She has shriveled like those dry leaves we rake off our walkways. The phlegm is corroding her lungs, they say.
Her eyes crinkle child-like, and a smile drowns the pallor of her face, the moment I reach her bedside.
"Where are the kids?" she asks me, through the oxygen mask. I tell her that they're at the school. She would like to see them "the next time."
A medical attendant irritably shushes her. The constant cawing of a raven outside the window fills the silence of the ICU. Again, she props her head up and tries to make sign-talk with me. I mention the package she has entrusted her favourite granddaughter with, a saree chosen for her final journey. She smiles.
It is meal time. An alarming bout of coughing ensues the frugal intake of oral fluids. The doctor is summoned. Medications administered. Parameters noted. She is reproached for being too fidgety.
We ask her to sleep. She sleeps.
through sparse curtains