Thursday, February 5, 2009


‘What were you thinking?’ she asked, very low.
‘I was thinking, all you want, you get.’
‘In what way?’
‘In love.’
‘And what do I want?’
‘Do I?’
She sat with her head drooped down.

‘Why do you say I only want sensation?’ she asked quietly.
‘Because it’s all you’ll take from a man. – You won’t have a cigarette?’
‘No thanks – and what else could I take - ?’
I shrugged my shoulders.
‘Nothing, I suppose,’ I replied.
Still she picked pensively at her chemise string.
‘Up to now, you’ve missed nothing – you haven’t felt the lack of anything – in love,’ I said.
She waited a while.
‘Oh yes, I have,’ she said gravely.
Hearing her say it, my heart stood still.

- Once, DH Lawrence

Ends aren’t born in violent hurricaneranas of hate. They need much quieter, more coldly tranquil places to spawn. Endings lay their eggs when people aren’t looking in lulls where people aren’t talking. They grow and gain strength in the open spaces of emptinesses left behind when someone pretends to but really isn’t there anymore.

Endings are of the hyena ilk – ravenous eaters, but crippled failed hunters. In their lameness, they have to feed on bruised and hurt egos, old teethless bitterness and juvenile, childish refusals to make things better.

But when an ending corners you, there is no escape. Your demise is telling, total and brutal. There will first be blood. Then an aching so acute your bones will near break. But last to transpire, and leaving you worst off, will be the slaughtering in future tense. A butchering of belief.. Belief in everything, in hope, in tomorrow, in anything, in anyone.

That said, for all their frightening ugliness, endings are frail, fearful things. Taken that though limp, they cannot be run from. But though armed, they can be beaten. Fire, less for its flames and more for its warmth scares them. They scamper away yelping if the courage to try and build a fire is conjured. Early on, an ending keeps marauding about, hoping for a window of surrender to reopen through which to weasel back in. But if none is found, eventually it gives up. And you are at last safe.

There is no spectacle near as rejuvenating as the depressed flight of a defeated end.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

spirit bandaging

Sunday - In the morning you decide to rodent around GMCH’s cardiology department, hoping to scavenge on some scrap of hope. You shamelessly pounce on an affable cardiac surgeon taking a round. The gent is nice enough to give you some of his time. The gist of things as they stand are this – there is no OPD on Monday or Tuesday as all the doctors are on leave. The nearest is Wednesday. You will have to come back on Wednesday, meet a cardiologist, then a cardiac surgeon, and then the hospital’s superintendent. Then at least you will know how much cash you have to arrange for. But that is Wednesday. This is Sunday morning. You are going to have to leave for now. But you know you’ll be back soon, for something’s being left undone is a calling card like no other.

On the ride back, you can’t stop peering back into the back of the truck to look at Maya and her husband. She talks with amazing, theatrical hand movements, as if always describing something big and wondrous. Her husband listens in rapt attention, as if proud of his wife’s cuteness. At times he sits down at her knee. Other times he sits on the bench and she rests her head on his lap. When we pick up yet another patient who’s had a rod removed from a fractured femur, they sit close together, their heads so very near as if sharing some secret joke. You could watch the two of them for hours on end. It’s one of the most ethereal sights possible – two people collectively disentangling and then demolishing the confusion most of us accuse life of, and just being .

You’re already fervidly scheming of how to get her new heart valves. If she dies, you almost believe you will too. She catches you watching through the glass, blushes, giggles, points it out to her husband and the three of you beam teeth at each other.


Saturday evening - The day culminates as a casserole of anger, hunger, frustration and fuck ups. It’s one of those days, as if you’re cursed with some mutant Midas touch, turning everything you lay eyes on and you experience into something worthy of contempt. Everything.

You hate your nursing assistant for being an ass and claiming to have said people have refused Maya any assistance at GMCH. You hate yourself for having taken his word. You hate the private Cardiologist you went to visit at a hospital that’s listed with the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He charged you Rs750 to sit your ass down on a chair for 4 hours and in the end tell you something you already knew (i.e. that the porcelain doll Nepali girl needs both valves in her heart replaced) and to hand you a certificate worth it’s weight in rabbit droppings. You hate yourself for not have seen it coming. The marble flooring and the airconditioning should’ve given it away. You hate knowing that a familiar self-loathing guilt germinating within you shall soon force you to pay Maya’s husband the money.

You both somehow hate and are relieved that you were proved wrong by an echocardiogram done on Bimla Maya. It is completely normal. She is fine and now can’t wipe a smile off her face. It’s amazing what 800mL of blood this way or that can do to the man.
But that you’ve basically served as an tool in GNRC ripping off Maya Tamang defiles this little victory completely. The meltdown is final and flawless. By the end of the walk out to the car park, you’re so livid you can’t even swallow your own spittle. Liquid lead.

There is no justification. I am down. Come and kick me.

Oh Guwahati!

And then there’s Bimla Maya. Yet another beaming, pristine, skin-porcelain-clean Nepali lass of 21 who came to you as the week’s second wheezing, sweating, nearly-not-breathing, ticker-barely-ticking heap. Swollen legs, gasping crackling lungs, the works. Her problems amplified by her having a haemoglobin count of 3, roughly a quarter of the norm. Two blood transfusions later, she is in a state fit to move. In the shorter scheme of things, moved to Guwahati. In the larger sense, you wonder towards what and where…..

Friday evening - Unlike most government hospitals, Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) does not wear it’s squalor like a badge or brandish it like a crutch to prop up a plea of pity. Considering that it is the end point of all of the NorthEast’s ill, it is acceptably clean. Another laborour we’d gotten admitted here for a prolapsed vertebral disc lies on a shared bed with his attender (just because the frugality isn’t advertised doesn’t mean it isn’t there).A case in point is that there is no anaesthesiologist. The only surgeries being done are emergencies. You’re told to take him back and bring him in March. So be it.

The other crusade commences tomorrow.