I suddenly woke up. I did not know where I was. I could smell the disinfectant. It seemed I was supine on a hospital bed. I opened my left eye first; it was the only functioning organ I could feel. Several bandages crisscrossed over my person from head to toe as if I was an old radio set hastily taped up.
A strange lamp with red light was focusing on my right leg as its toes peeped out pathetically from the grey cotton mold. A bunch of suave looking guys clad in white coats took their turns bending all over me with their prying eyes in an exaggerated style—reminded me a cartoon show. They looked agitated debating among themselves in partly intelligible but mixed metro accents. They appeared making curt pronouncements with ceaseless gesticulations. They scribbled some prescriptions and passed some orders to the nurses. By their staid expressions I could not guess the correct number of how many bones would have broken. But I heard a passing reference with respect to several ligaments too.
When I was just lying helpless, writhing and seething in pain, I wondered why they didn’t give any painkiller yet. Wouldn't those doctors ever understand what pain could mean to a guy? I wished they stopped circling around my bed. They were observing me as if I was one of the one-eyed monsters washed ashore by a Tsunami. Had not anesthesia and other modern pain management techniques evolved beyond the good old chloroform? Or did those white coats mistake me for a willing human guinea pig? Did they take any notes of the sizes of my pain threshold? Or were they experimenting with me for their new research?
Seized with desperation, I screamed my anguish till the entire world stood up and noticed my pain. But I could not open my clenched jaws nor expand my shallow lungs to produce the desired effect. Instead I shook my torso like in a snake dancer and grunted. Denied of any medication, I wished they moved on to the neighboring bed, whose occupant might be another hapless and prospective subject for their research, providing a printable scoop in their medical journal. I failed in the every attempt to shake off my pain with all my will and spirit. It occurred to me it could be a weird phantom ready to swallow my soul. I pitied myself that I might eventually die succumbing to that monster sitting on my left leg.
Exactly then I thought of God for my proverbial last straw. Quickly I tried to recollect the Sanskrit phrases which were in praise of the various gods from my daily prayer book. But to my surprise, those familiar Sanskrit prayers were not coming to me now. Did I lose my memory or what? Pity, I could not pick up a single line of prayer. What was the use of that prop that I could not get a hold on, in my apocalyptic distress? I was mystified and frustrated. In an attempt not to lose my shaky but never-say-die nerve, I struck to yet another form of the time-tested alternative medicine in prayer. After all I believed in Tennyson’s words, ‘More things are wrought by prayer’.
All my life I was chanting His prayers in that ancient language, whose words were a bit difficult to articulate for the laymen, as it was not anyone’s mother tongue these days. The prayers were mostly verses containing choicest praises showered on the myriad forms of Gods, describing them in their various avatars, qualities, titles, etc. termed synonymously sometimes. At times, I prayed in English albeit it was a tamed version loosely translated.
At last I started crying, effortlessly and instantaneously, that too in great elaboration. Yes, it was comforting to cry my heart and soul out lustily, what with my failed prayer attempts or um-administered or ineffective medications. Tears rolled down my cheeks and the saline ran over my bandages in a deluge, turning them near yellow after having diluted the multicolored ointments beneath.
When I was weeping inconsolably thus, that was without a noise and to a degree of great perfection, I saw my dear friend, Ram entering the ward. He was walking towards me. The naked neon bulb threw a halo around his head. What a relief I felt seeing him there. His presence made all the difference. Now I had no need to worry about anything. I was sure he would take charge of all my burdens and pains. Was he not called Good Samaritan by everyone in the office?
Ram was really a nice chap. He was known for his worldly wisdom. He had all the answers up his sleeve for grabs. He was always there in any need, to give succor He was known as harbinger of solace. I gestured to Ram with my left eye to sit by my side. I got my voice back along with its old strength miraculously. I begged him not to leave my side for a second. My next appeal to him was about the condition of my vehicle. Yes, the car I was driving in the night. I was cooing joyously the famous tunes from the late night film I just watched. All the details were coming to me. My car dashed against a buffalo jaywalking in sleep in the dark. What a shame! I thanked my stars for not taking my wife and kids along with me. It was really an insult to injury thinking about the movie.
Ram then provided me the much needed clue to the puzzle on my progress at the hospital. He gave me the good news. He told he was briefed by the chief doctor that I would be discharged positively, before daybreak. Relieved by that precious piece of information from oasis-like Ram, I tried on a difficult maneuver that was rolling to my right… but I found it difficult. I chose not complain and instead challenged Ram, "Why, Ram? It couldn’t be whole truth, about the chief doctor’s promise. How is that I will be discharged when so many of my bones are involved? Please get to know why they haven’t put me on the treatment yet and fixed them?”
Ram smiled with a reassuring pat on my rather sensitive shoulder. He queried, “What made you think you have broken your bones?” I wailed, “Look at my condition. I was feeling awfully miserable until you came. Every part of my body was paining. I could not move my fingers or toes even. I felt as if my back was stuck in a vice and rest of my body cast in a cement block. There was no respite despite I cried for help. Tell me Ram? Is it not high time they gave me that goddamned treatment sooner? As a matter of fact, I heard them talking about the line of treatment when I opened my eyes?”
Ram sighed, “Hey, buddy. I never heard you swearing taking God's name. Anyway! You had better understand what I say. You know, the chief doctor was all apologies for the mistake happened in your case. An intern who admitted you in the emergency ward had mixed up the preliminary X-rays. Another other guy was admitted like you who was also involved in a flyover collapse and unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries a while ago.”
Ram continued, “After they realized their mistake, the doctors abandoned the line of treatment planned on you, as you rightly suspected. Your bandages will soon be removed as they are of no use anyway. I think you will be treated just for some bruises, if at all there are any. Take my word you will be discharged first thing in the morning, that is, about 6 hours from now.”
Impulsively, I started checking my pains and their ubiquitous sources across the every inch of my body. I was shocked or pleasantly surprised to find nothing whatsoever that caused pain. My mighty dear God! Where did the pain go? Why? I should have known better. For no reason, I dumbly suffered all the while thinking there was pain. Yes. After all I did earn some good turn from God. I avoided major surgeries. It was only due to the prayers I recited over the years, though I could not readily recollect them in my fictitious pain. Truly, God was really benevolent towards me having received my undiluted praises in the form of those select prayers. Now I got the foolproof evidence to His greatness. He should be there somewhere with me like a trusted sentinel. Then all of a sudden all those words in the praise of my gods contained in the rich collection of my poems in prayer book were rushing to my mind and I found my voice rendering them some service with sound diction and clarity. I was chanting them, one after another in the right sequence.
I did not know when I slipped into sleep or when Ram left my side.
When I opened my eyes 24 hours later, contrary to what Ram assured, I could see my wife standing at the foot of the bed. Tears were welling in her eyes. She exhorted me to thank the famous team of surgeons for having miraculously executed a successful job of putting together about a dozen bones and three joints with the help of steel rods and wires, not to mention sewing up those stray ligaments. According to her, I never hit any black thing. Rather, a truck had hit my vehicle from behind. Doctors appreciated my using the seat belt; for it saved them an extra trouble. She was continuing on and on, filling me with the facts of life.
Next, the phenomenon of pain took over as I could not find my Ram around. Again to my dismay, all those words of praise in my prayers to God became elusive. When I called for Ram I was told there was no one by such name working at our office as clarified by my wife.