Posted: 03 June 2008 at 2:36pm
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After many agonizing hours, the surgery was finally completed. The doctors emerged from the ER with exhausted faces and sighs. Rhia didnt need to approach them. She saw Dr. Ashok walking towards her, expressionless. He stopped before her, sighed deeply, and conveyed the situation to her. He hated this part of his job.
Dr. Ashok: The surgery was a success, but we're still not sure of anything right now Mrs. Malhotra. Lets pray that he regains conscience before tomorrow.
With an encouraging smile, he was off, leaving Rhia to fend off her own fears. The impact this accident had made on her was phenomenal. Never had she realized the extent to which she loved him. Only now, when she was almost losing him, did she realize with painstaking clarity, that her life would never be the same without him. Another array of hours crept by, and she found herself looking through the glass window into Saagar's room. He was barely recognizable. The IVs and bandages masked the flawless face of the man that had wowed her from the instant she set eyes on him. And yet, she had never felt these torrent of feelings stirring before either. As a nurse walked by, she called her out.
Rhia: Excuse me...is it ok if I go inside?
The nurse looked around uncomfortably, and then after a quick consultation with the nearest doctor, gave her approval. Rhia pushed the door open and tiptoed towards Saagar's bed, almost as if she was afraid of waking him up. He looked so frail, lying down amidst the white sheets, that she was almost afraid to touch him. Hesitantly, she reached out and touched his cheek, expecting him to flinch. But he didnt respond. His eyes remained tightly closed.
Rhia (whispering): Hey Saagar, wake up sweetheart. (she lowered herself onto her knees) Look, you've been sleeping for so long now, its time to get up.
Again, she reached out and touched his cheek, and then moved to his forehead.
Rhia (whispering): Saagar, you cant do this to me. I cant believe you'd be this selfish, to just walk from life when things got complicated. These doctors (pointing to door) tell me that unless you wake up...(trails away, and then takes a deep breath) but I know they're wrong. I know how competent you are, and how you prefer to deal with problems head on, rather than running away. Come on, just wake up.
She closed her eyes in frustration, and pressed her fingers to her temples. She could already feel a killer headache coming on, but she pushed all her pains aside. With renewed determination, she rested her head on his pillow, facing his bruised right cheek and held his hand.
Rhia (forcefully whispering): 6 months are not enough. Its only been six months since we met, can you believe it? It felt as if I'd known you forever, but its only been six months. Six months are NOT enough to know you. Six months are not enough to laugh with you, to cry with you. Six months are nothing. I want to spend the rest of my life with you sweetheart...I love you Saagar.
And that's when she felt it. His hand, which had been lying immobile in hers, twitched. Rhia froze. She wasnt sure if what she felt was real or just her desperate imagination, so she waited.
This time the movement was unmistakable. His fingers brushed the back of her hand and, feeling a rush of exhilaration, she sat up. She was breathing hard, feeling her own hand tremble with excitement.
Rhia: Come on Saagar, I felt it last time. But I want you to do this again sweetheart. Come on, do something. Saagar brush my hand again (she applied pressue to his hand with hers to guide him), come on. You can do it.
And after a few seconds, she saw his hand curling slowly, but surely, around hers. With a yelp of excitement she pressed the button the call a doctor. Dr Ashok rushed inside with urgency.
Dr. Ashok (panicked): What happened, is everything ok?
Rhia (speaking fast): He moved! Look, look at his hand, look how he's holding mine. Do you see?
The doctor's eyes widened for a moment before he regained composure. Walking to the other side, he spoke to Saagar firmly.
Dr. Ashok: Mr. Malhotra, do you hear me?
Silence at first, and rhia tightened her hand around his.
Dr. Ashok: Mr. Malhotra can you hear me? If you can hear what I'm saying, can you respond?
This time, in addition to squeezing Rhia's hand, Saagar's eyes fluttered as well.
Dr. Ashok: I think he's coming around! Mr. Malhotra, I need you to open your eyes. Can you do that for me?
His lips parted, and he moaned in response, but it was the most welcoming sound to Rhia's ears. She bit her lip to keep her emotions in check.
Rhia: Come on Saagar, open your eyes. We're all here with you.
Another moan, and his eyes opened halfway, and then shut back again. With more additional encouragement from both Rhia and the doctor, Saagar gave a deep sigh, and then after a few prolonged moments, opened his eyes slowly...focusing them right onto Rhia. She gasped. She couldnt help it, because she would have never thought that after his close call with death, the first object he would focus would be her.
Dr. Ashok, unaware of the connection before him, continued to babble on excitedly.
Dr. Ashok: Very good Mr. Malhotra, very good! Excellent!
Rhia (almost inaudible): Oh Saagar...
He opened his mouth, attempting to speak, but failing to do so. He looked at the doctor frustrated with his lack of vocal skills, and the doctor calmed him down.
Dr. Ashok: Its ok, its going to take a few tries. Keep trying.
Finally, he was able to muster out the first word, rough, raspy, but very much obvious.
She smiled, feeling her vision blurring due to the influx tears. The doctor, witnessing the personal moment, smiled once, reminded Rhia to call him if she needed anything, and left the couple to enjoy the moment.
Rhia: You've been very lazy Saagar. (smiling)
Saagar: I..I..I'm s..soorryy ab..b..bout..what I s..said...earlier.
He was regaining control of his voice rapidly.
Rhia: Shhh (places finger on his lips), dont talk. You need to rest.
Saagar: I've been resting. I need to talk now.
Rhia (smiled at first, and then became serious): You scared me there for a second. You wouldnt wake up. I didnt know what to do.
Saagar: I know, I'm sorry. But I heard what you said, about wanting to spend the rest of your life with me. How could I not wake up? It was an offer I couldnt refuse
He grinned, but the pain it caused was visible in his eyes. She laughed, feeling absurd that she could even in such a terrible situation, but she couldnt help it. She bent down and kissed his forehead. When she straightened up, she saw him staring at her intensely.
Rhia: What's wrong?
Saagar: I was just wondering...where have you been my entire life?
Rhia (quietly): Finding my way through I guess. Just getting through life.
Saagar : Really?(after a moment) I've been lost.
This time, she couldnt control herself. She broke down and pressed his hand to her face. He felt horribly helpless, and tried to pacify her, but it was no use. For the first time since the accident, Rhia realized what a helpless position she was in. She had forgotten the dilemma they had faced together almost a day ago. And now, it wasnt as easy to say good bye to Saagar like she had that time. Because, she realized with dread, she was desperately and madly in love with him.