I watched my sister dance at the funeral of her husband. It wasn’t the frenetic swaying of a delirious mind. Nor was it in measured restraint. It was seamless, fluent, san all conscious effort. It felt the same as the day she danced when I told her that she had become an aunt, her movements sparkling of joy and pride. It was the same as when she got into the grad school for design, her life’s motive, her long-cherished desire. It was the same as when she fell in love and danced to let him know, that while her heart was all his, she couldn’t be. She bowed to her mother’s dying wish and married a guy of her family’s choosing. The guy, today, lying on the funeral pyre, was silenced in death. He didn’t hurt her, nor was he bad. He was a good fellow, kind and gentle. But she couldn’t bear to hold within a love she felt for else. She wrapped it deep within, where it simmered. One fine day, unbeknown of the cause, she cracked. Breaking the calm placid facade shot out the hand, her hand, grasping a knife in a tight clench. A cruel unfaltering slash, it hit an artery in his neck, and he ceased to be, diseased, sliding to the beyond in a gush of blood-red blood spurting from the gash. She was sane, oh yes, rational too. She just broke once, then, and the deed couldn’t be undone. Today, she danced in farewell to the guy, her erstwhile husband, caught in cross-fire of her unrequited love. It’s wasn’t his fault, nor her’s, or her mother’s who died while holding on to the wisdom and custom of the eras bygone. It just happened, and all she could do was to dance resigned to the fates design. She danced. She did.
Out in the East
The Sun refused to rise
As if, this would keep
The dreadful day from unfolding.
But spurred by its sincerity,
it did indeed rise!
It rose, it rose to light the ground
Restoring vision to eyes, which were
Only to be staunched with bloody red.
With the break of dawn
were trumpets blared.
The war-cries exchanged
And the savage instinct of kill unleashed.
Men dressed in blue jumped
Over ones in red.
Swords were crossed,
Arrows shot and blows exchanged.
But with the day progressing
The kill peaked, only to be subdued.
It did indeed subdue
But not till only two heads remained unsplit.
One of a man, clad in red, and
The other of a horse, with blue saddle above.
It was only these two that stirred
While all that remained was stilled
By the piteous onslaught.
Men, with swords pierced through their heart
Brave-hearts with arrows in their eye
Dove-eyed, with shields severing their necks
And thick-necked, with no head to support.
It ended. It all did end.
But for the exultation of only one!
That single man, clad in red
Sprinkled the red blood of blue over his brow
He touched, O yes, he did indeed
The fore-head of his enemy general
With his dirty half-smashed left little toe.
He jumped in feigned ecstasy
He sung in coarse joviality
He swore full throttle, and he swooned
For what little life was left in his tattered body
Got spent in cruel merriment.
While as his body fell onto the ground
His eyes, with unwonted pity
Cast upon the only unfortunate survivor
Of the defeated battalion,
The horse in blue.
Knelt was it, knelt on all its four
with its tail stilled
its eyes half-filled
it lowered its head
To lick upon its dead master
Dressed in blue, though drenched in wicked red!
A dewy morning of early spring, and with the break of dawn, the scented breeze from lands afar blew to dispel the night’s mist off the trees on the plain. As the blanket of wet whiteness dwindled, an orange, ripened into the fullness of Sun, round and resplendent, could be seen hanging on the tree at the very heart of the plain.
The orange was as brightly orange as any orange could ever be. Spilling with the exuberance of youth, it was lulling in the breeze and making merry. From its site up on the tree, it could gaze above the lush green of the canopy, expanding over vast expanse, the very sight of prosperity, with its spotting of buds, flowers and fruits in their multivariate shades and shadows. The orange was as happy as anyone could, consumed in its own sweet pulp, radiant, ripe, it was living a life of beauty.
Pity all happy stories need come to an end, and so did that of the orange fruit. It was done on the tree and the stalk was sticking by its last bit of might. One gush and pluck! split the pedicle of the fruit leaving it under the guardianship of gravity.
The orange, blinked, tearful that its spot over above the canopy was gone. The misty morns, the breezy noon, the eve as the Sun slid behind the hills spewing red, yellow and orange over the horizon, and the quiet peaceful nights when under the shade of the moon, it would rest and dream, they where all to be had no more. It was to lose all these beauties it got to savour up above.
As its mind fretted, fidgeting over its lost privileges, the descent to the ground propelled by the interminable laws of gravity continued. As the ground came to sight, the smell of mud, wet, musky, steamed up into the air around. Air was rushing up past it, mirroring its fall down. The sky with its vast blueness and a touch of white from clouds, the lush lavish green of the canopy, they went further and further away. The brown of the branches with swirls of green from the many creeping guest on them surrounded the orange, as it was going down, down to the ground.
The smell of musk set fear thunder through the heart of the fruit. It meant for it, decay. It now could see its fate, and it realised with pain its purpose. It carried within it’s self, seeds of life which it was to nourish, at its own cost. It was to let self be destroyed, degraded by the zymes the seed may secrete, aided by the warm moist environ down there in the mud and the multitudinous miniscule unlikely mates. It was to slowly dissolve, letting its beauty give way to fluid, its exuberance give way to nutrients, and its youth give way to death for the sake of another life. It was to soon disappear from existence, to finish its short sweet journey with an ending stroke of decay and death.
It wondered first with pain, then with remorse at the similar fate of the countless oranges still lulling up in the breeze some looking down at it with pity, some with sympathy and some completely oblivious to its end. It felt bitter at being used, at falling into the ploy of this pointless game called life. How just is it to cause a death to bring about a birth?! It was to end to nourish another beginning, and if the whole purpose is just the beginning, then what point is there in the interim from the beginning to the end but a mindless meaningless preparation for the end so as to bring about another beginning?! Is the purpose of life ‘life’ itself, nothing more?!
