“Are you better now?”, I asked Soham. No, the question didn’t seem fair. Everything all around answered for him, out loud.
He had again twisted his arm, in a bid to pick up the glass on his own. As I started the usual round of physiotherapy, his face showed signs of relaxation, his eyes at the same time reflecting a heightened sense of desperation. At the age of six, when kids are meant to play, this boy struggled to pick up a glass on his own. He was helpless.
Done with the daily grind, when I turned to leave- he called out, “Di…”, and pointed towards the photo of the smiling kid kept on the table. He too wanted to smile.
That was bound to happen. I always told him that a smile would take away all his pain, pointing towards the happy kid in the photograph. It was a natural gesture, a natural thing to say when I would see him wincing at the sight of injections, medicines. He was a kid, after all, albeit in a different time; a kid who hardly ever spoke, hardly ever played.
I was baffled. I was brought down to the harsh reality, which I was trying to escape amid my chores.
“How can I make him smile, when I myself have forgotten?”
Wrapped tightly in woollens, my mind wandered to the earlier May- the May with the blazing sun. My dark self blended perfectly with the dark sky. Walking further, tears welled up in my eyes. In a fit, I fell on my knees and…..
“Why did they do this? For power, for money? This thirst for power, to conquer nature has brought us here. I too, will be soon buried under the sand with my parents, Soham’s legs and the parents of many others. How I wish nature had conquered me before it conquered my parents, how I wish I too was buried along with them…”
The flashes of that day, the apocalypse, the charred bodies of my parents and many others, their blood, had made me dizzy, and I just collapsed there. I woke up after a few hours only to my face and body swollen.
Time seemed to have stopped, but that was how it seemed, and was not actually. My watch – the only source of time had abruptly stopped too. I hurried to my shelter, in fear of getting late for the hospital. I couldn’t be late; the kids needed me more than I realized. Amid all the hustle-bustle, Soham’s gesture, his wish haunted me continuously. A smile…..
Home was a place which was now lost. Everyone lived in shelters. Civilization had finally completed its circle – like the primordial man, we too lived like nomads in shelters; only our coverage area was much smaller.
Reaching my shelter and looking at my watch, I had an adrenaline rush. I was one hour late already. I had to get ready as well. I sped up and ran. I couldn’t lose my job. It was my primary source and inspiration to survive. Reaching the hospital, I got to know that my supervisor was on leave. I rejoiced.
Standing at the threshold of Soham’s ward, I felt my nerves tighten, and my gut flinch. I had delayed coming here, as I was already late and was looking for reasons to escape. I even tried to exchange my duty with the fellow nurses, but alas, destiny had something else in store for me. I finally took the leap and crossed it.
As I entered, I found his eyes glued to the vista-less closed window; and fists closed, as if trying to suppress his desires, his emotions. While I was doing his check up, his eyes were glued to me the entire time. I could see the tense lines on my own forehead; such was my anxiety.
I finished my duty and left. He didn’t say anything, nor did I.
While walking back, I stumbled on something fluffy. It was a smiley ball. I knew what I had to do next.
I ran to the hospital, to Soham’s ward, only to find him sleeping. Stupid me, wasn’t it obvious; I had only given him the sleeping injection. His sleep was his escape, it was his solace. I had no right to take that way. Moreover, doing that could even cost me my job.
Time seemed to have stopped, but that was how it seemed, and was not actually. My watch- the only source of time had abruptly stopped too
About the Author
Deepika is an interior architecture student at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, with a passion for writing. Very quiet, her unspoken thoughts often find expression through her crafty manipulation of the alphabet. Her entry was shortlisted for the Jaipur Literature Festival and a few of her articles have appeared at Youth Ki Awaaz as well. Follow her at her house of reflections- http://letterlantern.in/wp/.