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Bhaskara Rao Sunkara

BEYOND SLEEP

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lena is beautiful. Art is her life. She is a famous painter. Her paintings are sold all over the world. Everyone knows who Lena is. Lena means the great oil painter.

Lena thinks always that art is long.  So she chose this line and she is called a great artist.

One day comes when we all finish our interesting activities. We all know that life is short. We all want to live long. Destiny is like something sadist, it takes us in to sweet dreams and one day we are with the long sleep. It is death.

ICU is full of people, ready to have a life renewed or leave the existing one forever. Every day, only one thing we see here. People fight for life. Life fights for defeating death. ICU fights to save people. It promises a new life.  It makes people live again or live long and longer.

“I am here! Don’t worry! We have great doctors and excellent equipment. We have needed undaunted courage. We fight with death. Come! I will save you. You will have secured life.”

Lena has been assaulted. She is hit hard and she is fighting for life. Destiny is cruel for me, Lena thought. Lena is voracious and unquenchable reader of news around the world.

A flash of news reports in her memory is more disturbing. It is more hurting than her health.

Where is the place of ‘no death. It is everywhere!

One woman was executed in Hama province. It’s an area controlled by Islamic State. Her hands and feet are tied with a rope. She is forced to kneel in a pit. She is covered head to toe. She begins to pray out loud as large rocks are seen striking her body.

“Return to God, brothers. take good care of women.”  They say.

“I advise every woman to protect her honor, more than her life.”  She says before execution.

Another news item roles in her mind.

Two women are stoned to death under similar circumstances to the Hama stoning. One was 26 year old widow.

“All men to treat women well”, It has been urged before the stoning begins-

Lena is thinking, as many times she is used to think.

Woman is more at pain. She is more at pain and she is more frequently assaulted.

“Lena is in sleep” somebody said.

Nobody likes to disturb her at this condition. She is more in critical position.

James who came to see Lena waited outside.

It is midnight. James is trying to sleep in the chairs available outside. Sleep is not anything that cheap. It is very costly.

Lena is beyond sleep.  She is restless with lot of memories. Only when one cannot sleep does one know how long the night is. For Lena, day and night are long, there is no difference.

Usually, people are not allowed in to ICU whenever they want.

There is pain in every bed spreading. People are dying and people are fighting with death.

Nurses do their job mechanically. They are used to the atmosphere. Many of them never feel.

Someone cannot stop the burning in stomach and cries in high pitch.

“Where are you dead Peter? Come, get the sets ready. I am hungry, I have to finish the shooting and go for the lunch with my senior director”

Someone cannot forget the past and she was the director on the sets. So she calls loudly on the bed forgetting that she is a patient here.

One patient is getting Chemo therapy (a category of cancer treatment that uses chemical substances, especially one or more anti-cancer drugs). He cannot stop the feeling of urination. He is tied with the equipments. He cannot sit freely and he cannot spoil the bed also. Some nurse’s help is necessary. All nurses are busy as many patients need them.

A flash of news reappears in Lena’s memory. She thinks, there that pain is everywhere!

A Berkeley County man was arrested as he allegedly beat and raped his ex-girlfriend. The alleged victim suffered a broken hip, three broken ribs and a punctured lung as a result of the attack. She was taken to Berkeley Medical Center. She was admitted to an intensive care unit.

Lena does not know how mean some people are. They are unstoppable. They are like eye mask Blindfolds on the eyes of society. They always see a woman like a toy to play. Why woman is taken and considered as frail and fragile? Why because, at first she thinks that she is weak. She is made a substitute for the utter silence?
*****

James loves Lena. It was five years, a period of five years, passed between them.

James is the son of a multi-millionaire business man. His father rejected Lena because she is the daughter of an ordinary teacher working in a small school.

James loves Lena. He resisted his father for her. It is first time which created dispute in their life. James father is not a compromising type. Finally, James left his father and stood before Lena to invite her in to his life.

James is ready to marry her.

This time, Lena’s father rejected James. It is Just because he is rich. He never believes rich people. He always thinks that they often disobey and defy the social values.

Thus both Lena and James are rejected for their marriage.

They have decided, They are going to marry without the consent of their parents.

It happened that night before they are going to be wedded.

The calamity, the disaster, it is the terrible event.

Lena does not know who he is. He entered her house when she is lonely. She is busy painting a nice piece at that time.

He grabbed her from behind. She has been assaulted and she has been hit hard like he tried to murder her. Few of her ribs are broke. Her hip dislocated. Her head is fractured as the hard iron rod in his hand hit her. He came to murder her.

