It was one of those winter days when sun is blindingly bright and the air has that crisp quality to it signifying change of yet another season. I was back home early from the school and my fifteen year old self was locked out of the house.
My restless self couldn’t sit on the porch for hours so I sneaked into the garage. The dust motes aggravated my fragile lungs and started a dry coughing fit that scraped and burned my throat. I have always been a sick kid catching all kinds of diseases. The recent one was severe to such an extent that my lungs collapsed and I had to see the living horror that makes a hospital.
Those days changed my perspective about life. The fact that I can still contract third stage pneumonia keeps me awake at night, worrying not about my health but about the fact that I would have to go back to that horrible place.
In that place, I have heard screams of a mother as she held her dead child in the middle of the night, and in my feverish state I unsuccessfully tried to block that painful keening but ended up crying. I couldn’t fathom her pain, I didn’t even want to feel her pain yet I couldn’t block out my first taste of true human misery.
I have seen a mentally disturbed man fighting tooth and nail for the life of his starved daughter who was weak to such an extent that she took fluids from the various pipes stuck down her throat. He was so helpless, carrying that little bundle around, trying to take care of her but in reality making her situation more worse. I could only watch helplessly as my younger self wasn’t able to do a thing about it. I was as bound to the endless drips of the IV as she was to her pipes.
I have seen starved individuals fighting everyday for their life, I have seen their loved ones begging for money. My ailment was comparatively insignificant to what they were going through, I had my whole family glued to my bed side but they were so lonely, so worn down by their daily struggle and so close to giving up. The hospital in itself was sucking the very strength out of them.
Needles and pain never scared me, my tolerance for physical pain is high but that place emotionally scarred me with living proof of what life entails for those who are dealt a harder lot. The human misery, pain, death and the silence that precedes still echoes in my brain. I didn’t care much about myself, fourteen year old me believed that I was invincible but one look at my mothers face told me that my condition was no better than the others. It would take one night and my situation can either worsen or turn around for better, thankfully latter happened.
As I snapped back to reality, I saw three rusty keys lying in the corner of the garage. I picked them up, even though they might constitute trash for some, I assigned each one of them a deeper meaning. One was for inner contentment in small pleasures life gave me. The peace I found in the inconsequential things around me, the way night wind and starry sky calmed me, the way the very act of being alive and to exist was worth being grateful for. Second, for the strength that I could give to others who are truly broken because pain reduces to a great extent when it is shared and understood. Third, to live, to allow myself to cry, to allow myself to be stupid, to allow myself to fall in love and give it my whole self however times it abandons and devastates me.
and to hope and to being hopeless…