The waiting room

Reminds you of the railway station, the crowd and cacophony, the chai and the stink. Train whistles, the incomprehensible announcements and the strain to listen for your own train. But this is a different waiting room.

Here only those people wait, whose trains have derailed, or are about to. They are trying to repair the tracks, push and pull to get the train back on track and somehow make it run, so they can leave for home. A few never do. 

Here they dont say ” train no so and so has arrived on platform number so and so.” Here it is ” Bed no 102″ and Kamble and Banerjee, the names and the numbers, and the call to feed or meet the doctor or sign something you have not read.

I am in the waiting room of an ICU. All around me is chaos. Sea of people, waiting to catch a glimpse of their loved ones, waiting for that ray of hope, that word from the doctor that can change despair to a smile or bring a frown and a tear. Noisy, crying, sharing, yet so distant from it all. Hearing it all, but not absorbing.

Hospitals are a part of life. And death. I am at the same place I was slightly more than two years ago. Same hospital, same ICU, same waiting room. I lost Baba here. He was already lost, but here I lost his physical being. All around me are faces, in despair, but still hopeful as they cross the nights of nightmares. 

When you think it cant get any worse, it does. And we get used to that and then there is a new low. How much the human mind can accept and get on with life, feels like a trial and error test.

Why does she have to suffer so much? In the past so many years, I have seen her lose her speech and her smile, her walk and her zest for life. A vegetable, that breathes and swallows, with a beating heart. That is about it. Just pain and more pain, which she doesn’t feel, or maybe feels and does not  express. Cancers, and then free from cancers. But not from this hell called dependence. Not from this journey that is a constant struggle for survival.

Who will I take home from here, a whole being or a part? A person who always smiled at me, now closes her eyes and shrinks away as I talk to her, or touch her.

Do your job, dont worry about the consequences. I was reminded today. Do your best, dont expect anything. Maybe that is the learning. And emotions? That are ready to flow, that have to be pushed back because there is so much to be done.

I try to work. In an effort to remain sane. Not break. I have to be strong and stronger, specially when I am powerless. Someone else pulls the strings and we dance. I do- the biggest fallacy. Who are we? Who am I? My face is expressionless, as I listen to the doctor’s verdict. Impassive but with a storm inside. 

Life sucks. Death sucks more. But maybe it is the end of suffering, pain and despair. But can’t it be painless? Among so much pain and pleasure, something goes on- that they call life, as it sits in the waiting room, for death. Somebody give respite from it all,  she needs to rest. In peace. 

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Tears, funny tears..

The best thing about showers is that they make you think. As water flows all over you, washing off the grime of everyday roughness, you realise there is more to life than merely earning your bread and butter. You, at least I, feel moronic and philosophical under a shower and get insane ideas and, for want of a better word, thoughts. I am sure if Newton had stood under a shower, he would not have needed the apple, and I don’t mean the half eaten one.

Some of my more poignant musings have been around why do I have to adjust the thermostat every time I go under it; what it Psycho started here and now and blood came down the shower instead of water; maybe if Archimedes had decided to take a shower on that fateful eureka day, I might have drowned in my buoyant thoughts; can I somehow get rain water to come down the shower since I am wasting so much of it; rain is God crying his heart out, tears idle tears..

Tears remind me, my family has always had people who could drop tears at the drop of a hat, including yours truly. I remember a नानी, a very favourite one, who we would meet during summer vacations and family reunions. She would cook up our favourite food sitting in front of the अंगीठी for hours. And while licking your fingers, if you said the food was good, she would start hollering, hug and drown you into her huge heaving bosom and crush you till you suffocate. She could cry when she was happy, when she was sad, in suffering, when she was alone and when surrounded by people. I never discovered a time and situation when she could not shed tears. God had given her a tanker full whose tap could be turned on by almost anything.

And she was not alone in this. Once she started, all my other नानीs joined force and we had a howling hullaballoo that lasted long enough to give everyone else a headache.

I also had a buxom aunt, who had a special way of crying; when she cried, her saree पल्लू would drop off automatically on to whoever was in front of her, and trust me, she got plenty of admirers who loved to comfort her. Typically always her male extended family members who were looking for the opportunity to appease her and bring her their kerchiefs and wipe her tears off her face and other semi-exposed anatomical parts.

My son, my baby could wail bucketful’s when he was a kid. I never discovered his reason for crying except when he did not get his own way, which was pretty often, and even when he did get his own way, he would cry imagining the situation, what if he had not got his own way. His way of crying was lying down on the ground, kick his legs and howl. For him, I was a witch, with horns and anything I said was used against me along with a squeeze of tear glands. Whether to comfort him or laugh was a dilemma that I had to overcome and well, the mother in me won.

I also have this strange affliction of being too emotional and tears somehow manage to find their way out even when I don’t want them around. When I am trying to ward off tears and yet the tap starts leaking, especially in front of strangers or acquaintances, I feel so terrible and then I am most distressed by my weakness. The worst is when I am fighting with my husband and winning, which is normally the case, but the glands overflow, my dear husband gives in not because I was right, but because I was crying. But I had almost won!

Much has been said about female tears resembling those of alligators, not that I have seen any crying. But I can confidently say about the female species that 1) For us crying is as natural as as.. you know other bodily functions. 2) a good cry is a feel good factor 3) we don’t need a reason to cry or fight 4) whoever said that tears are a weapon, is about as right as she can get and 5) we only use pms as an excuse.

One of the funniest cry-uncle I witnessed was this team member, who was getting a firing from me, (of course, I don’t remember the reason) and suddenly tears started rolling down his face. I wasn’t sure of what to do. Normally if a female cries, you hand over tissues, or comfort her, what was I supposed to do when this fat fellow across the table with his big belly is heaving up and down and tears are rolling down his pudgy cheeks and thick moustache. And I wanted to laugh so badly. Yeah, I am actually that horrible. But trust me, it was like one of those “funniest videos” that you see. Come on, I really didn’t intend that. Handing over the tissue box, I ended the discussion right there. Having won several debates exclusively on the basis on tear glands, I knew I had lost this one.

And then I woke up, the water was getting cold and I needed to get out of the shower before the colony faced water crisis, hence an abrupt stop to my exclusive pondering train.

Just before I end, remember, tears do not improve your face value, they only run the mascara down.