She was there, seated on a plastic chair and waiting patiently for her named to be called. The familiar Phenyl smell was making her stomach rock and role. She covered her nose with a tissue and grumbled when she saw the queue. When she didn’t know what else to do she started to study the pattern on the floor, her favorite game to kill the time. She liked those old marbles where small tiny different shapes cubes were displayed in a big square with light yellow background. She wondered why they don’t use such kind of marbles anymore. She always felt homely when saw those old marbles. It was nice, something to watch and search unlike those new plane square, single color marbles. So boring she thought. Sudden ambulance siren caught her attention and automatically her eyes moved towards the emergency room. With a curious crowd gathered around to see the patient and his condition she just wondered what status the patient will be in. When she couldn’t see the patient, she climbed the chair like Zacchaeus who climbed the tree to see Jesus. When a familiar nurse came and told her to get down from the chair she smiled and assured them as soon as she saw the patient she will get down from the chair. It’s not that she is crazy; it’s just that she believed in solving her curiosity then and there. With nurse shouting at her and her politely convincing the nurse, ward guys brought in the new patient. As she was occupied by the nurse, she just had the glimpse of the patient. That terrific glimpse was enough for her to have nightmares for days. 25 to 26 year old guy, who was unconscious, bloody clothes, face, blood was everywhere. Some part of his body was bleeding, as the blood was everywhere she couldn’t make out which part of his body is badly injured. When she saw his legs twisted, she thanked God for guy’s unconsciousness to feel the pain. She was so lost in observing the patient; she didn’t realize that her name has been called. When the nurse arrived and said “at least now get down from the chair, Melissa”. She giggled and got down from the chair. She wiped the spot where she was standing on a chair with the tissue and said “Sorry darling, it won’t happen again” to the nurse and walked in to meet the waiting doctor.
Slowly he opened his eyes to see unfamiliar roof. He closed his eyes and opened them again, hoping to see something familiar. But when he couldn’t see the familiar roofing of his room, he tried to move. Killing pain in his knee made him stay still; Even though he was drowsy and his eyelids were closing he didn’t give up. Slowly he turned his head towards his left and saw an old man coughing continuously. Death would have been sweeter than old age, he thought. Then he turned towards his right to see a middle aged lady breathing with support of pipes. He wondered what kind of disease, she is suffering from. Then he realized he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing in ICU. He touched his head with his arm and realized there is big bandage on his head. He lifted his arms so that he can see them and was happy to see them wrapped in Plaster of Paris, at least he had them! Even though it was hurting with all his will he tried to move his leg. He let it go of his breath when he felt his right leg. With heart in his mouth, jaw clenched, he tried to touch his left leg. The terrible pain in the knee was the first doubt which caught his attention. With fingers crossed and remembering all the god’s names, he extended his hand again to make sure his left was there where it used to be. When he couldn’t feel anything below his knee, he shouted, he shouted so loudly, he cried, “NO!!! This couldn’t be happening, hell no, not my leg…… I can’t live like this……” He was shouting so loudly he was successful to grab other patient’s attention. Patients who were conscious just looked at him with pity and unconscious patient didn’t even bother to wake up from their sleep to see the reason for the guy’s misery. Then he remembered the accident, the terrible accident. He was in sinful speed and was overtaking a car when the bus from opposite side came and hit his bike. It was a head on collision. When he had seen the bus coming on to him, he had felt that death was his destiny. Then he saw some doctors approaching him from his bed Doctors said “Be strong Samuel, thank God you are still alive, your parents on their way to Mangalore”. The guy said “Thank god, for becoming a cripple? Useless?” How I wish I had died in that accident. My parents, they know that their son can’t walk on his own I didn’t want to live like this, I don’t want to live” saying that again he started crying loudly. To ease his pain and to save another patient from seeing his misery doctor gave him an injection and guy drifted to sleep.
