April 1, 2018 29 By Pratima Mehta
5TH MAY 2017   16:45 IST

I had to return to her side.

I had been idling in the relative’s waiting area for 15 minutes now and my time for a mini-break was over.  Each time the thought of going back to the Neuro-recovery Room cropped up in my mind I flinched. You know that feeling? The pulse quickening, jelly legs and the stomach-churning sensation.

I removed my chappals outside besides several others of different sizes piled higgledy- piggledy against each other. “5071”, I told the security guard who had looked inquiringly at me.

As I pushed against the door of the large room cold air from inside greeted me with a wrath. Did it really have to be so cold! The floor was very cold too, ice-like. I found myself a pair of hospital slippers looking old and weary and quite large for my feet.

The neuro-recovery room occupies a sizable portion of the fifth floor of Bombay Hospital. It appeared like a school dormitory with beds on each side partitioned by curtains. It was eerily quiet save the beep of the monitors at intervals, which shattered the silence of the room. A dressing cart was kept outside the nurses’ station. I tried to avoid looking at it. As I walked down the room my heart thudded loudly against my chest, like the beep-beep of the monitors around. Out of the corner of my eyes I glimpsed patients on either side of the room. A young girl was surrounded by a young couple, her parents probably, the woman clad in a burqa and the man wearing a white salwar kameez with a taqiyah. An old man lay sleeping on another bed. Another patient seemed to be resting, his eyes closed and sitting upright against the back of the bed with one of his legs covered in gauze. There was nothing pleasant about this room.

A nurse was sitting at a table writing out notes besides Ira’s bed. “Did she wake up Meenu sister?” She looked up at me with a smile half-concentrating on the notes at hand. “Nahi na. Usko uthana padega ab. Aap try karo. (No. She needs to be woken up now. You try.)”

For a moment I just looked at her. She lay there on that big fowler bed looking adorable, like she always did. I glanced up at the monitor. All the parameters appeared well within the range. She was covered in a fleece blanket upto her chest. “Ira wake up, Ira. Mumma is here.” She didn’t move. It was almost 7 hours ago that they had stopped the sedation. She should have at least opened her eyes. “Ira everyone is waiting to meet you. Get up baccha. Open your eyes.”

I shook her shoulders slightly. I didn’t want to scare her. “Meenu sister, she’s not waking up. Kuch karo (Do something)”, I said with panic. Meenu sister came around to the other side. She frisked away the blanket while calling out “Ira utho (Get up). Bahut ho gaya neend (Enough of the sleep).” She put her hands under Ira’s armpits and motioned me to do the same. Together we lifted her slightly from the waist in a sitting position and immediately laid her down very gently. Too much movement should not be stressful for her.

I caressed her forehead. It felt cold against my warm and damp hand. “Ira. Ira wake up please. Look who’s here.” She moved her lips slightly, very slightly. “Mu—mma.” What a relief to hear her say that! “Mumma”. Her voice came out more strongly than before. “Mumma su aliye (I want to pee)”, she said feebly. Her eyes remained close but at least she was talking now. “Ira you are in a diaper. No problem beta.” I told her. I thought engaging her in a conversation would keep her awake. “Ira stay awake. Ranjeet baba na bolvu ka (Should I call Ranjeet baba)?” “Ho”, she replied again. I asked her again, “Ira baba na bolvu (Should I call baba)?” I barely heard her approval, “Hmmmm”.

“Ok. I am going to call Ranjeet baba. Stay awake.”

Little did I know that that was to be the last time I would hear her voice again.

It was the last time she spoke to anybody, the very last time she said mumma and the last time she ever expressed herself properly.


When it came to choosing one book over the other, as a die-hard book lover, I always found myself in a dilemma. So I often turned to the prologue for a quick read before I grabbed a book to settle with. Hence, when the idea of starting this blog hit me I found it only apt to begin with a kind-of-prologue.

Was there a time when you experienced mental anguish, panic, fear or restlessness for a loved one? Would you like to share them here?