SHATTERED- Anusha - 2019 Batch
I wake up as usual, but something feels different. I seem to be floating, and I can’t see my hands or feet! Looking down, I see a baby-shaped object covered in a white cloth on top of a metal bed which was placed in a dark room. It’s weird, because I remember falling asleep in a cradle, not a metal bed.
My confusion is short lived, because I notice a metal door at the far end of the room and before I know it, I am right next to the door. I look at the door in awe; I had reached it so fast, almost like as if I flew all the way here! Now it makes sense to me! I am asleep and I’m dreaming, that’s why everything isn’t as I remember it to be.
I pass through the door to leave the room, and a white, clean corridor appeared in front of me. I look back at the door I had appeared from. This side of the door has a sign on top of it, but I can’t read it. After all, I was just born yesterday!
I float in the corridor, but soon grow bored of it. Just then, I hear the sound of footsteps and muffled speech appearing towards me. Two nurses are talking to each other while walking down the corridor. One had short hair, and the other wore her hair in a tight bun. They didn’t bat an eye at me, which meant that they couldn’t see me! I giggle to myself; maybe I can follow them and have my own private adventure!
“That baby girl couldn’t have been alive for more twenty-four hours, yet here she is, in the morgue. I wonder what sort of monster the culprit must be to do such a thing to an innocent baby!” the nurse with short hair says. “The medical examiner will be taking over her case now. He will be doing an autopsy of the child to find out how she died. But unfortunately, our next case isn’t much better.” The other comments. “What is the next case?” the short-haired nurse asks, slightly curious yet apprehensive. “A seventeen-year-old girl was brutally raped last night. Her injuries are so grievous that she is now in a coma. The doctors don’t know whether she will wake up at all.”
I keep following them, partly curious but mostly confused. They are using big words which I didn’t know the meaning of. I keep them in mind, so that I can ask mama what the words meant once I woke up.
I listen to their conversation while following them. They keep talking about the girl, and I want to know what she is like. Maybe she would like to be my friend after I wake up? The thought of making a new friend excited me so much, that I almost don’t notice the nurses stop in front of another door. This one isn’t made of metal, and look clean and white, like the rest of the building.
The nurses open the door and enter; I trail behind them into the room. A few people are waiting inside. There are two young girls wearing school uniform who are standing in a corner, hugging each other and crying, and two older aunties, one in a blue salwar kameez and the other in a brown set, sitting on chairs, having a look of disgust on their face.
Four pairs of eyes turn to the door as it opens to let the nurses in. “Visiting hours will end in the next thirty minutes. Only two people are allowed to be inside the ICU at a time. Please try to not make a lot of noise inside; it might disturb the patient and further complicate to her condition. Currently, her vitals are stable, but the doctors don’t know for sure when she will regain consciousness. Kindly be patient and have faith.” The nurse with a bun tells the people in the room, with a reassuring smile.
The girls sniffle in response to the nurse’s comforting words, while one of the aunties snort. The nurses leave the room, but I don’t follow them this time. I am too curious about the whole situation, so I decide to stay.
“Aunty, is it ok if we go see her first? We won’t take too much time, promise!” one the girls ask. The aunty wearing brown just humphs and looks away from the girl. Taking the aunty’s reaction as permission, the young girls enter the room the nurses call ICU. I am about to follow them, when the two aunties start talking to each other.
“I knew something like this would happen one day if she continued to behave the way she did. As her aunt and legal guardian, I told her so many times not to talk to boys. But she never listened to me!” the aunty in brown said.
“I heard from the other ladies in the neighbourhood that she casually touches boys’ arms in public. No wonder they found her to be an easy target.” The aunty in blue replies.
“I am sure she was wearing those jean shorts and sleeveless crop top when she got raped. How can a man control himself when he sees so much skin? She should have known better. I always tell her to dress properly, but she never listens and look where she is now.” The first added.
“I’m not surprised. Because of the way she behaves and dresses, boys think that she is easy. She must have slept with multiple boys before. She probably got too excited and wild this time, only to end up getting injured and hospitalised.” “Of course. And now I am the one who has to pay her hospital bills.” The first aunty grumbles.
Before they can continue, the door opens and the two girls come out. The aunty in brown gives them a dirty look, sniffs and then pushes past them with the aunty in blue to enter the ICU.
The girls sit on the chairs. The one in two plaits leans on the other and starts crying again. “She’s such a nice person! She helps anyone and everyone, even if she had to go out of her way. I can’t believe he used her like this!” she cries.
“She thought of him as her best friend. She was always there for him, always ready to comfort him on a bad day. She stood up for him even when everyone else was against him. And this is the reward she gets for all her efforts.” The other adds angrily while trying to console the sobbing girl.
I feel so confused. I have heard two very different opinions about one person in the past ten minutes. I can’t control my curiosity and decide to see this girl with my own eyes. I float into the ICU while the aunties leave.
The room is dimly lit, and I can see many machines that beeped and whirred, so that the mystery girl stays alive.
She is also covered in a white sheet like my sleeping body, but only her legs are covered; the rest of her body is visible. After taking a closer look at the sleeping girl, and I am shocked and scared. From the door, she looks like a normal girl, but up close she looks anything but. Many tubes pierce her small body, and her skin looks like a mosaic, covered in blue, green, red and black patches. This was not how I pictured the girl to look after hearing those aunties and girls talk. I expected to see a confident, strong girl, with gentle eyes and smile, not this. The site in front of me scared me, and I immediately fly back to the safety of the room with the metal bed, hoping to find comfort in my mama’s arms.
I slow down when I reach the now familiar metal door. To my surprise the door is wide open, and I can hear two voices talking inside, and one is extremely familiar; it is one that I love with all my heart.
“Mama!” I scream in joy, even though I know she couldn’t hear me. My joy is short lived. “Can you identify this child?” the doctor asks mama. Mama will definitely know that it’s me, I am very sure. She looks at my body which is lying on the metal bed and shakes her head. “I don’t know who this is. I don’t have any children of my own, and even if I did, my child would be a boy, never a girl.” She said, voice devoid of emotion, covering my body’s head with the white sheet.