Sunday, July 31, 2005

4. Sahil

She had received the call just before she left for her morning coffee by the edge of the world. Sahil was terminal. She had run the 3 miles down to the infirmary having been unable to rouse her driver from his hash induced sleep.

When she got there it was already too late. The insulin they had been giving him to numb the pain of the diuretic induced cramps in his now almost completely useless legs had reacted badly with some concoction his father had brought from a Hakeem. He had been vomiting all night and having purged all the food and drink inside was now puking blood.

He lay in a pool of bile and blood thrashed by spasms that contorted his lithe body into impossible shapes, he managed to smile when he saw her enter the curtained off block they had reserved for him.

But it was already too late. She asked the nurses on duty for details but by the time they were done recounting the horrors this beloved boy had suffered through the night, Sahil was dead. They tried to revive him With CPR and electric shock but it was all too late. Too futile.

She collapsed.

She wanted to cry, but vomited instead. Her own bile pouring on top of his as she fainted on the bed beside him.

When she came to, Ayaz stood over her, gently stroking her hair. She sat up. Looked around. They had removed the boy’s body, she was lying on his bed. She looked up at Ayaz and finally began to cry.

He kissed her forehead. Held her close. Whispered consolations in her ear. And all the while she shook uncontrollably from anger and remorse in his arms.

She wasn’t the only one crying. Everyone at the little hospital mourned the loss of the boy who hardly ever spoke but by his sheer will and tenacity had woven a place for himself in every heart. But everyone knew that no one’s pain was greater than Rida’s. Not even his mother’s. Not even the father’s who every one knew was responsible for his death. He had snuck the yellow-brown powder in his meager meal for the night hoping for his beliefs to prevail over modern medicine. He hadn’t wanted him to die, he loved his son. But he had killed him. The next morning they would find his dead body in a ravine near Kalaam and there the saga of Sahil would be concluded.

But no degree of poetic justice could alleviate the pain in Rida’s heart.

She cried all the way to her cottage sitting in the army jeep besides Ayaz, who never stopped trying to console her. He stayed with her till she fell asleep, exhausted from the agony.

When she awoke finally sometime in the afternoon, she found a note from him lying on the bed-side table beside her alarm clock.

“To infinite, ever present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death.”
- Mary Baker

Let’s embrace the infinite love invoked in our jaded hearts by the innocence of the young boy who died with a smile on his face you alone could have brought him. You’ve mourned enough my dear, dear Rida. I need to see you smile.

Dinner, my house. Be ready by 7.

It would cause my heart a great deal of relief from the pain it has suffered today if you can take the time out to dress up for the celebration of Sahil’s life. And perhaps, seeing yourself resplendent and beautiful will help you realize what you will always mean to Sahil.

And me.

She read the note, and almost began to smile. Sahil’s ashen face was still too much a part of her sub-conscious to be able to focus on anything with pleasure. And that is what helped her decide that taking Ayaz up on his offer would perhaps be the best possible course of action. Her other option was sitting in her empty house, with nothing to do but bleed her heart into her journal and be haunted by a set of brilliant blue eyes that she would never see again.

Yes, she would go. She would enjoy his company. After all, he was all she had. He was the only one who would understand.

She looks at the clock. 4 pm.

3 hours to go.

Plenty of time she thinks.

To look resplendent and beautiful for Sahil.

And Ayaz.

And herself.

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