SEEMA TIWARY - OUT OF DREAM
Out of Dream
Am I Gulliver who went to an island and woke up tied, unable to move hands, legs or head? No I’m not because my eye lids are also tied. Not with ropes but with pain. There is acute pain, I can’t pin point where but unbearable pain is there, all over my body. I surrender and make peace with it. A murmur st knocks my ears, as if asking my permission to come in. Am I a teacher? No, my English teacher canned me for not giving the answer of her question, the meaning of word wading from the chapter- Gulliver’s travel.
I’m wading through the blood with wounded palms. Am I a mad woman thinking incoherent things? Who’ll answer who am I? I permit the words knocking on my ears, to come in. I want to know who I am.
“Dementia.” A composed male voice says.
“What’s that? If she is fine why she is not responding? Why is she lying like a dead person?” a panicked female voice counters.
I can distinguish between male and female voice. I feel triumph. Soon my identity will be revealed. It’s some hospital. I try to smell, the peculiar smell of a hospital .No although the smell is not there but it feels like a hospital. Am I ill ?
“All the papers of eye donation are ready. You’ve to come with me for completing the formalities.” A polite female voice drawls.
They are taking my eyes. I’m not dead. How cruel? “No” I try to shout but I’m tied. Am I a mountaineer slipped off in The country of the blinds by H.G. Wells? Are they taking my eyes? No. She is asking for donation not making me blind. But fear is gripping me.
“What’s the name of the donor?” Same polite female voice asks.
“Nayna” The word escaped with a sob.
Am I Nayna? No. Vivid images of Nayna flash in my mind. A pretty girl, fifteen running towards me rubbing her eyes?
“Mummy! My eyes are dry where is my eye drop?” she asks me.
Now I comprehend. Nayna is my daughter but dryness in eyes is common these days with so much exposure of smart phones and computers. What happened to her? What made her die and landed me in the hospital?
Hospital. Yes, I can see a hospital. A nurse is coming towards me with newborn Nayna. I’m worn out and tired after the labor. Seeing her, makes me happy. “Her eyes are so big, we will call her Nayna(eyes).” My husband says.
Where is he? I can’t see him. A wave of unbearable pain sweeps my body. Blood only blood is there, everywhere. I want to cry out of pain but my cries are caged within me. I start perspiring profusely.
“Sister! Come fast. She is not feeling well, ”says an old tired voice, very familiar. This is Biji, my mother in law.
Is it a dream or is it really happening? She doesn’t like me because I am not her choice, her son’s choice. In our country the Government allows us to choose the leaders after certain age but parents never trust our choice of a life partner at any age. But things are changing now, I’ll trust Nayna’s choice. But she is no more? She was not ill. What killed her?
A chanting catches my attention. Words are enveloping me in peace and warmth. These are not mere words these are the words of the mantra my mother taught me. The only treasure she left for me- Gayatri Mantra. It took her place for the rest of my life. Biji is chanting this. Why? She never chants Sanskrit mantras. She speaks Punjabi and offers prayer in Punjabi.
Where is my husband? Who is he? Why I can’t remember anything about him? Is he the reason Nayna is dead and I am lying in the bed with nothing but incoherent thoughts? How many days have passed? I remember the name of Nayna’s lubricant eye-drop, but not my husband’s name. I try again to remember something about him. How did we meet? All in vain, only images of blood comes into my mind. I become restless. I want to ask Biji. Yes, she will answer.
We both bent to seek her blessings but Biji moves backwards. She does not approve of me that day and the rest of the days. All the other family members love me, like me but for Biji I always remained an outsider.
“Biji, come with me.” It’s Tejdeep’s voice. He is my husband’s younger brother. He loves me like a sister. His wife, Preeto pampers Nayna with delicious cuisine. By and by I’m remembering entire family except my husband .
“No, I’m not going to leave her,” Biji says.
“Biji, it’s the last Prayer of your Sukh,” Tejdeep says.
Sukhdeep. My Sukh, no he cannot die. He is so brave. He is in army. The most handsome face comes before my eyes. My love, my husband, he is the epitome of perfection, a perfect son, brother, father and husband. He is looking at me with bright eyes , then he smiles and his dimples deepen. He turns and looks again with blood and pain all over his face. I scream with all my might but it gets stuck inside somewhere. I get frustrated and want to think straight, to get up and ask what has happened?
I take deep breaths to calm myself. I try to recollect my story from my wedding, sixteen years ago. Nayna is fifteen now or was fifteen so I’m sure about sixteen years. Everyone from the village pour into our home to have a glimpse of me. They want to see what’s special in me so Sukh choose me over a Punjabi girl. They go home disappointed. Nothing is exceptional in me. It took some time but by and by they accept me and start praising me for my efforts to mingle with them. Then Nayna born and Sukh takes both of us with him. It becomes a ritual to visit the village during summer vacations.
It is one such summer vacation. We are packing. Biji is instructing me about Nayna’s well being. She has given a lot of goodies to eat on the way. We drive through the Grand Trunk Road. Nayna ask Sukh to take a selfie along with the greenery on the road side. Sukh parks the car. I’m sitting in the car. They both are outside it. A speeding truck hits our car and moves ahead. My universe is destroyed. The last thing I remember is a pool of blood. My Sukh lost his life in a road accident. A brave soldier, an asset of the country with immense potential became the victim of rash driving. If given choice, he would have chosen a death of valor and courage. All the dreams of Nayna died with her, my little angel. But I ‘m still here, suffering through no fault of my own. Why I am alive? I want to be with them.
