• Pallavi Rao


It is Day 9 of the Navratris and of the saree series. This a green Chanderi saree with ambi motifs that you cannot see in the glowing sun. How can a saree be both subtle and grand at the same time? Ask a Chanderi. A gift from dear Rekha Mehta of Indore.

Seeing the utter nonsense on TV, my blood did not boil instead my heart went out to the doctors who are literally, taking a beating, for the astounding work they are doing. Of course, it is easy to blame game. It is full time pass for us arm chair critics. But just move back, take a practical look at the larger picture. Everyone is trying their best to deal with the situation. However, treating the caregivers, the lifesavers like this only speaks of ones upbringing, or the lack of it.


He was sitting barely at a half-arms distance watching TV. I was on the sofa. Doubled up I think. Words were feeble, the voice strength-zilch. He could not hear me. I tried to gesture with my right hand to catch his attention. Alas, the arm would not rise. Fear gripped me. It rose from the somewhere deep below my navel and spread like a web all through my body. I lay there, hopelessly waiting for him to turn.

He did. His expression! I understood then the true meaning of the phrase, and his face turned white. He touched my left cheek and my neck wobbled to the right-lifeless. Breathing was heavy. The neck was falling all over the place. I barely managed to whisper-‘E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y.

I recollect, giving one parting glance at Rian and the next I remember being at the Apollo Emergency bed. I had to hold and support my neck with my hands till Dr. Suri came. My voice slurred. I pepped myself up, saying, it is ok, I can write and tell what I am feeling. But the fingers had no strength. I could not hold anything at all.

Dr. Suri came soon. God sent. He asked questions. I had all the answers. I used to write my daily symptoms, challenges, changes in a diary anticipating a day like this. But that diary was not updated for more than a fortnight. Damn. But then it was Dr. Vinit Suri, my saviour. We once again played that old game. 20 questions. Remember? Where you could only answer in a yes or a no.

I managed to answer some questions, holding my neck with my hands and physically moving it right to left or up and down for a no and a yes. He understood.

I was wheeled to the Neuro ICU. I had never been happier getting into the Intensive Care Unit as that day. I said to myself, ok…now I shall be fine. Eventually, I shall be fine. I am in a safe place. I will be looked after. I trust the medicines. I trust the doctors. I trust the Universe.

It was a Myasthenia Crisis. And that is not good news.

Crisis-when nothing works. Everything stops. And all you do is trust the doctors.

That’s what it was. My muscles refused to work. That of my mouth, cheek, the tongue, the fingers, the left leg, the neck and well-the lungs. Unable to take that next breath, i was shifted and swung into bed number 6-right in the middle of that 10 odd beds big ICU.

The fleet of young, super efficient nurses took over. One put the canola, the others helped with the breathing support machines, yet another ensured the pillows were in place and I was comfortable. The most caring, proficient and sincere workers.

I have always wondered, what is it that makes them tick in such a job? I mean who would want to take up a profession where you are required to clean the urine and stool and much more of unknown people. Be amongst the sick people with communicable and other unthinkable diseases. Day-in, day-out…for years? Ensuring you are breathing. Making sure the medicines are pumped into you in time. Rearranging the face mask when the machine warned with a incessant beep. Be it 4 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. Enthralled seeing a patient getting his discharge summary and going home.

Is it only a salary at the end of the month that makes them stick?

Obviously not. It is much more. We cannot even fathom what these paramedics, docs, nurses and the karamcharis are made of. We can never ever thank them. Thank them enough.

So, yes I did play the thali that evening at 5 pm. I vigorously rang my meditation Tibetan bell for peace, calm and health of all with tears in my eyes. And I did that with pure gratitude.

With the ventilator giving me my much needed Oxygen Spa at the Neuro ICU of Apollo Hospitals Delhi, I slowly opened my eyes to say a silent thank you to the battalion of nurses in front of me. I counted them.

They were 9 girls. It was the 1st day of Navratri. 2015.

That is when I decided to someday write about them.I did so. Today.

Till tomorrow. Stay safe. Stay home.

Pictures Courtesy Rian Narvekar

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