I went up to her and stayed near her for sometime. She didn’t seem to know where she was; her form had distorted. She had become someone else, I thought. I looked into her eyes from time to time. She gave no sign of any recognition. There was an air of arrogance and violence about her. She would talk to anyone. Physically, she had lost close to half her weight. The color of skin had turned to the color of certain decaying substance. She at once looked horrible, frightening and, at closer inspection, dying. She invited no pity though. I was surprised at the sight. I did not know how I could help her but to try and get her memory back; to talk to her into normality. But it was an impossibility. She had completely become someone else. She was examined for long periods of time; all sorts of medication was inserted into her. She just refused to react to any of it. She kept decaying.

“She has caught it from some place real wicked”,her father said, thoughtfully.
“I haven’t seen anything like this before.”
“I don’t know how much time is left”.
“This would end. I think she’ll survive it. She would come out of it," I said, without any conviction. I had no hope of she coming out of anywhere. She, the woman I admired so much, was dying. She wasn’t dying as herself, which was really upsetting. I hadn't seen something like this ever before. I had heard of it. I did not know the details. I could not connect with the circumstance. It was upsetting, to be an inconsequential spectator, and having to play out a bitter part. Aware of the pain around me, I tried to offer some respite by doing certain physical tasks. She was constantly surrounded by people, some just performing the social ritual. Some didn't want to be there. Looking at them, it seemed we were waiting for her to die, and relieve us of the trouble.

She would randomly talk. The illness had been for a few weeks, which had sucked her energies; so physically she had got a little quieter. The violence in her had subsided, replaced by paranoia. She would stare at a single object for hours; and of course, she refused to eat. When I saw her, she felt someone else. I knew she existed in memory alone.

The news of her passing away came when I was reading something one day. It evoked no reaction in me. If anything, it could have been relieving. I thought of her. How animatedly and fearlessly she would climb the stage for attention and start speaking into the mike. Her charm, her wit, her intelligence were now gone with her. They were all gone before she had died. Sadness engulfed me a few days later, and I stayed alone for a long time that day. Life, it is, then.


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