I don’t know how many days have passed. I am drifting in and out of sleep but Biji is there every time I hear something.
“You are chanting Sanskrit mantras in a Punjabi accent.” It’s an authoritative female voice queried.
“I’ve spoken only Punjabi all my life so it is a bit difficult to chant in Sanskrit,” Biji says.
“Then why are you chanting these, God knows no language bar.” Same voice said mockingly.
“These are not for God, these are for my daughter in law. She believed a lot in these mantras.”
“She is a lucky woman to have a caring mother in law like you.”
She is not a nurse. She is interrogating Biji. Who is she? I concentrate on what Biji is saying.
“No, she is not. All through her life I never gave her the love she deserved. I showered all my love on my son and granddaughter but always ignored her. My son loved and married her. It took an era for me to accept it as a reality. I always felt that he had been duped in this bargain.” Biji paused as if revisiting the past.
She cleared her throat and again continued, “I always tried to find fault with her. Her language, dressing sense, her name and even her prayers were quite different from what I had been practicing all my life and that became a bone of contention. Out of love for my son I tried to get along with her but two months of summer vacations were too long to conceal my true emotions. I hated her from the core of my heart.”The clink of her golden bangles reminds me that she must be fidgeting.
I concentrated again. Biji is saying “ She tried her best to please me by hovering around me, asking me if I need some assistance in the household chores. I always hated her till the fateful day I got the message of the death of my son and granddaughter. That day in shock and despair I thought , “Why have they died and she survived? Why has it not happened otherwise?” The answer came from within me. “They died because they got the amount of love destined for them but she survived because she is yet to get her share of love.” I did not know if it was my guilty conscience or my God who showed me this path, from that day I became her mother and started caring for her. She was bedridden for one or two weeks sleeping due to Dementia. She woke up never to be the same again. The accident had left a scar on her mind. Haunted by the fatal accident, she could not come to terms with life. She could not accept that she was alive and they were dead. She felt that their souls were summoning her to join them, their vision and voices calling her repeatedly. She tried to kill herself .Firstly, people sympathized with her, believed her, but after some months it became tedious for others to get along with her. I couldn’t leave her. I owed this to Sukh. I went to every temple, Gurudwara , Peer- Faquir and doctor but nothing cured her. Then a psychiatrist told me that she must be suffering from “psychosis”. She can be cured with medication and council. We were coming to the hospital, while I was paying the Autowala, she ran in front of a moving bus and met with the accident.”
“Is it not strange for an old village woman to remember the complicated terms like Dementia and Psychosis?” Same voice asks.
“I have been tirelessly visiting doctors and telling these terms since last year.” Biji
It has been a year since that accident. The voices about eye donation and the last prayers for Sukh are from one year back. It seems a few days. Am I a mad woman trying to kill myself ? It is due to this other accident that I am tied to this bed. Oh I want to be fine and think straight. I start taking deep breaths and concentrate on their conversation.
“Your statement is different from auto driver’s story . He says that you saw her going in front of the moving bus, you could have pulled her but you just let her go.” Same voice asserted.
“ I don’t know why he is lying ?” Bjiji said.
“Neither do I but when I find out who is lying, he or she will land in jail.” Same voice said.
This voice is of a Police officer not a nurse. She is a lady Police officer. Nayna wanted to become a Police officer. Biji tried to kill me? Can Biji do this? No. Never. I’ve to be fine as soon as possible and prove Biji innocent. But how? I am tied here.
I try to open my I lids but I am tied like Gulliver. How did he manage to free himself? I don’t remember. But I remember Gayatri Mantra, prayer of the Sun God. It will help me to think straight. But now it is more important for me to testify in favor of Biji and help her. God please help me. I remember so many things but a larger part is missing. My name is still missing. I start chanting Gayatri mantra but Biji stops chanting it. May be she must be thinking about the Auto driver’s version of the accident.
“Don’t panic Biji, everything will be fine.” Preeto.
“Ma’am, you have to come with us.” Police inspector.
“ No, I will not come. Have mercy on my age. I haven’t done anything. Vijaya Lakshmi ( the goddess of victory), prove your name right , wake up fighting against all odds . Tell them I am innocent.” Biji cries.
I open my eyes and spring to a sitting position on my bed. The tubes attached to my hands makes the bottles clink. Everyone looks at me. I focus on the Police Inspector and tell her, “Biji is innocent, it was my fault.”
Everyone applauds with joy. Biji thanks God .This time in Punjabi. One second I was sleeping like a dead person, the other I got up to save Biji from all the harassment. The Doctor comes and tells me that I will be discharged within a few days. I will be fine soon.
Today is my discharge day, I will be back home soon. How will it appear without Sukh and Nayna? Preeto is at home arranging for my welcome. Me and Biji are waiting for Tej to take us home. Biji goes outside to call Tej asking what’s taking him so long? The Mobile signal is weak in the Hospital lobby.
Suddenly, there is chaos in the lobby. An old woman has died in an accident on the road outside the Hospital. I rush outside only to see Biji in a pool of blood. I’m wide awake now, out of my dream.