This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 31; the thirty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Strangers in the Night'
The computer monitor cast a glow across Sandhya’s cheeks as she tilted her head to look at her jottings before proceeding to enter the data into the system. She stopped for a second and glanced at the panel next to her desk to confirm that the night arrangement of lights had been turned on.
As she opened her bottle to take a sip of water, her mother’s words from the evening phone call replayed in her mind. Siddharth wanted to take up extra coaching for his board exams. She wiped her lips with her fingers and thought ‘The bonus should come next week, Appa. Please make it happen’
A beep and a flicker on the call-for-assistance panel indicated Bed 3. ‘I will check’ Sandhya gestured to her colleague and proceeded to the cabin, her white shoes making soft noises against the cold hospital floor.
Bed No 3 at the Intensive Care Unit of Bharadwaj Hospital was occupied by Divya, aged fourteen. The last thing she remembered was walking back home from school on Friday. Her science project had been selected for display at the Inter school meet and she had been eagerly looking forward to sharing the news with her parents. Divya could faintly recollect the speeding van, screeching of tyres, blaring of horns and being thrown into the air. When she opened her eyes she was in the hospital bed. The casts on her legs were very heavy and a weird looking instrument prevented her from turning her face to any side. ‘Urinary….urinary tube…hurts aunty’ Divya uttered in a feeble voice. Sandhya gently lifted her hospital gown, readjusted the position of the tube and said in a soft tone ‘It should be ok now, sweetheart.’
After giving her a benevolent smile, Sandhya proceeded to bed no 6. Mr Krishnan’s eyes were wide open, unperturbed by the tubes that made their way into his body through his mouth and nostrils. Four days ago, he had been sitting in his rocking chair on the balcony of his two bedroom flat, observing the vehicles that endlessly cluttered at the traffic signal below. It was his first evening after retirement. Moments in his thirty five years of service zoomed past in flashes. He had toiled all along and every rupee he earned always had a need even before it reached his pocket – his brother’s education, his father’s debts, marriages of his sisters, his housing loan, expenses for his children; He reminisced how selfless his wife Sharadha had been. A feeling of intense love and affection crept through his mind as he thought of her and he promised himself that he would spend the rest of his retired life entirely with her and for her, fulfilling her little wishes. Suddenly he became aware of a discomfort in his chest. What seemed to be a minor throb gradually evolved into a sharp pain. Cold sweat trickled down his forehead as he started gasping for breath.’Sha…r..adha’ his voice trailed off and he collapsed.
‘Unable to sleep Mr.Krishnan?’ Sandhya enquired as she checked his intravenous drip to verify the flow. Despite the high dosages of drugs that were administered to his body, he could not get any sleep especially at night. With the ventilator depriving him of speech, he could only silently observe his surroundings – which held nothing save the equipment connected to his body and a wall clock. He mutely followed the minute and the hour hands as they chased each other, simultaneously pleading with his body and mind to drift into sleep. He would storm through a myriad of thoughts; throught the past- glorious days, happy occasions, memorable moments, family quarrels, arguments, deaths, a few insignificant moments and then through the future - worries about his health and his family. He would look at the clock expecting a huge change while he was rummaging through the scenes in his mind. Only ten minutes would have passed. His boredom and loneliness seemed to torture him more than his physical predicament. His only solace was the half-an-hour visitors time every evening when his family came to see him.
As Sandhya walked back to her seat she lifted the curtains outside cabin 6 and took a peak inside. Dilip Chandran was sleeping soundly, his chest rising and falling in a rhythmic pattern. He had been brought that morning in a very critical condition. His business ventures had gone totally haywire and he was immersed neck-deep in an ocean of debt. Seeing no means to recover the lost money and repay his loans, the only route he fathomed to escape from his moneylenders and their henchmen was to end his life. He had consumed poison. The emergency unit at Bharadwaj had spent three toiling hours to rescue him from the fatal claws of death.
Sandhya returned to her seat. “Who are these people?” she brooded, “They would have had no knowledge about the mere existence of one another so far. Today they have huddled together here within these white walls; Should I call it destiny?Each of a different age and from varied walks of life bound together in their common struggle; A fight against the odds for survival ;A fight for life; Each clinging on tight to an invisible rope – Hope!”
She closed her eyes and started reciting some verses in an inaudible tone. “Om Namo Bhagavathe” – Dhanvantri(God Of Medicine) slogam(hymn) that Appa had taught her as a kid. As a nurse she did all she was taught and was supposed to. The prayer was an additional effort from her end as a human being, a practise she had stuck on to from day one. She believed that it helped, that it made a difference, though miniscule, in their route to recovery.
Like a reflection in water struck by a stone, the scene around her at the ICU began to vaporize. Divya, Krishnan, Dilip – they all disappeared one after another.Darkness crept in. A blue hue engulfed her entire vision. She heard a hysterical voice, very feeble and distant.
“Siddhu, Look! Can you see that Siddhu? Her lips are moving, she is saying something. ” It was a woman’s voice muffled by sobs.
“Yes ma, yes. We will get Sandhya back ma, I promise” a man’s voice followed.
Dr.Siddharth held his mother tightly, as tears streamed down the woman’s face. He looked at his sister’s frail body nested in the white frame of the hospital bed. Sandhya was in a coma. He desperately longed for the day when he would see her again the way she was – confident yet kind, fun-loving yet level-headed, soft yet strong. So far,there had been absolutely no response from her. Today for the first time in two months she was showing some signs. As the faint green glow from her monitoring equipment caressed her face, she was reciting a prayer; A prayer for the strangers in the night in the mazes of her sub conscious mind.