His Wakeful Sleep
They had been giggling at the same joke for last fifteen minutes now.
“Sia, you look beautiful when you laugh,” said Anil, gently removing a hair strand off her tender face.
“Stop flirting,” she blushed hitting his chest, lightly.
“I don’t understand why you never believe me,” he nagged.
While she was trying to frame her response, the nurse entered the room.
“Feeling any better?” asked the nurse.
The nurse injected medicine through the vein tube, and she immediately dozed off, without even saying good night. Anil watched her sleep at first and then, toss and turn in her bed. He couldn’t look away for even a minute for he couldn’t miss even a single glimpse of what they call love. Apparently, he could not only feel love, but see it too, in front of him, curled up in her bed, sleeping peacefully.
The nurse returned after forty minutes, the usual time she took to examine all the patients after Sia.
“Mr. Chauhan, why are you still awake?” the nurse enquired.
“Call me Anil, please. And I am not sleepy, actually,” he lied.
“Alright Anil uncle, I’ll believe your excuse if you want me to. What’s the real reason?” she asked.
“I don’t want to miss any moment of her presence with me,” he sighed, pouring himself a glass of water.
“That’s so …”
“Insane, right?” she was interrupted midway by him.
“No, adorable, actually,” she was less of words.
He could say nothing, but smile.
“How long have you been together?” she asked.
“After knowing her for one year, staying friends for two and a half and then being in a relationship for six years, we got married. It’s been forty five years since then; you can do your math,” he said, placing back the empty glass of water on the side table, trying not to make any noise for it might wake her up.
“Are you scared of losing her?” she asked the obvious.
“I used to be, initially, but now I know, it’s inevitable. The cancer is eating her up, and now, all I see is a little less of what she used to be, which is really heart wrenching. Because trust me, you never want to see the one you love suffer right in front of you,” he said, with tiny droplets of grief beneath his lashes.
“I am sorr…”
“No, don’t be, it’s okay. Not your fault, after all, you are doing the best you can, to let me live a few more days with what is left of her. I can’t be more thankful right now,” said the old, withered guy, patting her head thrice, as if giving all his blessings to the angel in front of him.
“Will you be able to live after she’d be gone?” she wanted to ask him but stayed mum.
Apparently, nobody dies when their loved ones go away, nonetheless, something inside them surely does. Precisely, the heart, creating a void deep within itself. It never really invigorates, just adjusts to a routine without them. The agony stays along for the rest of their lives, yet they survive somehow. She had perceived that Anil Chauhan was courageous, she did not want to shatter him more, by shedding tears in front of him and thus gulped down the lump in her throat.
“Take care of yourself, Anil uncle, good night,” she said and escaped both, the room and the situation.
Anil sat back on his seat and resumed looking at her. He looked at her the way he had first looked at her; trying to grasp as much of her as he could, and as if it was going to be the last night when he would be actually watching her, sleep blissfully.
He wished the night to last forever; or perhaps, her to!
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