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     Volume 5 Issue 86 | March 17, 2006 |

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Slice of Life

Drip Diary

Richa Jha

I looked at my hand, saw the mildly dirty band-aid, felt for my aching vein by pressing the hand over where the needle had poked me a day ago, and decided it must go. The little bandage kept reminding of the saline bottles looming over me, the depressing hospital corridors where the nurses kept discussing their love lives even as one of them tried poking in the needle from every possible angle to locate my vein in vain. It kept reminding me of the shooting pain as she, and later two of them together (!), fiddled with the needle half inside my body, and half in her paws. If I had screamed, and created a scene there, unlike my otherwise high threshold of pain resistance, it was because I felt like a hapless weakling with pinned limbs and trussed up body, ready to be slaughtered, all because of the most quirkily spelt ailment diarrhoea, and an even more horrible tasting vomiting, both incessant, and unrelenting! And because I felt cheated by my own system that had let down its defences so easily. Ungrateful lout.

And then, the band-aid also reminded me of the last fortnight where no one in my family has remained untouched by the same blessed germs with incalculable power to rush us to the toilet every two minutes and keep us there for days on end. In the case of my infant daughter, she had to be on I V fluid for three days in a row.

To top that, the Band-aid had also started itching along the edges. And so, I decided it would have to be ripped off and thrown away. I tried, gingerly, to begin with, because these rotten plasters take an eternity coming off while stretching your skin to infinity. But oddly enough, despite my try, the damned thing just wouldn't come off! The harder I tried, the more stoutly it pressed against my skin and stayed put!

Which is when, in the middle of this tussle, I was shocked to hear a squeaky voice saying, "Stop trying. It is no good. I am not going away in a hurry!"

For a while I was convinced it was either my loose motions taunting me flat faced, or this new boil that was just starting to erupt around the contours of my nose. So I listened carefully, waiting for the voice to reappear. Pat it came a second later saying, "Ha ha! No need to look elsewhere. I am right here, on your hand!"

I looked down to see the pestilent mini-plaster leering at me unashamedly. So now it had come to this! The stubborn little louse, first refusing to come off, and then mocking me with self assured alacrity!

I had every right to know why it was hell bent upon adorning my (by now) near-sickly hand.

"For your own good. I have your very best interest in mind. Trust me." Who could have bought that, least of all this person for whom the mere sight of this plaster was anathema.

"I don't believe you. And let me get on with my work, which on top priority basis is chucking you away." And I started scraping it off furiously from all sides. I was decidedly rude and visibly violent.

As if it helped. It stuck to where it was, and after a while remarked patiently, "Might as well give up, and listen to what I have to say."

I gave up, only temporarily, just to hear what the holy one had to say. Maybe he was suggesting some kind of psychic link between its continued presence on person, and the quick cure of the running tummy. So I stopped scraping, looked at it, and waited.

"Listen, I can help boost your image, and your popularity within your social circles manifolds." I was stunned! What did this maligned piece of cloth with some now already used up antiseptic patch know about the social niceties!

"I heard you this morning. Aren't you going out for a dinner this evening?"

"Yes. But only if I feel up to it. Not weak, and all. Why?"
"See, once there, make sure every one notices me. Flash this hand. Wear rings on all fingers. Do whatever, but let not one person miss me here. I assure you, it will raise your stock within known circles. You know, something like, 'how nice of you to have come despite your state; or poor you, you look so pale, such an awful thing to have happened; or what! I V fluids? To you? Didn't know you were That ill!; or how about …"

"Enough, enough, I get the drift," I interrupted its mini-speech. As it kept staring at me with expectant looks, I pondered the plan. Didn't sound like a bad idea. After all, wasn't I taking the trouble of honouring an invitation despite having just returned from the hospital barely twenty-four ago.

The more I thought about it, the more this amorphous thought kept crystallising in my mind, and I started feeling, and maybe rehearsing to act like, like a martyr in the name of social obligations. I also started feeling (if only purely imagined) a tinge of shooting pain every now and then at the very sight of the band-aid! And my face would contort, my eyes would droop and become listless, my head would start spinning; all this as I subconsciously 'practised' before my bathroom mirror!

Come evening, The Hubby was shocked to see me standing dressed up before the mirror with a listless expression on my face flashing my band-aided hand.

"Are you nuts? You are sinking, and still getting ready to go out. Grow up!"

I smiled, with sudden renewed vigour, and quipped, "Got fooled, didn't you! Now you just wait and see." I had a brief argument with The Hubby then and there about the virtues of leading an uncomplicated, truthful life, and how, as he saw it, I really shouldn't be out partying so soon, and so on…but my temper prevailed, and by the tenth minute, I was speeding off to the get-together.

I made an entry, all right. Heads turned, the plaster spotted, my eyes started rolling languidly, my footsteps measured, yet faltering at the same time, the 'weakness' showing through in every inch of my body and gait, a few 'What happened's, few more sympathetic tssk tssk's, still more 'What a brave soul', and one loud, most heart felt 'thanks for making it despite your…', and many such virtues I can't find enough space for.

I looked at my band-aid, and beamed. It beamed back. Looked like we were best buddies, and partners in crime. I couldn't narrate the events of the previous day, and the hospital experience, and my present condition enough! I felt like a queen, thanks to this selfless band-aid's suggestions.

I was wallowing in all the excess praise from all sides and really beginning to feel like a martyr, when suddenly, in walks this person from the main door, and yells, "Hey, you are looking nice and fresh. You are GLOWING! Almost as if you have just walked out of a drip session! Try it someday, it is so cool! Ask me, I am a veteran there!!"

CRASH! Came down every calculated gesture, every rehearsed twitch in the body, every crafted frown!

I didn't open my mouth for the rest of the evening. Came home and tore away that band aid from my skin. This time, it came off effortlessly, noiselessly, with eyes closed. The final parting was without any fuss.

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