Pain in parts

He didn’t seem in pain. But something was wrong I was at R’s house when I asked –

What happened?

This….

R showed me his hands. A red rash had broken out in patches on both his hands.

Will you still be attending the gig?

Oh most certainly!

This is because of stress, i said.

Could be, he countered, will only increase if I don’t go out.

I watched R – my friend, my brother from another mother. I said nothing. Before leaving i glanced back at the raging red that were his hands.

Next day morning

I sat on my bike when the call came. The name displayed – M. It kept ringing & ringing, I let it. Too early in the morning to hear his sorrows. Interestingly his number on my cell displays as M with couple of heart emojis next to it. M displays in white, hearts in blue. All set against a black background.

I could never store a number like that – not because I don’t want to but because I don’t know how to. But M could have done that. M can be like that. The call rang till it died down. I left it at that.

Traffic signal.

The new track was good. I wanted to add it to my playlist. I looked up – signal still red. I reached in my pocket, removed my mobile – on the main screen it displayed – L’s message. My eyes flickered – I read;

Am on the train

How much longer? I typed. Then went back to the music tp add it. For that I had to tap on the heart symbol.

Three hours, she messaged back immediately. I had not expected her to, she usually took time.

How’s the leg? I typed – a part of me not wanting to ask, a part of me still angry with her for going away when I had asked her to stay. Signal turned green, honks, vrooms, dust, the works. I had to ride ahead. No other way.

Still swollen, wrapped in ice packs, her reply. I stopped just ahead of the signal to read m, then I didn’t wait, moved on.

A great sadness & grief surrounds me. I know it will be like this for some time. Before it will not. L’s last message. I read it only after my journey had ended. Too late by then.

Next evening.

Let’s have dinner before I head back.

Usually we finished work and went home. But I wanted to delay going home. Luckily my buisness partner S agreed.

Let’s go to that Asian food place

Let’s

To reach the place we had to cross a traffic signal. This was near her place where we met often. It was late evening, long shadows and all.

I looked left-right and crossed the busy junction in a flash. Then I turned back. S was still standing there in her blue dress on the other side.

What happened? I cried out. Almost. Stopped myself just in time.

Because I remembered – she has something known as ‘Retinitis pigmentosa’ – that leads to tunnel vision. This means she gets stressed at crowded places and footpaths, especially in the evenings. And this was a really busy junction. So obviously she’s stressed.

I walked a little further, crossed the road again at a distance and went back near her. Her focus was only ahead on the road. I said in a casual voice –

Okay now let’s cross over.

Wait, she said nervously.

Relax. No vehicles.

Okay – she said. Then she put one foot forward quite unsure. The next and the following ones were steadier as I walked besides her continuously talking about some stupid thing or the other. I saw the sweat on her forehead, betraying her calm face.

Thank you – S said once we were on the other side.

For what?

For crossing over.

How do you know? I asked in surprised disappointment.

I just know – S smiled. We walked ahead silently avoiding the footpath and taking the busy streets.

Sunday sea-side.

Indeed I feel quite overwhelmed at present. Too much to be done and im way behind schedule. Besides I have health issues that I am ignoring and surviving on pain killers. Now I am getting used to them. so right now really wont be able to give you the time. Maybe after my show –

This was a friends reply to me on email. What happened was –

I was meeting an artist friend after a long time. We met at an old joint – tables by the sea. She had a glass of wine, I didn’t. We spoke of a lot of things – love, life, lockdown. At that point I wanted her to do a project where I document her artistic process. She agreed. Later I realised she felt frazzled and must have said yes because of she could not say me no I sent a voice note telling her please feel free to not do this.

The above was her reply.

I wrote back with a smile to take care and hope to connect soon.

I then put my head down on the table. It was aching – pain from my acidity – pain from my aches – sometimes it’s the legs the belly. I don’t know whose pain I am holding now. Is it mine? Or someone else’s?

My phone rang again. it was M. I let it ring. Till finally I picked up.

Yup?

Bro, I had a bad fall.

What? How? When?

He told me – out for a cycling trip. Wayward car cut him, scraped, his bike skid and he fell badly, been hospitalised in some god forsaken place.  

That’s when I called you yesterday.

Shit!

Which hospital? He told me. As we spoke, I began dressing up. I had no choice but to run to his pain.

Photo credit – Google images – couldn’t get tbe name of the artist. Thank you anonymous!

Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

4 thoughts on “Pain in parts

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