I looked down at the tiny red-lidded bottle in my hand. On a white label outside, it had my mother’s name and age and inside it floating in a transparent liquid, was a piece of my mother. To be precise it was a tissue sample from a mass that had been found attached to the wall of her urinary bladder intended for a biopsy. I was carrying it to the laboratory it would be examined in, and I held it in my hand all the way, transfixed by it, though I struggled to hold it upright amidst the roller-coaster-esque auto ride. 22 minutes it said on Google maps. Did not seem that long. As I walked out of the hospital, the well-meaning nurse advised me to place the sample in a bag. I preferred to hold it in my hands, where I could see it. And I did see it.
I looked at it and wondered where this piece was going to take us. I looked at it and wondered where it had come from, why it had come and what did it really want. I looked at it and on our way to the Lab, had a talk with the piece of my mother.
It wasn’t quite the conversationalist this rogue piece, unlike my mother, but it listened quietly as I introduced it to some pieces of me that needed some examining too. At first came this dark heavy feeling, the memory of my father from almost ten years ago, lying in the hospital bed of the ICU we were almost never allowed to enter, just watch from the glass window, the gradual swelling of his limbs, the slow change in his skin color, the fuzz growing on his face. The twelve days that we spent, glued in that hospital waiting room, feeding our emptying hopes with the slight signs of improvement. The evening when I fell ill too and doctors called it Typhoid and ordered me away from the hospital, and the few hours of broken sleep at a cousin’s place that night interrupted by bad news. The day the sunrise brought darkness into our lives. The dark, heavy feeling of missing the last moments, the feeling that has stayed all these years, that refuses to lift away.
This loss is a strange guy. Never does he visit alone, he brings with him memories of what was lost and threats and fears of what is being lost or, what could be lost too. He snowballs at will and runs over every mental faculty that was working just fine, until Mr. Loss declared it to be party time.
I look at the piece again and sighed. Did you see what happened at the hospital last night? That sweet pregnant lady on the next bed who went into labour at three a.m. and woke the whole place up with her screeches and screams. Did you hear at least? Her pleads for mercy, her losing will to live. Did you hear when she said she doesn’t want this baby, she just wants the pain to end. Did you cringe too, oh wait, you aren’t anticipating going through something like this. Your insides didn’t twist when her visiting relatives recounted their very own graphic experiences of labour the next day. You don’t even have insides do you, lucky bitch. You didn’t go home and dream of having a pregnant belly, nor did you see yourself floating in a sea of babies. You must have had a fun time, keeping my mother awake throughout the night.
Did you see the baby that was the eye of the storm? Like a dried up raisin, a finger left too long in the bath. His face like the smallest version of the oldest person you’ve ever met. The tiny baby, a few hours old, braving the visitors and their clucking and touching and just laying there, eyes wide open, staring into space, probably still imagining that he is in his mother’s womb. Did you see that?
When the visitors were done with him, they turned to my mother and asked her what was wrong. She laughed you know, my mother, because we hadn’t met you yet, we didn’t know what to name you. She laughed and said “Let me assure you I am not having any babies.” I did not find it funny, but she continued to laugh anyway.
Do you like this auto ride? I hate it to tell you the truth, rattles all the bones in my body. It’s monsoon outside, though you really can’t tell, it is supposed to be at least, but I can tell you don’t really care about such things. Maybe it would interest you to know about one of my friend, her mother died of Cancer last year. She disappeared for a few months from my life, I didn’t ask for explanations, nor details. I hope I won’t have to.
I walk into the lab, a woman sits filing her nails at the reception, I ask her, confused “Am I in the right place?” She laughs indulgently and says not really, but we can take the sample and send it across for you. She speaks slowly and loudly as if speaking to a child. It takes me a moment to respond and before I could say my goodbyes the bottle disappeared from the counter. I looked at her, the question apparent on my face and she says matter-of-factly:
Next Friday. You’ll get the results, next Friday.