Motionless in Darkness

Three weeks before Good Friday, it was Bad Friday. I flew too close to the sun and burnt my leg. I was playing volleyball. From the outside looking in - it was no tournament with big-league players. Just a rag-tag group of middle-aged men with their sexual innuendos, kids still in school, kids thrown out of school, senior citizens who hadn't given up on life, and me (to label would be a guy going through a quarter-life crisis). The game was not particularly impressive. The net was short, the ball slower and the rallies often ended with simple errors. Nothing like the plays in reels of Instagram. But for some of us - it was everything. We had to keep the ball up. We had to fight for every point. We had to win. And one of those idiots went too far. 

I was playing left as I am lefty. The lanky guy from the other team was smashing the ball from the middle. Our middle blocker was a small well-mannered uncle whose approach to blocking was "Go ahead and smash your heart out". Frustrated with all the smashes - I started going out of my way to block him in the center. I couldn't block him once. I was late. I was short. I just couldn't reach him. So, this one time I jumped as high as I could and somehow reached him. He changed the direction of the hit. The ball dropped on the surface like a bomb and the blast reverberated in everyone's ears. There was another sound,  a crackling one - which only I heard. He had landed and I had crashed. I felt an excruciating pain in my ankle and just couldn't get up. After a good minute, I somehow made it to the bench. This had happened a few months back as well. I should have known. "There goes a week", I muttered. I casually looked at my leg and my ankle had ballooned. Meri phatt gyi (I got shit scared). The uncle beside me casually remarked, "You have displaced your ankle. It has happened to me six times. Don't worry - it will heal." My leg was put in a cast. Sentenced to three weeks. The doctor casually remarked, "You are lucky that it's just a minor fracture. Don't worry - it will heal." Much like my leg, my world was split apart.

Now, I am stuck in my bed. Motionless. Devoid of the sun. Basking in the fluorescent blue light. My scalp is covered in dead cells. My face has started collecting dead cells. My underarms reek of sweat. My body smells like shit. My limbs are getting thin and tummy fat. I stare at the blue junk wrapped on my feet. It seems like the more I stare - the angrier it becomes. It fumes and shrieks in pain. I try to calm it down with an ice pack. It mellows down a bit and stares back at me. I feel pity. I should have been more careful. But I am always too careful.

My room has become a store room. Things are lying here and there, so I can reach them easily. My desk is wrapped with a layer of dust and the chair is flung out in a far corner. I miss sitting in it. There are empty boxes and used utensils beside my bed. My bedsheet is covered with a layer of food crumbs, strands of hair, and tissues. My plants are slowly dying. The peace lily died. It was struggling for some time. I forgot to water it and keep it in the sun. My neck and back give out often as I sit hunched. My eyes are dry as I stare at my laptop and phone alternatively for hours. Sometimes, I just lie down straight and close my eyes. I feel like a rotting corpse.

Other times, I feel like a newborn child - easily irritable, dependent, and breaking down randomly. I have to rely on my family for every little thing. I feel reluctant to ask for help given our strained relationship. Every plea for help dredges up memories of past conflicts, with all the arguing and insults hurled at each other. Feeling helpless and needing to extend my hand for assistance is a humbling experience, very tough for the ego. I've never been sick or motionless for so long. I've heard that fractures can sometimes immobilise you for months. I don't know how people manage it. I find myself in uncharted territory.

Sometimes, I wonder if I can make something out of this crisis. I get a little hopeful, read a few quotes, and think that this will build character. Dust my old dumbbells and do a few sets of curls. But the optimism is fleeting. The day ends. The darkness shrouds my being. I somehow get a few hours of sleep in awkward positions.

The new day starts, and I count the days since Bad Friday. I limp to the balcony and search for the sun. A few minutes of sunshine every day gives a little bit of relief. From 10000 steps in a day to 100 - how the mighty have fallen. I stare at people walking nonchalantly on the streets. I look at these kids with their water pistols (it's Holi time) - running, jumping, sliding, and falling without a care. How come they are not twisting their ankle, their foot is landing properly so effortlessly. I am unable to even put a fraction of my weight on my leg. It feels surreal, as if I have forgotten how to walk. 

I don't know if there is a lesson in this experience. Perhaps I'll romanticize it once I'm fully healed. Or maybe simply getting through it is enough. One thing is for sure though - life is so unpredictable. We just have to accept and then accept some more - whatever that is written in our fate and try to make the best of what we have. Easier said than done though. Right now, I can do a few other things but I just want to walk dammit.