She was walking, slowly without making noise in the general ward. Her eyes were searching the guy everywhere. Thomas, a patient she knew saw her and asked “What are you doing in this freaking hospital today, pumpkin? You came to see your old man? Come give me a peck and go”. She said “Bit busy Thomas, will give that peck on Sunday, till then have some patience”. Thomas smiled and said “so you searching for that young lad, who lost his leg?” Her ears got alert, she walked towards Thomas gave her best smile and said “so you know where he is?” Thomas pointed his cheek with his forefinger and said “first this and then I’ll give you whereabouts of that cry baby. She gave him a peck on his cheek and said “now tell me!” Thomas giggled and said “he is in the big fancy room, sad thing they have to let go of his leg. Sometimes he cries, yells and shouts saying something so we call him cry baby. Anyways don’t give peck to that young lad; it’s not good for him”. Saying that he winked at her and said “go now, let the old man sleep. Take care Meli”. She said “sleep well Thomas; will see you on Sunday, saying that she started to walk towards the room where the young guy was put up. She knocked on the door twice, when nobody answered she pushed and the door and walked in slowly. There he was sleeping like a baby. She walked towards his bed and stood there watching him. His arm was fractured and his head was wrapped with a big bandage. His left leg was amputated below his knee and she felt the pain of the young guy. She knew it wouldn’t be easy for him to accept that he can’t walk and run like before. But still he has a wonderful life to live. She stood there watching him, wondering how the guy is taking this new situation. He looked around 25; his face was full of scary scars. Slowly she touched his cheek with the back of her hand. The guy slowly opened his eyes and was startled to see a young gal standing and watching him.
Him & Her
When he realized she is a total stranger, he asked “are you a thief? What are you doing in my room? There’s nothing to steal other than my remaining leg!!?” The sarcasm was enough for her to realize he is having a tough time taking in the news that he has only one leg now. She moved to the extra bed, threw her sling bag on the bed and sat there “So the cry baby speaks? Wow, I thought he knew only to cry!!” He said “Cry baby!! How dare you call me that? Who the hell are you? And what are you doing in my room?” She interrupted him in between and said “how dare me? Everyone calls you by that name, the sexy nurses, doctors, other patients, and so no big deal. When somebody cries whole day telling how he wants to die people do notice such weirdoes. Anyways, who is babysitting you in the hospital? Are you all alone? ”
He looked at her angrily and said “I am not a baby to keep eye on me, I am a grown up, I can take care of myself. I am just crippled that’s all”. She smiled and said “wow! You got a sharp tongue there cry baby. Where is your mom?” He swore and said “Why I should tell you? Who are you again? Dare you call me CRY baby!!
She looked at him seriously for a second and burst out laughing saying “Dare!!?? Hahahha cry baby, cry baby….. Should I continue?” The guy said “Are you from adjacent mental hospital? Did you escape from your ward or something?”
She looked at his eyes and walked towards him and said “Crazy!! Yes, I am crazy. What’s life without a little bit craziness!! She took a deep breath and said “Whatever you say Sam, all call you cry baby. Anyways, I am hungry, you have anything to eat? I didn’t have my breakfast and it’s already 11.30”.
He gave her a weird look and said “Get out of my room, before I ring the bell, get lost!!” She giggled, looking at him and said “Did I stamp on your tail tiger? May be some fruits might be there in the cupboard” saying that she opened the cupboard and started searching.
“Why can’t you people just leave me in peace? Nuns, priests, some pathetic strangers come to see me. They stand, watch and pity my condition. Bible phrases, thank god you are still alive and give some lame example. I know back of their head they say “Poor thing, crippled will be burdened to his parents”. I don’t want their cursed pity; I don’t want anything, why can’t they let me die in peace”.
She sat on his bed looked at him and laughed loud and said “You care what people think, seriously? What’s with your head? Why it bothers you what people think? People are just doing their business; talk, gossip. Don’t let them get into you.” She wiped his tears with the tissue from the table and said “Such a cry baby!!” He held her hand pulled her close so that he can see her face more clearly. As she was not prepared for this she lost her balance and almost fell on him. With her hands, she was trying to save herself from falling on him completely. With his breath on her face and eyes scanning her whole face, she was wondering what he is going to do next, even though she was scared she didn’t move. The pulse on his cheek was a raw sign of his anger. Before she could move back he slapped her across the face and said “I told you not to call me that. Now get out of here.” She smiled, looking at him and said “If you feel good slapping me then go ahead my other cheek is waiting”. He hid a surprise listening to her, pushed her back and said “just go, I don’t want to see you and any of your kind”. She touched her redden cheek and said “It hurts; nobody can tell that you are a patient”. She picked her bag from the bed put it across her neck sideways and said “Nice meeting you Samuel, see you soon”. Saying this, she kissed him on his cheek and walked out of his room. If her reaction left him with confusion, then the kiss that followed confirmed she is craziest woman he ever met.
His eyes were on roof while his mind was analyzing the events that just happened. It’s been quite some time since he shifted to this room. He had seen nuns, priest, total strangers visiting him and talking to him with pity and sympathy. But this gal was different, there was something about her made him fight and chase her out. He didn’t see sympathy or pity in her eyes, instead her eyes seems to understand his pain. She was around 23 and weird. With lean body and 5.4 feet, she looked pretty with her glasses on. Smart or not she was crazy. He smiled, thinking about the peck on his cheek.
