem to have lost the outlook that would lookout for events or incidents to document as a blogpost and neither was I ever possessed by that exact mood that used to make me spew out seemingly rhyming lines masquerading as poetry.