“Heyyyy look, a shooting star!!” Jenny exclaims like an adorable kid as I sit on the reclining chair, staring at nothing in particular in our balcony.
“Hmmm” I answer. Well, in my mind it sounded like an affirmation to me, but Jenny is suddenly looking at me. Oh Sigh!
“What? I heard you. Made a wish?” I say amicably. I am in no mood for a nag session. What’s with women and stars anyway? I squelch this thought, thinking, if Jen comes to know, she’ll lecture me about stereotyping.
|Image Source: the-shooting-star.com|
“What would I ask for? I’ve you.” She grins. Jen is so much in love with me that sometimes I am just afraid about the end. There is no such reason as such, but because of Jen’s health and the circumstances in which we got legally married, I am scared that everything will end too soon.
Jenny is a patient of mild to severe lunacy…and a lot of things. Well, I won’t call her a lunatic because I love her, but she has these phases when it becomes almost impossible to be with her, to control her. I had met her at Delhi University, when she was doing a PhD in Mathematics. Of all the things, Jen is extremely good with numbers. She will not watch television, will not read books but ask her to tally my Profit and Loss A/c and correct my Balance Sheet; she would take less the 20 minutes to make everything perfect. I feel proud of her. I still remember, when she was telling me about how lonely she felt and how painful it was for her, when she was not lucid, to control herself. Yes, I married her out of choice. No, it wasn’t pity. My folks have severed ties with me for marrying a “Mad” woman. What they do not understand is that Jen is not incapable or disabled in any manner. She is PHD in Mathematics for crying out loud! She is just unwell. With patience and medicines and most importantly, love – Jen will recover.
“What are you thinking?” Jen sits on my lap, her arms around my neck as I feel sudden tears in my eyes. I do love her. No matter how unwell she is, I won’t be able to let her go.
“You are crying Karan?” Eyes widening, she takes my face in her palms and asks, like a girl talking to her favorite doll.
“I missed the shooting star or I could’ve wished something too.” I give her a smile and hug her tight. Dr. Bhatia is only lying. Has anyone ever died before, because of a mental illness? He cannot be so sure.
“Karan, Jenny appears to be normal physically but her motor nerves are slowing down. In a week or so, her sensory organs will stop functioning. I’ve….” The man has the nerves to look concerned. Sigh. I know he was. “There is also a tiny lump in her cranial membrane. I know it is too sudden for you to grasp, but apart from the medicines she takes for lucidity, she also has a weak liver and these medicines have damaged it considerably. Her other vital organs are inching towards critical stage. You might have to admit her in two days.”
“Mr. Bhatia, You must have known about this – this liver and vital organs issue, before. You are telling me now? When I have less than a week?” I am almost screaming. Was this man waiting? I instantaneously decide that I will take a second opinion. I don’t care if Mr. Bhatia has dealt with Jen’s case from the beginning. I give him a good glare – a good unreasonable fuming look.
“Mr. Karan! We all have known that not much can be done about Jen’s health. I care about her like my own daughter! I understand that this is tough for you. Believe me it is for me as well. But I am unfortunately, sure of what I am saying. She has been under observation and I was hoping against hope that she will be all right. But since last few sessions I’ve noticed a declining pattern and today’s tests have confirmed of what we were apprehensive about. She will not be able to make it through.”
I stand up suddenly. “Do you think I would have married Jen to let her die? No Doctor! Just because you are saying she will die, are you implying that I should leave her like this? I will take her to the best hospitals and I will prove that you are wrong!!”
I know I’m being irrational but…Jen cannot die. She cannot. I’ve been so particular with her meds, her exercises and her needs – everything, She cannot just die!
“Son, please calm down. Please understand. She needs your strength. I will give all my knowledge and skill to treat her. I wouldn’t mind, if a second opinion feels like a good option to you.” Mr. Bhatia holds my shoulders as I let this knowledge sink in, that Jen’s vital organs will soon betray her and she, will betray me. That her ingenious brain will give up. No, it is not possible. I know love has the power to heal. I walk out of the clinic and go ahead to take a second opinion from a friend, who is a qualified neuro-surgeon and a neurologist. Raghav just softened the blow by not using the word “dead” but said the same things as Dr. Bhatia. My hopes have crashed and I suddenly feel that if love could save her, I would give her all the love I could.
One thing everyone is sure about. Jen will be in pain. In so much pain. I wish at least, God would let her go in peace.
This was yesterday and may be I am imagining things, but Jen’s face resembles a skull now. I close my eyes as Jenny puts her head on my shoulders. I will be admitting her tomorrow. Her belongings are packed, her parents would arrive anytime tomorrow and I hope, just hope, that she recovers seeing them. Suddenly, I notice that Jen has fallen asleep on my shoulders.
