Honk! Honk! The loud motor horn pierced through the ears of every pedestrian except the one to whom it was intended. Until a passerby alerted the person to give way to the car, she had no idea that she was blocking the traffic. She was completely in some other world of thoughts. After giving a grim look, the driver in the car took off and traffic resumed as usual. It was a dusty crowded street and people were seen rushing with their busy schedules. The traffic in that street was also incalculable.
Angela, who was walking across the road causing a small traffic jam, was actually rushing to her kid who must have by now completed his music class. She was blessed by a boy and now he was 5 years old. It was long 7 years back that she got married to David, who owns three supermarkets in and around the city. Her kid Deven was very much into music. He was very quiet as compared to the other children of his age. Since they could identify his flair for music, they started sending him to a music class right away. Angela was 28 now which means she married at 21. David was 28 then. She spent her childhood in a village which was some 200 miles away and at the age of 8, her father found a small job here in the city. She studied in a private school nearby and by the time she was in high school her father passed away. Her mother took up a private job as a clerk to meet family expenses. Angela was not the brightest kid in the class, but she sure was an all-rounder. Good in academics, sports and other extra-curricular activities. She was very inquisitive by nature and very socially active. She had a lot of friends in and around. She passed school with desirable grades and in college she took arts as her majors. Her mother wanted her to do something in science but she was never interested in that.
It was during her college days, that David happened to see Angela. The proposal of marriage was a weird one because David directly met her mother and expressed his interest in Angela. Since David had a firm financial background, her mother was indeed impressed. When David’s proposal came Angela was almost done with her college. Her mom wanted her to settle down in life as early as possible. She conveyed this to her and Angela too didn’t have any answers to ‘What next?’ after college. Being confused, she couldn’t deny her mother’s persuasion of settling down with David. There was nothing marvellous to be mentioned about her marriage but it was in these recent couple of years that she was always lost in some sort of thoughts. She was completely different now than she used to be. David used to be busy with his work and used to turn up only at night and leave early. He had good business and was happy about it. Angela used to spend her time reading, going to the park, seashore or some other lonely places during her free time.
As usual, it was early morning. For the past couple of months she had troubles either in falling asleep at night or she would wake up in the morning much earlier than usual. Today also she woke up much earlier and looking out of the window she could see nothing else but only darkness. Then after a while, she started with her household chores and by the time David was ready to go, she had completed her chores. Deven was busy watching his little yellow bird cartoon, as Angela alerted him to get ready for school. David in the mean while left and Angela got Deven ready and dropped him at school. Since she didn’t have anything to do at home, she just thought of visiting the shore nearby. The sea shore was quiet and at least once in two months, Angela used to go down and sit on the benches there. After an hour, she returned back home.
In the evening since there was no music classes, Deven was set to go outside and play with his friends. Angela gave a nod and Deven ran outside and within a couple of minutes he was on the door again knocking to let him in. Irritated Angela opened the door and asked, “What?” The kid innocently replied,” Mom, there’s a letter in the letterbox. Didn’t you see?” She replied back saying “Must be your dad’s”. “No, It had your name written on it so I came back to tell you.” After getting assurance that she would look into it, Deven left. She went to the letterbox and checked out. She got the letter back home and sat down on the sofa. She comprehended the meaning of the letter as she read through,
Hope you are doing fine by god’s grace. It was really hard for me to find your address. It has been really long but to me you are still that 8th grade girl whom I had asked to come near the Tulip at the backyard in our school. Recently I have been thinking about you and I wanted to hear from you. I know you must be curious to know who I am, so do I want to come before you and tell you a sorry for what I have done. I will be coming to your place on 20th of this month, at the medical centre which is near the old central market. I prefer to meet you there at Room no 218 which is on the second floor near the Lab. I will be coming there with a small purpose at 10.00 am and I will be there till noon. Hope to see you there.
Reading this letter shook Angela completely. It took her back to those school days. She had then found a letter tucked in carelessly by someone in her bag. The letter demanded that she should come at the backyard in the school and the person who wrote the letter was completely in love with her. No one showed up and she thought she was tricked by someone. But after all these years, she was totally taken aback. At night, during supper Deven just broke the silence asking her about the letter. David asked her, “What letter?” She quickly managed replying, “It was from our old club, asking me to renew the membership.” And before David asked anything further she said she disposed the letter with the other trash while cleaning up the place. David continued to have his food, quite satisfied by the answer. She had well managed not to show up her excitement. At night, she was thinking to herself that she was married and had a kid so it’s inappropriate to go and meet a stranger. It was early morning and she had managed to get only a little sleep. By this time her thought had changed to, “What is wrong in seeing an old friend?” Her inquisitive nature was never going to let her sit peacefully. There were 5 more days to go. The excitement that grew in her knew no bounds.
