The rain was persistent. He could hear it drumming on the cement sheet roof of the workshop shed. Swallowing his saliva to moisten his parched throat, he wondered if they’d bring him some food and water, and wondered again if they’d come at all. Placing an empty bucket on his head, he stepped out in the rain. The bucket shielded him from the rain and the water filling in it would quench his thirst. With the wind falling silent, the droplets fell straight into the bucket. His head hurt with the increasing weight of the water. Feeling a bruise where it hurt, he rushed back into the shelter of the roof shed and placing the bucket on the floor, started licking the water like a dog.
No sooner he quenched his thirst than he heard approaching footsteps and voices. He tried to get up but failed. As a figure drew close, he struck the person on the head with the bucket. He heard more voices that fade away as drowsiness sets in. He wondered whether he was dying.
As he opened his eyes, everything around was white and clean. The air felt pure and tinged with a sweet fragrance. A gentle feminine face appeared in his field of vision. Caring hands caressed his cheeks. As the hands lingered a bit, he extended his hands to hold on to them. Surprisingly, there was no resistance, encouraging his to advance. Grabbing the hands, he drew the woman up close; feeling her warm breath on his face. Releasing herself from his grip, she pushed a thermometer into his mouth. He heard someone behind the woman ask, “How’s Harry doing?”
Who was Harry, he wondered. Was it him?? He was unable to remember his name, or for that matter, anything about himself.
“It’s a case of psychological trauma. So far he hasn’t spoken a word,” said another voice.
The thermometer was pulled out of his mouth and he saw the group of people in white coats behind the woman talking among themselves.
One of them came up and examined the back of my head. He felt a dull pain when a finger was placed at a particular point. “Harry, how do you feel? Do you want to get up?” asked the person.
He found his voice but could not recall anything. Why was he there? Why did they not bring him food and water? Seeing him agitated, the doctor told a nurse to calm him down.
The gentle face reappeared in his line of vision. He looked around. The room was big and luxurious. The staff apart, he seemed to be the only person there. He liked the thought of the nurse being in attendance. Was she going to be with him all the time; he certainly didn’t want to be alone.
He decided to sit up on the bed to get the attention he sought. The woman sits beside him, concerned, yet smiling. There is passion and sincerity in her ways. He wondered why he couldn’t recall his identity. Was it because identity was the root cause of all evil? Now that he didn’t have one, was he not free of ego? Who was footing his bill? How long would these people look after him? What did he do for a living? These questions pounded his mind.
The woman held his hands and lovingly said, “Don’t worry so much, what’s bothering you?”
“I don’t know who l am.” he replied.
“Don’t worry. Just enjoy this time and experience of having no responsibilities, no pressure. Identify with your heart and its purity.”
“Does anyone want to live without responsibility?”
“Forget responsibilities and obligation, you’re better off living for your passions.”
“That makes sense. I wish I knew you from before.”
“You know me now.”
“Not when I don’t even know myself.”
“You only don’t have an identity, try to know yourself, the inner self.”
“That’s easy to say. What happens when life catches up on me? Who’s paying for my treatment and what happened to me?”
“Too many questions, we’ll go one by one.”
“Are you a psychiatrist? Or a nurse?”
“Both! I’m an intern specialising in psychiatry, and here to nurse you.”
“Oh no! Does it mean I am mentally unstable?”
“You are suffering from amnesia. But don’t worry, it’s a mild head trauma, which requires no medical treatment.”
“When will I recover? You’re not telling me anything. I have asked you many questions.”
“Please calm down, I’ll tell you all that I know.”
“Your name is Harry and I know your metabolic age because we generally check all that, it’s 51.”
“That old? Tell me more about Harry.”
“I don’t know who Harry is, except that he’s rich or well-connected enough to be in this room of Jaslok Hospital.”
“When will I get my memory back?”
“My experience and qualifications tells me that your brain is quite sharp and alert, your metabolic age is in your favour. The less anxious you are, the faster you will recover.”
“Thanks. When will I meet the people who brought me here?”
“My seniors will decide. My job is to write a daily report of your recovery. Two iPhones were found in your jacket pockets, one will recognise your fingerprint, and the other, your face. You’ll be able to know everything about yourself. It may even bring back your memory.”
“Please give me my phones. But what is an iPhone?”
“Only when you’re ready for it will my seniors give these to you. We’ll make better progress if you try to answer my questions.”
He was about to speak, but she stopped him by placing her finger on his lips.
“No more questions. Now put your anxiety to rest and calm down. It’s time for lunch,” she said, pressing a button.
He raised a finger. She raised her eyebrows and asked, “What now?”
“Just one last question. I don’t even know your name. It’s impolite to ask a lady her age, but a pretty woman must have a name.”
She smiled and said, “I’m Dr Sheila Dikshit and my metabolic age is 20.”
Before he could react, the door opened and the food trolley was wheeled in. His mouth began to water.
To be continued…