क्या हो रहा है? क्या हो रहा है?
दिल में चोट? पेट में दर्द?
Her name is Sunia. I don't know this yet. We haven't spoken yet, so she does not realise I can understand her words. I let her Hindi-Urdu wash over me in cool streams of green.
"What is happening? Does your heart hurt? Your stomach?"
क्या हो रहा है? मुझे कह दो? क्या सोच रहे हो?
"What are you thinking? Will you tell me?"
Her husband says not a word. And I know she does not really require a response. I know she is really saying, "Beloved. My beloved. I am here."
Her name is Sunia. It means 'one who listens'. She is beautiful. She is younger than me and anxiety has erased her smile. She leaves for a while. Her husband gets on with his chemo. She returns, with two little boys. I smile at her. She relaxes, walks over, and I give every ounce of my joy and spirit and Addenbrooke's knowledge until she looks young again. I tell her I know her doctor. I trust him. I know a cure for anti-sickness. A home remedy that makes her laugh. I know too, that her husband is brave, for saying nothing, only turning a little green and a little yellow now and again.
When I am in hospital, I don't watch the other patients. I talk to them, but I watch the relatives. The Sunias. The listeners. Even when the patients say nothing, the listeners are listening; for the slightest hitch, to the breath beyond words, to the heart of the one who is suffering.
दिल में दुख है? Is there pain in your heart?
Beloved, I am here.
Sunia is Pakistani. She looks like Freida Pinto, the Indian actress from Slumdog Millionaire, who plays Miral in a film about Palestine, chosen because she looks like Rula Jebreal, the Palestinian author of the novel and screenplay. The director of the film is Jewish-American Julian Schnabel, who, listening to Rula's story, fell in love with her. Everyday we see faces that remind us of others, of the interconnections, of politics and pain. And then we have a conversation. And the complexities fall away. For a while, only a single language exists. The language of the heart.