Just something I dug out from a pile of stuff from last year. Thought I'd share.
I’m at the hospital, visiting a cousin who broke his leg falling off some railings while skateboarding. He is now bragging about the last time he fell off some pier and how this is nothing to him. Though he winces when I give his leg a pet whenever someone makes a joke and I have to pretend it’s funny. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. He’s just so cocky.
I have a penchant to look around me whenever I visit the hospital. I do not like hospitals, there is no better store for bad tidings than hospitals. Nine point eight out of ten, whenever I visit a hospital, someone cries. The worst is when you hear that long and interminable beep coming from that dreaded machine. Then you hear someone wailing. And you wish you could somehow grab the valedicted soul and force it back into its body, then go up to his wife, give her a hug and tell her everything is all right. And at the same time, you wish you could just get out of there just to not witness anything more. Because you know, some day, you would be that someone too. Everyone has their time. You walk out those sliding doors, bum a cigarette and try to tell yourself to not think about it. But you shudder anyway.
Do those people see their lives flash before their eyes like how it’s always described in books and movies? Do they feel a rush of exultation of everything that’s come and gone in their lives? Or do they feel nothing at all? That everything just somehow ceases? That really scares me.
I look around now, and I see. Old men coughing out red, kidney shaped containers stained with retired blood, needles and syringes, pills. I turn my head, another bed, another wan face staring resignedly at nothing, seeing nothing, just waiting. Another bed, more pills, IV bags, charts recording stuff that would mean nothing to anyone but the doctor. Because you’d know, just by looking into their eyes, they don’t really care anymore. I watch them. Some get their children looking down worriedly at them, assuring them they’ll be taken care of, while they watch their grandchildren stare at them curiously. They’d smile, simply because their grandchildren were there. I wonder what their grandchildren think when they stare. Or maybe they were just bored and thinking which Disney film they should watch next when they get home. But when I look at those old people lying in bed, I wonder. What are they? What are their stories? Have they lived enough?
I watch the nurses and the doctors in their white coats. They do not walk, they stride, they know they’re needed. I watch nurses lift the syringe, hear them whisper soft words of comfort to scared little children, and to stubborn old men. I see her push down on the syringe, watch them squirm, wince, flinch. The little ones, they’re scared of the pain. But the old, they’ve had their share. They wince because they are not medicated. To them, they are poisoned. Cursed with another restless and vacant day to dwell. On things they should have done, or should not have done in their lives. On the people who have come and gone in their lives. And I could almost see it in their eyes, as the nurses lift the syringe, that quiet and subtle look of desperation. For release, for oblivion.
But she doesn’t stop. She pushes down, because that’s only right. The doctor peruses his charts, and he talks to his patients, because that’s only right. Because they are not prophets, they are preservers. And the old men and women, they have to live. Because nobody knows. Not even themselves.
What tomorrow could bring.
I feel a slap by my arm, and breaking from my reverie, my eyes register my father snapping his fingers before my face. ‘Let’s go.’
And so I go.
Till the end.