Friday, July 30, 2010

Raju fights on

He is angry. He has been calling out for some time but I have not heeded his cry. He wants to pee but no once comes to help him.

“Kahan mar gaye saarey?” he seems to say. “I’ll teach them a lesson,” he thinks.

One, two and three. He has heaved himself up from his pillow and pulled over to the side of his bed.. he sits up and teeters over the edge. Then one step, a second step and he is almost off the bed, still resting on his elbows.

One last call, he thinks. Let me give them one last chance.

He calls out once more, banging his forehead angrily. For how else can he express his anger? No response. No reaction from anywhere. No hurried footsteps rushing to his bedside.

He clouts his ears. Still no response.

“Okay,” he thinks. “They deserve what is coming.”

He pulls off his pajamas and underpants and throws them aside, lowers his bottom off the bed and waits a couple of seconds. Then, still resting on his elbows, in a half-standing position, he pees. And how! His shirt remains dry, his bed is unsoiled but a river flows across the length of the room.

“Okay,” he thinks when he is finally at ease, “let them come and find me this way.

He waits in that half-standing position for someone to show up.

This is Raju. And this is no dream. It is Raju who is showing his temper, actually sitting up, trying to take a couple of steps, throwing off his lowers and peeing all over the room. This is how I find him when I finish watering the garden and come back to attend on him. Raju still has a half-scowl on his face.his fist is balled, as though he is undecided whether or not to hit himself again. There is a pale yellow puddle near his bed that extends to the far end of the room. In the opposite corner I find his pajamas and undies.

“Oh dear,” I mutter in despair. “He has wet himself again. Now I will have to sponge and change him.”

To my surprise, however, I find that he is dry as a bone and so is his bed. Only his feet need to be sponged as they rest their toes in a puddle of pee. And, of course, the room has to be swabbed dry, the air freshened and the purified. And my baby’s scowl has to be taken care of.

I pat Raju’s head, say “Sorry, baby,” and get to work.

Six months ago I had almost given up on Raju. He was so weak that he could not even turn sides. I was afraid he would get bedsores. In fact I had visited the chemist and bought some stuff to rub on his back – some kind of spirit that would harden his skin so that he would not get bedsores. Every two hours I would move him around. His bones were then so brittle that they were breaking on their own. With the slightest jolt they would crack and we would never get to know. He had little control over his bladder or his bowels and had withdrawn into his shell. That was when I thought it was time his father came back home and helped out with Raju. I could not cope. Not alone. It was getting too stressful. Khooni Rakshak had been gone for a while and there was no sign of his return. Getting up at night, night after night, was not simply depressing, it was also physically demanding. My back was in continuous agaony. Every time I bent over Raju’s bed it would complain.

But with Vickram’s return things have changed. Raju seems to respong better. He seems aware of people hovering around him. Although he cannot see, he gropes and reaches out, pulling at whatever is within his reach. And lately I have noticed that he tries to sit up in his bed. One one occasion I even observed him calling out and them impatiently pulling off his clothes to pee. The way he did this morning.

How much is he aware of? How much can he feel around him? Does he know or recognize me? I don not know. But he is glad to have us around. Physical touch, a caress, a kiss on the cheek. Tickling in the armpits. He loves it.

Last night, in my dreams I was talking to him again. I was telling him – “Raju, stop being a badmash! I know you can do it. Say after me – ‘A’….”

And he replied: “A_B_D_C.”

I gave him one tap on his head. “Shaitan! Theek say bol na.”

I was teaching him the alphabet. But he like a naughty boy, was teasing me.

Raju, my baby. My baby forever.

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