I am lying in my sickbed dying of consumption. Or that’s what it feels like. I saw Bright Star yesterday and I think John Keats had nothing on this. Ok, there’s not blood. Yet. But I lean up to hack up sputum and then collapse backwards onto the bed one arm flung out. I just need a billowing white shirt and my consumptive look would be complete. This blogpost is my ode to a nightingale. Ode on an Indian Urn.
Then Alula comes in, climbs on the bed, pokes me in the boob and says ‘mummy your boobies are getting smaller.’ Because what I need when I feel this ill is a small truth-telling child analysing my anatomy.
In my fever(ish) state I start imagining things. For some reason I start imagining that I have a bedside table. It can’t be Alex Skarsgard. It has to be a bedside table. This fever sucks. I want my money back. I start to imagine a beside lamp. Not this fluorescent one that burns my eyeballs and that cuts out so much that Alula now doesn’t even notice just keeps on talking about my small boobs whilst we sit in the pitch dark. I long for these things. I long for them more than Keats longed for Fanny Brawne.
It’s when you’re ill that you miss the luxuries. A bath, a dimmer light, sheets that are crisp and cool and sand-free, a bedside table on which to pile drugs, a tv remote that renders me one push away from Fizz and Molly and Steve and Becky, carpet, hot water, running water I can drink from the tap, a pair of pants that isn’t one of the five, a bra that fits. For god’s sake I’m not even talking luxuries anymore. I’m talking basics.
But mostly I want drawers. And cupboards. I’m not sure why but I find myself agonising over the fact I have no drawers. I miss my laundry cupboard stocked with clean towels and linen. I don’t miss having to make them clean myself though. I miss my wardrobe. I am sick of rooting on the floor and the chairs for clothes. Clothes that have sand ingrained into every stitch. I miss my under the sink cupboard stocked with cif and bleach and things I have forgotten the names of. I miss clean.
My decaying lungs are like the metaphor for how dirty I am. Beat that Keats. I am dirty. Not in that way. I mean filthy. Not in that way. I mean sand, dirt, grease, sweat, filth. It’s everywhere. You sweep it and it comes back meaner, harder, like John McLane. You breathe it in every breath – dust, sand, fumes, pollution. You walk in it – dogshit, cowshit, cockroach shit. You eat it too some of the time (bad, bad food is to be had here more often than you think). It feels like I’d need ten colonics and fifty hours in a Turkish bath with a loofah and an industrial bottle of cif before I ever get clean again. I could put my drying pants inside the house to achieve the Turkish Bath but there is no loofah. There is no cif.
There is no clean in India. So I’m dying of consumption.