(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
"Sheís coming out
of the medication, Doctor," the nurse says.
The white-coated woman Ė
the doctor Ė nods. "How are you feeling?"
I try to open my mouth,
and after a couple of attempts part my lips. My tongue is an unfamiliar heavy
log, which doesnít want to move at first.
"Give her some water,"
the doctor says. The nurse nods, leans over with a dropper. Cool moisture seeps
into my mouth.
"Where..." I manage.
"Where am I?"
"Youíre in hospital, of
course," the doctor says. "Canít you remember, Monica?"
remember...anything." My tongue is moving more freely now, but I canít
recognise my voice. Itís not just because of the hoarse whisper that crawls up
my throat. It is not my voice. I know that much. "What...happened?"
"Your car was in an
accident." The doctor looks at a clipboard sheís carrying and back at me. "It
was pretty bad, your body was just about broken into pieces. You donít recall
anything at all about it?"
"No." How can I explain
that I donít even know if I am this Monica person? "Did Ė did you save me?"
"In a manner of
speaking." The doctorís air gets suddenly brisk, businesslike. "Youíre to try
and rest now. Iíll be back later." She looks at something out of my field of
vision, writes on the clipboard, and leaves. The nurse goes with her.
I lie on my back and
stare at the ceiling, trying to remember something, anything. The pain in my
head washes back and forth in slow waves, but not so badly that I canít bear
it. The rest of my body has no pain at all. This is strange, if Iíve been so badly
hurt that everything was broken.
Or maybe Iím paralysed,
and thatís why it doesnít hurt. The possibility is terrifying. I try to move my
fingers, my toes. I canít feel anything at all.
Iíd better think about
Monica. I think about
that for a bit. Who is this Monica? If Iím she, then what do I have to
rediscover about her Ė about myself? Who am I?
If I canít remember
anything about me, ever, what will I do?
I hear a sound of a door
opening. People come into my field of vision, several of them. The woman doctor
is one of them, and another one in a white coat, a thick-faced man with glasses
and a moustache.
"I hear youíre awake and
able to talk a little," the man with the glasses says. I recognise the voice Ė
itís the one whoíd been speaking the first time, when Iíd been in such pain.
"Youíve been through a lot, so donít panic if things seem hard at first. Itís
going to take time."
"Who am I?" I ask.
Itís not what I meant to ask, but the question pops out.
The two doctors exchange
quick glances. "Donít you know?" the woman asks.
I try to shake my head.
Give up when I start feeling nauseous as soon as I try. "Youíve been calling me
Monica. Thatís all."
"Well, yes," the woman
says. She looks slightly nonplussed. "Youíre Monica Singh. I thought youíd
remember that much Ė"
"Itís the medication,"
the male doctor breaks in. He smiles at me, a tight-lipped twitch of the mouth
which is not reassuring at all. "Give it time."
The woman doctor bends
down at the foot of the bed. I see a flash of white sheet.
"Can you feel this?" she
I have no idea what Iím
supposed to feel. "Yes," I lie.
"How about this?" I think
sheís doing something to my feet, assuming I still have feet.
"Yes," I lie again.
"Faintly." Actually, I think I can feel something now, like a
line drawn down the sole of one foot, but itís like feeling it from a light
year away. The doctor gets her clipboard and begins scribbling.
"Can you move your arms
and legs?" a third person in white interrupts, craning over the shoulders of
the others. "Can you lift your head?"
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