He was feeling guilty as he had slapped her, but he couldn’t help himself. When he looked at her so closely all he wanted to do was hug her and cry, tell her the pain he is going through, tell her about the demons he is fighting with, tell her about his suicidal thought. But instead he slapped her; he wanted her to go because he did not want people to see him breaking down. He knew the nurses and doctors call him cry baby behind his back, but never in front of him. But this gal had called him cry baby in spite of knowing his name. He punched at the bed with frustration. He looked at his amputated leg and swore. Every time he closed his eyes, her face came back floating in front of his eyes. He hadn’t lost his calm since his mother arrived from the gulf. He didn’t want her to worry about him. When she was not around, his tears found their way down the cheek, no matter how hard he tried at the end he lost his battle over tears and pain.
Even though her cheek hurt she walked with head high. Her heart was beating fast and was dancing to its own tune. When he had looked at her so closely with intense eyes, she was stoned, she couldn’t move even though she wanted to. He had surprised her by slapping. She smiled and touched her cheek and said “guy got the guts to slap me and he’s crazy like me. I like that”. She started to whistle slowly forgetting it’s a hospital. It’s then a nurse stopped her. She was happy to see the same nurse; she had met a few days back. She said “Sorry darling won’t repeat it. Anyways, how you are doing?” The nurse looked at her and said “good, how you doing Melissa? What you do here on weekdays?” She gave her one of the best smile and said “just came to see how my darling is doing”. The nurse walked away smiling. She stopped, turned towards her and said “see you on Sunday”.
Sunday: Him and Her
She was walking towards the general ward when her eyes fell on Thomas, who was seated on a bench outside. In his same old clean clothes he looked happy. With his jovial nature everybody loved this old man’s company. When he saw her, his face lit up like 100W bulb he said “Hey there pretty gal, how you doing? Came to see your old man?” She walked towards him, gave him a flower, then a tight hug, kissed on his cheek and said “terrific Thomas, how are you? Anyways whom are you waiting here? That’s pretty old nurse on whom you had crush? Old man winked at her and said “Was waiting for you, I want to meet your young lad, take me with you“. She helped him to stand and said “You don’t like reckless youth, what made you visit this fella?” Thomas held her shoulder for support while walking and said “Just want to see your taste.” He winked at her. As they were walking he said “There’s a sad news honey, Imama left us yesterday morning, he went in his sleep, Couldn’t get time to say farewell. Guess what, he must be enjoying with Raj and Madhu, those buggers must be partying in there”. He pointed out his finger towards the roof indicating heaven. She kissed him on his cheek again and said “Chill Thomas, until I am here, we party here, and we will make them jealous”.
She stopped in front of the door and said “We are here, behave yourself, cry baby is still recovering, you have a sharp tongue“. He winked at her and said “You know me, I talk less.”
She knocked at the door twice. When a lady opened the door, she thought it must be Sam’s mother. Dark circle under her eyes were the proof of her sleepless nights. Thomas whispered in her ears, “You didn’t tell me that cry baby’s mom was babysitting him!” She shushed Thomas and wished Sam’s mother and walked in with old man followed by Sam’s mother.
As soon as they entered Sam automatically turned to see the visitor. There was a spark in his eyes when he recognized his visitor, which was difficult to miss. Thomas winked at her and said “What did you do? Kissed him on his lips? The guy likes you.” She gave a serious look at Thomas and turned towards him.
She said “waass up, how are you doing?” He chuckled and said “You came back again? Don’t you have shame? This time you bought your grandfather with you!” he said, eyeing Thomas. Thomas said “Correction cry baby, I am her friend, you see, pal. Anyways, I am Thomas.” Saying this, Thomas sat on the adjacent bed.
She slowly took out the flowers she bought and gave to him. He looked at her and then back at the flowers and said “What for? I am still alive.” Thomas said “She bought it in advance for your fune…” She interrupted him and said “Thomas, mind your tongue”. The old man said “I am not going to sit here listening to arrogant talk. I am going back”. Saying this, he looked at Sam’s mother and said “Can you please take me back to my ward.”
She stood there watching Thomas leave with Sam’s mother. She put the flowers in a glass jar, filled it with water and said “Your tongue is sharp which means you are doing well”. He said “You came back for your next slap on your pretty cheek?” She stood near his bed so that’s easily he can reach her and pointed out her cheek and said “Here I am, go ahead, if it helps then be my guest”.
