A figure lies forlorn on the steel-bed.
Strapped to catheters and tubes and a blinking monitor, covered with blanket.
Breathing slowly, in the ICU, where antiseptic smells and a deathly silence combine and strongly prevail, magnifying the tread on the bare floor or the scratch of a gifted golden fountain- pen or the muffled coughs around---borderlands of life and mortality ever shifting so arbitrarily; everything is clinical, measured, cold and couched in expertspeak, total Greek to the hapless carers, blinking eyes, in a dim shrine.
There, yet not there--- slipping.
Emotions are strictly forbidden entry in this rarefied province. Inmates are at the mercy of the machines and mechanical gaze, gesture and tone of the guys in the white. An imposed order and sanity on apparent turbulence of different kind.
We are just numbers here!
Pain. Suffering. Weariness of soul. Exhaustion. Stress. Hope against flickering hope. The moods varied, all collide in such a cramped space both material/mental, strange alchemy.
Doctors arrive; exit, with the accuracy of the subway trains of a wounded Paris---automated, punctual and precise, ferrying thousands to destinations scattered.
Every minute, every footfall counts by the billing department.
Outside the mystery of an ICU, sits a hunched figure on the bench, on this balmy Mumbai evening---teary; shell-shocked; silently praying to a chosen god out of a million, for comfort and mercy divine, in a polis where everybody is rushed. Expecting miracles that can defy the verdict of approaching death. Bewildered, yet looking for some opening in a cul-de-sac.
Faith Vs fact; Optimism Vs commerce collide. The wait can be terrifying inside/outside. Uncertainties are killers.
Mind refuses reality.
Healing might occur any time!
Hospitals! They are the real places for re-learning on the human condition and existential angst.
And a bonding among patients and their relatives---a shared experience of loss and gain, across assorted geographies and demographics.
And a will to survive in a most bleak place where fresh beginnings and exhausted endings happen simultaneously in a never ending game.
The waves crash near the coconut clump
where the ocean comes up to kiss the sands
of the beach secluded from touristy feet
and talk to the matted brown kid about
long boats, fishing, laughter, boisterous dad.
The young kid gets lulled by these sounds and
dreams of a shack, a coughing mother and siblings
eaten by a hungry typhoon one horrible day.
They often remind of things that will not be
Waves---crashing, hissing, singing
their own symphony that resurrects the dead
for the sad orphan and others orphaned of many
for a mind on a rewind mode.
( Sunil Sharma is a Mumbai based senior academic, writer, freelance journalist and editor with 18 published books).
The Beautiful Space-