Wednesday, March 07, 2012

There Are No Attendants

Every man is an island. That is what I was told when I arrived in this city as a new migrant. But even when I knew nothing about its machinations, I did not believe in the aloofness of the human soul. I plunged myself in friendship, and in love. On certain nights, some of us would sit in a second-hand white Fiat, whose only one door opened, drinking beer in a bar called Sonarupa, on the Janpath road, and then sing loudly “Dil to Pagal hai…” Some of us fell in love with married women, and some with women much older, writing forty-page love letters till motors were switched on in the wee hours of the morning in water-deprived Punjabi colonies.

Then everything began to change gradually. The city overwhelmed us. Only memories remained of friendship, and of love – memories that would make me smile to myself when I sat alone on humid nights, on bare floor, drinking alone. Sometimes I would take out an old polythene bag from the storeroom, going through its contents, relics from those wonderful days: photographs with lipstick marks in the back, bracelets, letters, a well-thumbed copy of “Lust for Life” that I almost knew by heart at one time. All these sentiments had become extinct. Love had turned into some fossil.
This change, this face-off with loneliness felt like another exile. I had faced one long ago, in Kashmir. It was in 1990, right after the Shivratri, which is our most important festival. It is a festival of elaborate rituals, and of feasting that lasts for days as we celebrate the marriage of Shiva with Parvati. In exile, though, this marriage feels almost as if they are getting married secretly in a courtroom. But still, we manage the basics. In this city that essentially means that we go to the INA market, buy walnuts, and lotus stem, and collard greens, and pooja paraphernalia including an almanac that guides our lives.

This year I went myself, carrying an empty rucksack to fill things in. I bought everything father had asked me to, and I climbed down to the metro station to return home in the suburbs. No sooner had I entered the coach that something happened to me. My heartbeat went berserk, there was a strange sensation in my arms, acid rushed upwards from my stomach, and I felt dizzy. I got down at the next station, kept my bag down and sat on a bench. Ten minutes later I felt better. I thought of what had happened to me. It felt like a heart attack. I picked up my bag, slowly climbed to the main road, and called a doctor friend whose clinic is in east Kailash. I got into an auto rickshaw. Hardly had we covered a mile or so when the second attack hit me, this time more severe than the previous one. I was becoming disoriented with each passing moment, and incoherent. Before I thought I would collapse, I told the driver that I possibly didn’t have the time to reach east Kailash. I asked him to take me to the Emergency in Moolchand hospital, which was not far from where we were. I also realised that I needed to inform some one. I have friends; it’s not that I don’t have. But somehow in that moment of panic, I couldn’t think of anyone. There was traffic jam, and I was now almost collapsing. I remember the driver looking at my face through his rear-view mirror, taking the auto on the wrong side, and driving me in to the hospital. As I entered, I called a friend whose office is not far and told her what had happened. And then I got myself admitted.

Minutes later, I was on the bed with all kinds of wires strapped to my chest. My finger was attached to a monitor, and someone inserted a needle in the back of my hand. Someone took a blood sample. A nurse tried to put oxygen mask that I refused to wear. The ECG was taken, and blood pressure, and blood sugar. All of them turned out to be normal. But I was shaken completely. I’m not afraid of death. But it is strange how I thought of my father when I was collapsing, and what he would do if I were to die. This thought made me shiver. I couldn’t feel the base of my spine. I looked over my left. On the bed next to me, a man was puking blood. My friend had still not turned up. I realised I could die, and nobody would be around to even hold my hand. I closed my eyes. And I remembered a small hymn my grandfather had reluctantly taught me when I was a kid. It was from the Durgasaptashati that he would recite every day, before sunrise, in the abode of the Goddess in his ancestral village. It is believed to be too dangerous; apparently it releases too much energy, and some are even believed to have lost their mental balance while reciting it. I remember how I had thrown a fit, refusing to eat for a whole day before grandfather gave up and taught me how to recite a portion of it. And now on the hospital bed with my shirt buttons open, I recited that hymn. I felt calm afterwards. Suddenly, nothing mattered. I was ready to face anything.

After a repeat ECG, the doctor said I could go home. There was nothing wrong with me. “Has his admit card been made?” she asked a nurse. “We are waiting for his attendant,” the nurse replied. It is then that I got up from the bed. “It’s okay, I will go and get it made,” I said. I looked at my bag. The collard greens would be ruined if not kept in the fridge soon. I went to the reception, got myself admitted on paper, and, fifteen minutes later, I was discharged. I took a taxi and went home. I managed to save the collard greens.

Next day, I consulted a Cardiologist. I set the TMT machine afire, exceeding my desired heart beat rate. I could have run on it all day.

I still don’t know what happened to me. And it doesn’t matter. Tonight, I will fix myself a stiff drink. The attendants might not turn up. The man might indeed be an island. But as long as he remembers what his grandfather taught him, he will be fine. As long as he has that old polythene bag in his storeroom, he will be fine.

22 comments:

Nikhil Srivastava said...

Really...there are no attendants! But I'm always there sir...don't trust...try!

Aditya Raj Kaul said...

A piece of stark reality on the meaning of loneliness and memory. Your words matter, boss. Likhte raho..

kunalsingh said...

Is it Fiction, or Reality?

kunalsingh said...

And what about “Lust for Life”. Is it a book? Please excuse my ignorance.

Meera Sundararajan said...

