She dropped down on her bed, waiting…. Waiting for something, but what? Her whole body somehow shook with terror, yet a feeling of relief. She looked sad and disheartened, but still had a calm light in her eye that showed gumption and determination.
She looked around the lonely bedroom. Harry was not there, still in the hospital. She had the time to think for herself. She had time to make herself steady, to assure herself. The bedroom, suddenly, looked shabby to her. The walls were a dull yellow with paintings forcefully crammed on it which actually degraded the beauty of the room. The windows were just like small eyes that peeped out from the wall, the only difference being that it led to the world outside, not inside. The sofa looked like a Roman nose, protruding out just below the windows. The exhaust fans looked like the ears. And she was the soul of the room.
“I am getting mad!”, she thought and looked towards the cupboard. She was still wearing a nightgown. Suppose she could wear something nice…
At that point of time the long awaited phone rang. At first she was surprised, but then she looked around and picked it up. Her hands trembling with fear mixed with a sense of excitement.
“Yes?”, she asked, her voice ice cold, but filled with anxiety.
“He is dead. Come fast. We have to make preparations for his funeral”, Harry said.
She put down the phone. She did not hurry, nor did she cry. She calmly went to her dressing table and looked at herself in the mirror.
She looked too fine, too careless. This should not happen. She put on some makeup very deftly, and then, started to sponge water all over her face to rummage the makeup. It should look like that she was crying, HARD. She smeared her lipstick all over her face, and rubbed her eyes. She then applied gel on her eyes and blinked twice. Tears started falling, and she was satisfied. She rubbed the teardrops all over her face and rumpled her hair. Yes, she was looking the perfect picture of a woman in grief.
She opened the cupboard and brought out a black frock and put it on. To add to the effect, she intentionally split some water all over her, so that people could understand that she was in great hurry.
She rushed out of the house, blinking as much as possible, to let the tears falling. She walked through the dusty road, with cars honking and buses running on the main street.
All her life, this was the first ever decision that she had taken. The first EVER. She knew that she was right. Life had changed after she had married Harry. She was overwhelmed by his love to understand that he was a male chauvinist. She had sacrificed her career, her dreams, her hopes for him and his family. She had tried to make Harry happy. Had she succeeded? To some extent, yes.
She never knew that life was going to be so tough with Harry. She had dreamed of a bed of roses, but had forgotten that roses, too, have thorns. She had thought of all fantastic things, but all of it ended up being a silly dream. Had she known Harry’s family, she would have thought twice before making such a sacrifice.
A car honked and she woke up from her state of nostalgia. She realized she was on Herbert Road, and only two miles was left to reach Georgetown Hospital. She quickened her pace, as if to catch up with the time she had lost in her thoughts.
However life had not been completely dark for her. There was still a ray of hope, which taught her to live. It was like the sun peeping out of many dark clouds.
The gleam of hope appeared to her as Henry, her father-in-law. He was the only person who had actually made her life different. He was the one who provided her with a reason to live. He was like a light rain in a hot day, a shining sun in a cold day.
He was almost like a friend to her. He was, probably the only one, who was her friend, not a sympathizer. He had helped her in her times of grief and in her times of happiness. He was not a fair weather friend.
She still remembered the days when nobody had given her any support during her first pregnancy, but Henry would always come, stick in his hand, and ask her three times a day how she was. She had felt so happy and longed for his visits so that they could talk together. He would read out all sorts of stories to her and would tell her about stories of his own life.
During her miscarriage, when nobody was there to support her and she was left weeping alone on the bed, Henry was the one who had told her, “Every cloud has a silver lining. Do not be overwhelmed with grief, my child. It is He who gives, and He who takes away. Crying would not help. Always look at the future, not the past.”
She still remembered that day when she had gone out to the park with him, and he had said,
“Just look at those beautiful flowers! Aren’t they worth looking at? These are the gifts of God, but very few people have the ability to understand it! Someday, someday we have to pay the price for our carelessness towards nature.”
