But Juhi was not going to let Aryan die. If he died, she would die with him.
The days blended into one long, endless round of drudgery. Juhi was up at six o’clock in the morning.
First, she would clean Aryan. He was totally incontinent. Even though he wore a catheter and a diaper, he would befoul himself during the nights and the bed clothes would sometimes have to be changed, as well as Aryan’s pyjamas.
The stench in the bedroom was unbearable, even for shit-eaters swines. Juhi would clean faeces and urine from Aryan’s body. Powder him, shave him and comb his hair.
“There, you look beautiful. Your fans are waiting outside. And they will see you soon.”
In the middle of the night, she would be awake- ned by the noisome stench of Aryan’s bowel movement in bed. She would change his clothes, bed sheet and clean him. By then it would be time to start fixing his breakfast and begin another day.
And another. In an endless march of days. Each day Juhi pushed Aryan a little harder, a little further.
Her nerves were so frayed that, if she felt Aryan was not trying, she would slap him across the face.
“We’re gonna beat them,” she said fiercely. You are going to get well.”
Juhi’s body was exhausted from the punishing routine she was putting herself through, but when she lay down at night, sleep eluded her.
Two hours later, it would all over again. It was as though she and Aryan were the lone survivors of some long forgotten holocaust. Her world had shrunk to the dimensions of this house, these rooms, this man.
She drove herself relentles- sly from dawn until past mid night. She got a walker for Aryan and fastened his
fingures around it and moved his legs, holding him up, trying to show him the motions, walking him back and forth across the room until she was asleep on her feet, not knowing any longer where or who she was, or what she was doing.
Then, one day, the
Magician knew that it had come to an end.
She had been up with Aryan half the nightand had finally gone into her own bedroom, where she had fallen into a dazed slumber just before dawn.
When Juhi awakened, the sun was high in the sky. She had slept long past noon. Aryan had not been fed or bathed or changed. He was laying in his bed, helpless, waiting for her, probably panicky.
Juhi started to rise and found that she could not move. She was filled with such a bottomless, bone-deep weariness that her exhaus- ted body would no longer obey her.
She lay there, helpless, knowing that she lost, that it had all been washed, all the days and nights of hell, the months of agony, none of it had meant anything.
Her body had betrayed her, as Aryan’s had betrayed her.
Juhi had no stren- gth left to give him anymore, and it made her want to weep. It was finished.
She heard a sound at her bedroom door and she raised her eyes.
He was trying to say Juhi. She began to cry uncontrolably, and she could not stop.
to be cont’d. . .