The pulse-monitoring equipment was busy ticking at its usual pace. Dhilip breathed within the oxygen mask embracing his long and thin nose. His eyes remained closed. His motor organs suffered from laziness although the green monitor connected with wires hanging from his bed showed uniform zig-zag patterns full of hope.
Raakesh stood outside the ward. He couldn’t take his eyes off the transparent circular peephole. He was restless checking out the innocent Dhilip in the blue-colored patient pants. There were two or three soft skin-friendly connectors pinned on Dhilip’s chest to a few medical reading machines surrounding the hospital bed.
“Bro, Dhilip, what happened to you? I wish Priya never entered your life. I wish I studied with you in college. I would have advised you better…better…”, he grumbled, sobbing to himself. He recollected Dhilip’s happy face when he blushed with a bouquet of roses while requesting the bike. “I can’t believe that the dragon swallowed you, a little boy.” He crossed his fingers.
He looked up at the plain white ceiling, wishing, “Bro, I hope you find a genuine girl who loves you more than anything else in the world. You should win the heart of the woman who is the most beautiful, from the bottom of her heart.”
“The world around you is sadly filled with dragons. I doubt if you’re smart enough to discover this peacock from the herd of dangerous dragons. Of course, your peacock can’t save you from dreadfulness but at least it will fly away somewhere far with you sitting on it.”
“What happened to my son?”, asked a trembling female voice, emerging from behind him.
“Aunty!”, Raakesh exclaimed, as Dhilip’s mother hurried towards him. She peeped to break down at her son in the ICU.
“Calm down, Mala. He is strong. Nothing will happen to our son”, a stout middle-aged fair gentleman patted to console her but failed to conceal his tears. He helped her take a seat on the silverish chairs joined together and juxtaposed to the wall.
She couldn’t take her eyes off the opposite ward. Manish bhaiya quickly grabbed a small paper cup of water from the can at the end of the corridor.
“Mom, please calm down. My brother can survive a quake striking more than seven on the Richter Scale. In contrast, a trivial bike accident is nothing. He will soon wake up to trouble us. See!”, said he, forcing a handful of drinking water into his anxious mother’s mouth.
Raakesh was about to leave as soon as Shanti bhabhi joined them. He smiled at the relief of noticing his entire family convincing each other and waiting out of curiosity.
“Dude, wait!”, Manish bhaiya yelled at him. He caught his hand and stopped him.
With tears accumulating in his eyes, he enquired, “How did this happen to my brother?” He raised his voice, “What so happened that he is lying in such a critical state on the hospital bed late at night? Who has done this? Tell me everything.”
“Yes, I too need the answer”, roared Jagdeesh uncle, frowning and marching towards Raakesh. The latter swallowed his tears.
“Uncle, bhaiya, Dhilip was pissed after learning that his girlfriend Priya treated him nothing more than a material of timepass. She used him just for fun. He drank at the bar and rushed on my bike. He lost his patience to notice the pothole and…”
“Urgh! Dhilip, my dear little boy…”, Mala aunty slammed her forehead as she wept bitterly. Shanthi bhabhi rested her mother-in-law’s head on her shoulders. She was too clueless to convince Mala.
“What? Relationship? How long have the two been together? And who the hell is that Priya? I swear I won’t spare her stupidity. How can she play with my son’s emotions?”, Jagdeesh roared. He looked stricter as he closed his fists and frowned at the ICU ward.
“What a girl! Shameless idiot! How could she call love a timepass? If she wanted to while her time away, she could have sought other measures including watching series or reading novels. “
“Why break a man’s heart? So heartless. Our innocent guy believes that everyone else is innocent just like him. Huh!”, Shanthi murmured.
“Uncle, it is since the past two years that Priya had been faking it with Dhilip while the latter loved her truly. I wonder if anyone else’s love could exceed that of Dhilip’s for Priya and she…forget it”
“Two years?!”, exclaimed Manish, shrugging and bulging his eyes. Mala shook her head. Shanthi wore a look of disgust with Priya’s thoughts running through her mind.
“Hello, are you Dhilip’s family?”, enquired the neurologist, stepping out of the ward. He removed his mask as everyone else surrounded him and piled him with questions concerning the patient’s health updates. He looked down at the floor and sighed.
