Intensive Care Unit

White lab coat hung loosely over her navy blue scrubs. That was her superhero suit hidden behind her civil wear.

It was after midnight and she was needed. The stethoscope hung around her neck as she ran to tend to her patient. Her white coat almost fluttered like a cape behind her.

“What is sleep?” She wondered as she tried resusitated a failing man’s heart at the wee hours of the morning. But his sickness over came him and the man in black took him away, without a second glance at the woman sitting in white with her hands on his heart.

She quickly got up. Accepted. Took the next steps and tended to the next patient in need.

Time passed by. She didn’t realise. And just like that, it was the end of her shift. It was time to take off her white coat, get back in her civil wear.

Breathe. She could finally breathe.

She fought against death. She saw death. Every day. Yet, she walked back home. Pulled her 3 year old in her arms and celebrated life.

Such is the circle of life.

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Vulnerability

She looked forward to the day. The exact time of the day, to be precise, when she would lay her eyes on him. It had almost been an year.

When he called her to announce, “I’m here!” she couldn’t hold back the bounce in her strides, as she walked towards him. And when she saw him, she hurled herself at him, and took the long pending bear hug from him.

Just the thing she needed.

He held the strings that bound her, untangled them gently so that she could slowly breathe. The first breath she took cracked the high wall of pretense she had built around her. She took another deep breath and she found herself unravel in his arms.

Her vulnerability lay bare in front of him.

They sat next to each other on the bench. Leaves crackled as they shifted their feet. The winter afternoon heat warm on their backs. His arms around her shoulder. Her hands resting on her thighs. They sat for a while. Her emotions finally found words and they flowed from her lips. The unspoken, unseen weight slowly lifting from her shoulders.

Trusting that he can take it all, she unfolded. And he did.

Though they felt stillness around them, the time kept ticking. Finally it was time to leave, with a promise to see each other soon again.

As they both walked away in the opposite directions, she walked away with strength and courage to live from him. And he, with a bit of her soul.

Embracing “Noise”

The “noise”, as I called, bothered me. It was chaotic in my house. Bedtime was the time where “peace”, as I called it, was cherished.

Silence and calm was much craved for.

One day, I got what I wished for: A full day and half of silence and calm.

But after an hour, it was unbearable. It felt empty and hollow. I had thrived in this particular chaos, I realised. The one or two hour of silence before bedtime was perfect and enough to recharge.

I realised: I missed the life in my house, that thing that I had once called noise and chaos.

What good was the peace without family and their voices and TV channels booming in the home? What’s anything without their existence?

About a Long Affair

As soon as the bus halts at my stop, I find myself rushing to cross the road. Forgetting my fear of crossing roads. Rushing like a mad woman to climb the three tiny steps and stand next to this jolly man with his hair parted in the centre. Just this. The man with the magical stall of wonder. My Pani Puri walla.

He nods his greeting and silently thrusts a small bowl made out of dried leaves in my hand. He puts on his gloves, takes a puri from the stacked heap, cracks it open, fills it with masala aloo, dips it in the spicy tangy paani and places it gently on my bowl. 

The first Puri, when it touches my tongue and cracks open in my mouth, the flavours explode! Melting away all the frustration and stress of the day. I feel comforted. Sometimes, this spicy beauty soothes my soul better than the saccharin words of my dearest friend.

The flavour brings out the vivid colours of the darkening night skies, and as it starts refreshing my soul I can finally hear things around me. Till then it’s just my Pani Puri walla filling my bowl with my beloved street food, comforting me silently, without understanding the chaos in my mind. 

By the end of maybe ‘one plate’ or even two, I don’t even feel guilty about my indulgence. 

Rather, I feel happy. Content. Comforted.

Always!

My Beloved Ghost

Thank God for photographs for capturing all my memories.

