2:05 am: I woke up with a shooting pain in my chest. I could not breathe. I badly wanted to yawn and realised the more I tried, the more it ached. Technically there was congestion between my sternum and the lowest rib, at the right side. I tried all yogic positions hoping it was gastritis. Then tried hot water bag and analgesics. They had no effect and it was almost 3 am. I thought of waking my friends but felt pity on disturbing their schedules the next day. I thought of calling the ambulance as I was almost breathless. Finally I decided to call my loved ones at home though it felt crazy at that hour of the day. I was scared that I would not hear from them again. Mom was an insomniac so she picked up the phone immediately. She said she had a premonition that something was wrong and asked me to go to the hospital immediately. Our dear editor took some time to pick up and was tensed. I noted mentally not to call men folk in crisis- that is if I survived. Somewhere at the back of my mind I strongly felt it was gastritis. I was still scared because one of mom’s friend died of cardiac arrest which she mistook as gastritis and had therefore deferred going to the doctor.
3:30am: I could not bear it any longer and called my friend ‘T”, who was far more composed and thought we should call the person next door too. ‘FOI’, who was next door person, thought it was 6 am and I was calling her for playing badminton, so she said she won’t make it now and dozed off. “T”and I called the ambulance and she asked me to rock myself till the ambulance arrived. Now as if my planets - Mars and Jupiter were waging wars, all the three emergency numbers of the hospital went unanswered. The security guard at the hostel called up the control room and informed no one was responding at the hospital reception and that we had a case of emergency. I was crying feeling helpless. I just wanted to breathe, I could bear the pain but I wanted to breathe and maybe to even live. I thought of all those dying patients I sat with at Regional cancer centre who gasped for their final breath. I decided not to fight with the editor and my friends- if I came back alive. I decided to work seriously, pray hard. I thought of all my friends at the insti whom I wanted to talk to. If this was my last chance they too would regret not meeting me. There was no sign of the ambulance even by 4 am . I was carrying this pain inside me for 2 hrs now. I consoled myself saying this is nothing compared to the cross Christ bore. I saw that “T” was drowsy and I realised the angst Christ had when his friends and disciples were sleeping at Gethsamene. “Spirit is willing, flesh is weak”, I kept repeating inspired by my spiritual alter to calm myself. “It’s nothing fatal you idiosyncratic hypochondriac,” my rational alter yelled.
The week before had also been hellish. I had two bad experiences on campus. A stalker who followed me saying some crap and also proved to be an amateur exhibitionist. My friend and I who were victims of this incident had lodged a complaint hence I was famous among the security officers. The very next day I spotted a snake in front of my room. Now placing all these pieces of jigsaw puzzle together, the security officers drew a traditional and logical analysis. The traditional one was that my planets were on a collision course and these were all series of mishaps indicating it. First the stalker, followed by the snake and now the chest pain.
Logical version was that all the events from the week has stressed me and I was scared which led to the chest pain. So unlike other cases, this time the security officer himself took his bike to go see why the institute hospital was not responding. If the girl died they would be accused for not tracking stalkers who frighten women on campus.
If they asked me I had a third version which would make more sense. I had Alu parantha the previous night and Alu sabzi and Dal in the afternoon. I have a medical history of gastritis since 10 years and I don’t need any planets to contribute further. Alas! They had their own theories and I was bathing in their pool of pity.
4:15 am : Finally the ambulance arrived and I was rushed to the hospital. The
drowsy nursed tried injecting panatcid, failing four times, to find a vein. The doctor was irritated at the early morning emergency and listened to my woes. I felt miserable being there, disturbing their sleep.
“The pain will persist whole day”, she said and prescribed something for gastritis and muscle pain. ”T” was worried if they had diagnosed it wrongly in their sleep and what if things worsened in hours. We stayed back till morning and returned to my room. The pain still persisted. I drifted to sleep promising myself – If I survive .............................I won’t eat Alu paranthas ever.