“Hmmm alright you take care I’ll be there asap” he said and hung up, reluctantly. He badly wanted to jump into his car and ride right away to be with her but he simply couldn’t. Damn meeting. With utmost control he took measured steps into the meeting room where his thoughts never strayed from her.
She didn’t look like herself anymore. The past few weeks wore her out like never before. She lay unmoving in her bed except for frequent visits to the restroom. She looked pale like a ghost and lay just staring at the ceiling. She hardly spoke to him. Or anybody for that matter. She hardly ate either. She was the subject of constant worry on his mind. He could not concentrate on work anymore. The first thing he did on reaching home was to check on her. Which instead of making him feel better that she was still there, scared him for the fact that she slipped away slowly, and silently as each day passed.
They had her taken to various temples and the hospital visits strangely did her no good. ‘…..so we shall wrap this up. Good job! Looking forward to…’ he turned his head in time to smile at his client. A meeting went well. He’d almost forgotten who the client was. He made a mental note to ask his secretary to remind him tomorrow about him. He grabbed his planner and phone, rushed to his car and drove to the hospital as fast as he could. He drove in anticipation, trying to imagine how she might look now. It seemed that with every passing day, she lost some more of what remained in her. Everytime he checked on her, his heart raced in anxiety.
The hospital building loomed large as he neared it. His hands tightened on the wheel. It always gave him a headache and reminded him of the time when he was hospitalized following a horrible accident. And now her. He had almost forgotten how his mother felt, sitting by his bedside in that stinky government hospital till he regained consciousness. Now he knew. And it was not pleasant. Not something he’d enjoy having experienced. He grit his teeth and walked inside, hiding all of his feelings. He did not want anyone to see how upset and scared he was inside. And he never enjoyed the visits. But for her…….he was ready to do anything.
He made his way to the room she was in and spotted the doctor coming out just in time as he asked him, pushing back the fear inside, ‘so what is it this time sir?’. The doctor smiled sadly and said ‘its asthma this time’ and walked away without another word, patting his shoulder. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he slowly peeked inside the room. She lay on the bed, drip bottle dangling by her side, thin and fragile, eyes cold and dead- staring at the ceiling. Again. The lump in his throat rose. Hearing a rustle behind him, he quickly swiped at his eyes and saw his wife do the same.
‘How bad is it?’ he asked. She cried uncontrollably and hugged him fiercely. ‘We’ll take care don’t you worry’ he told her firmly through voice that shook slightly. She nodded mutely. ‘Tell everyone’ he whispered to her. A nod again. He went inside and looked at his 13 year old daughter. At the minute, she looked 10. Pathetically so. She had lost oodles of weight and became a bone structure. He took her hand in his and held them lightly so as to not hurt her. He figured she must be numb for she did not so much as stir. He gently pushed her hair back, away from her face. It looked smaller than ever. Maybe he was imagining things. A glimmer of hope to know that he was imagining it. He rubbed his eyes and opened them again……only to see that it was still very much real. He could feel his hope bidding him goodbye. Yet, a tiny part of him firmly held on to it. He touched her forehead and stroked her hand. He didn’t want to let go of her. Not this soon.
She turned her head slowly at that and looked at him. He tried to smile and ask her how she felt. But words failed him. The lump rose again. He looked away briefly to avoid looking into those lost, faraway eyes. He tried his best to not show it in his face. He was pained.
As he looked back at her, she turned away her face……….to hide the tear that rolled from her eye. She could not bear to see the pain in her daddy’s face. She had never seen it before, all her life. And now she hated herself for being the cause of it. She couldn’t even lift her hands to brush away the tears which poured at an alarming rate. She was so numb and breathless that she could not even react or yell in pain when the IV was inserted into her veins. He’d be heart broken if he saw his girl crying. She dint know what made her conclude that he wasn’t already heart broken. All she wanted to do was jump from the bed and throw her arms around him and hold still. Forever.
She knew then, the minute she turned her head away from him that the bond between them had only strengthened.
Inspired by events that happened in my 9th grade; October 2004. I cannot ever forget the look on my dad’s face when he saw me lying there helpless and almost dead. I turned away to hide my tears..
Though i can no longer wear gowns and frocks, look tiny like in this pic, i can still thankfully hold his hand and walk with him forgetting the world. Cos nothing’s ever safer than holding your dad’s hand and walking away. Nothing at all.