As James vehicle came at the gate of her house, he who assaulted Lena, escaped from the window. He could not finish her. She is bleeding and unconscious

James took her to hospital and admitted to ICU. Lena cannot recognize the assaulter or attacker. It all happened as a hush-hush.

*****

I remember the small story of two parrots. Both are chicks of parrots. One is taken by a holy teacher and the other is taken by a butcher. Both are grown up. The one at holy teacher is civilized. “Please come in, Have the cold water, sit for the master to come.” This parrot says. The other one is uncivilized. “Kill him, Beat him, the bloody ba**ard he is!” says that parrot.

There is one nurse.

Lena was not in sleep. She heard the nurse saying with another nurse.

“That bloody fellow is dead!”

She said as if saying that one burden on her shoulder is out.

“One more is coming! He will occupy the bed!”

Other nurse said with a smile as if mocking her.

She tried to remind her that the shoulders of nurses never be light there. If one patient is out or dead, the other is ready to enter ICU and it is a must, their care is a need.

Both the tones lack the feelings. It is just like a routine thing for them.

“I am worried, so many are dying. Is the death more powerful than the care we give here? I love to see every patient under my care gets well. I love to see him go home with renewed life, with reinforced stamina.” The young doctor Mona said with pain.

The profession of a physician is nothing less than giving new life for old or saving a dying person to live again, to live long. So patients believe a doctor, he or she, is a God for the patients.

Human Body is designed in such way that it is inevitable to avoid sickness and falling ill. Our ancient legends believed that it is because of human need to remember God and how else will he remember God other than the times of his sickness and trouble.

It’s not irony, it is a truth. Almost every patient sees the importance of a doctor, believes him as if he is more than a God. There is no wonder in this concept.

The doctor’s job is not simple. Pediatric Anesthesiologist Dr. Anderson says the importance of a simply looking job of ‘keeping the patients in to temporary sleep’.

“There are certain surgeries which require the patient to be unconscious, due to which the doctors can perform the surgery. An anesthesia specialist is one such doctor who puts a patient into temporary sleep, and although it might seem like a much simple work, it is one of the most difficult jobs. A wrong anesthetic diagnose can result in many malfunctions of the body organs and sometimes can also result in death. So the doctor should know his job well, before he pierces a needle into a patient.”

Yet another important part of our body is our nerves. Without them, it is just impossible to live. Neurology is a study of everything relating to nerves in our body. These nerves are connected to every part. A neurosurgeon is the one who takes care of critical surgeries relating to the problems with neurology.

Like this, every part in our body is very important. Malfunctions of body organs lead to death.

Doctor Mona is attending on Lena. She has hope that she will fight long to save Lena. She desires to see the Death as defeated soldier.

Lena sees doctor with curiosity. She knows what Doctor Mona is thinking and laughs.

Mona saw her smile.

“What?” She asked Lena.

Lena did not answer. But when Mona insisted, she said in simple words.

“Doctor, you are confident and you think I will be saved.”

“Yes, no doubt Lena!”

“Confidence is knowledge. Your knowledge is universal. You are a gold winner in your studies. I read about you. You are also famous by saving lives…”

Dr Mona gazed her. A desperate unease is spreading in her.

“I am dying soon…”

What Lena said is not unknown to Mona.

“Are you mad? You are saved.”

Mona said with an effort to create confidence.

“No doctor. I know I am dying. Can you help me… one thing?”

Mona gazed with affection.

“Tell me dear, what can I do for you?”

“A boy by name James is waiting outside. I want him in…”

Mona did not wait for the completion of her conversation.
In few minutes, James was before Lena. Lena looked in to James eyes.

James looks like real patient.

Silence continued for a long time. They spoke nothing.

“Lena” James cannot go further.

“James” Lena tried to say more.

James waited. Lena looked.

Both of them are so nearest and farthest also.

The marriage makes two souls nearer.

Love before marriage is exceptional.  It made them nearest.

Pure love makes to feel oneness. The oneness feels all the pain like one. Unknown is none.

“James… Time is to… go…”

James gazed her with tears. Uncontrolled tears are falling from his cheeks.

“I will sleep forever… Please… let me go… James… I go with… your happy… smile.”

James gathered courage and opened his mouth with great effort.

“How Can I smile … without you?”

“James… Life and destiny… are enemies…. Get compromised… Life waits … for you.”

“Lena, what destiny says?”

Lena had a stroke and could not speak further. She had her last breath.

Doctor Mona worried.

All the actions resulted futile. Finally, all efforts failed to save her.

James was one who is at real loss, the Loss of Lena.

Now, James is beyond sleep, in his memories Lena is wake up. 

 

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