Amar is a close friend of mine. Our friendship had blossomed since childhood, and it only got better with the swift passage of all these years. We studied in the same class, shared the same bench, and we were the best when it came to holding the secrets of each others’ fantasies. Weekends saw us frequenting on the badminton court for hours together, and the innumerable talkative sleepovers only added cream to our friendship.
But, things were different today. The immaculately white bed-sheet ruffled with the recurrent epileptic jolts of Amar. The sickening silence of the hospital room mercilessly complemented his suffering. He clutched my hand tight, only to find solace in the warmth it offered.
Contrary to the meaning his name carried, today was the last he would be present on the face of this earth. Yes. Today was the last day he would be alive. Today was the day when death would laugh at him deafeningly, mocking at his inability to fight back. And today was the day when loneliness would start its journey to the centre of my heart, plaguing it with despondence.
‘Doctor!’ I yelled. My voice reverberated through the silence in the room.
I heard footsteps, which, as they approached closer, became louder and diluted. In came a pot-bellied man, dressed in the typical doctor attire. Haphazard patches of grey hair spread on his bald head, like the way weeds would stand erect on a barren land. Wrinkles played havoc over his face. His beard displayed itself unevenly, and the skin under his throat hung loosely.
A male nurse followed him inside the room. He caught hold of Amar’s kicking legs and pressed them tight to the white mattress, while I clutched his hands tight. The doctor administered some drug into Amar’s arm, bringing his hyper-active body to a standstill. He then placed his hand on my shoulder, and gave a couple of pats of advanced condolences. The duo filed out of the room, leaving me alone with my ailing companion.
I stared into Amar’s eyes. They yearned to tell me something. But the misery which sucked Amar’s life every passing moment obstructed them. A tear hung precariously over the lower eye lashes of my eyes. I drove my fingers through his disturbed hair. I felt his scalp. I moved my palm over his forehead, which, by now, was getting devoid of any temperature. The minute pearl-like tears rolled down my cheeks creating a stream of sobs. I was breaking down.
I reprimanded myself for my weakening emotions. It was not wise to break before people whom we don’t want to lose, for that might have a negative and nullifying effect on them. I fought back my tears and dragged off a smile.
‘You will be okay.’ I told Amar, although my conscience admonished me for mouthing lines of falsehood.
Through the windows of the room, a thunderous lightning caught my gaze. The lightning struck once a while, as it pulled off infrequent streaks of light that illuminated the room. The windowpanes rattled with the monsoon winds. Drops of rain washed themselves down them, as though symbolizing the pain of the heavens.
*Maybe, even God is pained to take Amar with him.*
The curtains swayed back and forth, creating rhythmic undulations over their nylon surface. The sound of the rickety old clock that hung on the wall opposite ricocheted in the silence which seemed to be eternal.
Amar began to develop hiccups. I rushed for the bottle of water that stood on the table near the door.
‘You will be okay..’ I repeated those words as I helped Amar with the water. ‘You will be okay..’ I said again. With each repetition, the phrase seemed to lose its meaning. My mind wandered into nothingness. I felt my senses were at loss. A week ago, the doctor had announced that Amar had just six more days to live. He escaped death yesterday. But miracles don’t happen everyday.
My eyelids refused to bat any more. Even a single blink would take Amar away from me for a twinkling; and I was scared of that. When I woke up from a disturbed sleep today morning, I could not help but taste death myself. A bitter taste peppered with painful doses of agony, I should say. Each passing moment either showed Amar was still alive or stated the fact that he was inching towards the end page of the book of his life.
Lighting struck yet again. I looked into Amar’s eyes, as deeply as ever. He didn’t blink any more. His pulse vanished, making his lifeless body as cold as ice.
‘Amar..’ I muttered. I coughed. Words became heavy. A painful lump formed inside my throat. Tears, which maintained their stagnancy till now, began to flow. I held his palm tight and rested my lips on them.
Lightning emerged one last time, to bid adieu as I made my way towards the doorsteps of solitude.