Yet another day passed and by this time, she was thinking about the dress to wear for the big day. Nothing big had happened in 7 years time after her marriage. She vaguely tried to recollect the faces of the boys who used to hang around with her, her high school seniors, even juniors. But no, not even a clue of who this guy would be. In the evening, she had promised to go to the zoo with Deven. Seeing the yellow love birds in one of those random cages brought a smile and a kind of glow to her face. At one point she even thought that she was already drawn intimate to this stranger. At night, she casually mentioned David about her plan to go to library on 20th. David was astonished as these kinds of saying and asking had stopped long back in their life. He just nodded and after having done with dinner, he went off to bed. Angela somehow managed to have something and rushed Deven to bed. Her eyes were wide open throughout the night.
The excitement soared on the third and fourth days, which gently paved way for the fifth day when she was supposed to meet him. When she woke up, she was definitely hit by the sleeplessness but the excitement killed all the other factors. She rushed to the kitchen and completed her works as fast as she could. She could feel her heart- beats rising to another level. In her heart she was praying for a smooth meeting as she had told a lie to David. She could have kept quiet but in her paramount excitement that day, she had just addressed it. Finally in the morning David had his breakfast and as usual after dressing up, he left. Now Deven was yet to get ready for his school. She got him ready and Deven complained that it is much earlier than usual. After dropping Deven at school, she had at least 3 miles to cover to reach old central market and plenty of time left.
Though she had prepared breakfast, she couldn’t have it because she was totally keyed up for the upcoming events. Walking towards the next coffee shop, she ordered a coffee and sat there for a few minutes with a newspaper in her hand. Still there was an hour left. She had dropped the idea of walking down to the place thinking that it would make her look worn out. All she could manage to spend was 15 minutes. Impatiently, she rushed to the counter and cleared the bill. Going outside she got a cab and instructed the driver to drop her off at old central market. And nearly half an hour to 10.00am, she read the big board at the entrance which read ‘The Medical Centre’. She also realised that this hospital was mainly for treatment of cancer. Though it was a big hospital, she had never been here before. She thought may be some of his known ones must have contracted this disease and he is coming to meet them. She walked in through the compound towards the huge structure which had five storeys.
It was almost 9.45 and Angela decided that she is not going to wait anymore. Moving towards the stairs she ascended them with swiftness. Soon on the second floor, she just moved in search of the lab. The stairs led to a passage which splits into two. She chose the left first and walked around the left corridor in search of the lab. After failing to find the lab there, she came back and chose to go towards the right and in the right corridor moving a little she could notice that there was a Lab towards the end. She quickly marched towards the Lab as she noticed Room No. 218 adjacent to it. She gave a temporary halt as she reached in front of the closed doors. She was nervous, tensed and felt her throat was running dry. Somehow she calmed herself down and decided to enter the room.
She knocked on the door and waited in anticipation. No one answered the door even after repeated attempts. She soothingly held the handle of the door and gradually gave a light thrust. The door was not locked. It widely opened up giving her the full view of the room. The room was spacious and there was a bed towards the left corner. The mattress, bed sheet and pillows were in order but the bed was devoid of anyone. She looked around to find the person but there was no one. She walked front and back and waited there for couple of minutes. Then thinking to herself that she was fooled again by the person, she turned back with the intention of leaving. Exactly then, she heard a clutter of door from the far end of the room. She never noticed that there was a room at the far end. A pale female figure, totally skinny as if she hadn’t eaten for days together and hairless too, appeared before her. Angela understood that she was battling cancer but didn’t have any clue who she was or what was going on. Angela just stood in dismay for half a minute and then proceeded telling that lady about the intentions of her visit to the place. Before she could complete, a feeble voice murmured lightly, “Angie.” Angela could still not identify this woman, and she stood speechless. She couldn’t even find the smallest of clue to how the woman knew her name. The lady continued after couple of seconds, “Angie, you have long forgotten me I guess. It’s me Clara. Your classmate.” Angela took time to go back to her memories, but she very well remembered Clara who studied with her for more than 5 years. She had a lot of good memories with Clara who was very mischievous by nature. Clara went on to say, “It was me Angie who wrote that letter in eight grade asking you to come to the backyard. Though I knew you were very curious to know about it those days, I chose not to tell you then. I am sorry about it.” Angela stood still hearing what Clara had to say. She had lost acquaintance with Clara completely once high school was over. She asked Clara inaudibly, “What happened?” Clara smilingly said, “Oh! I was diagnosed with Lung cancer and that too very late. I will be going abroad tonight, as the doctors say that there are better treatment options available. That’s why I called you up today.”
Angela and Clara sat down to exchange how life had been treating them in these past years. Angela reminded Clara how mischievous she was and both of them chuckled, commenting on each other’s stupidity in school. Finally after an hour and a half, Angela was about to leave. As she got up and walked a few steps. Clara called her from behind and asked sorry for that letter in school days, and the recent one too. Angela came back to Clara and gave her a warm hug and smiling she said, “It’s OK. Just stay in touch.” She waved her hand and she left through the door, back to her normal life.
She preferred to walk back this time and on her way back she was smiling throughout thinking of the better times in life. Neither being fooled for the second time, nor the backfired excitement mattered. She was happy that she could reunite with one of her close pals and share some worthwhile time with her. As she paced back into her normal life, she had one thing to rejoice about, ‘A sudden flash of her faded memory, which came back to her like a sweet music’.
copied from my blog : anooppillaiz.blogspot.ae