The milieu inside the room felt thicker with the despondency vanquishing there. Except for the hissing noise of the air conditioner, a dreadful silence prevailed. It seems to be a different world on that Christmas Eve. Parts of seaport were visible through the glass panes of the ninth floor room. She woke up from the hospital bed slowly and leaned towards me. Adjusting her head to my chest she looked through the window.
“Do you remember last year’s Christmas?” Her voice was struggling to come out. She tightened her hold on my arm as if she is scared. She lifted her face and looked at me. Those bright eyes were filled with tears.
“Why did it happen to us?” I did not answer her but simply kept staring at her.
“How fast things have changed. Do you remember our Christmas last year…..?” She could not continue. Wiping out the tears that were rolling down through the cheeks I tried to console her.
“Nothing will happen. It is just another experiment by the God. We will pass this also as we did in the past.” A smile appeared on her face just to die prematurely.
As the stillness grew thicker, the minds started traveling through the time. A well decorated Christmas tree was there. Bells were ringing and the stars were twinkling. Past nightfall, lights and shadows started dancing to her sweet tunes. She was sitting just in front of me, resting her head on my chest.
“My love, there’s only you in my life. The only thing that is bright……” Her ravishing voice resonated in my hearts. The rhythm of heartbeats changed to match with her song. I cuddled her close to me. She felt as weightless as a feather of a pigeon. Her eyes were shining with the reflections of the twinkling stars.
“I don’t want even Santa to come here today. You are my best gift in life….” she whispered close to my ears. “And I feel this Christmas a special one”. When I kissed her forehead she fell on my lap and closed her eyes. It was the ringing of the bell from the church that woke us up. It was midnight then.
“Are you dreaming?” her pale voice brought me back to the present. “Or, plunging into the memories of those golden days? Will we get those days back?” I felt her aspiration to go back to those days.
“Of course……” I could not say anything more but kept on moving my fingers over her hands to console her and to convince her that I was with her. One another ship started its voyage. The long siren echoed on the horizon.
“I think this the fourth ship after me got admitted to this room.” Again, the fragile voice of her woke me up from the thoughts.
“Once again they are leaving the land submitting everything at the mercy of the destiny. Who knows what the fate has in stock for them!!!!” She sighed.
“Hey, come on… why are you bothered by it all? That’s their life. Now come and have the medicine. It’s the time for the doctor to come for the rounds.”
It was the eighth year of our marriage but about a decade of love life was between us. Everything started on the college campus. A firebrand student’s leader fell for the melodies of a lean girl. Tea breaks inside the college canteen and the journey together to the college nourished the bond. Friends extended all their support and the relation got stronger as the days passed.
On the last day at the college, just after finishing a cup of tea, she extended her handkerchief, a blank white handkerchief with her signature which was in the shape of a swan.
“Wipe out your face. I want to keep your smell for me with my signature.” I felt her heartbeats. Two tiny drops rolled down over her chin. As if she cannot stare into my eyes, she bowed her face down. “ I feel like losing you forever.” She murmured in a husky voice.
“No, it will never happen. This is my promise.” Those words came out of my heart. Even I was not able to think about losing her.
Once out of the charming campus, the real life started staring at me.I need to secure a job and to get settled down before marrying her. It did not take much time. Almighty showered all his blessings. Although it was against the wishes of our family, we got married and there started the heavenly days.
Long rides through the village roads was a passion for her. She used to hug me tightly when the accelerator goes up and up. Warm tea from the wayside tea shops, snacks from the village restaurants and a dusk by the side of paddy fields, every moment was really illustrious in the life.
Evenings in the park on the shore of the lake, late night dinner at restaurants and the celebrations in the club; she was always with me.
“Almighty knows the depth of my love for you and that is why he is not giving me a baby. He doesn’t want anybody between us?” She was very positive even when she diagnosed with her inability to carry. That positive attitude may the reason for her to hide the developing pain inside from me and pretending to be happy always. Until that day when she fell unconscious in the bedroom, she did not reveal anything about the pain in the abdomen.
Suddenly somebody knocked on the door.
“Might be the doctor.” She adjusted herself steady on the bed and whispered. As the doctor came inside with a pleasant smile on his face she asked eagerly.
“Doctor, will this be fruitful?”
“Let us do our best dear. I hope you will recover soon and will enjoy the beautiful life.”
Doctored stared at me. I know it is the signal for me to go out. I went out of the room closing the door behind me.
He will be there inside for at least fifteen minutes so I came down to the canteen on the ground floor.
Doctors could not identify the reason behind her falling unconscious on that day and entire life reduced to journeys from hospital to hospital and laboratories to laboratories. At the end of the excruciating period, the bolt came from the blue. Crabs became regular in nightmares. The Zodiac sign started haunting us. It took out all the glory of our life and only a bit of hope and a lot of prayers remained there.
As I reached back, the doctor was about to leave the room. He could hear the murmuring in my mind or he might have seen those words written in my eyes.
“All we can do is to try, rest everything is with the God.” He patted on my shoulder softly. “Now the final course of chemo is over. Let us wait for a positive result.” Without saying much, he left.
As I entered the room, she was staring through the window to enjoy the last glimpses of the ship before it disappears into the horizon. Standing behind her, I kept my hands on her shoulder.
“What do you think, are they feeling dismal over leaving the land or enjoying the freedom?”
“Whatever you think, that will be right.”
“Certainly, they will be enjoying the freedom. Even I felt like getting freed soon. I felt like a feather and the riding over the wind up in the sky. I see the twinkling stars beside me. I feel the gentleness of the clouds. What would you say when Santa comes tonight as ask me?” I could not see her face as I was standing behind her and I scared to see it so I did not try.
“I want to enjoy the life with you darling. Again and again. I want to spend each of my moments with you. But, I don’t know…. I feel like …. No, I don’t want to say. I cannot even imagine that. But how will you come with me when I fly through the heavenly clouds?” Her voice got choked. I felt her weight on me. Bells rang from the far away church, The street outside the hospital was crowded heavily. All were in a festive mood on that Christmas Eve. I hold her tightly and felt the weakening heartbeats. I took her back to the bed. She was trying to say something but nothing came outside. I pressed the emergency button and the nurse came there immediately.
“Sir, she should be shifted to intensive care unit.” Without talking much she gave instructions over the phone and a team of her assistants came there with a stretcher and removed her to ICU.
Thick silence in front of the ICU was really scaring. I started feeling a strange fear. The entire past went through my mind as if in a movie. I closed my eyes and started praying. I woke up from the prayers when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the doctor. I stared at him with anxiety.
“Sorry, God has some other plans for you in stock.” Suddenly I felt a darkness around me. The doctor, walls of the corridor and the glass door leading to the ICU disappeared. When the light came again, I was lying on the bed in my bedroom. I could hear many voices from the courtyard. Aroma of sandalwood sticks filled the atmosphere. I heard a few weeping also. Her body was kept there in the courtyard for me to have the last view. I went near her body. Bent towards her and kissed her forehead for the last time. The church bell started ringing continuously then indicating the beginning of the midnight mass.
Now, one more Christmas is fast approaching but without her. I don’t know what I would say when Santa visits and asks me about her.