The procedure got carried out smoothly. The two doctors were able to stop the internal bleeding. At the end of the procedure, they themselves came over to Ary in the waiting room. It was past 2 AM in the morning. They told him that she was safe. Her life wasn’t under threat anymore. She had been given a bed in a room inside the ICU and there was an extra couch in that room where he could take some rest too.
Ary spent rest of the night on that couch in the ICU room while Polo slept on the bed, dressed in a gown with a faded floral print in white background, provided to her by the hospital. There were sensors all over her body, connected to oscilloscopes placed on trolleys next to her movable bed. It felt like either of their lab setups had moved with them to the hospital.
He woke up to the sound of someone getting into their room. It was the nurse in morning shift. She woke Polo up, cleaned her face, tied up her hair a bit and conducted a basic check-up. “No body temperature; blood pressure and pulse rate close to normal”, she said with a smile. Polo smiled back. The clock hanging on the wall indicated that it was 8 AM in the morning.
Ary stared out of the giant window in the room. The sky was clear and blue like every other day in the bay area. Growing up in a polluted Indian city close to the tropics, Ary used to think that sky was blue only in photographs, until he moved to the bay area.
“What dream did you see last night?”, Polo asked Ary. Interesting how that was the first thing she told her friend after going through a life saving surgery.
“Weird stuff!! You are just getting up from your bed because it’s early morning, and about to start yoga like every other day, and I am like, you have sensors and instruments all over your body, how can you do that! Interesting how the mind works”, Ary responded.
Soon Polo started feeling pain in her lower back and right leg, and realized she wasn’t being able to move either of these parts at all. The doctors from last night came over, inspected her and called the orthopaedic, who looked at her X ray reports and said she had to undergo a major surgery, which might take several hours. Ary called up Polo’s professor and colleagues, and their mutual friends. People started pouring in. They were in shock.
Then Ary called up her parents in Singapore and informed them of everything. They decided to apply for US visa immediately and come over very soon to see their daughter.
The orthopaedic surgery was carried out the next day. Though it was a very critical one, the doctors in the hospital were extremely good and Polo hardly felt anything. When she gained consciousness she reported that her bones seemed to be back in their original places, much to the delight of Ary and her other friends and colleagues who had come to see her. In a few days she was moved from ICU to a regular room.
Ary moved temporarily from his apartment in Berkeley to Polo’s room in the hospital. Every morning he would have breakfast with Polo, have a little guitar jam session with her, then take the local train called Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Berkeley, work in the lab all day and get back to the hospital again in the evening on the BART. Polo being immensely popular in the university, the hospital room was packed with people every evening- mostly undergraduate and graduate students from the university. It was like a long, ongoing party. When it was time for dinner, they would all leave, Ary and Polo would have dinner together, delivered by a big fat cook from the hospital cafeteria.
“Wow, she sounds so endearing when she asks us what we would like to eat”, commented Ary.
“Yeah, you can’t refuse her anything. You feel afraid that she will be offended”, Polo said,” and it probably helps if the cook is fat. You take more interest in the food.”
The nurses who attended to Polo were interesting characters as well. One of them was a young white woman. She was sort of a rebel. She often showed skepticism about the advices the doctors and hospital authorities were giving to Polo. She even went to the length of prescribing homeopathic medicines to her. The other one was an African American lady with thick and fluffy hair. The first time she showed up in their room, she brought so much energy to the place that it felt like a theatre performance had just commenced. She introduced herself as “crazy Dorothy” and said that on full moon lights, this hospital went berserk with every patient’s pain exacerbated.
“She is so crazy that she has to give others a heads up about her craziness the first time she meets them”, Polo commented later.
After dinner they used to have another guitar jam session until late in the night. Sometimes she would show him a poem she had written during the day when she was alone, and he would try to improvise on it. Eventually she would doze off on her bed as an effect of all the medicines she consumed all day. Then Ary would make a bed for himself on the couch next to her bed, lie down and ponder over the strange turn in his life. What was all this leading to? He didn’t know. The only thing he knew was that he had been pursuing so many different things all his life- a career in science, a hobby in writing, a hobby in playing the guitar, traveling about the globe, just to name a few. Yet at this current moment the happiness he felt in the tiny hospital room spending time with and taking care of someone who he loved so dearly was simply unparalleled.
Slowly he would pass into blissful sleep.
A few rare occasions she would wake up in the middle of the night in a lot of pain. Ary would rush to the nurse on the night shift, who would giver her some painkillers, and get back to her office space. As the pain slowly went down, Polo would ask her to play some Beatles. They had always argued about which classic rock band was the all time best- Ary would always side with The Beatles, while Polo would switch between Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Moments like these resolved the debate. Ary would strum the chords of Let it Be on his guitar, and play the original song on his smartphone in the background-
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, Let it Be……..