“Doctor, why are you silent? I will die of a heart attack”, Mala trembled.
“Mom, please”, consoled Manish as Shanthi rubbed her hand and hissed.
“Is my son at least alive? Speak out, doctor, please”, Mala emphasized. The doctor nodded at which the family and friends exchanged smiles at each other.
“So, shall we meet him now?”, enquired Manish, shrinking his wide eyes through the round glasses.
“But, I’m sorry to say that he has slipped into a coma. We tried our level best to retrieve him”, the doctor conveyed. He walked away with the nurses pointing at a different ward. A bolt of lightning struck Dhilip’s family.
“What?! Coma? Doctor! My son!”, Mala cried, almost to the extent of collapsing. Shanthi wept bitterly as she wept along. Dhilip’s father and brother too were in tears.
“How I wish I denied his request. How I wish I had stopped him from visiting the lion’s den. How I wish I had at least stopped him from riding in anger. I’m the sole cause of all the trouble. It's because of me! Sorry da, Dhilip! Sorry, bro!”, Raakesh blamed himself for offering the bike to Dhilip.
He peeped once again only to witness his kind colleague speechless and motionless; all resembling a dead body except for the fact that his heart was still beating.
His head spun as he balanced to lean on the wall. He beat the wall behind, him with his closed fist, as scenes of his friend shouting at the bar, rushing on the bike, and falling down due to the fatal accident, flashed repeatedly in front of his eyes. He couldn’t breathe for the entire next moment learning that he was close to saving his best friend’s life but he didn’t.
“I should have thought. I should have handled his wrath. My stupid brain, why didn’t you work back then? Why? Why?”
The next noon, Mala sat, with swollen eyes and tilted weary face, at the hospital canteen.
Although there wasn’t a tear evident on her face despite staying awake throughout the last night and weeping restlessly, one could clearly identify that she continued to cry from deep inside her. She sobbed, gazing at both her palms, recollecting the first time Jagdeesh handed over baby Dhilip to her, at the nursing home.
“Aunty, please don’t stay with an empty stomach for long. Have you forgotten your BP issues? You haven’t eaten anything since this morning. Neither did you have your morning tea. Please don’t harm yourself”, Shanthi consoled, as she sat opposite Mala, with a plate of roti and dhal. The canteen was crowded with patients coughing or sneezing hither and thither.
She offered her a bit of breakfast. Mala faked a smile.
“I don’t mind dying out of hunger…”
“Mom, don’t say this…”
“I gave birth to him not for this day to see him soulless upon the hospital bed. Will those in a coma never wake up? Will we never get to see him ever again in this lifetime?”
She banged the back of her head against the portion of the chair’s backrest behind her head. Shanthi shook her head.
“No way, aunty. We have always been good to society. I’m sure the great heavens will never let go of us, especially Dhilip. Trust me, he will have the most beautiful life-more beautiful than Manish and mine, yours and uncle’s.”
“Aww, you are very sweet”, complimented Mala, smiling at Shanthi.
“Did you have something?”
“No, aunty. Will eat with you.” The two ladies were about to set their hands on the plates when they happened to notice a woman, in a saree and mangal sutra around her neck, crying with a little girl, at the counter. She hugged her daughter firmly.
“Your father will never return. We can never see his face again. Coma is worse than death. Coma is such a rude fate wherein one cannot talk, eat or mingle although one is medically alive. The family’s condition becomes worse when they can see and feel their beloved but can never hear them.” The two drenched each others’ chests with heavy tears.
“See, this is our Dhilip’s situation too. Oh Lord why him?”, sobbed Mala, pushing the plate across the table. Shanthi didn’t eat, as well. “It's the great God's mistake and he ought to fix it. How I wish the wicked Priya had slipped into a coma and not our Dhilip…”
“Not wish…she must…she the bitch who ruined my son’s life deserves all rights to suffer the most severe and critical medical condition. I will party sitting right beside her bed. She must go to hell!”, roared the frustrated mother.
Shanthi nodded and frowned at the Lord Ganesh idol painted in white, decorated with colorful garlands, and placed on a desk outside the mess.
Mala aunty and Jagdeesh uncle sat on opposite sides of Dhilip’s bed. The room was enlightened by a bright sunbeam. Mala smiled at Dhilip’s sleeping face. She massaged his hair while Jagdeesh stared at his unconscious son of twenty-three.