He made an angry sound in his throat and said “Crazy lady, don’t make me do things which I regret later.” She smiled at him and said “So cry baby you regret slapping me?” He lowered his voice and said “I am sorry, I never hit ladies, and it’s just… I don’t know I just lost my calm.” She winked at him and said “Cry baby is apologizing! Hard to believe; Anyways, would you like to have a tour? He looked at her with a question mark on his face. She said “You know I could show you around the hospital. “
After 30 minutes she was taking him around the hospital on wheel chair. She was talking to him and he was all silent as if her voice didn’t reach his ears. He was thinking his life never going to be same. The way his girlfriend avoided talking to him, he knew even his friends will leave him soon. He is crippled now and dependent. He can neither ride his bike nor drive the car and take them on long drives, who want to have such a friend!!!. He looked at her, she was smiling at someone, she looked happy. He thought maybe she doesn’t have a clue how miserable he is. He signed her to stop the wheelchair. She stopped and waited for him to say something. He said slowly with teary voice, “Take me back, I still want time to face the reality, I am not ready.” She pulled out her tissue from the pants gave to him and said “You will never be ready Sam, take it easy and trust me.” She pressed his arm slowly and pushed the wheelchair. They stopped in front of the pediatric ward and said “Just relax ok, don’t worry.” They entered the pediatric ward. Walls were painted with different colors, Mickey Mouse and Mini Mouse were at the center of the wall, slides and wings were at the corner. Some kids looked up for a minute scared whether nurse came with an injection. But when they realized its common people they got back to their game. He saw some kids who were affected by polio. They were playing and laughing happily. She pushed the wheelchair further and stopped in front a cradle. She smiled at him and said “Meet Esther” saying that she lifted up a baby without limbs and arms. She was a tiny little thing wrapped in all bandages. When she looked at them, she smiled and made a sweet baby noise. She said “she’s 6 months old. When her parents got to know that she doesn’t have arms and limbs they left her here soon after her birth. They didn’t want to take the burden, you see. So they just left her here. Doctors and nurses are taking care of her. She’s everybody’s favorite because she is special. Look into her eyes, and you can see your soul in that. Saying this, she gave the baby to him to hold. He held her and looked into her eyes. Baby smiled and made an approving sound. Tears flooded down his cheek. He held the baby closer and he saw his soul in Esther eyes, he saw the strong will to live, will to be happy no matter what. She patted his back and said “Stop pitying yourself; you have your whole life in front of you. Smile, be happy, I know it’s hard but you have to try.” He looked at her and smiled with all tears on his face. She wiped his tears and said “cry baby is crying again.” He gave the baby back to her and said “Thank you, thank you for bringing me here.” She winked at him and said “Anytime cry baby.” She kept the baby back in the cradle and said “Ready to go back?” He nodded his head and said “Are you not taking me to see Thomas?”
When they reached back to his room after meeting Thomas, he was exhausted. After shifting from wheelchair to bed he told her to come near him. She stood there looking at him while he pulled her into his embrace and said “Thank you. You don’t know how miserable I was, but when I saw Ester I knew I am luckier than her.” He increased his grip hugged her tighter and said “Thank you for everything.”
When he let her go she knew he is a changed man now. Self-pity was vanished, there was no pain or misery instead she saw joy, will power. He said “You know my girlfriend dumped me after the accident, my friends didn’t come to see me.”
She held his hand said “It happens, don’t let that get in your way, time rolls people move, you will make new friends.” He held his hand in front of her and looked at her and said “Will you be my friend like how Thomas said pal?” She giggled and said “I don’t make friends with cry baby.” Saying this she kissed him on his cheek and said “Bye Sam, take care.”
He looked at her and said “You kiss only me? Or….” she looked at him directly in his eyes and said “Who do you think you are? Beckham?” He laughed loud and said “Hell no! I am Samuel, the cry baby.”
He was happy man now. All he wanted was to get out of the hospital and move on with his life. As his bandages had to change everyday doctor had told him to stay for two more weeks. People, strangers used to visit him and pity him on his condition, but he never let them get into his spirit as she said. Whenever he was bored, he used go out and visit Esther and then chat with Thomas and come back to his room. He made some new friends in hospital. He never cried after that. Even though his mother never showed her pain, he could understand her.