Whatever has ceased to exist in reality somehow stays alive in those glossy papers. Whatever has been turned into ashes is still flesh and bones in those photographs. I might not be able to touch you anymore, I might not be able to reach out to you and say, “Hey I miss you. I will be coming down next September to see the snow”, or I might not be able to hear your voice again. But at least it doesn’t let me forget how you smiled. It doesn’t let me forget the dimple that dug deep in your cheek. Your face won’t fade in time. Your voice might ring in my head, again and again, because of the faint memories the photographs would trigger.

It makes me wish that you were as real today as you were before you transited in the state of complete oblivion. I wish.

But, as of now the memories would do.

Thank God for the photos – the memories with you are not going to fade away from my mind. You are forever going to stay as my beloved ghost, frozen in time.
–..

My Life before Death

Death is the ultimate finality to everything. Nothing puts a big period at the end of anything as death. It means serious business and once it hits, there are no second chances.

I don’t find myself pining to the past. But I can’t help wonder, “What if?”

What would he have said, if he would have seen me right now? What would he have said, looking at all my achievements and failures right now? What if he were here with me, would I have missed his laughter the way I miss it now? A deep throaty and a hearty laughter.

He stood there, in front of the Eifel Tower, smiling and waving in the picture. It looked like the unsaid final goodbye. And nothing gripped my heart stronger than this. The last time we spoke, we parted saying, “Until later.” Not knowing this would be the last conversation we would be ever having. Not knowing the time is shorter than we had anticipated. Regretting the trip that I delayed to see him. I apparently didn’t have time.

This void will never cease to exist.

This finality made me wonder, and question lot of things.

The most haunting question was, “What is the point of everything?” Melancholy sets in easy, I know. But I couldn’t help wonder this over and over again. Is it just the want of being immortal? Because when I leave, I wouldn’t be able to take anything with me. I will have nothing: No second chances. No another – just one more breath. No one last hug. Not even time. Nothing.

Nothing will last. Even if it is immortality that I will be chasing in the name of my dreams, the immortality will also not last. It will eventually fade with the generations to come. What is the point then? I am optimistic. But, haven’t you thought of it too once?

There is everything to lose, at the end of this journey. Still, why do we pine and hold on to things? Chase things? Even the achievements that we would have earned, what would it matter once we are on the other side?

I ask this, once again, what is the grand purpose of everything? At times, when I wonder over this, I feel mechanical, as if my senses are in a comatose and I am merely existing, trapped in my body and moving around doing things as they are supposed to be done, unaware of my surroundings. Moving around people like they are some mere entities, moving around, just like me. This all makes me question again and again, am I merely existing? I would like to believe, I am little more than ordinary. I enjoy the quests and challenges. I do. But then again, what is the grand plan? What is the reason of my existence?

He brought lot of laughter and happiness in our lives. He liked to enjoy everything on his terms, when it came to himself. This is what I primarily remember of him whenever he crosses my mind. He took nothing with him.

I wonder, if he is standing on the other side and looking at things down here, wondering how he could have done that something in a different way. I wonder, if he is feeling free from all the pain he had to go through. I wonder, what he must have felt first once he was on the other side. If he found the answers to all these questions. If he found the secret of the grand plan. If he found out what needs to be chased in this life. If he found the reason behind our existence. I wonder, if he understood the “point of everything”. If everything looks silly to him, when he looks down here from the other side.

It is only death of a close one that makes us stop for a while and rethink everything. Is it because of the finality staring straight in our eyes? Or is it the harsh reality that is mocking us in our face, telling us again and again that nothing lasts forever.

What is it?

This unrest is unsettling. The shades of grey are never ending. It is an uncomfortable acceptance that it is highly unrealistic to expect things to be in perfect black or white.

Till there is a strong answer to all this burning curiosity, I will continue to chase all the things that I would fight tooth and nail to have in my life. I will try my best and appreciate everything around me more and prioritize what does and does not matter. I will live and not merely exist.

Probably, this is what he would want too.
—..