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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The spirit of Mumbai

For my inflight reading I bought this book titled
The power of your subconscious mind. Its a cheesy book.

I made a call to Leela the moment I got out of the flight.
Take a ric, come to Carona hospital. She told.
I took a ric.
Carona hospital turned out to be karuna hospital.

I called Leela. She came out and waved. She looked beautiful,
beaten and tired.

They are not letting any visitors now.I will take you home.
My home is nearby. She said.

She introduced me to her Tom at the entrance. Tom salivated on my
new Lee cooper shoes. I left the shoes at the door, threw a little
prayer for them and went inside.

Mom, he is Smiley. Aunt he is Smiley. Dad he is Smiley. She introduced.
Her dad never looked up from the Times of India. A little later Leela's
brother came and said, Hey you must be Smiley. I said, Hey you must
be the little brother shadowed by a talented sister-who finally fought
his way to win an Abby.


I sat next to Leela's dad. After a while Dad finished reading his news
paper. I handed over him the Bombay times edition. He looked a little
startled. Who are you? He asked. I am your paper boy. I answered.
Thanks, but I dont read the Bombay times. He said.

The family was busy talking about taking a second opinion on Preeti's
brain condition. I looked around. Pictures of Preeti and her daughter
Alison stood out. There was this picture of Leela and Preeti when they
were kids.

For a moment I fell in love with Preeti. She looked so cheery with her
daughter on her back. For a moment my heart melted.

Her mom made me some drink and apologized for not paying much attention
to me. I am fine. I said. I would like to let you know that Preeti is in
my prayers and my Master Chief's prayers.

Thank you. She said. And can you keep your shoes inside? Tom is getting
excited. She added.

I asked Leela's brother to show his work. He did. Leela couldnt resist and
showed me her stuff too. Her mom fetched me a local newspaper and proudly
showed me a news article on her son.

Leela's dad started rereading the newspaper. This time he started making
some notes. Mom apologized again for not offering any food and excused
herself to the hospital. Leela and I walked down to a nearby food joint.
(Anytime you are dining with Leela, you should prepare yourself for a
dish of Prawns. She will end up ordering a prawn fry after carefully
going through the entire menu.)

So whats up? I asked.
She started telling me. I am not sure if I listened to her. I just
watched her sharing the trauma. The mid day hot and humid Mumbai
air never stopped playing with her curly hair. I was amazed by the strength
and objectivity she showed.

Fortunately or unfortunately I had close encounters with a situation like
this in my past. I can understand the kind of pain and stress one has to
endure in situations like these.

I understood the deal. She is prepared. She is not hoping for what 'she
thinks is the best thing to happen'. She is doing whatever she can do.
She is hoping that that would turn out to be the best for Preeti.

Afternoon shifts are Leela's. I offered my company. Leela's aunt hinted
me that I have to sneak past the stairs, because they are not letting
any visitors. With Leela's help I did. She had to visit the HOD and
at the same time relieve her mom from the morning shift.

Hey, can you go upstairs, tell my mom to go home and be at the ICU till
I finish my work with HOD? She asked.

I can. I went upstairs and told her mom that she can go home and that
I can take care of that ICU stuff. She was embarrassed. What about you?
Did you have lunch? She asked. I had. Dont worry. Take your time. I said.

She left. I sat there and stared at the iron doors of ICU for sometime.
Then I slowly drifted into a nap. Leela woke me up.

We sat there for a long time. I listened to her empathetically. All these
prayers. Something has to happen. She said after a while.

Around three o clock, Leela said she has some work downstairs and asked
me to continue the vigil at the ICU. In about five minutes a nurse emerged
from the ICU.

Preeti. She shouted. Who is for Preeti here? She shouted again.
Me. I said.
She gave me a receipt, a request for three bottles of blood to the local
blood bank and a sample of blood for cross matching.

I was not very sure. I stared at Preeti's blood for a long time. She is
still fighting. I wished that prayer stuff Leela told me is true.
I wished Preeti's blood all the best.

I called Leela and told her about the blood requirement. She called
her brother. Her brother took the note. We need the blood by four.
The nurse declared. Her brother started running.

This tiny little family against a monstrous set up of Mumbai is struggling
to undo the chance event that topsy turvyed their life as they knew it.

This effort of theirs is illogical, instinctive and beautiful.

For some really strange reason they suddenly let Leela inside the ICU.
Smiley, come in, say hi to Preeti. Leela said.
I obliged.

I met Preeti at a lunch before. On the hospital bed she looked much
younger. She has a pretty face. She was serene and almost smiling.
But her skin showed all the symptoms of the fight going on internally.
The kind of pain she must have endured in the last four to six weeks is
simply mind numbing.

Leela put a hand on her sister and whispered in her ear.
Preeti, you are doing well today. Doctors are finally positive.
Your kidneys have started functioning a bit. Your blood pressure
is normal and I am so glad you didnt give up. Keep up the fight.

Preeti's eyes moved under eyelids. In a way, it was almost like
she was responding to Leela.

Hey, look who is here. Smiley. Remember him? We had lunch together
at your office.

I swore to myself that I saw her smiling a bit. A tiny winy bit.

Hi Preeti. Its me. Smiley. I have a confession to make. It was me who
stole your gulab jamun that day.

We walked out. I was still numb from what I saw.
My respect for Leela and her family quantumed.

Leela, I know I can do very little and whatever I am gonna say
is only going to sound cliched. Still. Be brave. Stay float.
You have done a great job. Be proud of it.

Smiley, thanks for coming. Did you really steal her gulab jamun that

What are friends for? Tell Preethi that I will be more than happy to
pay her gulab jamun back. Take care.

On the return flight, I read a couple of chapters of The Power of
your subconscious mind.

This dude is right. There is still hope.

1 comment:

:-) said...

Leela is a good friend of mine and almost everyone who reads this blog. Right now, she is going through an unfortunate event. I am taking liberty to pass on the courage ,support, hope and strength to her family on behalf of HBM and everyone I know.