This short story became SPIXer (Most popular story) on 01 06 2013 and won INR 500 (US$ 10)
As I drew the curtains off, a group of sparrows, flying back to their nest, caught my sight. The breeze of the impending dusk and the harmonious chirping of the little birds rejuvenated my senses. I turned back to the white-painted room; Rekha had kicked off her sandals and was trying to adjust pillows on the couch.
“Oh, what a hectic day it was!” she exclaimed.
“I think you have one more appointment today,” I said while opening the windows. The sun appeared as an orange sphere trying to dive into the horizon.
“I don’t think I will be able to take it,” she yawned. “Shaan dear, please massage my feet.” Her hands went over her closed eyes.
“Yo mam! Dr. Shaan Mathur at your service. You want tea or snacks too?” I laughed as few clouds appeared in the sky, all of a sudden. It might rain.
“I am serious, honey,” she stretched her body.
I sat on the floor to massage her feet. They were as soft and tender as a bag full of cotton. As my hands went above to massage her legs, I saw her relaxing.
“Shaan, this is the life I always dreamt to have,” she sat and smiled like a flower blooming in the spring.
“What? You always wanted a servant to massage your body?” I asked surprised, staring at Rekha.
“No duffer! I always dreamt of having a life-partner like you.” She took my head in her lap and drove her fingers through my hair. “Let us sue these priests. They are bad people,” she said suddenly, irritated.
I laughed as my hands went to enwrap her waist, “Why?”
“First, they got us engaged so early and then set the marriage-date so late,” her voice turned into a complaining tone. “Honey, do something na,” she shook my body.
“Sorry. I have studied biology, not astrology. I am of no help,” I grinned as I felt her stomach.
“No no, you are,” she said, excited.
“You can run away with me,” she patted my back.
Surprised, I jumped on the couch, “And what would be the news headline then? Dr. Shaan eloped away with his fiancée, Dr. Rekha?” I laughed and kissed her forehead.
She hugged me.
“Rekha, I love you,” I whispered in her ear.
“I love you too, dear,” she rubbed my back. “Promise me you’ll never leave me.”
“I promise you, we will always be together.” My hands went over her chest; I could hear her heartbeats go loud.
“We will be together even if death drifts us apart. We are …”
“Soulmates,” I kissed beneath her ear. In the next moment, her pink lips had embraced mine. A strong wave of air brought the tiny drops of water in the room. It started to rain. I kissed the raindrop residing on her cheeks and slowly leaned forward on her. We kissed again, this time more passionately. Her eyes glimmered like a pearl and breath smelt minty.
“Stop now!” she put a pillow on my face.
“We aren’t married yet.”
“But we will be, soon,” I snatched her pillow. She slid beneath me, through the smooth couch, and rested on the ground. Even though she did not let me do anything more, my lips curved a smile. I closed my eyes and thanked The Almighty for sending an angel in my life. Then, I caressed her. She held my hands and asked me to dance with her.
“We are responsible doctors. We cannot play music in the hospital.”
“I know that stupid!” she elbowed me. “Listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat and follow my steps.” Her head rested on my chest. I put my left hand on her waist and she put her left hand on my waist.
Listen to the rhythm of your heart which beats with your name etched,
Soulful music caressing me with your smile bewitched.
Gently kissing my passionate dreams, your spirit softly speaks,
Words of eternal love in harmony, my heart sneaks.
With fragrance of your soul I dance with you my dear,
To live for aeons in your arms even our breaths vanish in the air!
(Verses by Soumya Ma’am from http://soumyav.wordpress.com)
We danced in the eerie silence of the hospital as the sky bestowed on us its loving drops of water. Our love was an ocean of ecstasy filled with these tiny droplets.
As the sky roared to make its presence felt, Rekha clinched my fist. “Ouch, you pinched your nails in!” I exclaimed.
However, she did not seem to care. “Hey! It’s beautiful. Come.” Her eyes glanced outside the semi-circular balcony.
“You will catch a cold,” I said, concerned. The floor had become slippery.
“Stop it Shaan! I am not a kid.”
“OK. Then let me bring the chairs.”
“Don’t behave like an uncle. Just come and have a look,” she held my hand and pulled me to the balcony.
The sky had turned red and the rain was waning away.
“Isn’t it beautiful, Shaan?”
“Yes it is. And the most beautiful of all is you,” I smiled. Her white apron over her blue dress made a beautiful contrast with the dusky scenario. Rain had stopped now. It seemed like playing hide-and-seek. The earthy smell and the cold breeze made me feel like there were endless tickles creeping inside me. I turned to Rekha. The breeze was constantly playing with her, causing strands of hair to move on and away from her face. It seemed as if they were playing piano on her cheeks. She passed her hands over her wet hair and smiled to me.
“Rekha, thank you for accepting my proposal,” my emotions were willing to get out of my cool body to reach for her heart.
“You know what, I am so excited to get married.” She took a deep breath as she wiped the water off her dress.
“So that you can ask me to massage your feet all the time, right?” I playfully made an angry face.
“No. Not just feet, whole body massage, Shaan,” she winked.
“Huh!” I turned away.
She laughed as she sprinkled some water on my face. “Dr. Shaan, I have some other plans.”