Wow... I could feel the man's pain and his sense of disorientation. Happened to me once while I was in a traffic jam. I felt I could not breathe as I was surrounded by vehicles all around me! Certainly not fiction!

P said...

This is a matter of concern and you should take it seriously. Going by a lot of your writings, there seems to be quite a bit of anger inside you. I understand. You like social justice and feel angered about the way the world is. But I must say -- you have to find a way to simultaneously heal yourself so your words come from a space of wisdom and truth. I don't mean to be preachy. I just think this should be the next step in your growth. You really should find a way to incorporate some practices -- some time with silence -- some time away from "fixing a drink" to listening into your body. This is a signal, and shouldn't be ignored. Even a Free Vipassana or a Yoga class somewhere will be of use in becoming better listeners of the body. All the best.

P said...

Sorry. THe 'free' before vipassana was accidental. needed to be removed. i was writing something else -- then forgot to delete the word.

Rahul Pandita said...

Hi, P, and you wouldn't say who you are?

DrZakir Ali Rajnish said...

चिंताजनक हैं हालात...
------
’की—बोर्ड वाली औरतें!’
’प्राचीन बनाम आधुनिक बाल कहानी।’

gifts chennai said...

nice content.. http://www.giftschennai.com

hyderabadgiftsflowers said...

Send Flowers to Hyderabad with www.hyderabadgiftsflowers.com .You can order online gifts to Hyderabad and all around India. Online Shopping of gifts for hyderabad delivery is secured and assured with us. Send Flowers to Hyderabad are online florists for flower delivery in India. Send Birthday gifts to Hyderabad and Wedding Gifts to Hyderabad with us.

Flowersbangalore said...

Send Flowers to Bangalore, Birthday gifts to Bangalore, Wedding Gifts to Bangalore, Anniversary Gifts to Bangalore with www.flowersbangalore.com . Now you can do hassle free shopping to send gifts to Bangalore . We have made gifts shopping easier. Buy directly from our florists gifts shop and rest assured for your orders. We take full responsibility for delivery of flowers gifts to Bangalore at all locations absolutely free.

chennaicakesdelivery said...

Send cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai delivery, cakes home delivery to Chennai with www.chennaicakesdelivery.com. Online Shopping of cake for chennai delivery is secured and assured with us. You can order online cakes to Chennai and all around India. send birth day cake, wedding cake, anniversary cake with us. same day cake delivery to Chennai. our cakes are Delicious and freshly baked , made by the finest chefs in the country. Delight your loved ones with this simple and delicious combination.

the gal in the blue scarf.. said...

Been there.. Felt That..

रजनीश के झा (Rajneesh K Jha) said...

प्रभावशाली ,
जारी रहें।

शुभकामना !!!

आर्यावर्त (समृद्ध भारत की आवाज़)
आर्यावर्त में समाचार और आलेख प्रकाशन के लिए सीधे संपादक को editor.aaryaavart@gmail.com पर मेल करें।

रजनीश के झा (Rajneesh K Jha) said...

प्रभावशाली ,
जारी रहें।

शुभकामना !!!

आर्यावर्त (समृद्ध भारत की आवाज़)
आर्यावर्त में समाचार और आलेख प्रकाशन के लिए सीधे संपादक को editor.aaryaavart@gmail.com पर मेल करें।

mirage said...

Rahul....aren't we all islands...trying desperately to create bridges.. to reach out or to be held!
Moments like these make us realise how alone we are....how nothing and noone can fill that void...void so unique to us that nothing fits it completely...the edges n corners still remain unheld.....untouched...unhealed....empty.
we seach for that completeness and wholeness....that inexaustably satiating oneness!
Most quietly compromise for less....some keep on searching ........

Rakesh Khuntia said...

What a Glorious property of Gurgaon. Your blog is excellent~ for property information.I was searching for properties in Appu Ghar gurgaon found your blg. Its nice post. I got appughar in gurgaon launching Food court, Retail Shops & EOD in sector 29. Is there any place to book for appu ghar food court, appu ghar entertainment area, appu ghar EOD, appu ghar assured return, assured return property, appu ghar sector 29. I got there an Company naed City Space India who is giving best deal in this Appu Ghar fresh booking now. What about this company. could any one known in this please suggest me.

Urvashi goja said...

Jahan jab jag main kahi kuch nahi tha...bas tuhi that kudhaya...bas tuhi tha khudaya....!!!
A call from home few fortunate of us get but few recognise it...fewer listen and almost handful repond!! We are His children....we cant ever be unattended !!!

Puneflowersdelivery said...

Send flowers to Pune, flowers to Pune delivery,flowers to Pune, Pune flowers delivery, flowers Pune, Online flowers to Pune.

Josinta Jinia said...

In a consultation the ved bhawan vedic astrology analyses your horoscope and makes predictions for coming 3 years. He keeps all areas of your life in mind. He tells you all good and bad things you need to know for living a peaceful life. Then he answers all your questions you may ask such as about your health, illness, personality, wealth, income, expenses, losses, property, vehicle, education, knowledge, children, love, friends, enemies, spouse, marriage, business, accidents, fate, fortune, nature support, troubles, professions, promotions, honors, disgraces and litigations.

jon albert said...

great post !


jon said...
I would like to thank You for being the member of this website. Please

allow me to have the chance to express my satisfaction with Hostgator

web hosting. They have professional and express support and they also

offer numerous.