Durgadas P.V.

It was like any other New Year resolution. I took a vow that I would never ever switch on the TV to listen to the Covid statistics and the numbers of deaths in different countries around the world. It was again similar to my smoker friend who told me ' I have stopped smoking……... several times'.

I took the remote again and told my wife 'Only the headlines…..afterwards we will watch a movie’. The headlines were followed by a Telugu movie remade in Tamil now dubbed in Malayalam and dumped on us during the lockdown period. I decided not to torture myself and turned on the laptop to browse through the day’s e-papers as I had stopped the paper boy from giving me dailies for fear of spreading the pandemic. The major dailies which I could read earlier free in the soft copy form had become wiser and made it available only against upfront payment…….!

My wife started making some new items which she had learnt from Youtube for the evening snack with tea. The fumes emanating irritated my nostrils and I sneezed once. This was instantly followed by the ‘bless you’ remark which my wife had reinvented after her sojourn in America last year. Minutes later, I sneezed a couple of times more. The ‘blessings’ too continued…..but not without an anxiety attached to it. We really enjoyed the new YouTube preparation at teatime. It was quite tasty and very spicy too. As I gobbled a large number of it with intermittent sips of very hot tea, I could not control my nose running and dripping which compelled me to use tissues.

In the evening, I went down to the driveway for the usual evening walk. Within an hour, I curtailed the walk thanks to the dark skies with lightning and thunder. In the evening there was the usual Whatsapp call from America with my daughter and grandsons. I did not feel like having anything for dinner as the evening spicy snack was quite heavy. As I sat down solving a sudoku puzzle, my wife complained about some burning smell coming from outside. I said that I could not smell anything. I thought it was the usual smell of burning waste from the neighborhood. I did not take it as a serious issue though she was quite conscious about my lapse.

I told my wife that I had a dull headache and went to bed a bit early without sitting in front of the tv again. As usual I brushed my teeth. And a slightly harsh usage of the tongue cleaner triggered a few coughs which also attracted my wife's attention. As I refused to eat anything for supper, she was already worried. She immediately checked my body temperature by putting the back of her fingers on my forehead. Her doubts did not subside even after feeling nothing abnormal. She ventured calling her doctor friend and narrated the ‘symptoms’ I had been showing during the day…...sneezing, running nose, lack of appetite and loss(?) of sense of smell, mild headache, cough, etc. which the doctor would have probably associated with the pandemic………!

As I was half asleep, I could hear her calling her cousin in our native village and asking her to give offerings to our family deity in my name for the ‘symptoms’ to slip away so that I could be free from the malady. She called a friend and told her to light candles in the old time church of St. George.

I woke up listening to the siren of the ambulance. I was forcibly taken by a few people into it and later to the hospital. I was taken on a stretcher into a big enclosure where there were hundreds of beds in a row. There was a white canopy covering the whole structure. Each bed was separated from the rest with transparent curtains. There were a few people moving around like ghosts in white flowing robes. I wondered where I had landed. I imagined it could be an emergency isolation ward set up in a stadium or so. I saw one ‘ghost’ approaching me. I was woken up.

‘Why do you sleep so long….it's eight o clock already’... cried someone. I opened my eyes to see my wife with my usual coffee mug. Much unlike my younger days, I have been getting up early and we used to have the morning coffee together after retirement.

It took a while before I could realize that I had lost my moorings during the sleep. I regained it by confirming that I was still in my own bed room and the one standing before me was my own wife and not a health worker in ghostly attire. While handing over the cup she said ‘ the ambulance has been shuttling left and right since morning, there was an accident at the traffic junction down below it seems…..’. I slowly recollected what I had been undergoing/seeing for the past few hours while (?) asleep.

I did not disclose to her the reason for my bewilderment after I woke up even after repeated probing. My mother used to say that the dreams seen early in the mornings would come true. A search in the Google site revealed that what I experienced was something like a false awakening. I further found out some proverb which said that if I disclose it to many others, the effects would get nullified.

Certainly, narrating it for the readers would be the best way out, I thought…...and hence this post.