I don’t remember for how long I slept or whether I slept at all. I kept waking up with a jerk. It did not take me long to come out of slumber. I would be wide awake and distressed instantly. I would force my eyes to adjust to the dim light as soon as possible and then, I would stare at you.
I would look at your bald head and then at your eyes. I was searching for some sign of life. Your eyes had become deep black holes set in your skull. The nose looked much bigger than before and was marked with big black spots. I clearly remember, your mouth would be open and I would strain my ears to listen to the sound of your snores. The only sound in the room in the dead of the night would be that of the fan which would be running at an excruciatingly low speed.
I would panic. Tears would sting my eyes. You know, I fought the urge to break down several times that night. After the first wave of panic, I would steady myself and stare at your chest; hoping that the movement of your breasts would lay my fears to rest. But you had reduced to bones and most of the times I could not detect any movement and my heart would start racing, again.
Then I would close my eyes and take a deep breath. I did that a lot that night. I would concentrate all my energies into observing your stomach. Its slow and rhythmic rise and fall would relax me immediately. My shoulders would drop. I would stretch and yawn and go back to sleep to wake up again in five minutes and repeat the exercise.
That was a year ago. But I still wake up sometimes, you know. You are better now. I know. You have a curly mop of hair on your head. But that frail bald woman who smiled through all the suffering of battling cancer still comes to see me sometimes. I love her but I’m very scared of her at the same time.
वो रात मैंने तेरी हर साँस गिन गिन गुज़ारी थी
हर गिनती पे मेरी साँस अटकी थी
आज हर साँस की कीमत मुझे मालूम है|