He leisurely came out of the bathroom drying his hair with a towel, just then his mobile rang he checked the number and he thought “perfect timing”, with a smile he accepted the call and spoke into it with his most romantic voice “Hello Darling” and back he heard a sweet female voice replying “Hi Dear”. Just hearing her voice always brings goosebumps on him, hearing something he replied back “Yes I am ready…. about to start to office…. meet you there….. Yes… Yes we will have breakfast together in the office cafeteria. Bye Darling.” and he disconnected the call. With a song on his lips he dressed up, picked up his office bag, fetched the bike and the door key from the key-bowl, closed the door behind and left for work. It was a shiny day, travelling in his bike, with the morning breeze hitting his face. He loved this and speed always thrilled him. Reaching the office he settled at his desk first and then walked towards a cubical 3 cabins away. He brushed his fingers on the nameplate as he walked into the 4th cubicle, it read “Ms. Radhika Mehta” he smiled and thought “soon it will be Mrs. Radhika Vivek”.
He entered the cubicle and saw his girl sitting on the chair wearing a saree, beautiful as ever. He gave her a warm hug and said “Hi beautiful, let’s get some breakfast”. On the way to the cafeteria he planned to surprise her that evening with a Candle light dinner in one of the fancy hotels and the very next moment astonishingly he found himself all dressed up and waiting for her in front of the hotel. In the back of his mind it was like how the day go so fast? Did he even work today? He remembered talking about candle light dinner in the morning and next thing he found himself in front of the hotel. “Weird!” he thought. Just then, he saw his princess walking towards him and all his confusion was forgotten. The host ushered them to their table, he looked around and found the ambiance so alluring. The music was also soothing and romantic. Enjoying the lovely mood he mechanically took his seat and in doing so hard banged his knee to the legs of the table making a loud sound, he looked around embarrassed, relieved that no one was staring at him he sat but wondered “Hey! Why did I not feel any pain on my knee?”, but then not giving much thought to it he sat opposite to her and looked at her. In the impression of the candle light her face looked more beautiful, he was all romantic and was lost in her eyes. He noticed the beautiful red rose in the glass vase on the table, he took that rose and offered it to her. While accepting the rose he held her hands between his palms looking into her eyes. He saw her eyes twinkling in love.
Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his head and felt as if he was being pulled away from this beautiful atmosphere, he felt as if he was moving away from her so he stretched out his hand trying to grab her but he could not lift his hands, he wanted to cry out loud but no sound came from his throat. It was pitch dark around for him as he could not open his eyes but heard periodic beeping sounds. He tried to move himself but could barely move, he heard commotions, sounds and felt people scurrying around him, just then he felt his right eye lid being forcibly opened and a bright light flooded his eyes, his retina shrank because of the brightness then the same thing happened with the left eye. He was having difficulty in breathing, he panicked. His thoughts were in a turmoil, many questions running in his mind “Where am I? What the hell is happening to me?!!! Where is Radhika? Why am I in bone crushing pain? Just then he felt a couple of soft taps on his cheeks, his name being called out again and again, it sounded like “Vivek! Vivek! Can you hear me? Vivek can you hear me?” There was this familiar beeping voice, but now beeping with greater intensity. The voice continued “Vivek open your eyes if you can hear me. Vivek open your eyes”. He tried to open his eyes but felt like his eyelids were made of iron, too heavy to open but still with great effort he opened his eyes, the darkness slowly diminished making way to bright light, everything around looked blurred. He could see forms and features of people but nothing distinct. As his eyes opened more and more he could see better and better. When his eyes fully opened he saw a calm face looking eagerly at him.
Vivek looked around and wondered “Where am I? This is not the hotel I was in with Ra… “ he panicked and looked around for Radhika, all he saw was a few people in whites, stands with bottles hung, instruments beeping and pumping. He felt tubes running through his nose and mouth. The pain… he agitatedly thought “god damn it why am I in so much pain?” Just then he heard the same calm face speak “Vivek can you hear me”. Vivek nodded in approval but with each movement pain shot through him. The face spoke again “Can you see me Vivek, clearly!” Vivek nodded again in approval. The face spoke “Vivek! You are in the hospital and I am Dr. Bhatnakar. I am the one treating you”. Vivek was perplexed, it took time for him to register “Hospital?? Doctor?? Treatment?? Why am I in treatment, what has happened to me? “. He heard the doctor speak again “Vivek can you see my finger” Vivek nodded. “Ok Good now I am going to move my finger just follow it with your eyes” Vivek again nodded. Vivek saw the fingers moving from left to right and then right to left then again up and down, he tried to follow as much as he could but then his neck pained too. Once done he heard the doctor say “Good Vivek you did good your eyesight looks good”. He continued “now can you try to move your right hand fingers” but he could only twitch his right hand fingers “Doctor said no problem its ok … Now move your left hand fingers “ he twitched his left fingers. Doctor again responded “Good … Good you are responding and that’s good”. Vivek tried to figure out why he was in a hospital and how he ended up here. He tried to ask but could hardly whisper. The Doctor continued “now what you need is good rest, so sleep!” and he heard the doctor directing the nurse to give him a sedation, he saw a nurse approaching him, he felt a pinching pain and a few minutes later he dozed off.
