05 October 2008
Waiting can be an extremely painful process. Especially if you are sitting outside an ICU, waiting for the medical practitioner to emerge out of the cold, impersonal room and declare a verdict with an even tone.
The area was much like a typical hospital, smelling of nothing but, well, a hospital. Four people were seated with backs hunched, eyes looking at their toes, fingers interlocked and resting in their laps. It had been three days since the boy had been in the ICU, in a coma, probably breathing his last few breaths. But, the waiting family did not know this. He'd been hale and hearty till three days back, looking forward to fatherhood and listening to his favourite numbers. Suddenly, there was an entry. A loud woman announced her arrival with a heavy plonk and "what do the doctors say?" in between munches of an apple, quite without feeling. Who was she? "He'll be fine, beta, don't worry," said the aging man kindly to his son's wife as he got up and walked toward the window overlooking the hustle-bustle of life outside. LIFE! Were to God his son would live...images of his reticent, handsome son came to him like a whirlwind of colours. He turned abruptly back and went up to his daughter asking her to walk along with him. The loud woman's voice reached their ears as they walked away...I'd told him na.. but he only...The man who was the father gently put his hand on his daughter's shoulders and said, "Don't worry, he'll be fine. I've spoken to the doctors...he'll be fine." The daughter's imploring eyes wanted to believe. She went up to the only idol and began to pray. The father sat down and one of the many conversations he'd had with the doctors came rushing back to his mind. Sir, your son has no more than two days to live. Oh! How he wanted to silence the voicepounding in his head...if only...but miracles seldom happen. It was night now and he had opted to stay the night at the hospital. He looked at his son, lying so calmly, breathing evenly. Who could tell there were poisonous acids ruining every single organ inside his body with every passing minute? The doctors had been amazed at his tolerance level...patients only scream in this condition with pain and he doesn't utter a single complaint. What a man his son was! The bed was too small for his tall, lean frame. Just a year ago, the boy had got married to the only girl his parents had suggested he meet to see if he would like to be with her. He had married her because he couldn't bear to hurt a person's dignity by saying 'no.' The old man paced the floor up and down through the night, hoping for a flicker of an eyelid, a sound...anything. But nothing happened. The morning was as usual, the Sun rose up in the silent sky, cars went by, the family arrived with a hot steaming cup of tea for him. The doctor arrived for the usual check-up and took the old man aside. I am going to try a new medicine as a last effort. Could you please have it brought up from the pharmacy? The old man, dignified as always, spoke gently to his loyal driver, asking him to get the injections and the medicine and went back into the ICU along with the doctor. The man ran down. It was exactly noon when the old man came out of the ICU just as the driver came panting up with medicines in both hands. Papaji, ye lijiye bhaiya ki dava. The old man looked at him very gently, Ab khel khatm, beta, and walked over to his stunned wife to put an arm around her and help her down to sit. The daughter walked away and the daughter-in-law started a loud wail, dropping the biscuits she was eating on the floor.
Yes, the game gets over sometime or the other. But how many people have the fortitude to accept it? This man is a hero, if ever there was one. He knew while the rest of us waited for Godot…