Living on Borrowed Time

I live on borrowed time. Three years ago I had a major stroke, it was so serious that my neurologist Dr G. told me every day for 6 consecutive days 'Manjula, you can die at any time'. Three months ago I'd had a heart attack if that doesn't make me living on borrowed time then what does?

As I exit from my bedroom I am greeted by broad bands of daylight pouring in from the seven Panel bow window and I stand still, right in the midst of the bands, the light beams surround me, hug me. I watch the shadows underneath so that both the lights as well as the shadows get imprinted in my mind. Later in the day when the daylights are no more there I would recall the lights and shadows like a movie.

While living on borrowed time one savors every moment, every day.

Following the daylight beams my eyes meet the grass outside and take notice of how every blade of grass is crowned with a drop of frost. A wild desire of going out and stepping on the frost tipped grass blades grips me. I step outside, jerk off my sandals, walk right over to the grass, the dew drops tingle my feet, then they merge together to form a wet surface, my feet get wet, the grass blades lean on one side and make a soft carpet for my feet, my adventure of the day was accomplished.

I hurried back indoors. Betty serves me coffee and toast. Toast half- done; so that I don't spend too much energy chewing I simply have no energy to spare. That's when I felt a pressure in the middle of my chest.  As if a large pebble is lodged there, the pressure starts to spread on either side, till it grabs me all-around like a chest band. I tip over on one side on the pillow and Betty calls 911 in no time the firefighters are there. Then The paramedics arrive and put me on the gurney, and they push it in the ambulance. The pressure inside my chest increases. The medics get busy taking care of me intravenous line, heart monitoring, taking blood they have lots to do.

From the right window I see my beloved family home; shall I see it ever again? Live in it ever again? Who knows? The seven silver birch trees at the corner wave their heads. Are they bidding me goodbye? Please, not yet, I tell them in a pleading tone, I might be back, but then if I don't come back the trees would regret. Yes, the trees are that emotional.

From the corner of my eyes I see my right hand, fingers tightly curled around the railing of the bed, so tight that the knuckles look white, they stand out like a row of white onions. They are trying their best to hang on to life, I think. Not to let the slippery fish of life slip through my fingers. Perhaps the fish has already slipped, I say mutely. My fingers don't believe me. They hang on just the same. The row of onions stands still. I close my eyes. My vision goes dark. My brain, too, plunges in darkness.

Is this the end of my borrowed time? I ask my Divine Mother Kali. The wind stands still. No answer waves back. On the right for the final time I cast a glance at my family home. Divine Mother shall I be back here? Once again the wind stands still no answer waves back. I feel the tingling of coldness of dew beads on my soles. Thank you, Divine Mother that you granted me the blessing of walking on dew drops crowned grass. Perhaps the final adventure of my life, I mutter.

People with brush with death often say, in their final moments, they see a tunnel with a bright light at the end. I guess tunnel is a metaphor for life. My life had never been a tunnel, either an open field, or an open lake always with a vista of openness. I have never experienced a tunnel of life. The bright light is like the carrot in front of a rabbit. I run through life for the joy of it, not for a carrot, or a light. So I have never seen a tunnel or light. Let it be for others.

From the corner of my eyes I see my husband Pallab driving behind the ambulance, I frown. He's not an ambulance chaser. I wonder.  At other times when I went to the hospital he didn't chase the ambulance. Is he coming to bid me the final good by? How does a husband say goodbye to his wife?

At night I spoon behind him following his body-curve, kiss his shoulder and his back; place his sleeping hand on my sleeping face. He can't say bye to any of that. Those feelings remain alive even when I'm gone. Nobody would spoon behind him just the same way ever again. I close my eyes. My vision in darkness. My mind too, is in darkness. The wind stirs. The Divine Mother whispers in my ear, 'you will remain immortal.' I relax. My knuckles relax the row of onions disappears. I am ready, I tell myself. Ready to bid farewell to my borrowed time.    


More by :  Dr. Manasi Dutt

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