“That’s true” she had said. Then she had broken down crying.
“The doctor had said that you are terminally ill, Dad! Oh, how would I be able to do without you?”
He smiled. “I would be always by you, but promise me, that you will, too, always help me?”
“Of course!”, she had said, wiping her tears.
She stopped when she saw that she had reached the hospital. It was huge…. This was the hospital were Henry was treated.
Oh, Henry! He had been fighting cancer for the past three years, and no amount of chemotherapy and other treatments could make him get rid of it. Moreover, he was already diabetic. However, he did not look like that. Whenever one saw Henry’s face, they could not help thinking that he was the happiest man in the world. He was all smiles and no tears, and was always optimistic. His only fault was that he ate too much. For that reason he contracted diabetes, and now…now he is dead.
She entered the hospital, her sandals clattering on the tiled floor. She looked around. The hospital looked like a huge mound of earth where ants live. The windows looked like holes on the mound of Earth, and the doctors and nurses looked like ants, busily moving through the corridors of the hospital.
She went to the reception counter and asked,
“In which room is Henry Wells? I came to see him.”
The woman at the counter gave her a short glance and handed her an entry pass.
“Room 302. Third Floor. Please wear a mask before you enter.”
She obediently put on a mask and walked towards the lift. She reached the third floor and went towards the right side. She knew where Henry was. She stopped before room 302, and knocked at the door. A curt “Come in” allowed her entry.
She entered and was blinded by the strong white light of the bulb. She looked around and saw Harry crying inconsolably beside Henry. She went to him and comforted him. Then she turned towards Henry.
He was still smiling. The beautiful smile, which made one forget the difficulties of life and taught one to be optimistic. It soothed her and she took his old, wrinkled hands into herself and clasped them.
Henry had had a stroke a few days back, which had completely paralyzed him. The doctor had already said that there was no hope for him, but to count the days till he died.
She asked Harry, “What did the doctor say, Harry?”
“He said that he did not expect Dad to die so suddenly, and that he thought he would survive for 3 months at least.”
“Oh!”, she said and clasped Henry’s hands tighter.
It was just the night before that she had taken the first ever decision of her life. Only till yesterday, Henry was alive. She had talked to him yesterday.
“Dad, how are you feeling now?”, she had asked, forcing back her tears.
Henry had not said anything. He had tried to speak, but was not able to. He had looked at her helplessly.
“Yes Dad, are you having difficulty in speaking?”
He had nodded his head. It was evident that he was in great pain. He had made several gestures to her.
“What do you mean?” she had cried in horror.
He could not say anything. He clasped her hands and had pleaded, pleaded mercilessly which no one but she could understand.
“I could not do it!”, she had cried.
He made a gesture which said, “You had promised to help me in my times of need, please!”
She had stood dumbstruck. She had sat on a sofa and thought, considered. This was the first decision she was ever going to take, and she had to think of it carefully.
She could not see her beloved friend in so much pain. She had to do something. And she had done it.
She had gone back to her home, and had brought out a packet of Potassio Fontaine. This was exactly what she wanted. It was a silent killer, once it is mixed with water, and the water is drunk, the person is dead without any symptoms. It would seem like normal death. Nobody would understand anything.
Tears had rolled down her cheeks as she thought of Henry. But she had wiped away her tears and stood strong.
She had gone back to the hospital. She had entered the room and went to Henry. He was staring at her pleadingly. She had slowly opened the saline, and mixed a fine amount of powder with the water. She had closed the saline and waited. The power had mixed with the water and the water looked crystal clear. She had then looked down at Henry.
He was smiling, although his face was twisted with pain. He had looked calm, and his look had showed,
“May God bless you, my child.”
She had run out of the room, tears falling down her cheeks.
All this came back to her now. She looked at Henry, but she was not sad. She was happy that she had releases a good person of all his suffering.
“We need to make arrangements for the funeral.”, she said to Henry.