After he came conscious and better he came to know how he was on a road trip with his friends, he over sped and met with an accident, he did not wear a helmet which inflicted a serious head injury. In a week he was shifted from ICU to the general ward and after that parents and loads of visitors visited him but not the one person he wanted to meet eagerly. Then the day came he saw a beautiful lady walking towards him with a smile, the woman of his dreams, she came near him, sat near the bed and said “Hi Handsome” he replied back “Hi Beautiful” she asked “How r u feeling “and he replied “Never better…” with a smirk he questioned “ready for a bike ride?” With a frown she replied “Don’t ever do this to me again… I thought I… lost…” she could not complete her sentence nor hold back her tears. He whacked himself for his inappropriate remark to her and then wiping her tears off said “I am sorry I was so insensitive… I am sorry”. He held her face between his palms for some time and then hugged each other and she whispered in his ears with happy tears “I love you and thank you for coming back into my life again”. He then narrated to her all the dreams he had about them when he was in coma, how they met, talked, and how during candle light dinner he was pulled into consciousness. That’s when it clicked for him, no wonder he did not feel the pain when he bumped his leg on the table, because he was in a coma and dreaming, it was not real. She heard it all with great amusement and happiness that even in that state it was she that he dreamed off, though she never ever… ever… wanted him to be in that state again.
But it was not all good news for Vivek. Later when he was all good and fit and about to get discharged, the doctor called him for counseling, the doctor started “Vivek there is something that you should know about you condition” Vivek became a bit nervous because the cheerful kind of doctor was a bit serious and Vivek could feel a trace of tension in his voice. The doctor continued “Your head injury” he directed Vivek’s attention to his monitor displaying the CT scan image of his brain, he pointed to a small dark patch in the left side of the brain and continued “this part is where the hemorrhage is, its small but it’s still there and it’s bleeding, we cannot operate it as it is deep inside your brain and on the left side, the bleeding needs to stop but if it does not then you might slip into coma again and that would be a serious issue but for now there is nothing much we can do. You will have frequent bouts of pain in your head, if all is good then the frequency of the pain will gradually reduce and you will be ok if not then in one of such pain you may slip to coma again, let’s hope it does not come to that” saying so the doctor stopped giving Vivek some time to digest the news. Vivek was shocked with this news, did not know what to do or think. He felt the news to be like a sword hanging on his head which could drop anytime. Looking into the doctor’s eyes in a barely audible voice he asked “Is there anything that can be done doctor?” the doctor nodded in negative, he could see the helplessness in the doctor’s eyes. Vivek took a deep breath and said “I then leave the rest to God”, so saying he hurriedly left the counseling room. Finishing all the hospital formalities went back to his life.
Between his families, love, friends, work and occasional bouts of pain, his life went on. One evening as usual during his meeting with Radhika, sitting on the beach and watching the sunset holding hands together. Vivek said “It’s so beautiful the sunset” and she replied “yes and it’s more beautiful and fulfilling to watch it holding you“. He turned his head and looked at her face, part of her face glowing in the orange sunsetting light made her look gorgeous. He held her face between his palm and said “I love you“ she replied back “I love you too” Then as if she suddenly remembered something, she said “Vivek I have a surprise for you tomorrow“ he asked “what is it ?”, “It won’t be a surprise if I tell you now, would it ?” she retorted, with a mock sad face he said “Ok then I will painstakingly wait till tomorrow“ she felt bad and said “ok! I will give u a hint. It’s something related to your dream… nothing more would I say”. He replied “Ok fair enough”.
Next morning looking forward eagerly for his surprise from her, he was taking a shower singing a song, just then a sharp pain in the head hit him, he sat in the bathroom clutching his head thinking “not now… not again” few minutes later he found himself coming out of the bathroom drying his hair, just then his mobile rang, he looked at the number and mumbled “Oh so her surprise started huh!! Perfect timing“ feeling happy he picked up the call and said “Hello Darling” from the other said he heard “Hi Dear”. He heard her ask “Are you ready” He replied “Yes… Yes… I am ready… about to start to office … meet you there“. From the other side he heard “we will have breakfast together” and he replied “yes… yes… dear we will have breakfast together in the office cafeteria. Bye Darling ” and he disconnected the call, suddenly it struck him this conversation turned out to be similar to his dream earlier during coma. He panicked “Is he in a coma now!!! Or was it just coincidence“ he was confused.
Curtailing his initial panic he stood and took a deep breath, relaxed himself and decided that there is only one way to confirm “The Pain”. He decided to pinch himself and if he felt pain then he would be saved otherwise… he did not complete his thought. With a shivering hand he was about to pinch himself but then he stopped just short of pinching, something dawned on him, he was calm from inside. He decided he did not want to know, real life or coma, he just wanted to continue to live. To go on with whatever life has to offer, happily. Calmly he dressed up, picked up his office bag, fetched his bike and door key and then he turned to go out of the door but slight miscalculation and his head banged the door-frame. He was stunned for a few minutes not because of the hit but with the realization that he understood his state now, it dawned on him the state he is actually in. He calmly as before with a knowing smile rotated the bike key on his forefinger and humming a song went about his way.
Epilogue : Only the character knows the state he is in, not even the author is aware of it. The character refuses to divulge if he felt the pain or not because of the hit either through expression or action, for reasons known only to him.
Name : Sajit V
Company : BEO Software Pvt Ltd, Kochi
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