Thursday, 29 November 2018

Seeing the Light


by Lynn Clement

Darjeeling 

 Della James tried to open her eyes. It was hard, she was groggy. She heard whirring and clinking in the room. She was afraid. There was a pain in the back of her head; it felt like she had been coshed. She lay still, wondering what she should do. There was a lot of movement around her. One of them touched her arm, but she didn’t move a muscle. She could taste the salt on her top lip. More clinking and whirring. Her heart pounded. She wanted to move her hands, remove the blindfold, and find out what they looked like. One of them touched her again; she felt their hot breath on her face and she recoiled.
Della always thought she was not a racist, but she didn’t approve of her country being overrun with foreigners. It will all end in tears; she’d say when her daughter chided her for objecting to Britain’s immigration policy. You mark my words, they’ll take all our houses and jobs, she used to say. She’d say so in the supermarket and the café and the shop queue if needed. She was polite but always stuck to her guns. There was a time her daughter didn’t talk to her. Della wondered what she would be thinking now. She stiffened as she heard the sound of scissors being tested, opening and closing near her ears. Her mouth was dry, her palms were wet. The blindfold fell away from her head.
In his clipped English accent acquired at Cambridge University, Rakesh Sharma said; ‘Ok Mrs James, open your eyes please, slowly at first.’ Della James did as she was instructed.
‘Can you see the light?’
Della smiled. ‘Yes, I can,’ she said. As she fully opened her cataract-free eyes, she saw his warm brown eyes, framed between a thatch of jet black hair and a surgical mask.
‘You are happy to have come to India for surgery,’ he said.
‘Oh yes I am indeed,’ replied Della James.

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