60 In Quest of the Last Victory
wait a little, as they were packing up someone who had died. In their
communication, ‘wicket down’ was the expression the nursing staff
would use to refer to patients who would die. Then one day a very
old woman was brought in. She would shout and pull out her sup-
port devices. She had to be tied to her bed with straps. She would
speak non-stop all the time. I could make out that she couldn’t see.
She had heard that there was someone called ‘Navin’ the staff used to
talk to. (I was pretty much a favourite with the staff wherever I went
because I never cribbed or complained and also always cracked jokes).
In this ICU, I could never ﬁ gure out when it was day and when
it was night unless I asked someone for the time. Once, this old
woman broke free from her bed and began to fumble around among
the beds calling out my name again and again. I held my breath
and prayed that someone from the staff came before she discovered
me and pulled off my support devices and maybe attacked me too.
Fortunately, the staff came in time as she was nearing my bed. Five to
six people were required to get her strapped back to her bed.
Coincidences of My Life
One day the head nurse at this hospital was taking rounds of the
wards and came visiting me. While I was talking to her, I happened
to mention that I was born at this hospital twenty-one years back.
She was suddenly shocked. She asked me my birth date. She told me
that she had been on duty in the maternity ward the day I was born.
She had worked at various hospitals all over the country and now
she was back here at this hospital when I was ﬁ ghting for a second
chance at life.
After some days (I don’t know how many), I was taken for an
operation. Bone grafting was done on my injury and the pressure on
my spinal cord was relieved. After some days, I was shifted from the
An Appointment with Destiny 61
ICU to a room in the surgical ward for recovery. I had come out of
that ICU alive. The traction load remained tied to the clamp which
was drilled into my skull. I remained in the same state. Gradually
I was able to eat and swallow, little at a time, but I had to be fed
carefully. The torturous bouts of very high fever and shivering con-
tinued. With no air conditioner in this ward, bearing the heat was
intolerable. To get my temperature down, an air cooler and a table
fan were directed towards my face and chest which were covered
by wet towels and ice packs. In the month-long ordeal, my body
had been shrunk to the bones. The muscles had degenerated to zero.
I looked like a skin and bone structure. I had become weaker than
when I was born here twenty-one years back.
Then one day I could move my shoulders and the feeling returned
to the shoulders. I could gradually shake my arms in their place a
little. The muscles were so weak that I couldn’t do more than just
shaking my arms a little in their place. I started gradually moving and
exercising my arms. One day it took me an hour to gradually drag
my right hand, a millimetre at a time, with small jerky movements
and reach my nose. I scratched my nose with a shabby movement of
my hand. For the ﬁ rst time after being in bed for over two months,
I was able to scratch my nose. I could gradually fold my arms but
I could not straighten them. Someone would have to straighten them
for me. Since only my biceps worked, my arms could only bend and
not straighten. Only one side of the muscles in my arms worked.
My ﬁ ngers did not work at all. Being in bed and with restricted
inputs, my mind grew efﬁ cient with mental calculations that I had
been practising. I had been working my mind and brain for two
One day, a nurse was having a problem with a chart she was
preparing. The numbers in the rows and the columns were to be
added and the grand total of the row totals and column totals was to