I joined a new hostel. The girls were as bossy as they could be. But amidst them, I saw a timid girl, always silent, and hardly was seen around. After almost a week, getting a little settled in the place, one day, I was cooking in the kitchen, when I saw that girl in the corridor. She had a dusky complexion, tall and slim, plain hair tied in a pony. She wore a blue t-shirt and grey track pants and was walking stealthily towards the bathroom which was adjacent to the kitchen. In a word, she was a ‘simple’ girl in her early twenties. She looked drowsy, as if she had just got out of bed, although it was 1:30pm by then. I looked at her, but she didn’t make eye contact with me and slowly walked towards the bathroom. I continued cooking. After sometime I heard the toilet door open and again, silently, she walked back to her room. I looked at her and said, “Hi” with a smile. She almost surprised stopped and looked at me and smiled saying a timid, “hi”. Her smile was so gentle and kind, I almost melted. I wanted to know more about her, and the ever curious me started questioning her.
“Do you stay here? I mean which room?” I smiled in her way, gentle and kind.
“This….!” she pointed towards her room, smiling.
“Oh, I haven’t seen you much”, I continued.
She just smiled.
I got it, she is the kind who spoke less.
Anyways, I asked, “I am new here, just a week old……… The last one, there, that’s my room.”
“Ok” she replied.
“Don’t you have office today? I haven’t joined any office yet, so I am here.” I asked and at the same time clarified my reason for staying there at the odd hour.
“No, I don’t work, I am studying.”
“Oh, that’s good….but in that case, don’t you have classes now?”
“Oh no, today we have an off.”
She was standing there, smiling.
“Ok, you can go” I said, as if she was asking my permission to go.
She nodded her head, again with a smile and went, silently.
I usually find interest in all types of people but this kind, timid, silent and humble are actually very rare to find now a days, that too in Delhi and so she caught my attention so much. I feel somehow good when I see such simple people. Maybe because that breed is so rare.
Days passed. I hardly saw her and the other girls were so loud that I actually forgot that she existed. Again, one day, I was in the kitchen, in the evening, and I saw her. Same way, coming to the bathroom, silently with her head down. I said again, “hi”. She looked up and again that smile. This time she spoke, “Oh, I didn’t notice it was you.”
Oh my my, she is so sweet and humble. I instantly had a liking for her.
“How are you?” I smiled her way and asked. I felt, again, so good.
“Good, aap batao, kaise ho?” (Good, you say how are you)
“Good, actually no, there’s so much problem with my room, there was no airtel signal…..” and I narrated her all the problems I had in my new room and she listened sincerely. And oh, she talked, but in her own subtle way. She said many things, tried to solve some of my problems and actually revealed some secrets about the place, the landlady, the maid and other girls. She was normal but yes, she had this calm demeanour always. And her smile was always glued to her lips.
One day, my laptop wasn’t working and I had to transfer some data. I saw lights on in her room and knocked and asked if she could help. And she welcomed me with her usual smile. She made me sit comfortably and handed me her laptop. While the data were being transferred, we chit chatted. She had a fridge and a TV in her room and two beds, all messed up, I would say. While talking, she mentioned she had an elder married sister and a brother.
I asked about her sister and bro in law and where she lived, and she replied. Then her brother, if he was elder or younger to her, to which she became a little hesitant to answer and changed the topic. After sometime, again when her family was mentioned, I asked again,
“Is your brother elder or younger to you?” I just have this habit to have a picture in my mind about her family. That way, I find it good to talk.
Her smile faded and she looked aside. I was still waiting for her answer. “Ha?”
“Older”, she said silently.
“Oh, what does he do? Working or studying?” My picture wasn’t clear yet and hence my questions continued.
She didn’t reply and looked at the TV.
And we started to talk about the serial being aired at that time.
After sometime, I looked at the laptop, the data were still moving slowly from its original folder to its destination folder. It said, 2 hours remaining. The girl was nice but not interesting to talk with. So I was a bit bored. Seeing 2 hours remaining, I again started talking, “So, how often you go home?”
“Very often, I just came back last week. Went for 10 days”, she reached for a transperant plastic container and gave it to me.
“Oh …ok”, i nodded my head in denial, as I could see some biscuits inside it.
“So do your parents live alone? Since your sister is married, or your brother lives with them? ”
“My brother lives with them.” By then she put the container in its place and fetched a kurkure packet lying beside it and offered me again.
“Oh, is he working or studying?” Again I asked and this time didnt deny the kurkure.
“Actually my brother is handicapped”, she replied quickly.
It was an unexpected answer for me. The kurkure fell off my hand.
“Oh …like how?” I asked after a pause.
She was preparing how to put her words, when I tried to help her asking, “Mentally or physically” the weird me.
“Oh no no, mentally he is fine, physically.”
“Oh………..physically how?” I felt very bad knowing it but wanted to know more.
“He is bed ridden.”
“Like? Why don’t you give him a wheel chair?”
And she explained. “He had been in bed since he was 12 years old. He is 28 now. He can’t even move, and is in the same position since 15-16 years.”
“Why don’t you guys help him move?”
“He shouts even if someone touches him. He can’t even take the touch of my thumb. If I even gently try to touch him with a finger, he shouts.” she said pushing her finger slightly against my hand, showing he couldn’t even take that touch, it pains.
“Since he hasn’t moved for years, there’s no blood circulation in his body, for years. So”
I was shocked, “Then like how…? I mean……” I couldn’t express what I wanted to ask, I could actually feel his pain. Such a human actually is surviving since 28 years and his real sister is in front of me.
“Eating? He does in bed?” I asked.
“Yes, my mother feeds him, liquid generally. A permanent nurse is also there”
“And toilet and stuff? Must be in bed pane….. But isn’t it painful?” I immersed into the situation.
“He hardly does all that, once a day, maybe. The system inside has slowed down. The doctors surrendered log back. It’s my parents, who still hopes and trying everything possible for him. I went home for his operation. “
“How can he go through an operation in that condition?” I could literally feel the pain.
“Yes, I know, we all said that. Even the doctors but my parents hoped maybe that would bring some improvement.”
“Oh- my- God!”
“And does he talk normally?”
“Yes, not like a 28 year old but say a 7-8 years old maybe. He knows the TV channels, serials, sports”, she smiled lovingly, but a tired smile.
I wondered what TV channel a guy with that level of pain would enjoy. What a painful life that poor kid is going through. Hell might be better than this.
I just looked at her and wondered, every day might be so painful for the family too, seeing their brother and son in so much pain. I couldn’t speak for some time and she was too sitting still, lost in herself. I gave a heavy sigh, so did she.
“Is it by birth?”
“No, he was born normal but had pneumonia after birth for a long duration. When recovered he was normal but had problem in his legs. He couldn’t walk properly. But my dad oiled his legs everyday and tried all ways to make him walk. And you know, by 5-6 years, he was able to walk too, he even went to a school.” her eyes glittered when saying this. “But then again he fell ill and got bed ridden and couldn’t recover after that.”
“Oh dear……” I felt like crying. So painful it was.
She showed me the black granite top of the table and told, “His body has become black like this, due to blood clot”
I couldn’t say anything more. I picked up the kurkure, throwed it in the dustbin. My data transfer wasnt over yet. I came out of the room after some silence. Patted her on her shoulder and asked if she had eaten anything and wanted something to eat, to which she smiled. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I felt so helpless knowing the story.
How we always grumble about petty things in life, complain all the time, whenever I remember this story, a boy is living in so much pain and his family is seeing him in so much pain every day, I just……!