I Am Not Well (Part 4).

I've already mentioned how my mother, who'd been ready to rush to my side for days, ended up booking the wrong flight ticket. Anyway, she re-scheduled for the next day. And a couple of hours before she was due to land, I got a call.


I sighed a deep sigh and waited for her to continue.



(She did manage getting on the next flight, and landed up in the evening. My father called soon after, and asked where she was. "She got here half an hour ago," I said. "She's been getting there half an hour ago for two days now," he said. Haha. Ha.)

Going back to that morning. I was alone because S. had to go to work and all my friends were at work and my aunt and uncle were at work. The hospital had a rule - patients cannot be left unattended by their attendant for more than an hour. I spent half the day alone.

"It's because everyone else has work," I told myself miserably, as I lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

"I am loved, I am loved, I am loved," I told myself valiantly, as I lay on my bed, listening to the chatter and laughter of the six people who were visiting the old lady sharing my room.

Man, my life is a tragedy.

And then, at lunchtime, when I was dozing with the curtains around me, I suddenly heard a lot of commotion happening. The curtains were drawn, but I could hear the door banging, and nurses rushing in and out, and raised voices.

Oh god, I thought. The old lady's dead. Or dying.

I desperately wanted to peer through the curtains to see what was happening, but it felt like a nasty and intrusive thing to do, and also, I was convinced that I would see something horrifying. So I just lay there, biting my lip, thinking about this lady's life coming to an end, just feet away from me. At least she was surrounded by the people she loved.

Except it turned out that she'd been discharged and was leaving to go home. She cheerily waved goodbye to me as she wheeled out and said, "Maybe you will go home! God willing."

The indignity of it all.

I told myself that she didn't mean it the way it sounded, i.e. I think it's touch and go, but I hope you make it out alive.


After she left, I had the room to myself which was rather nice. They'd taken me off the drip that day, thank goodness, so I was able to walk around properly. But there wasn't really anywhere to walk, so I just stood at the window.

It was an interesting view. There were no buildings blocking my view. The window looked down on the main road, and across it, was a school. The grounds were empty just then, but a minute or two later, a file of nursery students were led out by their teacher. The children couldn't have been more than four. She lined them up and then, to my delight, they underwent that classic Indian punishment: holding ears and bending up and down. I counted how many times they did it - fifty. And they say today's children get no exercise.

As I stood there, watching them, feeling devoutly glad that my school days are long gone, all the other students started filtering out, milling around the grounds, and on the pavement outside.

The beauty of Home Time.

I could see groups of girls and boys standing around, mostly separately. The younger ones were screeching and running up and down the pavement. I don't know why. Children baffle me. One particular girl - she looked about fourteen - caught my eye because she was pacing a stretch of pavement on her own. And then this boy passed her, and she stopped. I couldn't see the expression on her face obviously, but I think she had a crush on him because as he walked by, she stood still, staring at him as he walked away.

Or maybe she was just staring at something else, but I like my interpretation. It made me fondly (time being a great healer) recall my own youth, and the time I'd spend standing on the pavement just outside school, looking longingly across the road at Farhad Anklesaria.

He already knew my face from the CCFC because I used to stalk him (and not very subtly), which is why, when he saw me standing across the road for the first time and realised I was in La Martiniere too, an expression of horror crossed his face, and he moved away very quickly.

Oh, the power I have over men.

Anyway, so I was standing there, comfortably back in the past, when something towards on my left on the window still - which was broad enough to climb out on instead of terrorists or a fire except you couldn't open the windows so you'd die anyway - caught my eye.

It was a dead kite.

I feel like throwing up just thinking about it. I couldn't see the entire bird, thank god for small mercies, but its back - all the limp brown feathers...

...sorry, I can't continue.

When it comes to birds, okay, life, but birds have a significant role to play, I just can't catch a break. And I know it was probably harder on the kite, being dead and all, but whatever.

I didn't go back to the window again.

Min, Bilal, and Sexy Lion came to visit me that evening which was nice; it made me feel I had friends. They all commented on how shit I was looking, which was not so nice. And then they went away. Come to think of it, maybe there's something to be said for having no friends.

And then my mother turned up. I required gentleness and comfort, but naturally she freaked out (loudly, as is her wont) about my appearance.

Which was quite awful, to be fair.

My skin had gone all patchy, I had the rash (although it had cleared up a bit), and I'd lost two kilos in two days except, at the same time, I was all bloated. My hair was in the shape of a triangle, which it usually is, unless I take the trouble to blow-dry it, which I don't, but it was even more triangular than usual. Seriously. And given that my face was bloated and rounder than usual, baring an alarming resemblance to a circle, I looked like a geometry problem.

That's the thing about being sick. It's so much better you have that pale, ethereal, ready-for-the-angels look. Easier to deal with somehow. I will never be ready for the angels. They'd probably take one look at me and fly away.

Did my mother settle down after that, by my bedside, stroking my hair or asking whether I wanted something hot to drink?


She started nosing around the bathroom. Now the bathroom was okay and all, it was large, sun-lit, and clean. But come on. It was a bathroom. But she droned on and on and on and on about the excellent location of the shower, and the convenience of the toilet, and the wonderfulness of this and the impressiveness of that. I guess it's just one of those things she does that is, and always will be, incomprehensible to me. Like the way she randomly opens my underwear drawer in Calcutta and sniffs it. Even when I'm in Bangalore.

