O! God! What kind of sound is this? A thousand war planes flying together? Or continuous thunders and lightening? Or my head being crushed between two huge hammers? Why this horrible burning sensation? Why is my head paining so terribly? Why is that I can’t see anything? Why this pitch darkness? Where am I? What is happening to me? Why this pain all over my body?
The terrible and unbearable sound continues.
I shout, ‘Please stop, please stop.’
Oh, my! What happened to my voice? Why am I not able to shout?
Let me try again, ‘Please stop.’
No, no use. Why does no voice come out?
Why am I feeling sleepy again? I woke up just now only. Why do I feel so tired? Where am I? What has happened to me? What has happened …? What has …? What …?
** ** ** ** **
Why this darkness? Is it night? Why can’t I feel my hands and legs? Why is this excruciating pain all over my body? Where am I? What happened to me?
Many questions, but no answers.
The sound which I earlier felt like a thousand war planes has now come down drastically. Oh, the sound was of two people quarrelling loudly. One man was accusing another of doing something wrong for which the former had been held responsible. Who are these people? Why can’t I see them?
‘Doctor’, that is yet another voice, and it is a female voice.
‘Yes?’, a different male voice.
‘Doctor, can I see him now? I am his wife,’ the female voice.
Oh! So this is a hospital. I am in a hospital! Then why do they not do something to reduce my pain?
I tried to call out, ‘Doctor’.
But the words dried up somewhere in my throat.
How did I end up in the hospital? What is my name? Who am I?
‘All right’, that is the voice of the doctor. ‘Only for a few seconds, okay? He has been gaining and losing consciousness off and on. So please don’t disturb him.’
‘Yes, doctor’, the female sound. This time the voice cracked, as if she was crying.
Whose wife is this lady? There may be other patients in this room. Is this a room? Or an ICU? What is going on? Why am I not able to remember anything?
Footsteps! They are coming closer. Who could it be? The lady who said she is the wife of a patient? Maybe I will ask her who I am, if the footsteps pass near me. The steps came closer and stopped near me. A few seconds must have passed. I wanted to talk to her. Suddenly I felt something on my hand. It is a hand! A hand touching my hand! Oh, God! I can feel the hand. So warm, so smooth. Whose hand is this? And why is he, or she, touching my hand? Delicately caressing? Is it the lady who said she was the patient’s wife? Is she my wife? She has to be. Otherwise I would not have felt so much love, care, affection, and warmth in the touch. Maybe she will tell me something about me. I felt a few drops of warm water falling on my hand. Warm water? Those are probably her tears. She must be crying. Yes, I can hear the sobs.
I shouted, ‘please talk to me, please say something’.
She didn’t hear my voice. She didn’t notice my tremendous effort to talk to her or to shout.
I tried to clutch her hand. But I could not move my fingers. I tried hard to remember again. And again. No, nothing. Nothing comes to my mind. I can’t think of anything.
O! Lord! How I want to see her, to look at her face. Maybe I will be able to recognise her. Maybe I will recollect something about me. But I cannot see anything. And I am unable to speak.
I heard the doctor’s voice, ‘Mrs Verma, let him rest, please ...’
She slowly and delicately moved her hand from mine. I shouted, ‘No, no, do not go away. Please stay, please stay.’ Nobody heard me. The footsteps slowly retreated.
A few seconds later I heard the doctor again, ‘Look, Mrs Verma, you need to be brave. Very brave, indeed.’
‘Doctor’, my wife said (yes, now I can confidently say she is my wife), ‘Tell me something. His condition frightens me. You can tell me the truth. What do you ... What ....’
Her voice choked too much and she could not speak. I only heard her sighs.
‘All right, Mrs Verma. I was waiting for your son to arrive. But maybe I should tell you. You need to be calm. You understand that the accident was terrible. It is a miracle that he is still alive. All the other occupants of the car died on the spot. His condition is, however, very critical. Very very critical. Both his legs and left hand have multiple fractures. His spine has been fractured at a few places. His skull and brain have serious injuries, too. His heart and liver are in a very bad condition. If you believe in God, please pray for him.
‘Let me also tell you that even if he recovers after many surgeries and several months of hospitalisation, he may still face a number of problems. He may not be able to move, he may not be able to see, or speak, or hear, or even think. He may just be in a vegetative state. I am not trying to frighten you. I am only warning you what to expect.’
Oh! God! Is the doctor talking about me? Am I in such a serious condition? Is that why I am not able to see? Is that why I can’t talk? He was talking about an accident. Did I meet with an accident?
There was continuous sound of blowing the nose. I knew she was crying. And then there was silence. Utter silence. Has she left? Did the doctor send her away? I don’t want her to leave. ‘Please don’t leave, please, please.’ I tried to shout, tried to move, tried everything possible to attract their attention.
I don’t know if I succeeded. But I heard the doctor saying, ‘Wait, Mrs Verma, just a second.’
Again sound of footsteps approaching. The doctor’s touch, on my face, on my hand, and then the cold metal touch everywhere. Must be the stethoscope.
After a few seconds I heard his voice again, ‘Mrs Verma, he is conscious now.
But I don’t know if he can see you, or hear you, or talk to you. If you want to spend some more time with him, you may do so, but remember, don’t tax his brain too much.’
A few seconds later, she was once again beside me taking my hand in hers. This time I could also feel her warmth on my face. She must be caressing my face.
Or is she kissing me? So soothing, so loving.
She whispered, ‘Sushil, I don’t know if you can hear me. But please come back. Please don’t leave me alone. I won’t be able to live without you. Sushil, I love you. Please stay with me. Please don’t go away. Please, please.’
Her touch, the caressing, the love, the affection, the vibration, spread all over my body. My pain seemed to melt away. I felt weightless. I was floating like a feather. Even a light breeze could blow me away. I hoped she would stay with me forever. And ever. And ever.
I don’t know how long she stayed with me.
Why am I suddenly feeling hotter, and hotter, and hotter? Why has it become more difficult to breathe? Oh! God! What is happening to me? Am I already put on the funeral pyre? I wanted to shout, ‘I am alive’. Or am I drowning in the ocean? Why can’t I breathe? Somebody, please, please help me.
Where is my wife? Where is the doctor?
I tried to run away from the pyre, but my legs wouldn’t move. I wanted to get out of water, but I could not swim. I tried to get some air which was not coming from anywhere. I struggled as if my life depended on it. But I could not escape from the fire which wanted to consume me or the water which wanted to drown me.
I heard a feeble sound in panic, ‘Doctor, doctor.’
That must be my wife. But why is she shouting from so far away? Wasn’t she sitting near me? And why is her voice so feeble? I could still feel her hand in mine. Why is she not pulling me out of the water? Or from the pyre?
I heard some frantic movements. Maybe they are coming to help me. To take me out of the deep water so that I can breathe once again. Maybe they will take me out of the pyre, too, so I won’t burn. Suddenly the pain, that had subsided when my wife was with me, returned more and more furiously. All over the body. I frantically tried to get some air, which was not coming at all.
I could sense frantic movements of several people. Why are they not doing anything? They are touching me ... my hands ... chest ... eyes ... But why are they not pulling me out of the water? Why don’t they pull me out of the pyre?
Where is my wife?
Please stay with me...
Please pull me out of the water…
Please don’t go away...
Please pull me out of the pyre…
Please don’t go...