There are sometimes advantages to being sick. Not when you have a cold, mind you (there can be no advantage to snot flowing out of the caves that were once your nostrils), but maybe a mild fever that lasts a couple of days. You can lie in bed for hours on end, with nothing but sleep and books to keep you company, and ask people to bring you cups of tea and they can't even tell you to get it yourself because that would make them Selfish and Inconsiderate and Unfeeling. Ha ha.
But what I've been through the past week, my god, I've been through the very depths of hell and I swear that for once I'm not exaggerating.
Tuesday, July 28. My mother had been in town and she was leaving that morning. She was on her way home after a month-long trip to Amrika and Engerland. She turned 56 on the 25th, by the way, and when I made fun of her age, she asked me to compare our lives to see who had the better one.
She doesn't usually get the better of me, but when she does - ouch.
Anyway, so I spent the previous night at my aunt's, so I could have a Last Breakfast with Mum before she left, and I woke up that morning in agony. Terrible pains in my chest, the back of my knees, my wrists. I bent down to pick up something I'd dropped at one point, and the pain was unbelievable.
"Something's wrong," I told her.
"Nothing's wrong. You just slept awkwardly."
"But I've never had this sort of pain before,"
My mother's explanation?
"You slept awkwardly in a position you've never slept in before,"
"Never slept in before? In twenty-four years?"
I let it go. Sometimes, with my mother, you have to let things go. There's no other way.
Anyway, I kissed her goodbye, and hugged her tight, and then left for work with a slight lump in my throat. Because the world is a strange place and I am more fond of her than anything else in it.
I was feeling awful by the time I got to work and by noon, I was burning up with fever. So I finished off the bits and pieces of work I had to do, and went home at lunch-time.
I don't know how I got home and I don't remember the next 24 hours either. I just sort of lay there, drifting in and out of sleep. I do remember having to go to the shop to get water because my Aquaguard isn't working and I haven't gotten around to fixing it, and I remember that it was a very painful excursion. It's just a 2 minute walk, but I had to stop and rest, and when I got home, my fingers couldn't hold the packet the water was in, and the bottles fell on the floor, and rolled around, and I spent another painful 2 minutes attempting to pick them up.
Oh, the tragedies I have lived through. The sufferings I have been through. The traumas I have -
Okay, getting back to the point, otherwise no one's going to believe I'm not exaggerating.
Wednesday, July 29. I woke up feeling worse. I knew I needed to get blood tests done because the joint pain was getting unbearable, and the fever was disturbingly high, but I hate hospitals. I spent much of Wednesday morning googling doctors who do home-visits instead.
There are none anymore. Which is really terribly sad.
My mother called.
"I think you should go to the hospital for tests," she said.
"I can't go to the hospital on my own," I said irritably.
"Chini can take you. Suja spoke to her and she says that Chini's brother works in a hospital close by. She thinks you need a blood test."
Chini is the lady who comes to help out at my aunt and uncle's house every morning. She makes very good coffee and I adore her - not just because of the coffee.
"Well, see if she can arrange for someone to come to the house. That would be good. Because I cannot go to the hospital." And then a bellow to make my point - "I CAN'T EVEN WALK PROPERLY."
"Okay, okay, I'll call you back."
I was settled in bed when the doorbell rang and Chini walked into the house. I hadn't been expecting her.
"What are you doing here?" I said in surprise.
"Come, we'll go to the hospital."
"No, no," I protested. "I don't need to, Chini. I'll get someone to come to the house. It's absolutely fine. I'm completely okay,"
"No, let's go, it's close by."
I made a last feeble protest. "My legs hurt."
"I'll get an auto for you and we'll go together."
There are some people who, without the slightest hint of authority, in the sweetest, most matter-of-fact tones, Get Their Own Way. Chini is obviously one of those people and I am no match for her.
I found myself quietly putting my jeans on and hobbling out the door.
We got to the hospital, it's close by, on Miller's Road and ironically it's called Vikram Hospital (I didn't find it amusing, but all my friends did) and Chini introduced me to her brother who is on the nursing staff. They took me to the Emergency Department and I climbed gratefully into a bed.
The first thing they did was attach me to a drip. It was exciting at first because I've never been attached to a drip before, but it stopped being exciting very soon, and after they took my pulse rate (I could hear it beeping away on those machines which was slightly scary) and my blood pressure and stuck a bunch of needles in me, I fell asleep.
Chini was a star. I had to stay there for 2 to 3 hours, so I told her she ought to go home instead of hanging around, but she refused to. She got all the paper-work done and paid the bills while I drifted in and out of an uneasy sleep. I didn't have to lift a finger; she was, to put it simply, amazing.
The tests were apparently clear (I thought I'd been tested for malaria and stuff but more on that later) and the doctors thought it was viral fever. So they gave me some tablets and sent me home.
Chini dropped me right to my door, I assured her that there was plenty of food in the house and that I'd be fine. And then I staggered to bed and fell asleep again.
A small side note on dinner that night. I was too tired to make a sandwich so I called this Chinese restaurant near my house. I don't usually order from them, they're on the expensive side and I don't like their food as much as Delicacy which in my opinion is the best Chinese restaurant in Bangalore, but I was craving soup and Thai Green Curry. So I ordered that.
The soup and curry came and ten minutes later, I realised there was no rice with it. I burst into tears. Pathetic, I know. And then I got angry and I called the restaurant and they told me I had to order the rice separately (a small steamed rice, by the way, was 150 bucks).
"SEPARATELY?" I shouted. "EVERYONE SENDS RICE WITH GREEN CURRY. IT'S A GIVEN. YOU THINK PEOPLE EAT IT WITH CHOW MEIN?"
(Later, mulling over this matter, I realised that this is India, and maybe green curry and chow mein is not unheard of.)
"I'VE SEEN HOW MUCH YOUR RICE COSTS. I'M NOT A MILLIONAIRE. I DON'T WANT YOUR CURRY. TAKE IT BACK AND GIVE ME MY MONEY. I'M NOT PAYING FOR RICE."
At this point, I started crying again over the phone (my fever was at a fever-pitch) and I must have scared the poor man at the end because he said he'd send across rice for free.
Now my temper is explosive, but it never lasts for long, so five minutes later, I called the restaurant back.
"Listen," I said. "I'm sorry for speaking so rudely. I lost my temper. I still think it's a little unfair - you should mention that there's no rice with it, because most restaurants send rice, but I shouldn't have spoken to you that way. Please send the rice, but I'll pay for it."
"No, Ma'am," the poor man at the other end of the line said, probably cursing his job. "We'll send it for free."
"No, sir. I insist on paying for it. I'll give the delivery boy the money."
"No, Ma'am," said he. "It's absolutely okay. Please just take the rice."
"Well, thank you very much," I said, after another minute of arguing with him. "It's very kind of you and I'm so sorry about shouting the way I did. It's really...so kind...I..." And then I started blubbering again.
"We'll send it immediately, Ma'am," he said in alarm. "No problem, don't mention it."
The power a crying woman has over men is truly one of life's greatest mysteries.
To be continued.