Anyway, she went back to stay at my aunt and uncle's that night (my father having correctly pointed out that she would demand more attention from the nurses than myself) so S. was my attendant instead. Some attendant. He ate disgusting McDonald's burgers that made the room smell, watched television, and passed out. Aren't I lucky to always be surrounded by such kind, compassionate people.

I was bored and couldn't sleep, so I called the nurse and asked for the magic pill (even though I didn't need it) and in seconds, I was asleep.

More about the day that followed later. I'm afraid this is getting tedious, and I'm forgetting a lot of the things that happened (which, let's face it, is probably a good thing), but you know. Finishing what I started and all that jazz.

To Be Continued. 


I Am Not Well (Part 3).

Okay, so given how much time has passed, I should really be calling this, I Was Not Well, but too late now. Oh...well.

Right, so I packed my stuff for hospital. Here is a reference in case you too ever need to be rushed off.

1. Pyjamas which I didn't need because they gave me a terrible prickly hospital gown - more on that later.
So actually, come to think of it, a pair of pyjamas is something you won't need to pack.

2. A book that I'd been attempting to read for three and a half years, but couldn't, because I don't understand half the words, and because, by the time I get to the next page, I forget what I've just read. It's Ayesha Jalal's Partisans of Allah.
Anyway, I suppose this is another lesson on what-not-to-pack. If you haven't read it in three years, three days in hospital won't cut it.

3. A bag of mixed berries. Because it was the only food in the house apart from two day Chinese leftovers (predictable). I also got people to smuggle food in. This is the only thing I did right.

4. ....

Okay, so I travel light.

Anyway, my aunt and uncle took me back to Vikram Hospital. By this time, I felt like a regular visitor. It was almost comforting. Or so I told myself valiantly, as I pictured days spent in a hospital bed stretching endlessly out before; my lone companion, a sick, elderly person who would die in the night. (Speaking of which...)

They hooked me up to an IV again in Emergency, but just as I was drifting up, a nurse came up to me and made me move to a side-room. Because apparently my situation wasn't as urgent as the person I was making way for. (It wasn't, but the nurse didn't have to make it so clear.)

And then I had to pee in a cup.

So the story around this is hilarious, so utterly hilarious, but given the subject matter, I think I shall, for once, give this one a miss.

Man, you're so missing out though.

And then finally, after hours of my aunt and uncle running around getting the admission procedure done, while I dozed happily, I was wheeled up to my room.

"I don't need a wheel chair," I said incredulously when they brought it to me. "I can walk."

"But you have to, Ma'am,"

"No, no. Not necessary."

"It's procedure, Ma'am."

I begged. I actually begged. I couldn't imagine anything more humiliating than being wheeled through waiting rooms, with my hair defying gravity and my glasses hanging off my face, which was bright red and peeling off, and I was clutching my bag with a bag of berries sticking out of it, but I didn't have to imagine it, because I was lucky (haha) enough to pass a mirror on my way out.

"I don't need IV drips, I need plastic surgery," I said out loud, but as usual, I was ignored.

So I get to the room, Room 306, and I had the bed by the door. It wasn't bad, actually, it was rather nice. There was a big window at the far end that let in a lot of light. We were relatively high up, so there were no windows blocking the sky. The floors were wooden. And each bed had curtains that left enough space to make a little private room.

The other bed, at the far end of the room, was occupied by an old lady.


But she had her daughter with her throughout, and during the 24 hours she was there, people kept dropping in to visit her, which was comforting somehow.

I think it's because, a few months ago, I went to visit a friend of S,'s called Pog. Pog had been admitted to Fortis, a hospital close by and incidentally one of my clients, and he shared his room with an old man. An old lady, presumably his wife, was his attendant. No one visited them. She had to sleep on that uncomfortable bed. She sort of sat there, next to him, and you kind of got the impression they were both alone in the world. It was the sort of thing that just gives you a little ache, you know?


I got into bed (my aunt and uncle were still getting all the tedious stuff done), and I played with remote control a bit. Up, down, up down. I then took a moment to appreciate the rare and blessed feeling of clean sheets, but I was disturbed by a nurse who came in with the dreaded pyjamas.

Funnily enough, they weren't too bad. It wasn't a tunic, it was in two pieces, and it didn't leave your butt hanging out, and it was pink. The pink was unexpectedly cheerful.

Then, predictably, the IV and the sleep.

I haven't mentioned my mother yet, but she'd been quite busy. She'd intended to come down that day, that evening, but later in the afternoon, I got a frantic phone call.


"Hi," I said apprehensively, because I'm always apprehensive when she talks in capital letters.




I ask you, what can you say to that?


A part of me momentarily wished that she had made the realisation when she got to the airport, but I dismissed the thought as an unworthy one.

"There there," I said to her. "I'll see you tomorrow. Don't worry."


I had a theory on how it could have happened, more than one in fact, but I chose not to share them with her.

S. stayed the night - all hospital rooms have little side beds for 'attendents'. The night was horrible. I was itching all over, it was agony, and the medicine they gave me wasn't helping either. And now we come to the old lady - my god, that woman could snore. I have come across snorers before - my grandmother and my father were experts at the art - but this was like...I can't think of a parallel, but at some point, I was very close to tears, because the night seemed to have paused. I didn't see how the snoring and the itching would ever go away, I felt as if I was trapped in that situation forever, that maybe I'd died and this was my hell, and my punishment, for all the selfish things I've done and all the mean things I've said to people.

But then I called one of the night nurses, and she gave me a beautiful little pill (that I'd demand more than once, more on that later), and all of a sudden, poof, I'd shut down for the night.

To be continued.