Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coma.. and the wife.

Short Story: (a meaningless one )
“An angel must’ve saved you!” joked his sister, as she bought light coffee for her brother who had just awoken from coma.
“No… It wasn’t an angel, it was my wife.”
“Wife? We were here all night Mithun, and your wife did not come here last night. She went home 6 months ago, and she said she won’t come back. Maybe it was her dreams that woke you up, but not the real girl”, said his mother.
“NO.. I know the difference between a dream and reality. She was here, right here. I don’t know how she woke me from my coma, that you must ask her” said Mithun, completely convinced that she had come the night before.
“Alka is in Pune, not in Kashmir; and even if she were in Kashmir, she wouldn’t come back. No. It was your fault that she left, and I doubt she would ever forgive you”
Mithun sighed. How would he ever convince them that if she hadn’t called his name in her own sweet voice, he wouldn’t have woken up? How would he explain the touch of her hand on his forehead, how would he explain the words she had said to him, wearing the purple saree that was his favourite?
He decided to let it be. Sooner than later, they’d know.

 And now that he had drunk a spoon of the light coffee and had orders from the doctor to sleep, he recollected the night’s happenings:
“Mithun. Wake up. I thought you lied to me, or worse, cheated me. I thought you found someone else. I thought you had forgotten home. I thought you were everything I should detest and hate, and I left for good. And what did you do? You didn’t lie, or cheat. You didn’t find anyone else. You definitely didn’t forget your home, and you were the last person I would hate if I knew. But you didn’t tell. Why? You didn’t inform, not one letter. For 6 months. What should we think? Nobody stopped me when I left home, for they longer knew why they had to stop me.” She placed her hand on his forehead, and it was soaking with sweat.
His head was throbbing, he wanted to answer her, but it seemed that he was sleeping and she was talking to him when he was asleep. Why would she disturb his sound sleep? She knew he was injured, and he needed rest.
She continued.. “Do you remember the lunches you promised to take me on? The dinner we were supposed to have in the lightless restaurant in Swiss? Do you remember that we had to visit the Wat Poh, to pray for a happy life? The long vacation to Tahiti?”
OH! He had forgotten. He had forgotten his dreams, his wishes.. He listened.
“What about your friends who are waiting to meet you? What about your sister? What about your parents, and what about me? Don’t you want to get up and talk?”
He didn’t remember this either. That his friends were waiting for him, and that his family missed him. He thought to himself as to why he didn’t remember. But there she was, his beloved wife, reminding him of all the wonderful things he seemed to not remember about.
“Do you remember the midnight coffees and the long drives, and the beach trips and the group hangouts? No, I’m sure you don’t remember. But most of all, do you remember that you promised to spend a lifetime with me, not just 1 year and 6 months? No, I don’t think you do.”
He was angry. At himself. Because he couldn’t remember talking to his wife in a long time, and now though his sleep was so deep and comforting, he needed to wake up that moment and reply—
“Yes. Yes I remember”
His voice sounded rough, even to himself, and his vision seemed blurred.
“Actually no, I don’t remember. I didn’t remember. If not for you, I would have never remembered” he smiled.
His lips cracked, and it started bleeding.
His lovely wife, draped in his favourite purple saree, couldn’t believe her eyes it seemed. She was too overwhelmed to speak, she had suddenly lost her words, and had tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Alka? Alka!”
“Thank God!” she screamed, with the rare display of intense emotions she always felt, kissed him on the forehead.
“Take care, I’ll be back”, she said, and left.
“Why are you leaving?”
She didn’t answer. She simply left, and he couldn’t do anything, not even speak a little louder. He felt weak.


She came the next night, and the third. And she left, every day, after spending those two precious, joyful hours with him. He was too weak to stop her, and she was too stubborn to tell him why she did this.
So he contented himself with the two hour daily visit, and promised himself that he wouldn’t let her go once he became stronger.
He had promised her not to mention of her daily visits to his parents, though he didn’t know why she was hiding from his parents.
It was five days since, and they were talking about travel. Whether a vagabond life would be good, or whether it would be better to call some place home. She said she would love a bit of both, being a sort of a vagabond and yet having a place to call home.
“Imagine living in the deserts of Rajasthan for a month. It would strengthen our souls, and make us appreciate life in Kashmir so much more. We don’t have to suffer the wrath of the hot sun like in the desert, we don’t have to search for water like people there, nor do we have to cover every inch of our skin from the fear of having sun burns. And yet they live, the locals, with just as much happiness, if not more, than us Kashmir locals, who have been truly blessed by God”
“Yes” he agreed. He imagined himself in a turban and dhoti, and his wife wearing bangles right up to her arms just like the Rajasthani women. He smiled, that would be lovely.
The clock turned four, and she got up to leave.
“STOP!” he screamed, as much as his voice would allow his injured self to.
Alka continued to walk, she was almost at the door.
“Stop”, he whispered. She controlled the tears that had welled up in her big, sad eyes, and opened the door.
“Alka. Alka! ” her father in law froze.
Her father in law had just arrived at the door of his son’s hospital ward, and he made so sign of allowing Alka to go. She didn’t know what to do, she couldn’t go now, it was too late.
“So it is true.”
She stood without saying a word, without knowing what he would say to her.
He said nothing either, and silence followed.
She recollected her words of the last day at Mithun’s place:
“I have waited more than any of you for his letters, and it has been a long while since we heard from him. You had convinced me that he would come back, that you knew your son well, he loves his family and me, yes I also believed so. But it has been way too long, 6 years is a long time, and I believe your son has no intention of coming back, and he’s very well not dead, because if he was, we would’ve been informed. He hasn’t replied to any of the mails, and no correspondence from his colleagues either. Does this mean anything to all of you? Every minute here reminds me of him, and his betrayal, and I can stand it no more, which is why I must leave this place, the blessed land of Kashmir, and try to find peace. I know none of you will stop me, which makes it all the more worse. Know that I will remember my family, I can never forget you all, but to find peace, I must walk away.”
And she had left.
She had imagined the worst, and fled. She didn’t have anything to prove her wrong. His family also didn’t know what to think, they only prayed for his welfare, and wished he would return home some day. They didn’t know if they should stop Alka from leaving, but they hadn’t stopped her, because it was killing her more than them in that house, the house that had become hers because of him.


And that day, when she found him, fate decided to intervene.
She was forced to get admitted to a hospital for a day for wart removal, and she had come to the one in Kashmir because this was one hospital she knew. This was the closest she had come to home (rather Mithun’s home) in the past 6 months, and it pained her just the same. And when she was getting discharged, there was this register at the desk, and only one name caught her eye. Her heart skipped a beat, and with nothing but a ray of hope had she gone up to his ward, only to find his sister next to him. She had decided to come back the next day, and she came. And spoke, and woke him out of his dream.


Mithun’s family were proud to know that their son took a bullet and was in coma for 6 years, and he hadn’t betrayed them the way they had assumed, but it only caused them more grief that the doctor said he would be that way for life. They didn’t want to put Alka through this misery and hadn’t informed her about it, and yet, here Mithun awoke, and claimed that she had come.
His father wanted to find her, tell her that all was forgiven and she can come back home, but it took him a while to figure out when she came to the hospital, because they were there round the clock. After Mithun’s sister confessed to sleeping from 2 to 4 – it was impossible to stay up whole night—he figured it might be true, and came to find out.
And there she stood, his daughter in law, just like his son had said. It was true.
“I’m sorry”, they both blurted together, father and daughter in law, and then at that moment, she knew she’d found her home again.

No comments:

Post a Comment