Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fiction (Flash): The Wait


I’m sure that I fell in love with her only after my death.

As the end was nearing I was afraid – the dread of the unknown. She was also in the room along with a few others, standing apart in a corner. Her eyes, which often met mine, gave a silent assurance that she would be there to see me off to the place I was going. That helped.

She was crying quietly as I left.

There was no wall, no door, and no veil to go through. I was in one world and a moment later in another. It was a surprise that I could still see humans and kept watching what was happening on earth. She was at the funeral as well, dignified, even beautiful, but I knew that her inside was lacerated. I wanted to reach out and sooth her.

Was it then that I fell in love?

We had been schoolmates in our small town. Later I became a travel journalist and a globetrotter. She stayed back, became a teacher, and went through a marriage that ended in divorce within two years. We met occasionally on my rare visits home. That was always enjoyable.

What struck me about my new home was the emptiness that stretched out to infinity. I was alone. From time to time translucent images moved in the distance, some in a hurry, others slowly – spirits like me. But we had no communication between us.

Sometimes I wondered how she would like my present abode that would be hers too some day. I watched her on earth regularly. She looked different – sadder, older, so lonely.

I had no physical wants. Days and nights did not exist where I was. All that could be seen was the woolly nothingness. But time was aplenty. Not in units. Interminable.

My entire earthly life was on show frequently. At each viewing new revelations emerged – the wrongs and rights I did, matters that I could have handled better, my failures, weaknesses, and so on. I was capable of much more good. And questions came up. Why did I hurt people? Why didn’t I help others as much as I could have? Why did I carry grudges?

There was no feeling of guilt but only realisation, disappointment that I had not performed as well as I could have, and a sense of sadness. The greatest regret was that I failed to recognise her love for me. We could have been married happily, had a home, children.

Then I started visiting her at night. I would sit silently on her bed watching the woman I loved. Some times I communicated without words. I knew she understood because of changes in her expression and the rare smiles. In the morning she perhaps forgot what had happened in her sleep or dismissed it as a pleasant dream.

During one of my nocturnal visits she fell sick, suddenly going into a fit of coughing. She was perspiring profusely and clutched her chest, gasping. My inability to help was frustrating. I returned, praying that her death would be painless, and waited.

I was unaware how long it took, but finally she died.

Shortly, an image flashed past me. Was it her, looking for me? She didn’t know where I was in that vastness of space. Then it sank in – a soul had no visual identity without physique.

What next? Rebirth? Resurrection of the body?

The wait for my beloved continues.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kerala Medicare – good nurses, doctors, hospitals

Three hospitals were involved in treating my recent medical problem. My good blogger friend ER Ramachandran has suggested in a comment on Life without computer - 2 that I write about my experience, particularly about the hospitals, the doctors and nurses.

Well, here we go.

In spite of my wife being there I paid more attention to the nurses than I would have normally. The reason was to confirm what I already knew. You must have read recently the comment on Kerala nurses that a politician in North India had made. According to him the nurses from Kerala are dark and ugly and that a person would find it difficult to address them ‘sisters’.

In the three hospitals that I spent time, almost all the nurses were fair and good looking. Even the darker ones were attractive and pleasant. I feel that none of them would bother to give the comic politician a second look. This quote should be enough to give a clearer picture: “The high literacy rate and access to modern and progressive education help the state churn out the most sought-after Nursing workforce in the global labour market.” (Nurses Abroad,10 Jan 2013)

According to Emerging Kerala Human Development Indicators (HDI) in the State “are the highest in the country and even on par with some developed nations.” Kerala’s longevity rate the highest and infant mortality rate the lowest in the country.  The birth rate of  40% is lower than the country’s average. Even maternal mortality rate (1.3/1000) is the least in India.

According to Wikipedia, Kerala has the largest government network in India – 2700 medical institutions offering 330 beds per 100,000 population. Apart from this there is a large number of private hospitals, covering even the villages. They include several multi-speciality and super speciality ones. Almost all of them are manned by experts. As a result, medical tourism is developing into a growing phenomenon in Kerala.

Actually, this makes the choice of hospital when one gets sick rather difficult particularly in a city like Cochin. I picked the ones where I knew the doctors. That helped – comfortable rooms, best medical attention and good food!