I lift her up slowly and walk to our room. A thought occurs in my head, ‘Will it feel this way, when Jen dies…in my arms.’ Oh God! What am I thinking! I cringe in horror at my own vile thinking and put Jenny to bed, tucking her inside the quilt.
I watch her breathe softly, feeling relieved. Death can be so horrifying. Even though we know that is the ultimate journey, I never understood how it makes things easier in any way. I walk out with a peg of whisky and stand in the balcony. Cold breeze soothes my frazzled nerves as I think of how I had fallen in love with Jen. We have been married for two years. She wanted my child, but doctor had strictly warned me against it. It would be too much for her fragile body to bear. I complied. Her life is more important to me. I take out my cell phone and absently dial my mother’s number. I need her tonight.
“Karan?” I hear my mother’s voice.
“Maa….” There is a lump in my throat. I am speaking to the love I’d lost about the love I will lose. My mother senses the hesitation and instead of reminding me of the mistake I made, she whispers in a worried tone,
“Kya hua? Tu theek toh hai na?” (Trans.:What happened? Are you all right?)
“Maa, Jenny is going to die.” I finally say it – making it all too real for me.
“What are you saying?” My mother sounds shocked and somewhere, I feel better. Atleast, she has no reason to hate Jen now.
“I am admitting her tomorrow. Doctor says in two-three days, she will suffer a multiple organ failure and it is not possible to save her for more than a week – even on dialysis. Will…will you please come?” I realize that I am crying like a boy who has lost his favorite possession.
“Karan… which hospital? I will leave tomorrow. Beta, I know you love her… and I also know that I’ve hated her for no apparent reason, but I am your mother. I am so sorry. I know you need me. I will be with you.” Unbelievably, but true, that my mother has a change of heart.
It is absurd how the knowledge of death or may be fear of dying, makes people change their ways. How we wait for something, to push us hard on the ground, to make us realize the value of certain things. Mundane fights about right and wrong seem of no importance when it comes to life and love. I give her the details and hang up, feeling much better after letting my emotions out.
I sit on the chair and close my eyes.
It is 10 AM now. My mother is consoling me and so is Jen’s family. But no one is crying. No one.
I go to our bedroom and lock myself in…..silencing everyone with a look. I sit on the bed, where Jen lay last night. I inhale a lingering scent of hers and go through Jen’s diaries and work sheets, opening the drawers at random. I feel fresh tears leak out of my eyes and find myself on my knees sobbing as a gaping hollow opens up inside me. It feels like eternity when I get up and see a pink paper under Jen’s pillow. It has her curly handwriting.
Dearest dearest Karan,
I know the world thinks I am crazy. Heck, even I think I am mad…but you know, I wish I had some control, any control on what my brain does. You know the worst thing is that I don’t remember what I have done. I have always gathered from the cautious behavior of people around me that there is indeed something wrong with me. At DU, Math was my best friend. It still is. It always will be. I seemingly don’t register anything else. Actually, I really don’t find anything else interesting. I may have been unwell…but you know when I met you, it was the best thing that had happened to me. You, you were the first person who did not pity me or look at me with strange eyes that I might erupt any second.
You loved me, even though you knew, I was flawed through and through. Even though, you knew that you can turn your back on me, even though, you had all the power to break me into pieces. It must have been a massive leap of faith from your side, to marry me and take me as your life partner. J Remember Karan? When we had gone to Simla and you had asked me if I was afraid what will happen tomorrow and I had not answered? You must have thought I have not heard you. Sometimes, I’ve pretended to not listen or understand, just to tease you, I am sorry *Holds ears*. But you know, I will answer you now – I am afraid, especially these days. You know, there is a weird frown on Bhatia Uncle’s face every time he makes me go through MRI and all those tests. I don’t want to say this, but I feel I am going to die. You know, suddenly colors are too bright and music is too loud. I cannot even correct my sheets of formulas, the numbers keep disappearing. I know, I sound crazy, but I am not lying.
So, tonight I am writing this as a proof of how much I love you. I have not felt a single moment of pain with you in these two years – even when Uncle said no for a baby. I felt like your child, the way you made me feel comfortable and stashed away your feelings, taking me out and doing all the funny things, I will never forget. Now, promise me one thing – okay? I am not saying I am leaving you, but if I do and believe me, I will return. J Karan….will you marry again? Please? For my sake? Take your time, see…I know, you are just 28 and believe me, you are so handsome, that if I was all right, I would have remarried you. Please? Don’t break your heart over me, for I know you love me and I love you too…so much! You made me believe in my existence. Oh, and the guitar you asked me to sell? I've repaired it and kept it in my cupboard, in the down shelf. It's gift wrapped. Start playing again! :D
Karan, memories are the best things we can have and I don’t want you to shed a tear for me… I won’t be happy then. I want you to remember me as someone you loved and made happy. You’ve made too many sacrifices for me…and now, you have to live again. All right?
Your Jen J