From Thomas he got to know her name is Melissa. She likes it when people call her “Meli” she visits them only on Sundays. According to Thomas, he was her best friend. Earlier there was a big gang of 5, Melissa, Thomas, Imama, Raj and Madhu. After Imama, Madhu and Raj’s death, Thomas had become very close to Meli. He looked at the pic which Thomas had sent him. She was kissing Thomas cheek while Thomas was winking at the camera. He had got her number from Thomas on one condition that he won’t disturb her. Many times he had a crazy urge to call her and talk to her, but then he decided it is better not to call her.
Sunday: Him and Her
It was Sunday and as usual Thomas was all ready and waiting for Meli. Thomas was not alone this time; Sam was there beside him waiting. Thomas had laughed seeing the lad’s impatience; he had asked the guy to go to his room many times. He didn’t want to share his special moment with Meli with this guy. But the guy didn’t budge. Finally she showed up waving at them. Thomas looked at her and then at the young lad, the way they were communicating each other with eyes was evident enough that there’s something more than friendship
She gave the flower to Thomas and kissed him on his cheek and greeted him. Thomas winked at the young guy and said “Don’t look at me like that my guy, I am her friend not grandpa“. She pinched Thomas on his cheek and said “Should tell the nurse to give you some more injections.” Thomas walked towards his ward and said “Off you two love birds, let this old man take a nap.” She waved at him and turned towards Sam and gave the flower. He smiled, looking at the flower, when she didn’t give the peck he said “I thought you are going to give me a peck!!” She said “Don’t think too much cry baby.” When he realized she’s not going to give him peck he wheeled his chair near her and hugged her waist and said “I missed you Meli, missed you badly.” She touched his head with her hand and said “cry baby, did a good R&D on me, found my name, number, address. I was disappointed that you didn’t call!” He chuckled and said “Bugger Thomas told you everything!!” She smiled and said “he is my best friend remember, he doesn’t hide anything from me”.
He told her to take him to Esther.
After meeting Esther they went back to his room. As his mom was not there she lay on the adjacent bed on the TV and started changing the channels. He said “Will you come and visit me tomorrow? Next Sunday I won’t be here.” She off the TV turned towards him and said “Where are you going? Isn’t it too early for you to leave“? He said, “I am going to Bombay for treatment” She got up from the bed stood near the balcony door and said “It’s too early Sam, don’t go now, and stay here for some more time.” Without her knowledge she was begging him to stay. He said “Hey, I am going now to come back soon, trust me, it’s just that I want to start up with this treatment, I want to walk again, run again.” She turned her back towards him, picked her bag and said “Ok, you go ahead, go to Bombay, but don’t come back to this cursed hospital.” Saying this, she walked out of the room.
He thought she would be happy to know that he’s thinking about his future, but instead she was angry, her actions confused him.
It was getting dark, but she didn’t care. She walked inside his room slowly without making sound. He was sleeping; his blanket had fallen on the floor. She saw the bandage around his amputated leg. She knew it, she didn’t have any rights to stop him, but she didn’t want him to leave so early. She wanted to spend some more time with him. She picked the blanket and covered him with it. She pushed his hair back from his forehead and watched him sleeping. His mother walked in was surprised to see her. His mother said “He slept just now“. She said “Ok, I just came to see him, wanted to know whether he is doing ok. Anyways, it’s getting dark I better leave.” Saying this, she turned to leave but then he caught her hand and said “Not without saying hi to me.” He signaled his mother to go out so that he can talk to her. He pulled her close so that she can sit on the bed. She helped him to sit on the bed. He looked into her eyes and said “Tell me what the hell you are doing here at this time of hour what is bothering you?” She looked very sad and it bothered him. She said “What will bother me cry baby? I just came to see you. Now, what I should ask your permission for that as well?” He looked at her and don’t know what happened to him before he know what he’s doing he was kissing her. She responded and then giggled, touched his face and said “Didn’t come back for this, definitely!!” He touched her face and said “I know that Meli, You kiss me on the cheek and I kissed you, on your lips for a change, I don’t know about you, but I liked it.” He nodded, seeing her face as if he understood the reason for her arrival and said “I’ll be gone only for a few months, before you have time to look at other guys, I’ll be back. Trust me“. She smiled and turned her back towards him and said “Silly me, over reacted. Anyways, why I should care when you come? None of my business, right!” He said “Turn around, look into my eyes and tell me that.” She slowly turned, looked into his eyes and said “Why should I do as you say cry baby, I don’t like to take orders, I like to do as I wish. Anyways, I better hurry, saying that she started walking. He chuckled and said “See you tomorrow, don’t be late, I’ll be waiting for the peck.” She walked away smiling.
