The green fabric of her dress sways in the wind and it reminds me of something, of someone but I cannot remember….
Its almost hypnotic to watch, her green cotton punjabi sways violently from left to right as the wind tries to rip it off her full shaped body. She stands out on the ledge of the moving train, soothing her crying baby. I cannot hear his cries but I can see them and somehow I can feel them too. His anguish, his lamenting, he just wants someone to hold him tight and tell him that they love him. I want that too, I think silently.
The snowcapped mountains of Srinagar hover big and mighty over her, watching her, assessing her and I too am watching her from the other side of the glass. Her face is so smooth, so fair. Wisps of her hair try to break out of her head scarf and the sight of her cradling her crying baby against the cold reminds me again of something, of someone, I think that they remind me of me….
The chuk chuk sound of the train rings in my ears and suddenly the train halts and my (day)dream stops.
The lady with the green punjabi has disappeared. Her crying baby has been silenced and my eyes circle the room that I sit in as I wonder; where am I now? Who am I? How did I get here?
” Its time for your medication Mrs Patel”
The nurse says it with a taste even more vile than the pills that she’s brought for me to swallow. Like a robot I part my lips and I lower my jaw. She throws them in like one would throw garbage into a trashcan. I swallow and she say’s
” That’s a good girl, they’re all gone down”….
” Ten minutes to lights out”, she says as she heads towards the door….
I turn my head to look out beyond the window, beyond the dark night marked with the fluorescent street light, beyond my existence and beyond my life. It feels as if I am stuck within me. My mind fails me, my eyes betray me with each tear that they shed. My mouth wants to speak, it knows what to speak, but when I part my lips and twist my tongue a incoherent rambling spills out instead. Why am I like this? Why can’t I remember anything?
But then there are some days, some days when the sun shines so warmly, some days when birds chirp so loudly and on those days my memories flood me. Days when I can remember every detail of my life to a perfect Tee! My name, my age, even my grandchildren’s names, all twenty five of them! A smile bathes my face as a light sparks up my eyes. I look around for a familiar face, a face that I remember but as I scan to my left and then my right, I see none. I see only nurses in white uniforms and old grey haired people slumped in wheelchairs gazing into the nothingness beyond the ceiling fan.
My insides are rumbling with excitement! I want to run and skip and be free! I want to hold a warm hand and tell a tale of my past that starts with the words, ” it was the July of 1939, I was a young girl in my fathers home“. But there’s no one here to listen to me, no one here cares, no one here even remembers their own name!
The sun is dimming. The clouds are moving in. I can hear the waves in the distance coming forth like a tidal wave of emotion about to hit me. No!!!!!! I scream, I plead!!!!!!! Don’t leave me, I beg these memories! Don’t desert me again….
The wave splatters me from behind and it knocks me to the ground. I lie there helpless, once again I am helpless. Slowly I forget my name, my age and even what I had for supper just an hour before. But before my memory evades me, I see the green indian dress at the foothills of a mountain in Kashmir, she turns to smile at me and then waves a goodbye. I look at her as I wonder; who is she and why is she so familiar to me?
As I lie there in a pool of salty tears, in a bed of moistened sadness, I release myself to My Creator. Even though I have forgotten everything and everyone, I somehow managed to remember Allah through (all) this. Through these days of Alzheimers. Through these hours of amnesia . Through this life of turbulent falls and cuts and bruises that never heal. My brain has failed me but somehow my heart hasn’t.
And as I lie here spiraling into the abyss of sedated sleep, into the abyss of this disease, I take His hand and utter
” La illaha illallah” … Truly, ” there is no God but Allah”…..