Lesson In The Body Bags

“The only problems that cannot be solved are imaginary.”

“Or you are dead.”

“What?”

“No problem can be solved if you are dead. Not for you anyway.”

“That is morbid.”

“I spent my days in this morgue, bagging bodies and stacking them in drawers. What do you expect?”

“I expect you to step out more, spend time with the living. You have been spending way too much time with the dead.”

“I step out enough. And I think the living need to step in here a little more. They might encounter lessons that people died learning.”

“I am glad you look around and see lessons. All I see is a whole lot of dead.”

“I prefer it. Dead don’t fuss. They are uncomplicated. They are never a part of the problem. It is always the ones who are alive.”

“Or the ones we want to be alive.”

“Who?”

“The ones that we want to bring into this world.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“I was pregnant.”

“Wow! Congratulations…why didn’t you…wait…was?”

“I had a miscarriage.”

“Oh dear!”

“You know I used to be an athlete in school.”

“What? Erm…Yes. I remember. You were a sprint champion.”

“Before every race, I used to pray for the first spot. But never the second. If I couldn’t be the first, I preferred not being in the top three. Do you know why?”

“Because you were an over competitive perfectionist?”

“Because, being second meant that I almost got the first spot. But I didn’t. Not having something you really desire is painful. Almost having it…is excruciating.”

“Oh, Misha! I am so, so sorry.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

“So, what now? Are you trying again?”

“As long as there are test tubes in this Universe, I am going to keep trying again.”

“Test tubes?”

“Test tube baby is such a misnomer, don’t you think? I always used to picture a tiny little test tube with an adorable baby’s face sticking out of it.”

“I think that particular image is a little creepy.”

“Maybe. But it makes everything seem so simple. You almost believe that it is going to be that easy. Throw some ingredients in, give it a shake and voila, you will have your baby! But it is never that simple. Is it?”

“Nothing worthwhile is.”

“Is it? Is it really worthwhile? All the horrors. The humiliation. The despair. The endless frustration. And the pain — relentless torment round after round after round. And for what? For a baby. For a god damn baby!”

“But you want that baby, don’t you?”

“I do. I really do. But I am so tired. So done. Sometimes, all I want to do is to just stop.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Because I want a baby.”

“That has nothing to do with you deciding to stop.”

“I don’t think you know what you are talking about. I can’t stop. There is no choice.”

“Look around. There is a body in every drawer. It is stuffy and very cold. They don’t have a choice. You, on the other hand, still have one.”

“You are oversimplifying things. This is not a zero sum game. And your body bags don’t have all the answers.”

“Oh but they do. You have to ask the right questions.”

“Fine. Ask them if there is an alternative.”

“There always is.”

“Like what? Buy a couple of babies off the shelf.”

“I can connect you to some good adoption agencies.”

“You think buying things off the shelf is a valid analogy for adoption?”

“No. I think it is a terrible metaphor. A little distasteful too. But, it serves the purpose.”

“You are disgusting. I don’t know why I even bother talking to you.”

“Because I make sense?”

“No you don’t.”

“You are traumatized. Scared. And from what I understand, have been through a whole lot of pain. I am offering you a viable alternative where you can stop all this and still get what you want. Why are you against the idea?”

“It is not that simple. It is not the same.”

“Because an adopted baby will come with an extra pair of ears. Come on! A baby is a baby.”

“It is not. Well, it is…but it is not the same as my own…

“Your own? Goodness, such vanity.”

“You know what? This was a mistake. This conversation should have never happened.”

“Do you know how many years I have spent working at a morgue?”

“What?”

“15 years. I have been bagging the dead for 15 years. First year at this job, I almost quit. Thrice. I couldn’t take it. The men, the women, the kids. I looked at their cold, dead faces and I wondered about the kind of life they had led; their history on this planet; all the things they had experienced and all the things they would never experience again. It was terrible. Every corpse that landed in my morgue was a fresh assault on my soul. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to give up. But then, I didn’t. Do you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because I realized that the bodies were not people. People were gone, their histories rendered irrelevant. There was nothing left of them. Not even a shadow. The body was just a discarded left over. It held no meaning. It was nothing more than a disposable piece of flesh. And I needed to treat it as such. That was the only way I could preserve my sanity…my humanity.”

“I am sure there is a point somewhere in here.”

“Don’t you get it? Ownership is an illusion. You own nothing. Not even your own body. It is temporary. Transient. You can’t own anything. You don’t own anything. Least of all, another human being…even if it is your own baby. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. In the end, it is just the body bags.”

“It is always the body bags with you, isn’t it?”

“You can blame my enhanced sense of self awareness.”

“Of course. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make a call.”

“To an adoption agency?”

“No. My IVF clinic. I need to fix another appointment.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You were right. You body bags do have some answers.”

“Well, they can be pretty enlightening.”

“The point is, for the past few months, I have been wondering if the reason why there is no solution in sight is because my problems are imaginary. That may be everything that I think matters is irrelevant and I am chasing it because it gives me an excuse to escape my own shortcomings.”

“Not being able to have a baby is not your fault.”

“It is not. That is what I am supposed to believe. But it is tough. It has been tough. And there has been this increasing sense of overwhelming pointlessness. Like nothing matters. Just like you said, in the end, it is just the body bags.”

“I am not sure if you are looking at it the right way.”

“Oh, trust me, I am. I finally am. Maybe ownership is an illusion. And maybe the things I am chasing are not going to matter anyway. But, my struggle is not about ownership. Or even relevance. It is about something I want to have in this life. It may be selfish and short sighted. But I have only one life. And in the end, when it is my time to get into one of those body bags, I want to know that I tried. I tried my best.”

“What if you fail? What if, despite everything, this doesn’t work? You might have to stop. You will need to stop.”

“Then I will stop. But, I will stop with the knowledge that I tried. And besides, I would still have your body bags. I can always come back. For another lesson. And may be a phone call to one of those adoption agencies.”

“That’s my girl. As I said, till the point of time we get you packed in one of these bags, you will always find a solution. You will always have a choice.”

“I still think you are way too morbid.”

“Sometimes morbid is the only kind that makes sense, doesn’t it?”

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