Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Last Wall
Four walls. That’s strange. You don’t generally become aware of the four walls that cover you everywhere; it could be your room at home or the home itself. It could be the office, your cabin, even an elevator. Four walls always define your space. Oh, yes architectural experiments would make these walls to look a bit different in form and shape. Some walls could be transparent, some could be semi transparent giving the person who stands outside a feeling that he is looking at a mirror than looking into the secrets of a room hidden by that mirror.
Interesting thing is that you don’t know about these walls in your daily lives. You call your room as the coziest space in the world. You have your music, your wardrobe, your collection of shoes and your books in there and you don’t complaint about the walls. You beautify them with your favorite colors and adorn them with your favorite paintings or posters. Some times you look at these walls and smile as if they were your closest pals who understand everything about you. Perhaps, that’s true also. They know everything about you. Your nudity, your body odor, your scars, your warts, your dreams and tears- they know everything about you. But you don’t find them oppressive.
The moment someone tells you that you are not allowed to go out of your room, these walls become oppressive. It is very difficult too see your friends turning foes. The saying is true that a friend turned foe tells the right things about you. But these walls won’t speak anything against you. Perhaps they are more loyal than your partner in life. They don’t betray you with the change of their emotions. They don’t twitch a muscle in their faces because they don’t have any muscle and they don’t even have faces. They love you with their entirety. They love with their totality.
Still, the moment you feel like stopped from doing anything that you like, you start feeling that you are confined in a room. You call it four walls. You betray your friendship. You abuse the walls, practically and metaphorically. What a pity. Walls don’t talk back to you; they are like silent servants who are old and understand you thoroughly as they have seen you through your life. They don’t even mutter words under their breath. They just love you; still when it comes to a dire situation you just give them away. You push them before the firing line and save your skin. And that’s how masters behave with the loyal servants.
Lying on a bed covered with green bed sheets, her head raised by two pillows and the auxiliary appendages of the cot, she looks around the room, which has suddenly become four walls for her. She does not want to call it a room. These are four walls coated with pale pink color that is supposed to sooth the disturbed minds of the patients who are admitted there. From the fifteenth floor of the hospital, she could see the city sprawling towards the horizon; in the beginning you could discern the buildings. This one you know, this one, you go into every day, that one must be the multiplex, that is the famous shrine of a sufi saint, those are the ghettos where the dirt of the city lives and then again the high rises. Then they fade into a line made of jumbled forms and the rough edges of that line gets dissolved into the imaginary horizon of the city where you think that one could find a sea or a range of hills.
She anxiously looks at the horizon for a while and tries to turn her head to the left where she imagines that her husband has left a few books, her i-pod and her beloved blackberry. She wants to tell all of her friends that she is bed ridden at the age of thirty for no reason. But she instinctively knows that her husband has taken away the lap top with the internet connection. Doctor has strictly said that she should not keep her neck straight. She needs to recline against a support besides the collar that she wears now.
The moment she came down with a severe pain in the neck, her husband had given her one of the dirtiest looks possible in the world, which she translated as, ‘you deserve this as you spend endless hours in chatting with strangers and befriending online Romeos. I have been warning you and now God has given you an apt lesson, now put up with it and face it.’ He did not say these words, but with the same look in his eyes, he said, ‘Darling, do not move your neck. Just listen to some music. Doctor has even said you should not read for some days as it could put pressure on your neck. I love you.” He left her in her suddenly found deafening loneliness in the middle of a hospital room at the fifteenth floor, which she refused to call a room but four walls the moment she was trolley-ed in.
She prays for her imaginations to be true. Some how she turns her head towards the left side to see whether he has left the Blackberry on the table. To her dismay she finds only the i-pod there. She listens to some music for some time and after those few minutes of listening she realizes that she is not in fact listening to any music. She hears some buzzing sound in her ears as her minds wanders off along the walls. She pangs for someone to call her. She wants to share her feelings with anyone of those people who are seen in the chat lines. As nothing happens she decides to review her own medical condition.
It all started when she drove along the Marine Drive with a friend who was on her way to shop for books at the Strand near Fountain. They were talking about the latest arrivals in their wardrobes and the latest books that they were reading. Her friend took interest in reading crime thrillers and sci-fi novels. She was not particularly interested in any literature. She was a very eclectic reader. The blurbs at the back cover fascinated her rather than the name of the author or the prizes that he had won in his literary career. In this way she had read about a guy who spent three months in the Alps alone as he had fallen into creek while climbing the snow covered peaks. She had read about the love life of Rumi and also had read some biographies of people known for some crazy achievements in their lives.
On the first left turn from the Fountain she felt a pull at her neck, which she eminently ignored and to ignore it she eminently indulged in an elaborate session of gossiping with her friend about the coolest gals in the city who had recently started appearing in the celebrity columns of the city newspapers and magazines. However, the more she gossiped the more intense the pain became. Brave men and brave women behave alike in situations where they are required to keep their vanity unscathed. So she did not show a hint of her pain on her face and did not allow her gossiping friend to know anything about her discomfort. If she came to know that she was having a muscle pull at the neck at the age of thirty, it would have been translated into a terminal illness by evening thanks to the good efforts of the friend.
But by afternoon, once she struggled back into her room, she could not help but calling her husband over phone to inform him about the pain and it was when he stepped in after an hour or so that he gave one of the dirtiest looks that a man could bring into his eyes.
Now, lying alone on a bed covered with green bed spreads, she looked at the ceiling. Then suddenly she realized that a ceiling without a fan is a man without his organ. Then her cheeks went red as in an impulse which she could not control. She smiled at herself. She tried to concentrate on other things and she found there was nothing in the hospital room other than her I pod, which she had started hating by now. So she started thinking about her illness. A pain in the neck. The X-ray told nothing. The MRI scanning said nothing about an illness. Many specialists came, suggested many tests and now they all had told her to wait for two more days so that they could observe her thoroughly.
So here she was with an illness which was not yet diagnosed. She was not taking any medicines as the doctors did not prescribe any. She was not even feeling invalidated at any other part of the body than the pain behind her neck. But she was made to lie on the bed with her neck raised and collared. She felt like a culprit put into a torturing machine. She felt that she was wronged against the divine will. This pain was a momentary aberration of her own body, a rebellion of muscles. But it was not a divine punishment as her husband had interpreted. Now she was inside four walls. She felt cabined, cribbed and confined. As she had been a literature student once, she remembered Hamlet for a moment and then she slept.
In sleep, she dreamed of a wall just out side the window amongst one of the four walls. This wall was now looking like a screen and there were several green lights with so many minute profile pictures. Her fingers started moving and she was typing things furiously and the virtual friends were speaking to her as if they all were waiting for her there at the chat windows as children wait for their mothers. She typed out things as per the need of the person of the other end. She pretended herself as an art collector to an artist, a musician to a guitarist, a beautician to an ugly duckling, a culinary specialist to a glutton, a cultural theorist to a hopelessly argumentative man, a fashion model to a designer who was about to launch his brand.
And in sleep she had three orgasms and one long feverish spell with shivering.
When she opened her eyes, her husband was sitting right next to her with a smile on his face and the dirty look in his eyes was gone. “How do you feel now?” He asked. She smiled at him as she was not feeling anything particular. She wanted that dream to continue. But he woke her up again. “This is just a life style illness. Nothing to worry. Doctor has advised a vacation than medicine. We are off to LA baby,” he hugged and kissed her.
She looked at the wall out side the window. It was not longer a screen. It was just a wall.