“He looks very cute while resting. I have never seen him sleeping. He always used to be active and intelligent. I never thought that I would get to see him resting on a hospital bed like this. He always interrupts my conversations but he isn’t uttering a word now. He wasn’t silent back as a kid either. Remember?”, Mala recollected.
Jagdeesh nodded. He patted his son’s left shoulder.
“I still remember the day I taught him how to ride a supportless bicycle. He was just six years old. He grasped things quickly. He is skilled and talented enough to make it into a global app development firm today. I have always been proud of my sons. I can’t see him like this today ....”
He closed his eyes and squeezed their tears. Mala sobbed looking at him sobbing.
“Excuse me!”, called a male voice from the door. Dhilip’s parents nodded and stood up from their seats. The neurologist entered with a sorry look at his patient. He pulled a stool and sat beside Jagdeesh.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you. Shall we talk if you’re free?”, asked the doctor.
Both Mala and Jagdeesh nodded readily.
“Sir, I’m sorry for your son. It has been three days. He hasn’t improved a bit…”
“Doctor, but the third day is today and it's not yet dusk”, Mala pointed out.
“Correct”, agreed the doctor, nodding along.
“From the past fifteen years of my experience, I’ve encountered several coma cases. Not even a single one has woken up from a coma. It's almost like building castles in the air to anticipate someone waking up from a coma…”
“I know, doctor”, said Jagdeesh, “But, we have been praying to the considerate heavens who never say a 'No'. We’re confident that our brave son will make it, just like a hero.”
“Glad to hear about it, sir”, the doctor commented. “Every father believes that his son is no less than a mighty warrior at the country’s border. I understand what you’ve been going through, at this point in time.”
He switched glances from Mala to Jagdeesh and vice-versa, as he suggested, “However, let me tell you that it isn’t necessary for someone to be alive if and only if they are physically alive.” He smiled, concluding, “You can still see your son alive. Believe me!”
Mala and Jagdessh exchanged puzzled faces at each other. They shrugged at the doctor.
“Let me explain. Why don’t you consider organ donation? Your son’s sharp glittering black eyes can be owned by one while his working kidneys and pure heart can save someone else, and so on. Your son is just an individual to you. But, you can see him alive through many happy souls. We have adequate facilities to carry it out at our prestigious hospital itself. Have you given it a thought?”
“Stop it, doctor!”, Jagdeesh yelled, rising from his seat.
“Doctor, what about my son then? Even a dozen souls put together can’t bring our son back. Do you even know how he lived? He is such a unique soul, as his name suggests. I’m sorry if I’m being rude but I’m his mother-biological mother, for your kind information”, trembled Mala.
As she bet her head restlessly on her son’s legs, Jagdeesh requested the doctor to leave.
“Sorry, sir. But, let me know if you’re interested. I can help you out. If you mind, you can save someone nearby. In fact, there is a patient in the very hospital. He is a mere teenager. His kidneys have stopped functioning at such a young age…”
“Sorry, doctor. We are and will never be interested in your offer even if it meant seeing our son like this throughout our lifetime”, said Jagdeesh, refusing and rebuking the doctor right away. He closed the door and rushed to his wife. He sat beside her.
“Don’t worry. The medical business is common nowadays…”
“Why does everyone target my son? First the ruthless Priya then this merciless doctor…”
“Huh, what to do? The human body has become more significant than the human himself. Curse the dark era.”
She looked into his eyes, enquiring, “Ri, do we have a solution? Is there really no hope as the doctor mentioned?” He gnashed his teeth and bulged his eyes, at the oblivious bedridden patient.
“One of my contacts is a coma specialist. That's our last hope”, stated Jagdeesh. Mala grinned, wiped her tears, and hugged him.
One evening, a tall, spectacled elderly gentleman, in a white coat, sat beside Dhilip on the bed. He was busy observing the readings at the bottom left-hand corner of the medical machines around. He pulled the skin below Dhilip’s eyes to forcibly open the patient’s closed eyes. He lit a tiny torch into Dhilip's cornea to raise his eyebrows analyzing Dhilip’s eyes. At last, he grabbed Dhilip’s right hand and frowned at his wristwatch.
