The trolley clattered on the shiny tiled floor, its back left wheel swinging dangerously on its axis. But I see that now; in retrospect, at the time I only saw my mother, her groaning, incoherent lopsided form.

“What happened??”, his stethoscope dangling on his left shoulder, a doctor spoke.

“Hmmm, what happened, come, come, come here…” he prodded me away as three nurses heaved my mother onto the larger bed, the left wheel of the trolley screeching in protest.

“Nothing sir, she was sleeping, then she got up to go to the bathroom and… and fell.”

“Ok, what time…? today??”

“Just now, half an hour back.”

“Vomiting, any fits, bleeding from the nose or ears??”, he paused as I took stock of his questions.

“No sir, no, once she vomited in the car”

“BP, sugar, any other problem, heart problem??”, he rattled off, mentally checking boxes in his head. I now remember his tired eyes.

“No sir, only BP, doctor, is she alright??”

“We’ll see, we’ll see, what is her name, sir?”

“Debjani, doctor, Debjani Chakravarthy”

“Sister, vitals?” he turned towards the nurse busily scurrying around my mother.

“BP 180/100, sugar 128, doctor”


“10 doctor, I think, please confirm…”

“Doctor, doctor, is she alright, what happened to her?” I followed him to my mother’s side who was now clad in a blue gown, her brown sari, bundled into a ball at the foot of the bed. The next few minutes were a blur.

“Sir, go complete the registration and get the hospital number… counter 14”

“Sir, pay for this scan and these tests and come back with the bills, counter 12”

“Sir, come, take off her bangles, here take her earrings.”

Under the mist of the oxygen mask, my mother breathed softly, the monitor beeping in the background, as I slid the bangles of her forearm. Glass ones snapped as we forced them against her wrist making her moan. Her shakha pola** though, those red-white encircling bands clung tightly to her forearm, reminders of my father, refusing to slide off and we struggled against them in vain.

“Sir, come here…”, the doctor ushered me back to the corridor. “Sir, I think she may have a bleed in her brain. We’ll do the scan and confirm it. She will require ICU admission and may need ventilation.”

“Huh..”, my head spun, actually no, it didn’t spin, it buzzed, it jumped, leapt insane, from thought to thought – bleed, I’ve to call Baba, why, why, why, how much will the ICU cost, why didn’t we take that insurance, what will Baba say…it danced a dervish within me.

“Sir, do you understand?”, he gently spoke again, “She is breathing now, but if it worsens she will need a ventilator, a machine, to breathe, for her…” he stressed each syllable speaking slowly, the words ballooning from his mouth. I nodded wordless.

Back, they heaved her onto the trolley, pushing her through the door , the wheel still clattering, into the Radiology block. And suddenly I was cold, my heart racing, I turned to her in a panic but she was still breathing softly, fogging the mask; it was only the air conditioning. Another heave into the doughnut shaped machine, she already felt lifeless.

“Sir, stay here, wear this…” and before I knew, I was wrapped in a lead apron alone in the cold with my mother. The machine hummed to life, rumbling round, faster and faster around my mother, peering into her head.

“Sir, see, see, here”, the doctor held up the scan to me, “Here is the blood, as you can see it has almost filled a quarter of the brain on the left side, increasing the pressure inside the head.”

“So… she needs Surgery??”

“No, sir, no…”, his soft voice was back, his eyes averting their gaze, he continued “this is not something we can solve by surgery, we have to admit her and see; wait for it to get absorbed”

“But will she be alright??”, I remember my voice quaking.

“Sir”, he hesitated with a breath and spoke “At this age with so much bleeding, it is difficult, it is very serious, already she is losing consciousness, we will need to intubate her and see. We can only hope for the best”

“But she will be alright, right??”

“Sir, if I connect her to the machine, it will breathe for her. I cannot say if and when she will come out, if she will talk, walk or understand you. I’m sorry.”

“Then, what is the treatment?”

“There isn’t any sir, we can only wait for the blood to be absorbed but the chance is small. the risk high. Now you have to decide sir, if you want to connect her to the machine or not. Either way, there is no guarantee, we can only hope” he was looking straight at me now. “The ICU admission will cost around 15000 per day and even after that…” he put up his hand to pause my optimism, my queries, “She may not make it out of this.”

Now my head spun, it swam and whizzed searching for footholds, adrift.

“Please, think about it, talk to your family and let me know. Please let me know in the next ten minutes or so…” he finished with a sip of water from a pink water bottle calming his parched throat. I nodded wordless.

“Sir, here take her bangles, we managed to remove them with soap.” the nurse spoke handing me a pair of soapy red and white bangles. “Sorry, one of them broke”

I nodded again, alone, my mother’s red and white bangles hanging on my fingers, clinking softly in the cold, cold wind.


**Shakha pola – Red White bangles worn by Bengali women




Inspired by –

“Kahin pe hai dukh ki chhaaya

Kahin hai khushiyon ki dhoop

Bura bhala jaisa bhi ho

Yahi toh hai bagiya ka roop

Phoolon se, kaaton se, mali ne haar piroye

Kahe ko roye”

                                                                                Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana

Film – Aradhana


Lingering ruby drops trickle

Down creased wooden hands

Falling full stops kiss the waiting floor

Crimson spheres once, now broken by time

Scattering spotting my canvas below


Familiar tears smear my face

Arcing slivers, they move

Inking in my waiting canvas

Painting, smothering, staining me rouge

Tired eyes floating in gory deluge


My tongue they coat, acrid taste

Years of wounded words remembered fade

Only salt, salt remains

Choking, clogging, gagging it falls

Stifling, smothering, strangling it rains


My eyes defeated fall away,

The bleeding canvas still in wait

No ruby dot, no blemish on it made

Empty, disgusted, I turn away

Thithi – A Review


Every so often, a rarer find now in these potboiler times, a film comes along that instead of transporting you to an imaginary world transfixes you in the forgotten magic of your own. Thithi is one such film.

When Century Gowda, the bawdy centenarian of a small village passes away, his son Gadappa, a senile gypsy of sorts with no interest in land or wealth, grandson Thamanna, a man caught in the throes of family life, and his great-grandson, Abhi, a hormonal teen on the cusp of manhood react to his death in their own ways.

Continue reading “Thithi – A Review”

The Escape


He stared up at the ceiling, the room closing in around him. The fan whirled painfully humming through the heavy air counting the muffled seconds with him.

“Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty…”

His fists clenched, his joints tense waited restless in bed, aching to move. Two weeks, fourteen days, he had waited; crawled through the minutes of exercise, therapy and the slop they called food. Waiting for the fortnightly shift change, the day with fewer of them. The creak of the wheels brought word of the cart, the check of the night. The wheel rattled on the hard floor worn down by years of watchful surveillance. Three checks, three checks; they felt he warranted. The wheels clattered closer, footsteps behind it audible now, faint. He was expecting them so he heard them earlier than usual. His hand closed over the cloth bundle at his side feeling his tools, his plan; the broken spoon, the razor blade, the pen torch he’d stolen from his son the last time they’d met.

The wheels paused outside his door, a shadow passed, it was Muriel, he’d know her anywhere, that bulky large head with that frizzled shock of hair that hung over her shoulders, her frame was unmistakable. The wheels scraped on, his eyes flicked to the rafters splitting the ceiling; he’d once considered it, letting it all go; only if I fail he thought rising slowly as the sounds faded around the corner.

Continue reading “The Escape”