It looked back at its days of youth, at its sweet pulp, its exuberant wine flowing in it and thought, what was it all about? What for? Was it a bribe to make the interim bearable so that it would play its part?!
The orange was nearing the ground through the fall. It could see the crystals of sand, with the mat of moss and a carpet of herbs blanketing the floor. It knew soon, very soon it would be gone, and from it will grow another orange tree, no, through it will grow another orange tree. And though it would be through it, it will not be the same as it. Lives’ end it thought, but life remains. Though no two lives’ are the same, they are always replaced. But in each life, there seem to be a pattern with three indelible truths, birth, procreation, death. It knew this, but what made it painful now is that it used to think there was more to life than just these. It wanted there to be meaning, significance, importance, but it could see there wasn’t.
There were days of happiness and moments of sorrow in its transient past. And when it looks again, it sees they were so innate. Anything that promoted its survival and seed-bearing made it happy and caused it to like it while that which threatened them brought pain and aversion. Scented breeze of the hills, oxygen, survival, happy. Delightful daylight after dawn, light, survival, happy. Countless pearls of rain breaking down from the sky, water, survival, happy. Mother’s stories of Gaya, the Goddess of Nature looking over, protection, actually the pretention of protection, survival, happy. Grandma’s stories of Zeus, the God of Everything, with lists of do’s and do not’s, presumption of survival, survival, happy. Grandpa’s stories of afterlife, imagination as to survival, survival, happy. Bees, birds and butterflies in their many colours and clamour, pollination, seed-bearing, happy. Come on now, give me a break said it!
It wondered if its search for meaning was of any meaning?! Was there indeed any meaning?! If someone even claims to have found, how to separate an appearance of meaning from meaning indeed?! How could anyone ever find meaning if there exists none in first case?!
While the orange had heard of stories that in the end there is peace, but it seems to be otherwise. Either they were lies, built on the promise that the dead won’t return to contest, or maybe it’s was a case apart, san the apparence, the pretension and the presumptions of lives’. Its view was that of the life. And though it could, it chose not to lighten its heart with lies many. For it thought, why need it aim for happiness, peace and significance? What makes the state san these feelings any less meaningful? When there is no meaning at all, what makes any state any less meaningful but for the personal preference? Or is it really a personal preference, or a program as to preference fed inside since before birth or from after birth through social conditioning?!
And all it could see before was webs of questions, breaking paradigms, withering assumptions, it realised it had taken so many assumptions for granted. It hadn’t challenged then and took them for either the obvious or as the unquestionable truth. And the realisation of the folly, all added to the muddle, meddled with the fret in it as the orange finally hit the ground, paving self into the mud, spewing flecks of moss and moisture up into the air, and blurted in its last breath, ‘what the f***!
I searched for my glasses, splashed a palm-full of water over my face, and with my bearings straight, i rushed to the patient.
The Staff nurse had pulled a screen around. I walked in and picked the patient’s limp wrist. There was no pulse. I felt his neck, no pulse there either. I placed the steth over his chest and i could hear no lub-dubbing of the heart. There was only the eerie silence that mingled with the dim lull of the quiet night.
I had the nurse load a syringe with adrenaline and another with atropine, as Staff and I started with CPR. We pushed in one ampule each of the two drugs. The heart didn’t budge. I asked them to load another. The nurse was digging into the emergency tray while Staff and I continued with the chest compression and AMBU ventilation in a bid to keep the brain alive.
As we were heaving, pumping and pushing drugs into the patient, i saw a face emerge through the pulled screen. It was solemn, and the eyes brimming wet. It would be this gentleman’s wife I presumed. Her face lingered in there for one unsure second and then slowly receded.
The nurse brought the second dose of adrenaline and atropine. I pushed it in and hoped for the heart to kick in.
Curiously though, in my mind, blinked the face of that wife and I could not bear to behold its weight. I wondered what would be her state of mind. I knew I would fall short of the gravity of her pain, yet my mind lingered on.
She would be pained by the impeding loss. The relationship of a husband-and-wife is amongst the most dear and deep of all. The pain of separation would be an iron-pike passed through her heart.
But that wasn’t all. Beyond the excruciating pain of loss was the fear of the unknown. How was she to keep her family? She had to provide for her children, see them grow into good, worthy men and women. How was she to stand-up to this huge responsibility, all by herself, all alone? She had but only herself to grind and bear its whole weight.
How she would long for it all to be unreal! How unreal would this all seem to her. She would have found this guy. Loved him. Brought up a loving, caring family. Dreamt of only happiness and happy days. But now she stands to see in gory detail it being striped and split into splattering splinters. The shards piercing through her fragile self.
I wished, hoped, prayed for my patient to survive. I was overwhelmed, too overwhelmed with his wife’s plight that I wanted an alternate reality wherein they would live together. Wherein, he doesn’t fall sick and wherein, he sticks to his sweet significant other for till eternity.
But even with the third shot of adrenaline and atropine, there wasn’t any sign of life. I walked through the check-list before committing to the brutal reality that the gentleman, my patient, and his now aggrieving wife, happily wed till then, were to separate now on his death.
I declared him as no more. Informed his wife. And she fell like a house of cards in a gush of wind. I was in my room. But i couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. What was it that i could have done? Why couldn’t i save him? Why couldn’t i?