The only thought in my fuddled mind right now, is that I would never forget this moment. None of it. All this would stay with me for the rest of my living days. These pristine white walls that keep closing in on me. This intense smell of disinfectants and medicines; that reeks of death and disease. These labyrinthine long corridors, in which I have lost my future today, irretrievably. And most importantly, these people who surround me right now. People whom I do not know, but would now have an eternal connection with. Because of how we all sit here, braving this moment; this surreal and yet an agonizingly extant moment, together.
I would never forget how this old lady sitting next to me with sun-battered skin and fate-battered face, keeps wiping her eyes every few minutes, with her gaunt fingers; while she awaits a final word from the doctors, on her husband of over fifty years. How her eyes look so tired. Too tired to even nurse a sliver of hope.
How the young lady on the bench across from me, keeps absent-mindedly twirling the pink handkerchief ensconced in her clammy hands. How dry and desolate, her eyes are. Like they have done all the crying that they were capable of, and still haven’t found the catharsis they sought. How they also carry a tinge of horror. Like she still cannot believe all this could be happening. How her husband, broken and withdrawn, stands leaning on the pillar next to the bench. No one has told me he is her husband. But the way both of their eyes betray the exact same emotion, leaves no doubt. Their four year old son, I hear, is slowly being snatched away, by the merciless clutches of dengue.
I won’t forget any of this.
For hours now, we have been sitting here; the interstices between our bodies filled with a farrago of emotions– grief, shock, despair, fatigue, faith, and occasional glimpse of solidarity. And I cannot help but wonder – If I know their stories by now, do they also know mine?
Do they know that I was too busy at work, to be with my wife when she went into labor? The wife who had requested me to take the day off, because she could feel that today was going to be the big day. A request which I had laughed off, because she had already had two false alarms in the last week and the due date was still four days away. And because there was this meeting with the top management, which I just couldn’t miss. Hence, I decided to go in, for just two hours. Those two hours, which had stretched into ten. Ten life-changing hours; during which her water broke, and complications arose, and delays happened because the ambulance got caught in traffic.
Do they know, that I now sit staring at that door in front of me; because I cannot bring myself to face what lies on the other side? A wife who still doesn’t know that we have lost our baby; and who will probably blame me for it. An accusation, which my guilt will never let me refute; and one that will slowly gnaw away at my soul, every single day of my life. A life which will now never, ever, be as happy as we once were; or as we once could have been.
That door, is what this suffocating and horrendous moment culminates at. Only to lead me into an even more stifling and guilt ridden existence. The door, which I now must summon the last dregs of my courage, to open and walk through. Only to start my atonement for a mistake for which I really don’t want to be forgiven.
PS – This piece was written for a writing exercise as a part of a workshop, on the theme “The Door”.