November 16, 2010


“Do I look pretty mommy?”
“Why dear, you are the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. And now… it’s time for your beauty sleep. Here’s Mr. Teddy!”. She kept aside the story book and tucked her in, nice and warm. She gave her the customary 'good night kiss'. 
“Good night sweety. I love you.”
“Love you too mommy.”

As the doors closed in quietly and it became dark, she looked outside the window into the starry night. She knew she had her angel with her… always. She knew that she did not look beautiful. And yet… she believed it. Because she knew her mother meant it every time she said it.

She closed her eyes shut and tried to think less of the day ahead of her tomorrow. One of those at the hospital for a chemotherapy session, to cure her of her leukaemia.

November 2, 2010

The Call

"Aap jis number par baat karna chaahte hai, woh call nahi utha rahe hai. Kripaya thodi der baad koshish kare."
"The number that you are trying to reach is currently not answering your call. Please try later."
Why don't they tell you why the number is not answering as well?, she rued. She had listened to this pre-recorded message for the sixth time today. She couldn't fathom what was keeping him so busy that he could not even attend a call, for how-so-ever brief a period. Or was it that he did not want to talk to her? She shuddered at that thought. She'd much prefer the first one.
Granted that a petty squabble had left both of them slightly hurt... and uncomfortable. But she knew that both of them usually bounced off it in no time.

She took her cellphone yet another time, certain that she'd listen to the unapologetic female monotone at the other end... but yet, praying and hoping that this time it'd be different.

*** *** ***

The phone rang again. The cellphone vibrated on a blood-stained male body against the steering wheel. On the seat beside him was a bunch of white lilies that had begun to fade; and a box with an engagement ring. The sound of the stream was the only other sound that broke the eerie silence...


He did not feel sleepy at all.

Despite the fact that it had been three days since he had slept. Despite the powerful sedatives he was given to calm himself down and get some rest, it was like he’d never been more alert in his life. He looked at his watch. 3:55 a.m. The hospital corridor seemed deserted at this hour of the day. Barring another woman sitting opposite him, no one was around. The old, once-white rickety bench creaked under his weight. He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting in the same spot, in the same manner. He vaguely remembered his family asking him to rest, to sleep; the nurse giving him those shots… But he was too scared to close his eyes, lest something bad should befall if he did. There were several questions that needed answers. And the only person who could possibly answer them lie on a white bed, shrouded in a white gown… in the ICU.

He tried to recollect that morning. Was there anything unusual that day? Or did he miss something? She was up early, as usual, and had his lunch prepared, packed and on the table by the time he got ready and sat down for breakfast. Then, he got busy with the newspaper. He did look up at her just the once, when she enquired if he wanted one more idli. Maybe she did seem a tad gloomy. Come to think of it, she had been less talkative for a while now. Funny that he hadn’t really noticed it… until now. And then that thought disturbed him – had he really stopped caring about her?? She was a regular presence in the house – like the furniture, or the upholstery. His sales job and the targets demanded so much of his time that he did not bother much about running their household…or about her. But she…she had been like a rock all this while – capable…dependable.

His mind wandered… and began to recollect the initial period of their married life. He knew he was a lucky man, for she had stepped into his life. But… how lucky was he for her? His heart writhed in the pain of his remorse. He could never forgive himself for being the reason why she decided to end her life… If only he had realized her true worth, maybe… He silently prayed to all those Gods he had detested. Taunted them even, to prove their existence. He knew he’d never wish for anything bigger in his life.

And before he knew, dawn broke. And slowly the hospital prepared itself for the maddening frenzy. People who suffered, and those who suffered because of them, buzzed around the place. He would hear the occasional wails and cries that terrified his already jaded nerves. Dr. Varma was approaching him. He scrutinized his face for some sign. Was it bad news or good? He couldn’t quite discern. “She has finally opened her eyes. You may see her now.” He just closed his eyes tight and clenched the doctor’s hands…unable to get a grip over his feelings. “And yes, she is weak and I cannot say anything conclusive just yet. It’s not advisable to get her excited or to overwhelm her. I would recommend that you see her and leave soon.

As he stepped into the room he noticed the pale figure amidst all the medical paraphernalia. She turned her head towards the door, and their eyes met. She looked back at him… helplessly. All his questions disappeared. He folded his hands in forgiveness. He took her hands in his, and stayed with her for a while. She knew that things would change… for the better. And they both sobbed quietly, washing away all their worries.