Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.
Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.

Almas Wafa Khan

Abstract Inspirational Others

3  

Almas Wafa Khan

Abstract Inspirational Others

Friends

Friends

6 mins
139


Beep… Beep… Beep… the steady sound of his heartbeats and the rhythmic rising of the line on the screen of the monitor try to deceive us into believing that our Ram is alive. We are waiting at the bedside of my best friend Ram. Waiting for him to find release. The doctors have told us that he won’t be with us long. His wife Shyama has cried her eyes dry and like me is waiting for him to find his peace. My son Ravi, looking bereft, is standing next to Suman, Ram’s son, being the rock that Ram had always been to me. It has now been a month since the ill-fated accident.


Ram is hooked on all the equipment around him and the machines are the only thing pumping life into his unconscious self. The feeding tube coming out of his nose is his source of nourishment as is the intravenous infusion giving energy to him drop by drop. Whenever he has come out of his medicine induced sleep, his convulsions and his painful moans have been agonising for us to witness. The doctors are surprised that he has hung on for so long with the internal and external injuries that he had suffered. They have tried to reduce the swelling in his brain and are injecting chemicals that keep his heart pumping regularly. The iron rod that pierced his right lung had been removed in a three-hour-long operation on the day of the accident, but the collapsed lung had refused to function and a tube had to be inserted to release the trapped air and relieve the pressure in his chest. The ventilator is breathing for him. His broken legs are in plaster and on traction. For all of us, it is difficult to believe that this unmoving cold soulless body is Ram, the most energetic person in the whole of the universe.


Ram and I grew up in the same village near Anand in Gujarat. Our parents lived next door to each other in the same lane. We were born in the same month and ever since we could crawl, we have been inseparable. We were brothers from different mothers. From morning to night, we were together: playing, studying, working on our farms, running errands on our cycles, playing pranks on other kids, getting into trouble, being punished by our parents… everything together. We left our village together for further studies and finally settled in Ahmedabad. We got married in the same year and found rental apartments in the same building. Our wives and later on our kids too ended up being friends and thus our friendship got cemented further. Playing the game of life successfully, we were able to build our own bungalows in the same society in a posh locality in Ahmedabad.


We shared the ups and downs of life together. We celebrated our lives as a family. Ram was the solid rock holding me up when my wife was belatedly detected with ovarian cancer and was the one who tried to get me out of my depression after she passed away. It was at his exuberant urging that we joined the senior citizen’s laughter club at a park near our society. Laughing aloud with a group of strangers was a stress buster for me. The strangers soon became friends and our laughter sessions ended with a cup of tea outside the garden with them. Every morning I would walk to his house from my end of the lane, rattle his gate and he would step out with his stick; not admitting that he needed support but giving an excuse that he needed it to shoo off the dogs in the lane. We would then walk together to the garden.


It was on one such day that we met with an ill-fated accident. A truck carrying steel rods to a construction site stopped suddenly at the crossroads. The rider of the scooter behind the truck did not see it coming and could not stop in time. He swerved to avoid hitting the truck and rammed into a vegetable cart that ran into us. I was thrown clear and landed on my head on the footpath, but poor Ram got crushed between the cart and the truck and one of the steel rods that slid out of the back of the truck pierced his lung. We were rushed to the hospital, I escaped with just a simple head injury, but my dear friend got imprisoned by the machines after going through multiple operations.


After he came out of surgery, we have all been visiting him. We were told that he could hear us, so we would all talk to him, urging him to fight back, but it soon looked like Ram had given up. In our own different ways, we tried to encourage him. Shyama talked about their life together. Suman and his constant companion Ravi would visit together, not talking directly to Ram, but playing a game of Rummy or sometimes Bezique next to his hospital bed. They chatted to each other about their day, giving company to Ram the way they knew how to. Holding his hand, I would talk to Ram about our village and the fun we had growing up and how much I missed his company. Three weeks after the accident, the doctors told us that Ram didn’t have many days left; we too knew it was futile encouraging him to go on. Ram was refusing to continue his game of life.


Shyama could now no longer hold on to her composure and would just break into tears every time she entered the room. Kissing his flaccid hand, she would murmur her apology and advise him to let go. Reciting the Mahamrityunjay mantra, she tried to give him the courage to embark on his journey without her. Suman, with tears running down his face, reassured him that he would take care of Shyama and that Ram was not to worry but to peacefully let go. Ravi and I would hold on to his hands, giving a reassuring squeeze now and then.


Today is the day. We are all waiting for him to be free. Shyama, with dry eyes, is reciting her prayers, trying to calm herself. Ravi and Suman are waiting at the foot of the bed. I am at his bedside, holding his hand. Beep…beep…beep………. Silence… A straight line on the screen… Shyama cannot stop the wailing scream arising from the depth of her being, Suman sinks into Ravi, who can barely hold himself upright. I hold Ram’s hand and help him up and give him a hug. I offer him his walking stick with a smile, and we walk out of the hospital room, two friends embarking on yet another journey together.


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