Holding his hot palms in mine, his tiny head cradled in an indigo lap, my tears racing time with the ice-pack drippings. Half-open eyes, flushed cheeks, the tiny sighs, and the constant, sandpaper sound of wheezing. I breathe deeper myself, willing my lungs to work for him, pushing the air into his tiny, and now tired, body. His fever seeps into my thighs, branding its presence: this fight will take more than my prayers.
The speedometer says 120km, and yet, the world goes by in slow motion, the mountains towering before choosing to fade, vast desolate stretches dotted here and there by the flaming kesuda flowers. Even there, in that panic, that fear, in that vast expanse of waiting below an unforgiving sun, the orange bursts from the black shoots seem strangely symbolic.
Short, staccato conversations that plan routes to match with hospital timings, a quick stop to get some more ice. There's more than one laboured breathing inside the car. He sighs, not very often, my lap speaking to his needs, shifting and slackening on its own, seamless in agony. And yet, he will not moan. For a while, I will him to complain, to cry, to shriek, like I want to, but can't. He doesn't protest it at all, he's meeting it head on.
What was meant to be a long weekend of family bonding, some serious fun and adventure, has turned into a trial, by bedside. What was a five-hour ride filled with wheeees at the undulating roads two days ago has turned into a deafeningly quiet ride towards an answer, and a solution.
In these last two days he helped build his first bonfire, raced up a stony hill, felt the might of the wind and heard it move, marveled at the 11 and 20 stars he could see, the loud drone of the crickets at night. He, who lives surrounded by glass and concrete mountains, woke to the gentle warmth of the sun creeping into the window. He picked flowers, rode horses, danced with tipsy adults to loud 70s Bollywood music, made peace and war with cousins.
In these last 24 hours, I've discovered a part of my son I've not fully understood. I met with his will, all three feet and three inches of it, battered, but not broken. I met his strength, not tagged in kilos or how many jumps he leaped, but in his grim countenance behind the nebulizer mask. I stood in awe of its bright orange brilliance, not dulled by physical pain. In these last 24 hours, I now know, for today and through his life, he will not go quietly into the night, ever.
3 hours ago