The table-lamp cast a gloomy light in the room. Instead of being a source of warmth and comfort, it served more to amplify and emphasize the overarching dominion of darkness and shadows inside the room. A most fearsome combination this- light and darkness scheming hand in glove to further a common agenda; that of fortifying and strengthening the doom and gloom of the room.
A homeopathic kit, strips of capsules, a thermometer, blood pressure meter, syrup bottle with a narrow mouth and ungainly wide base, thick brown glasses and a tissue roll, all sit illuminated under the direct glow of the bulb; alert and upright waiting to be summoned at the slightest gesture from their master. Two pale chairs, seated cozily against the table in the middle of the room, gaze solemnly at the lackluster white wall, trying hard to figure out the reason of their existence. This table, of a darker shade of brown, broader, thicker and brooder than the other with the table lamp, is topped with a dull glass and carries a bottle- half empty, two glass tumblers, a pair of hearing aid, torn tissues, an old mobile handset, and small bottles of Ayurvedic medicine. Two other small tables placed against one of the walls heave large voluminous passenger bags.
The curtains, spread firmly against the whole of the window, block the continuous attempts of the sun to instill the time- dimension in the room. The frozen hands of the wall clock and the broken table clock have become memorials of the defeat of time in the relentless war waged against it by the master of the room.
That man, the master of the room- tall and frail, in late 80s- lays buried under layers of clothing and a thick blanket on a single bed in a corner of the room. The body turns and twists with amazing punctuality. After, what may be an eternity or no time at all- for nothing in this room contains any clues about the passage of time- a face, warped and wrinkled, emerges from beneath the blanket and a harsh ringing cry fills the environs. Next moment, a boy has appeared at the door to answer the call. The old man shouts some order and collapses under the strain even before the boy shuts the door to block the intrusion of time. Lunch is served in no time.
The old man fumbles out of the web of blankets and somehow drags his body onto the chair. With cruel disdain, he observes the general scheme of things- the bowls and platters are set on the folding table always in the same manner- two small bowls with vegetable and rice and another with curry. After much hesitation, the man finally starts. Like an ancient machine pressed into action, the bones creek with every movement, the teeth chatter violently, as if in protest and the muscles flail uncontrollably. Somehow, the food trickles down the mouth. By the time he has had anything substantial, the last ounces of energy have escaped him.
Anyhow, the old man hauls himself up again, the legs drag, shoulders bow and hands strike helplessly, but he struggles his way back to bed. Day in, day out, week after week, the same process is repeated without fail or flaw- like a song set on repeat mode in a music player.
The old man has held his own against time- the room stays dull, the sun makes no breakthroughs, the clocks lay redundant. Here is the man who has petrified time- becoming in its wake both the victor and the victim.