SPARROWS AND KITTENS(Small did not mean powerless)

He tried to open his eyes but they were jammed together with some yucky gluey thing. He rubbed his forefingers carefully across his lashes. Some of the stuff scraped off and he pried open his lids with some difficulty. Everything was blurry and out of focus. Better wash them out, he thought.

He swung his legs off the bed …at least he tried to. “Arghghgh…”
His whole body felt like it had been beaten up and frozen to a solid immovable mass. He fell back on the bed and croaked through a dry throat, “Anyone there?”
His voice was so low it could hardly penetrate the closed door. Still, he tried again. “Mum? You awake? Can you come here a moment?” No sound. Obviously, she was asleep and couldn’t hear him.

He felt miserable. He tried to reach out an arm to his cell phone but his body refused to obey his command. “d@#$!” He exclaimed. What if no one heard him, what if no one came to his rescue? His eyes went round with fear. Was he going to DIE in his own bed, like this?

Fear got hold of him and superseded the pain in his body. What if this? What if that? He tried to speak again. “Mum? Dad? Can you hear me? I feel terrible!” There was a clock on the wall opposite him. The luminous dial showed 3:00 in the morning. He realized it was pitch black outside his window.

“They won’t be up till Fajr,” he thought despairingly.
“What shall I do?”
He, who had always been proud of his big hulking body and never fell ill except for the odd cold or tummy upset, was feeling as weak and as helpless as a lost
kitten. Surely, this wasn’t happening to him. It must be a nightmare … he couldn’t be as feeble as his old Dadi; stooped and frail as a bony sparrow. No, no, what was wrong with him? Why was he thinking of kittens and sparrows? He was Superman, Batman, the great Hulk! He could beat anyone in anything. Yes, that’s right, he thought, positive thinking.

With a great amount of will power he slid out of bed and landed straight on the floor, “Ouch!” He hollered, as loud as his lungs would allow him. He had to reach the door and call out to someone. Standing was impossible with jelly-like legs so he crawled in the darkness to the sliver of light coming from beneath the closed door. His leg hit something and it came crashing down on his head. Too late, he realized it was his stationary bike; his mind went blank and a darkness greater than the dark room enveloped him.

He came to consciousness to a sterile smell. His nose was engulfed in a plastic mask but sweet air was coming from it. Life-giving oxygen. He could breathe. He slowly moved his lids, testing if he could open them. Good! He could. He was in a hospital room with a person totally covered in a weird garment who was attending to his drip stand. What had happened? He wanted to ask but the mask, tubes, and parchment-dry throat prevented him from making a sound. Two tears trickled from the corner of his eyes. Such feebleness, such powerlessness he had never experienced in his life.

Kittens and sparrows … he thought of his bent little grandmother who could not open her medicine packet herself. He had thought she was just being fussy. He thought of the countless times she had needed a hand to go up or down the stairs but he had thought she just wanted queenly attention. He thought of the times she had asked for a glass of water from her bed but he had answered back to get it herself and start exercising to make herself stronger. It was ridiculous to think anyone couldn’t get a glass of water themselves.

He took a deep breath … or tried to. His lungs refused to take in much air. The tears flowed freely now. How many times, how many people he had scorned for their lack of strength, for not using their will power, for being a sissy … he felt like wailing his heart out. Right now, he felt with his whole being what it was like to be a kitten or a sparrow, to want to do something but be woefully unable to.

Later, as he got better, he came to know that it was his Dadi who, hearing the crash had come to his rescue in the night. Small did not mean powerless and big did not mean power.

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