We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves

~ Gautam Buddha

Friday, July 2, 2010

A cocooned world of compassion

As the reigning numbness of inside grew soon it engulfed the world outside. The impacted moments were passing like an ages. The phenyl swabbed space with its chilly tinge felt eerie. The squeaky wheels of rolling stretchers with white uniformed attendants were the only traffic in the place. In addition, the serious, mumbled discussions of green robed surgeons appearing in and out of the O.T. and the angiography ward were the indispensable sights. Amidst them were the hapless family members of patients, with their taxing destinies. All of them had occupied the place either engulfed in a marooning silence or praying according to their fate.

Standing in the corridor, I caught a glimpse of him. The stretcher was taking him inside. Then the inching gap grew longer and I found myself in front of a closed door. Standing in the corridor of the angiography unit, I felt more nervous. The gloom seemed overwhelmingly deep with beating tides of hopelessness. Be strong, the words echoed through me. To sink into regret at the moment felt like a luxury that I could not afford. To compose my disoriented self I chose to pray, “Are you listening to me, God?” I concentrated on my refuge.
A good, clear report of his…
I don’t want to be here…” with a wailing heart, I kept reiterating. After a while the anxiety started melting into stillness. Grounded in my hard-earned strength, I sighed and speculated, “How long will it take to complete the procedure?”I tried to chalk out the duration of involved time with a fatigued mind, heavy enough with an overnight commute and spent awake.
Ma’am, you can sit in waiting room” a ward boy suggested to me, pointing with his hand towards the hall around the corner.

The room was big with trendy cushioned recliners in rows. A few big LCD screens on the wall were perhaps telecasting health awareness issues, my unsettled conscious failed to register.
I moved ahead between the rows to find a place in solitude. My parched lips and troubled mind longed to take refuge in prayer. I staggered ahead to find a few vacant chairs in front of chattering group. Heavily I sat on one of them in front of the busily discussing lot. I simply tried to sink my disoriented self into an inner space. I slipped my fingers in my handbag to take out my amulet and clasping it in my palm, I prayed deeply, feeling the moistness on my cheeks. "Lord please, a clean report of his---please help”.

I glanced at the time. Twenty minutes had already passed; he might have been taken out by now, I thought. I decided to check it out.
I found a surge in the crowd outside in the corridor joining the angioplasty unit at the other end. The setting of dusk was signaled through the reflections of lamps and lights on the glazed flooring. The fleet of moving limbs and the mumbled noise of the crowd signaled the commencement of visiting hours in the distressed cocooned world.
How long will it take?” I inquired, clearing my throat. “Half an hour more”, a masked paramedic replied. I took a deep breath to restore my strength to walk once again through the corridor.
A hierarchy of agony was floating in the space, I felt, varying according to strength of kith and kin. The big business family surrounded by their hovering folks was chattering on every pro and con involved in the case.

My place was occupied so I staggered ahead in between the rows. My searching gaze was acknowledged by a lady sitting beside a vacant recliner with her hand bag. She lifted her bag from the chair and beckoned to me. Despite her display of solicitousness, I felt an intense and chilling silence around her, but I could not muster enough courage to refuse her helpful gesture. Mechanically I moved towards the place.
While taking my place, I got a reflection of a sealed anguish on her face. I steered myself in my inner space for much needed strength. Even with closed eyes, I felt an agonized desperation in my neighboring seat. Subsequently I opened my eyes to find out. With a frozen expression, she was gaping at me. Her face showed the bliss of conjugal life, yet a shock of recent devastation was palpable. I just tried to smile hiding my anxiety. She seemed to find solace even in my forced smile. In that silence, her proximity again forced me to feel an icy heaviness. She sighed and initiated, “See, how people create noise even in these spaces, where everyone else opts to pray”. I tried to reciprocate in affirmation, concealing my own all whirling apprehensions. Agonized in her paralyzed world and looking blankly at me, in a chilly tone she continued “Twenty one days have already passed; every day I wake up in the morning with prayers on my lips, commuting the distance of a hundred kilometers, in hope to see my son revived out of coma; eight lakhs have already been spent on his treatment and we’re still waiting for the miracle to happen.” She continued bonding with the anxiety ridden world. “He had completed nineteen years this year. After his plus two, I had him admitted in the college in this city. Three months back I had gifted him that fateful bike to commute the distance to his college. He met with this accident with two of his friends”. She completed her story uncalled and uninitiated to a complete stranger, pouring out her screaming heart. By then, her heart was parched of tears. Most likely she was trying to elicit some compassion to fill her humanly urge of survival.

A sad silence crept again between us. Gathering my own disorientation I tried to pacify her. My lips moved incoherently attempting words of consolation, but my own fear within me kept failing me. I just stared at her compassionately.

I heard a paramedical staff was addressing me from the distance “Ma’am, you are being called to the conference room”, my heart pounded. With prayers in my lips, I followed him.

An internationally acclaimed stalwart of the therapeutic world was suggested to us by a specialist and family friend. A medical wizard of tremendous repute, he sailed in the room with his shot at pretended sternness. Sounding serious, he commented “On your part, you have tried very hard to tag him sick but see, we both won and you got defeated. He is alright, take him and don’t come here again.” and he grinned at me. A cool lump shifted from throat to heart, cooling me all over. The suppressed agony of days flooded in my eyes; my lips trembled with prayers full of gratitude.

I glanced at him when his stretcher was rolling out of the unit. He smiled back; his relaxed expression eased my stifled brain into normalizing. When his stretcher rolled near me, the ward boy smilingly suggested “Ma’am, you can go to your room, we will be there in a few minutes.” Feeling relieved I took a deep breath to start praying once again, this time for that anguished mother. “Lord, are you listening to me…

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