“To wake you up daily with a kiss.” She rested on the parapet.
“Then, to hum the headlines of the newspaper like a song.”
“Yes, yes. I’ll make that too,” she laughed.
“And then?” I closed my eyes.
“And when you will leave for the hospital, I’ll be so lost inside your love that I’ll whiff your presence on the bed, the pillows and the sheet.”
I could see everything she was saying.
“I’ll learn to make the best dishes for you, and even if I fail, I will hear your sweet curses. I’ll listen to your heartbeats and your breaths.” Her words were like honey pouring into my ears.
My body shivered in the cold ambience. With my eyes closed, I stretched my arms to embrace the whole world. “Rekha, I love you.”
I turned and opened my eyes to her eyes. They were moist, I observed.
“Shaan, we must run away. Now!”
“Yes!” I stepped forward with a smile on my face.
Suddenly, a strong wave of air came with a mass of dust. The wind shook me and the dust went straight into my eyes. She mocked as I struggled to open my eyes. The dust pinched me. Before I could open them, I heard her loud cry, “Shaaaaaaaannn!”
My eyes opened to the biggest horror of my life; Rekha slipped from the parapet and fell off the balcony. A thunder flashed in the black sky. The beautiful rainy dusk had turned furious. It started to rain heavily. God couldn’t do this.
I leaned to see Rekha in the parking area under flash of the thunder. My senses went numb. All I could do now was not to just stand here but run for her, my Rekha, my love.
I slipped as I turned to the room. It hurt badly but I stood and ran. The door, my enemy, knocked me down; Rekha had locked it. There were stars dancing over my head. Collecting my senses, I opened the door and ran skipping breaths.
“Come to the parking area with a stretcher, immediately. Also, get the ICU prepared,” I shouted as I saw Anil, a ward-boy.
However, he did not move, just stared.
The elevator was busy; I took the stairs. Sachin, another ward-boy, was coming. “Sachin, come with a stretcher to the parking area,” I shouted.
“What happened? Where are you running to?” Sachin held my wrist and asked.
“Rekha fell,” I snatched my hand.
“No sir, come,” he held my wrist again, this time tighter.
I protested but failed. He was stronger. He put his arms round my stomach and pulled me back to the corridor. “What the hell are you doing?” I shouted furiously and kicked him between his legs. It was a very cruel kick, I knew, but I had to.
With his hand over his hurt part, he said, “You, son of a …” He kicked me and I fell on the stairs. My ears rang with a noise and my nose bled, I was badly hurt. Anil and Sachin dragged me again.
“Asha, they have gone mad. Rush to the parking. Rekha fell from the balcony,” I struggled to breath. The blood, flowing from my nose, was passing to my mouth and my head strained.
Asha, the nurse, stared at us with fury in her eyes and shouted, “Are you both out of your mind? What have you done?” She ran closer to me and wiped my blood smeared face with her dupatta. She rushed back, probably for a first-aid box.
I was having a dizzy spell. “Not me. Save Rekha. Fell. Parking area,” I struggled with every word. The two devils laid me on a stretcher and tied my limbs. Even my best efforts were not fruitful; I jumped but fell back on the stretcher. My loud cry came out like a travailing woman.
Asha came back running with Dr. Zoha. She slapped Sachin and Anil and held my wrist. She looked for my vein and cleaned the surface with spirit. I looked at her, astonished, “What is this?”
“I am giving you anaesthesia. It will soothe you and you will sleep,” she said as Asha gave her the compound.
“Everything will be fine dear. It will reduce your excitability,” she rubbed my forehead.
I could not figure out anything. The world was playing with me. I jumped again and pushed her. The medicine fell on the floor. “But, why? Why are you all doing this to me? Why aren’t you all saving Rekha? You all love her,” tears started to flow. I was helpless.
“Listen, I will make you sleep now,” she said in a commanding tone.
“But I don’t want to. Please save Rekha.”
Tears approached her eyes as she spoke, “Sorry dear, but Rekha is no more.”
But how? She just fell! I squalled.
“I know how hard it is for you. We all loved her but she left us. She left us three years back.”
“Three years? Have you gone mad? Set me free. All you liars,” my eyes reddened and blood, flowing in my nerves, rushed with my scream.
“It’s indeed true. You have a hallucination,” she choked. “So was the night of your marriage, rainy. You were so happy. Everyone was so happy. You, both, were doctors here and in love. It was a celebration when just before your wedding Rekha slipped off her balcony. We tried our best but couldn’t save her,” she gulped her lump.
“Since then, you are admitted here. You are no more a doctor but a patient here. Patient no. 380. You always think that she is with you, talking around you, loving you, dancing with you, singing for you, but it’s not true, Shaan. She has left us, forever,” she broke down.
It’s conspiracy against us. I could not accept this.
My neck twisted in denial; and I saw her again. Rekha was there – smile on lips, tears in eyes and the charming glow on her face.
“Honey, they say I have a delusion of your presence. They say you are no more. Is that true? Are you really my imagination? Are you a ghost?” the unforeseen was happening. My head felt heavy as Zoha injected the tranquilizer in.
“I am… Your soulmate. I will… always be with you,” she came closer and pecked on my cheek and everything went black. The tranquilizer had shown its ataractic properties.