“Ri, even the regular doctor checks Dhilip’s pulse regularly. How is Dr.Nakul considered a specialist?”, Shanthi whispered to her husband. “Above all, dad has brought him all the way from Mumbai.”
“Dad always does something for a reason. I hope Dr.Nakul is our solution”, whispered Manish, as he closed his eyes. He joined his hands together and sighed in deep prayers. Mala rolled her eyeballs hither and thither out of anxiety. She signaled Jagdeesh if the specialist found any clue.
“Everything seems fine, Mr.Jagdeesh”, Dr.Nakul highlighted. “The patient’s health is excellently stable.”
He began walking, as he continued, “When there aren’t any physical troubles, he ought to wake up soon. Moreover, Dhilip doesn’t have any other complications as well. He is also young. Why hasn’t he woken up even after a week?”
He announced to the entire family, “It means that more than a regular dose of treatment which I will be providing, he is suffering from an emotional trauma before he slipped into the coma. Is my suspicion true?”
Raakesh nodded while the others looked away from each other.
“Alright. Coma patients are known to return as soon as they find a solid purpose to lead their lives. Although he is speechless, his ears are sharp enough to comprehend your words.”
He sanitized his palms, concluding, “Keep talking to him, of the good times or sweet memories together with friends and family. Most importantly, be loud enough for him to find a purpose for his life.” He removed his coat.
“Remind him of his goal or a task that he has left incomplete. He must return to complete it. What does he need in life? Remind him of it and he must wake up. It's all about the lazy brain. You and I end up living without a purpose! In fact, hardly one knows one’s purpose today! Ask anyone and they go blank! But, coma patients need to have one to inspire them to jump out of the bed.”
Jagdeesh nodded and thanked the doctor for his time. He accompanied him to escort him to the airport taxi. Manish rushed closer to Dhilip's bed.
“Come on, little brother. Don’t you want to deploy your third project? Kotlin, Java, Swift, Android, iOS and what not are your passions? You won your dream job. Huh! How could you turn your back on it and run away like this?”, began Manish. He patted Dhilip’s soft cheeks.
“Apps need you to build them. Technologies are growing. Don’t you wanna ace them? How will you, if you lie down like this forever? Wake up. Don’t be silly.”
“Did I raise you all these years just to be betrayed by a lame girl and lie down like this?”, asked his mother. “Don’t you have a single purpose to see us again? I didn’t carry you in my womb for eight months, for absolutely no reason. What’s your reason, son? I want to see you again…” She knelt and wept bitterly.
“When I first walked into my in-law’s house, I cried, feeling weird. You said you were my younger brother. How dare you abandon your sister?”, roared Shanthi. She sobbed, asking him, “Was our voyage together in the long life only till this point? Is it all ending here at the ICU?”
Manish and Shanthi cried in each others’ arms.
“Bro, da, why are you troubling your own family? Is this the lesson of responsibility you taught me when I planned to bunk my first presentation?”, shouted Raakesh.
He leaned forward and shook Dhilip.
“Idiot, find a purpose, man. That stupid evil girl isn’t everything. As I last told you, you deserve someone far better. You deserve an angel not a demon. She didn’t even bother to ask around what happened to you after she broke your heart. Clearly, she doesn't give a shit about you. Anyway, let me tell you frankly, I have never felt that you had a great love story with Priya.”
“You can’t lose your life due to your love for a villain like her. I curse her for having the worst death ever. Karma won’t spare her. But, you must wake up and live happily with a lovely girl who loves you more than how much you love her. Both of you must make Priya feel shameless for her deeds. Your limitless love is such that a girl must long for it, you mustn’t long for her. That's the kind of right love. Got it?”
"There is a long way filled with roses to greet you with your unique lover on the red carpet. Forget Priya. She sucks. Are you planning to lie off like a corpse forever or live a splendid love story? Life has a lot in store for you, man...Wake up! Aren't my words good enough to help you find your so-called purpose?"
Dhilip's family including Raakesh continued to stand dumbstruck as they stared at Dhilip.
Will Dhilip ever find the purpose of his life?
Thank you for following my series and reading the episode. Thanks again for supporting my new series, 'Wrong Love Right Love'. Please rate it and write your review, give it a heart, and share it in your circle whenever you are free. Your voice matters a lot to me.