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  • Writer's pictureAbhishek Anicca

A stranger in town

I think I am losing my grip over the idea of time. It has been almost one month since I came to Bengaluru. One whole month. I was supposed to stay only for two weeks. Then get back to my lonely life in Patna. Lonely but peaceful (At least, that's what I am projecting). Another plan gone haywire. This just reaffirms the realization that I should stop planning. Stop planning work. Stop planning holidays. Stop planning life. Just stop.

It has been an eventful month. A month where bodies fell apart. Where I sought care and cared for someone. Nothing new for me. The same old feeling of being in a house full of illness. The same old paranoia. The first week I was in Bengaluru, I had covid, again. This was my fourth or fifth time. Mild symptoms but do you know what is the most unnerving thing about even mild infections of covid for me. I get Nightmares. Actual ones. Nightmares of being humiliated, of losing grip over myself, that end in a lingering inability to breathe. I am not the nightmare kind of guy. I use up all of that content during day time, for processing all forms of trauma through open eyed dreams. So any nightmare, outside the purview of consciousness is a scary idea. Even after hallucinating for seven straight days during delta, I am definitely not used to it. Fucks me up completely.

And just when I was well again, it was time for my brother to fall ill. High fever. Very high fever. Shivering. Was it Typhoid? Was it Viral? It must be. Everyone was getting it. This must be viral. First day. Fever 103. Second day. Fever 104. My google search history turned into a morbid soap opera, with each episode darker than the one before. Blood test. Urine test. Dengue test. Third day morning. Fever 104.4. It must be viral. First report comes in. The blood work looks alright. Second report comes in. It's Dengue. Dengue when it's so fucking hot. What is wrong with the mosquitos of this city. And what is wrong with this city. I had no time to get angry though. There was a lot to be done. And I was ready for that.

Generally, I hate capitalism. It makes us look so small. All the time. It is also the only thing which helps me survive. Order medicines. It is delivered within two hours. Order essential groceries. Within fifteen. Order a blood test. Next morning. Order ghee podi idli early in the morning. Order Shawarma in the evening. Order ice creams at night. Order Order Order. Order everything till you start feeling bad about yourself. And things you don't need. Things you order because you can order them.

The only time it got scary was when there was a possibility that I had to take my brother to a hospital. Many of the houses in Bengaluru have slopes for some reason. Very steep slopes. And my legs are definitely not suitable for them. My fragile legs, ready to fall apart. But then, these are the moments when it really hits you. The idea of being a disabled person in a strange city. The inability to walk to a nearby medical shop. The failings of the physical self. Half projected through society, the other half your internal reflection. A familiar sense of victimhood returns, and you embrace it with all your strength. Oh, damn you, disability!

In the two weeks that followed, I cursed my body several times, hated it and hoped something was changing. What I didn't do was to thank my body for taking it all and still standing up. All the sleeplessness and erratic eating, and stress. It absorbed everything and still gave me something tender to work with. In that sense, the body made sure that the physical part of caring was easy to deal with. The emotional part, that was a different story. How can you assure your parents, relatives and other people that everything is alright? That you will do everything that is needed. Soothe all the nerves. Calm the anxiety. But you are a cripple, aren't you? Yes yes. I am a cripple. And as a cripple, let me tell you that we are the best prepared people to care for others. We know how to receive care and give it back. We know how to live through diseases when everyone gives up on us. We have lived through it all. And we are still here. I am still here. And I am far more stronger than you. I am, even if you are scared to acknowledge it. This is my domain. My world. I know how to navigate it. When will you understand?

In between all the caring, physical and emotional, Bengaluru also decided to mend its way. From the scorching heat early April, late April had its fair share of cloudy days. The cloudy sky had me singing a lullaby. The city seemed beautiful again. The incomplete bridge seemed at peace. I started noticing flowers on a tree. And I felt better. Brother's health improved. My sleep came back. I was still a stranger but a stranger looking for a home in the city.

(ID: A photo of the city from the balcony of my brother's house)

Finding a home / Abhishek Anicca

The sun filters through the window mesh of an unknown room in a city that seems far from home, overwhelming all my senses with the idea of a morning heavy with the residue of unkempt nightmares from the night before, did you sleep peacefully, yes, maybe, no, yes

My mind wanders to the imagined smell of ghee podi idli and filter coffee and when I open my phone to order I am no longer hungry for idli or filter coffee, I am not hungry but I will eat and feel satiated, for those who can't find a home have to work even harder to find an imaginary home in the safe corners of their mouth, navigated through the tongue, a home that will give them shelter, save them from drifting into a tragedy hidden in plain sight

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May 10, 2023

Very well written Abhishek. Straight from the heart


May 10, 2023

These words have so much power. They are luminous. Shining a light for others to recognize a path in their own dark forest. “Yes yes. I am a cripple. And as a cripple, let me tell you that we are the best prepared people to care for others. We know how to receive care and give it back. We know how to live through diseases when everyone gives up on us. We have lived through it all. And we are still here. I am still here.”

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