Him and her
Next day she visited him, as he expected. They visited Esther and Thomas. They went to the garden and talked in silence. He felt with this crazy gal by his side, he can climb any mountain with one leg. She may not have said that she loves him, but deep down inside he felt it. He asked her “Why you visit the hospital on Sundays? Why you visit all strangers and talk to them? Are you kind of socialist?” She laughed so hard that tears were rolling down her cheek. She looked like an angel when she laughed he thought. She said “A person needs to be socialist to visit the hospital? I am no socialist, but I like to visit hospitals and meet people suffering there. It’s kind of fun, meet strangers, talk to them, and listen to their painful stories…” He said “Glad you do that; else I wouldn’t have met you.”
Days rolled without waiting for anyone. She visited him every day. She spent every single minute with him. She seems to understand him very well that in fact surprised him.
It was Saturday, their last day together. She had come early morning with a bunch of red roses. With one piece flower printed dress she looked stunning. With her hair left free and glasses gone, she looked as if she had come on date. When he saw her all he wanted to do was hold her and make her stay with him forever. That thought surprised him because he never felt that way. As usual, they visited Esther and Thomas. When Thomas had seen her he had winked at her and whispered in her ears, “You never exposed those sexy legs for me, but look at you all smiling and dressed to kill for that lover guy of yours”. She had kissed him on his cheek and said “From tomorrow I’ll come in skirts for you, happy? Let the cry baby have his share, last day in hospital.” After meeting Thomas they had sat in the garden holding hands as if they never wanted to part. He had said “I am going to miss hospital, I know I sound funny.” She had laughed and said “you crazy cry baby, you know what you are saying? You should be happy that you are leaving.” He had held her more tightly and said “I miss hospital because I am going to miss everything related to it. Esther, Thomas and You. Are you going to miss me Meli?” A sudden question caught her off guarded. She calmly said “Why I should miss cry baby? Some new handsome guy will come and replace you, trust me honey, I am not going to miss you.” He looked at her eyes which told him the truth he wanted to know and said “Glad you say that!” Once they were back in the room they watched “50 first dates” together. He had said while watching movie “If you ever lose your memory, then don’t worry, I’ll be always there to remind you about me, you and us.”
As he was feeling exhausted, he fell asleep at the end of the movie. When he had opened his eyes in the evening he was overwhelmed seeing his room decorated with flowers and balloons. He had searched the room for her, the only person he wanted to see. She was in balcony talking to someone on the phone. He was jealous about the person who was talking to her. As her dress was flying due wind, he had glimpses of her legs and a little more in the dim balcony light. When his eyes moved up, he realized she was watching him. She said “You like what you see cry baby?” He said “Yeah, so is this a date?” She smiled and said “No, we are having candle light dinner. You, me, Thomas and your mom as it’s your last dinner in hospital thought will make is special“. When he got to know that his mother and Thomas are joining them, he made a weird face and said “Oh great! Why don’t you invite doctors and the pretty nurse?” She smiled and said “Good idea, I’ll invite them too.”
Candles were glowing everywhere the room was filled with bright rays of light. One look at the room and nobody would say it’s a hospital. They had their dinner chatting this and that. It was late night when they went to bed. Understanding Sam’s wish his mother left the room for her and him and went with Thomas.
She was cleaning the room while he was watching the TV. After closing the door, she came back and lay on his bed beside him. He moved aside and made some space for her. He said “Thank you for today, I am never going to forget this day in my lifetime.” She kissed him on his lips and said “Neither do I, it is the best day of my life”. He wrapped his arm around her, pulled her towards him and said “Just a few months, and I’ll be back, my promise to you. We can live happily ever after.” She giggled and said “Life is not fairy tale Sam, only lucky people get happy ending not all.” Saying this, she slept on his chest. He inhaled her perfume smell, he kissed her forehead and said “I don’t know about others, but I am going to give a happy ending to our story.” Saying this, he covered her with a blanket and closed his eyes and drifted to sleep.
It was dawn when he opened his eyes to see her sleep with hand wrapped across his neck. He smiled, looking at her. Every morning he wanted to wake up like that he thought. The woman he loved in arms, a lovely way to start. He woke her up and said “Good morning star, rise and shine. She opened her eyes and closed it again and tried to sleep. He said with steady voice “When I lost my leg, all I wanted to do was die, I wanted to commit suicide; I didn’t have any interest to live. I was dying every day with my self-pity, but then god sent me an angel, who made me realize I can do all possible things like any other guy. With you beside me I can do all possible things, trust me, you are my strength.” He kissed her hand and looked into her closed eyes and continued ”I know any girl wouldn’t want to marry a guy with one leg, but trust me I’ll keep you happy, we are good together, you know that. Would you like to marry this cry baby?”
