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Coma, Life, and Manipur: How Life Can Cost as Little as Rupees Five but Remain Priceless

Exactly two years ago, I woke up after being in Coma from a medical disorder. The whole experience of being in an unconscious state to regaining strength had killed the guy that I once was. I saw visions of near and dear ones in total whiteness. When I woke up, I found myself monitored heavily with all the wires and tubes fitted. I woke up completely lost track of time, date, and month. I remember the slow entrance of anesthesia and slumbering into whiteness. Also, a memory or construction of the doctors operating my nose.  Struggling to set me free from the unknown I tried but I couldn’t see. My eyes were covered with bandages. As I struggled to free myself up, the doctor would shout ‘Sister, Morphine’ and the slow entrance from the legs would slumber me again.  ‘Sister, Morphine’ continued for a while. But finally, I rose from sleep when bandages that blinded my eyes were taken off.

Amidst all the remembrance, Mother came rushing with her wet eyes from Imphal and rubbed away her tears as I regained consciousness after 30 hours. My friends and brother came in to meet me one after another which was soon restricted by the authorities sometime later.

Amongst the many visions that I had before waking up, I saw a young girl who smiled at me, had a conversation (although I don’t remember what was spoken), gave comfort, and in the excitement of that vision I tried to narrate the whole vision to a friend but no voice came out. So, I wrote it down on a piece of tissue and asked him to do what I wrote on the tissue. As I write he told me Arsenal lost to Manchester United in an English FA Cup. It was the first time he, an Arsenal fan, ever accepted defeat. Not that team hasn’t been beaten time and again by United but he won’t say they’ve lost. On other occasions, he wouldn’t have admitted it but he had to do it to lift my spirits.

I felt alive and still had no voice. I was heartbroken seeing everyone with teary eyes. I was told that a lot of friends have rushed to the hospital and have waited for my eyes to open again. Hearing this, I forgot about my nose; the reason why I landed up to the position where I was. I had no energy. I couldn’t even move properly. I couldn’t even sleep. Then the patient on my left passed away after he trembled for seconds. The rushing doctor and the nurses couldn’t save him. Nor did the injection and the money that was spent to save him. But I guess they did try their best to save his life. Then the one on the right followed the one on the left to the unknown, moments later. I felt I would go next. I was shit scared. I wanted to live. I just saw two strangers whom I didn’t even know names of dying beside me. I was sandwiched between the death of strangers (or patients as the doctor described) and fighting to breathe myself. How did they just die? How did they stop their breath just like that? What would happen to their families? Oh! Wait what about mine.

How would people remember me if I die? At this brief moment, I felt the illusion of having found the meaning of life. I wanted to live. I begged, but I didn’t know to whom I was begging or to where the begging was directed. Was it to the doctors or the nurses or friends or the unknown God?

I wanted to live. I promised a lot of things in exchange for life but to whom did I promise, I don’t know. Time was frozen. Seconds felt like forever and became eternal. I was trapped between the constant beep from the monitor that measured my vitals and the per-minute contraction on the left hand to measure my blood pressure. This trap gave me the most excruciating torture. Later a moment arrived that I could take no more of the torture, so I gathered the courage to take out the four needles, sensors on my chest, the tube in my mouth, the arm strap and climb down from the bed in light to escape the torture. This was a point that I could no longer think anything anymore than just escape; to escape from these torture chambers. Two steps away from the bed, a sudden jerk pulled me back. I had a catheter that was hiding for its moments to kill me. I screamed but no voice escaped my throat.

On seeing the failed escape plan, the nurses rushed and strapped me back to the bed. I guess they scolded me. But I didn’t hear anything, I was busy crying a river that erupted from the tip. The excruciating pain and the torture continued. I wouldn’t have survived without the help of the flooding memories that came rushing. I wanted to live. Memory is what helps us survive at times.

I troubled the sisters with the constant and same questions of what time it was. The replies didn’t vary much. I counted slowly against the beep and all that I wanted was to count myself either to sleep or to sunrise. Sleep and sunrise went away and left me to cry. I don’t know how I survived, but I did. My Blood Pressure became normal. I regained strength and voice. Although frustration was building up and on the verge of exploding like the volcanic mountains. I was finally discharged to a normal room two days later after through care of the Doctors and the nurses. Also, I must not forget the prayers friends and family prayed. Horlicks and fruits stacked up as more friends came in to lift me.

The whole episode happened in a Government Hospital in Delhi. I spent only 5 Rupees on the ticket. The catch is I didn’t even pay the amount. It was paid for by my friend’s sister who got the tickets. To repay 5 Rupee is/was absurd. And she would not have accepted it even if I did try. With the 5 Rs that was paid at the counter I now have the experience of being in a coma, successfully got my nose operated on, saw people dying. I must thank the Government of Delhi and the Doctors for its effort to give low-cost medical facilities.

But what do you get for 5 Rupees in a Hospital in Manipur? Posters and account numbers circulate whenever someone gets sick. But not everybody that gets sick gets help from people. It is only a few that get the public’s sympathy and thus money is crowd pulled for their treatment. Local celebrities, politicians, and so-called social workers have at times often used this as a tool to propagate themselves for selectively some sick people rather than working on a more holistic solution.

Two years later, as I contemplate life and the meaning of the very existence that I live or pretend to live, I find myself in moments that are inhumane, soul-dredging, and absurd. And it is in these moments that I feel that it would have been better, times better if I wouldn’t have just woken and gone to sleep eternally. Life is cruel. There are questions, conditions that bury a soul before death. I guess I’m now frequently asked such questions and conditions. Not that I crave for a utopian state but what good is a state if the truth is defined only by a few who got elected, AFSPA extended every six months, those who speak executed, those who dream of being framed, those who write being arrested, those who read being called insane when drugs move more freely than the people when those who resist killed and build an artificial sea beach at the Lake.

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