It was draped in a white cloth – the last piece of cloth, the frail, skinny body would ever wear. Eyes half-closed, a slight smile, as if he were telling the boy standing by his side that you have a long way to go before you reach here. Was it really a smile or was it the boy’s illusion?
He kept looking at him, looking at his chest which had been consistently doing it’s job – it was like an ocean wave, everytime, you felt this was the last, it would come back again. Adding precious moments to the boy’s life. They had pronounced, it was just a matter of time. Little did they know, that it was time that mattered for the young boy. He had never seen death before. He was prepared for the fact, that the body lying on the bed, was in it’s last few moments. He knew it was just a body. The spirit had already left.
It was a machine, which was running the last mile – cranking every ounce of energy it could muster to pull through, using every bit of oil, every part to keep running. He was amazed by how resilient the body was. The painful stubbornness to exist was nothing short of heroic. It was a humbling experience. A feeling of helplessness. A feeling of being a mute spectator, while death walked the last few miles.
But the machine kept running. Every time he would see the chest heave up, he thought “that’s it”, but then it would come back again. Moments of joy, moments of agony. It was bitter,cause he was leaving – never to come back. Only memories, pictures and images would remain – which would eventually get buried in the sands of time. He had never told him, how much he loved him. Cause, he had never known that death would speak to him so soon.
The boy kept his hands on the body’s chest – felt the heart. It was just a machine. But the boy was happy he was leaving – cause, he could not see the suffering and pain the body had been put through for so long. He did not know what to say, and,even if he did, would the body listen to him? He did not know. So,he kept silent.
The only sound that came in the room was from the fan that kept rotating – a monotonous drone.
Images from the bygone days flashed by – the innumerable arguments, the chatter they used to have,the scoldings he would get, the movies they watched together, the debates they would have,the games of cricket they played,the tears they shed together,the laughs they had…he felt a tinge of pain…all’s gone….
Suddenly, he realized what he would not give to have all that back..atleast for sometime.What he would not give to open those eyes, and look at him, give him a smile and tell him, as the old man had told him innumerable times “I am there, dont worry”.What he would not give to walk out of that room with the old man and play a game of cricket, or have a cup of tea…..what he would not give…
And then, he saw. The chest slowed down. The boy came back to reality.For a moment he thought the machine would shudder to a stop. But he was wrong. It was a lovely harmonic. He started to count the seconds between every heave of the chest. It had increased, and was regularly doing so.
He saw the face. Serene.The smile was still there, eyes half-closed.
The machine was slowing down. It did not shudder. It was like the ocean had lost energy in sending out waves anymore, and was slowly retreating.
The last few. The boy kept his hand on the chest again. Saw the face. His tears had dried up. He just wanted the body to stop. To stop trying. To stop putting any more effort. He just wanted it to leave slowly,silently – in the dead of night.
And then, he felt it. Rather, he did not. The chest had stopped. The waves had stopped. The machine had run the last mile.
The boy looked at the old man’s face. The smile was still there. Thought he would say something. Waited. One last wave, one last twitch of the eye, one last goodbye.
But death had spoken.