Hearing him out she opened her eyes, looked at him and said “Don’t you have a flight to catch to Bombay? You should hurry up, it’s getting late.” He stopped her from getting down from bed held her hand and said “You didn’t answer me”. She said “When you come back, you will get your answer”.
He said fair well to Esther and Thomas. He hugged the old man and said “I’ll be back soon, till then take care of my girl old man. Thomas smiled at him, showed his thumbs up and said “You know, I will”. She was wheeling him towards his mother near the waiting car when he said “I’ll be waiting for your answer Meli. Take your time, I will be back to take what belongs to me.”
She helped him to get into the car and said “Sure cry baby, hope to see you soon”. Saying that she kissed him on his cheek and said “Take care, come back soon”. When she was about to move, he hugged her for the last time kissed her hard on the lips and said “I love you Meli”.
She stood there waving at the disappearing car with the man she started to love the most. She stood there till the car was disappeared from her sight and slowly said “I love you too Sam”
They were in contact with each other by phone and whats app, thanks to technology. Even though they were far way they never felt it that way. He will tell her about the treatment and she used to update him about the hospital, Esther and Thomas. She was glad that he was getting better and soon will be able to walk again with an artificial leg. He was counting days, more than anything he wanted to be with the woman he loved. He had the urge to catch the first flight to Mangalore and visit her but he waited. He wanted her to see him walking with his two legs. He counted the days, hour’s minute and finally the day came.
Him and Her
It was hot sunny day of summer when he walked into the hospital wearing his tuxedo with a bunch of red flowers in hand. Even though it was hot like frying pan he wore it for the sake of the woman he loved. Today is the day he’s going to get the answer to his question he asked 1 year ago. As it was Sunday hospital looked empty. He smiled at the nurse whom she used to call as Darling. She smiled back at him and said “good to see you”. He winked at her as he walked past her. He got many appreciation looks by passerby, but he didn’t care. He thought they wouldn’t have looked at him at all few months back. He walked into general ward and stood in front of Thomas. The old man opened his eyes and said “Finally, the cry baby returns!” He looked at the blooming roses and said “They’re defiantly not for me. Good to see you lad”. He kissed Thomas on the cheek and said “good to see you buddy. Where is she? She told me to meet in hospital”. Thomas said “You better call her and check”.
He dialed her phone number with heart in his mouth and waited quietly to listen to her voice. He said “where you hiding? I searched you everywhere”. She said “Come to your old room, I am waiting there. Same old place where we met for the first time, have a surprise for you”. He disconnected the call and started walking towards his room where he was admitted months ago.
He waited outside the door, knocked twice and walked holding the flowers in front of him, expecting her to wait in the balcony with her hair left free and her dress flying due to wind. That’s the way he imagined to find her. But when he walked, he was shocked to see her lying on the bed with drips. With her hair gone her skull was shining in the light. She looked so thin that he could count her bones. Tears were rolling, he never thought he would cry in his lifetime, but he was wrong. He stood there watching her smiling at him. She winked at him and said “Wow, dressed to kill cry baby? You look sexy”. Saying this, she winked at him. He removed his jacket, threw it on the adjacent bed and walked towards her and hugged her and said “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have come you know that, don’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?” She hugged him back and said smilingly “What to tell cry baby. I am good, I am happy that you are able to walk again.” He lost control over his emotions and hugged her more tightly that he could feel her bone. When he realized he is hurting her he loosened the grip, looked at her face with teary eyes and said “Since when you are in hospital? And for heaven’s sake, what happened to you. ?” She picked the roses he dropped on the bed and said “Wow, I love roses, they are so lovely”. He barked at her, “Answer me!” She leaned backwards so that her back is supported by the wall and said “3 months, I am doing well, never been better”. He walked away from her, moved his finger in his hair and said with frustration “why didn’t you inform me earlier, what happened? Why are you in hospital?” When he realized again, she’s going to avoid his question he said with firm voice “Don’t play with me woman, answer me”. She said “Leukemia. Doctors are surprised to see my progress. I am doing great, you see. Now you are here, soon I’ll be discharged. Anyways, did you meet Esther? She is so grown up now. You know something willing parents can adopt her. Nice thing right.” He walked towards her, kissed her hard on lips as if he is punishing himself for not being there when she needed him the most, punishing himself for not coming earlier”. He broke the kiss and touched her cheek and said “Will be right back”. With that said he was gone
