(This story by Dr. Nazneen Ali, is inspired by her experience as a Junior Resident, in a private hospital in Kerala. It is loosely based on a 70 yrs old patient, who was diagnosed with dementia. She was unable to remember her own children and would often repeat the same words and sentences. Despite all this she would remember and sing entire songs from old movies, without missing a single word or tune. Singing and listening to music had always been her fond hobby and it surprised everyone how easily and beautifully she sang despite the dementia).
BUBBLE WRAPPED MEMORIES
– Dr. Nazneen Ali
I’m sitting on my couch with bubble wrap in one hand and a mosquito bat in the other. ‘POP’- the electrically fried mosquitos irk to this hemispherical plastic destruction. But this is nirvana to my ears, each bubble is a face I cant remember, they are those places that fade away like a mirage, they are the flickering memories that come and go.
I can sense a mosquito halo around my head and as the halo breaks into a single grey little malaria causing clump in front of my face, I can see a young man whose been staring at me from the other corner with dark circled bags full of remorse under his eyes. ‘MOM’ he says with a stern 25ish tone. I smile back at this face that was very similar to someone’s I once fell in love with, in this case his father’s probably. But what was his name damn it?
‘POP’ today I just love bubble wrap though. I think I always have. I love how it’s filled with just air; just imagine if it were filled with water instead. I despise water, it reminds me of the tears these strangers shed in front of me, the sympathy that I get for this disease I have. The disease I can’t remember the disease that doesn’t let me remember.
Mom do you want me to read to you tonight? My supposedly son asks me. Stranger or son I don’t think I’m programmed to say no to anyone reading to me especially when its Maya Angelou. He reads the one ‘on ageing’-
‘But aint I lucky I can still breathe in’ we both end in unison and as I look down my bubble wrap is wet. I told you, I hate this salty fluid rolling down my face.
‘Can I give you a hug mom?’ he asked and I nodded yes. Strangely it felt like something I knew, something I remembered, and something so pure. And ‘POP ‘ went the last one on the sheet.
– Maya Angelou
(The story is an attempt to peep into the minds of such patients, what they must be feeling emotionally, although in reality it maybe a lot more complex than this account, for the human mind will always be a mystery to us. It is a reminder to the younger generations that even if your parents or anyone elderly in the family may be suffering from this dreadful disease, to never give up hope and to stay by them because they may still have not forgotten how to love).