Monday, December 12, 2011

The man lying next to my bed

He's obese, double-chinned, middle-aged.
He can mumble a few words as and when
his memory allows him. Met with a mishap
in some early spring in the altitudes of Himalayas,
and lost his locomotion. Days are only numbers now,
so are the nights. He lies composed in a hospital bed
next to mine.

Each day his wife visits him, a frail woman
with a morbid face, and begs him to utter her name.
He observes her in silence. Maybe

all he remembers are the pines and rhododendrons,
the wildflowers and the dictionary of birds in the lap
of ancient moss-ridden rocks.

He takes scarce notice of me, with his eyes glued
to the ceiling fan. Gulps down food, water, medicines
when told. Sleeps when told.

I watch a physiotherapist folding his arms, limbs.
Up and down. Up and down. Then sideways-
left to right, right to left. The man struggles hard

to stir up the patient, to somehow impart a rhythm
to his stiffened existence. The patient mutters at times
the names of places of an earlier world

where morning fog gives way to the splendor
of icy peaks

but then he shudders
as leaves do
amid the shivering tone of autumn wind.

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