Short Story – The Last Rose
Sonia hopped out of her car and sprinted towards the hospital to save herself from the wrath of the Rain God. As usual, she was late and today it was her umbrella that she had forgotten. How convenient! Nevertheless she managed to reach the hospital building without getting too wet. She wanted to take a look at Ashish before she went about her duties for the day.
Twenty four year old Ashish, the patient in room 202 was now more of Dr. Sonia’s friend than a patient. In course of his three month stay at the hospital, they had grown quite friendly, shared joys and grief and even a few secrets. Though neither mentioned it, they both knew that they were only trying to delay the journey Ashish would be soon making to eternity. He was losing his battle to cancer. It was only a matter of days now, or maybe even hours.
Today, he had a special request for Sonia. “Doctor, could you please buy a single flower and deliver it to this address? I would have gone myself but I am in no condition to do so. So please.”
Sonia agreed and glanced at the address. The name said ‘Asha Sinha’. Girlfriend probably, thought Sonia. But why didn’t she ever come to meet him?? Or maybe she is an old flame and he still loves her. Sonia pushed these thoughts to the back of her mind and went about her work. In the afternoon when she was done for the day, she drove out to complete the task Ashish had given her. She drove to the florist and bought the loveliest red rose she could find. A last gift had to be special, she thought. As she drove to the given address, her cellphone beeped announcing a new message. It was from one of her colleagues and it said- ‘Ashish is gone’. If only he could have held on for a day more, he might have been able to meet his love and depart, thought Sonia. But fate has its own things in store.
She finally arrived at the address and rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, an old lady opened the door. “Yes?”, she said. Sonia said, “I am here to meet Asha Sinha.”
“Yes, how can I help you?” Sonia was now puzzled.
“What kind of love story was this??” she thought. Nevertheless, she explained the purpose of her visit but left out the illness and death.
The old lady invited her inside and started speaking, “Of course, Ashish had been my student in the fifth standard. Since then every Teachers’ Day he always gave me a flower. Is he very busy this time? Is that why he sent you? Are you his friend?”
Sonia was dumbstruck. She glanced at the calendar on the wall. It was 5th September. And she wept.