Tuesday, April 28, 2015


By the time nurse, arrived Aisha’s hands were shining with blood. The thick warm scarlet liquid gushed down leaving a single thin trail on her hand, almost like a mehndi cone design gone wrong. She had a half broken saline bottle in her hand. She was using it as a weapon to threaten a book at her bedside. Glass shards sticking out of her palm and by the time Anu entered Ganga, the nurse, was struggling to pacify Aisha. Together both of them overpowered the old woman and after a commotion lasting several minutes they were finally able to administer her some anesthesia, and Ganga did the first aid to Aisha’s hand, removing all those glass remains. A doctor came in and gave some stitches and went off. Aisha was on her bed, sleeping calmly, child-like as if nothing has happened. Ganga exhaling out a deep breath of relief asked Anu, “Why your grandma was glaring at that book, and if it’s bothering her so much why not just throw it away.”

Anu replied, “It’s not as easy as that, she’ll get mad if she doesn’t see that book. She sometimes cries hugging that book.”

“Yesterday night your grandma was mumbling in her sleep, that she’s a murderess, and she killed someone called Anand?”

“You are new here?” asked Anu.

“Yes,” replied Ganga.

“Well, that’s precisely the reason why she’s in a mental facility. She keeps saying she’s the reason my grandpa died. Don’t worry she is not a murderess,” replied Anu, not bothering to keep the annoyance out of her tone.

“I’m sorry,” replied Ganga in a meek and a barely audible voice, and added, “All I was told by the previous nurse who quit, was your Grandma was a weird person. And she used to look much younger when she was admitted a year ago.”

Unknowingly Anu drew out her wallet which had a photo of her in between her grandparents, taken a year and a half ago, in which Aisha looked like she was 45 when she was actually 57. “Yeah, she is a very beautiful woman,” replied Anu, still looking at her photo. Anand Grandpa, though 65 by the time that photo was taken has always had a spare amount of adrenalin. He died while he was still a boy at heart. Anand loved adventures and died before he gave into senility.

And ever since insanity gripped Aisha, she gave into paranoia, weird hallucinations and heard voices, sometimes voice of her father and sometimes that of Anand. She sometimes conversed with herself, sometimes she would take the role of Anand, and then she would reply to the statement she made while she was Anand. But all the time she would be pointing to that book. When she was first admitted in the hospital, one night she tore all those pictures on walls, which had confidence inducing and mood uplifting photos and quotes. It had been a battle, every day, ever since.

But the doctor said she was getting better. It has been almost three months she was without any hallucinations, or any incident for that matter, that is until today. But today it was more of blood than madness. Aisha looked resolute as if she knew what was bothering her. She was not having that glassy stare she usually had these days.

“Ma’am, do you mind if I take a look at that book?”

“You’ll be the regular nurse attending my grandma? You can call me Anu.”


“Go ahead.”

Ganga opened the heavy, otherworldly book, which definitely was made decades ago. No one made such books anymore. And inside were posted cards from railway weighing machine that are found ubiquitously in all Indian railway stations. They were pasted in such a way that the actual side which showed the weight was used to stick them to pages and the side with quotations was showing up. So it’s a quotations book, made out from quotes from the back of weight cards from the weighing machine. It was really a heavy book, and a large number of pages were filled with three cards per page, and nothing on the other side of the page. Hence, three cards per paper.

“Did your Grandma make this book?”

“Yes, and you mind calling her Aisha instead referring her as my grandma every time? She was very close to me, she was like a friend,” Anu said, but actually Aisha was like mother to her, in fact, Anu used to call her ‘ma’ though her mom told her not to, many times. She grew up with her grandparents, and she really thought her grandmother was her mother; Aisha looked so young, definitely not like a grandmother. Her parents were working in US. They left Anu with her grandparents, as Anu was not much suited for the cold weathers. Doctor advised them to keep Anu in India till at least till she was five.

After returning to US, aged five, Anu had a tough time understanding that Aisha was not her mother but her grandma. And she looked a lot like his dad, Aamir, who looked a lot like his mom, Aisha.

“Do you mind telling me what happened?” asked Ganga, putting a hand on Anu’s shoulders, who was not aware that small tears are clinging to her eyes.

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Anu replied, “I think I should, it will help you understand and thus help my grandma better. Btw I’ll come here twice daily, before going to college and after my college ends, and I’ll be here most of the Sunday. And most of the days I’ll definitely come twice, except when I’m held in college for some work, and here’s my number, you should call me whenever you think I should be here,” saying which Anu gave Ganga her number.

She dragged a chair and pointed Ganga to take the other one, “I’ll try to be brief, but to make you understand her better, I’ll have to start from the start, and I mean starting from the time of Aisha’s marriage.”

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