He visited Esther. With twinkling eyes, she looked so beautiful. He lifted her in his arms and cried in front of her. Esther looked at him with innocent eyes as if she’s listening to him. When he thought he got the control over his emotions he walked to Thomas. He had some questions whose answer, he was dying to hear. Thomas smiled at him and said “she’s not doing well. Good thing you came back. I wanted to call you back, but she stopped me, stopped me saying we can’t be selfish and you will be worried. She is in the final stage, nobody can save her.” Thomas was crying now. He said with a teary voice “nobody can save her. Doctors didn’t have any hope that she will live so long. Guess she was not ready to leave this world before seeing you walk. She is a fighter. I visit her every day; I know how bad her condition is. Sometimes she doesn’t eat, she just pukes whole day, Chemo’s are bad, you see. No matter what condition she is in, she waits for your call.” Thomas stopped for a while so that he can digest whatever he just heard
“You know how we became friends? She had come for chemotherapy with her mother; she was very unhappy and sad. She didn’t want to live; all she talked about was death. That’s when we, I, Imama, Raj and Madhu met her. You haven’t met other friends because they already passed away. Starting she was a bit shy to interact with us. May be she was dying with her own self-pity everyday so she had a tough time to digest the bitter truth about the disease. It was evident that her dreams were shattered. She stopped going to college because other students kept on talking about her and the disease. But as time passed she started to gel up with us. She had wept when she saw a 3 year old kid coming for chemo session. That’s the last I saw her crying. She never cried after that. She visits the hospital on Sunday and spends some time with cancer patients. She comes; she brings flowers and gives us strength to live. No matter how hard it is for her, she never shows her misery. First time when you came to the hospital, she was curious to know about you. I saw her determined face and I knew it she going to help you. She was there in the same place where you were earlier. I knew she will succeed in her mission. But never thought she would lose her heart in the process.” Thomas stopped for a while took a deep breath and said “Go now, spend your time with her, don’t tell her that I told you all this. She doesn’t like when people talk behind her back”.
He stood there motionless with a heavy heart. He thought bad part of his life is over, but he didn’t have a clue about what was yet to come. He walked outside and punched his fist on the wall and cursed. The nurse whom he had met earlier saw him and said “Be strong, she needs you. Be her strength like she was yours”.
He walked back to her room. With flowers, holding tight to her chest, she was sleeping. He stood there watching her in the silence of the dark. Slowly he walked towards her bed lay down next to her and held her weak body in his arms. She woke up, but then she recognized him she smiled and said “What took you so long? Did you see Esther, doesn’t she look pretty”. With her head on his chest, he could feel her week breathe. “Yeah, she looks so cute. Anyways, did I tell you that I love you?” saying that he kissed her forehead. She smiled at him and said “Yeah, you told me last time we said fair well”. He held her close and said “there won’t be any more fair well so chill. I am not going to leave you that easily you see. I am a parasite once I make my place on a living creature I don’t leave them”. She said “Yeah, unless the host dies”. He stopped her saying further and said “Nobody going to die, I had rough time I am over it; you are having rough time you will get over it. Trust me, When we both are together we can fight any war”. She turned her head so that she can see his face more clearly. With his eyes assuring and broad smile on his face, she knew it, he was fighting like she is. She slapped across his face and said “Now we are even!” They both laughed out loud. He showed his other cheek and said “Come on now, other one is waiting.” She kissed his cheek which he was pointing out and said “I love you too, now go back to bed, good night”. He said “not yet” saying that he kissed her on her lips and said “now, good night”.
That’s the last conversation, in fact, last meeting he had with her. She left him alone in this world the same day he visited her. Thomas was heartbroken to digest the fact he was alone left out of their group. The whole hospital mourned for her loss.
For him it was beyond imagination. One minute she was there smiling and laughing, the next minute she was gone. He knew why she came into his life, she came to guide him and help him. She was her guardian angel who left him in middle of the road. He didn’t have any idea how he will come out of his misery.
A week later he walked into the same hospital holding Esther in one hand and flowers in another. With Esther smiling at him and he looking down at her they made a perfect picture. He visited Thomas and introduced his new daughter to him. He had adopted Esther the same day she left him. She came like a ray in his life and she wanted him to be a ray in others life. He smiled, looking at Thomas holding Esther. He kissed the old man on his cheek and said “time to go grandpa”. Thomas raised his eye brows while he corrected “I was telling on behalf of Esther” He walked away holding his daughter in his arms and heart filled with joy, the joy of starting a new life with his daughter.