The Enchanting Midnight

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The Beginning of An Unexplained Magic

CHAPTER 18

The Beginning of An Unexlpained Magic

The next morning seemed to welcome the winter season in a full fledged way. As I stepped out of my tent, I was surprised to see the weather at 6 A.M. It was as dark as it was when I had Maggi around 12 in the midnight, and equally chilling. Even more than it had been when I came back to my tent last night around 1 A.M. Moreover, it was raining heavily.

I wondered whether the sun had forgot to rise that morning. I looked around for something to keep me busy till there was light outside and I could start with the proceedings of my day. I took out a paper and a pen and noted down some things that I needed to remember to be checked out in order to continue with what I had thought of doing after the camp.

For a few minutes, my mind was in another world, a world which was not mine, but which I had explored the other night. I added some more tasks to be done. It was 6-30 A.M. by then. Since I wanted to let my eyes remain open when I wasn’t doing anything, I switched on the radio with me.

It was still raining heavily. I had no idea why it was raining on a cold winter morning. It had nothing to do with the season of Bhopal. I found it more irritating because I shivered all the time and was not able to concentrate on my work.

In such chilly mornings, doctors were probably not the only one who had to wake up for work, I thought as I heard the voice on the radio. I often used to listen to the early morning prayers on the radio when I was in college. I had a lot to study at that time.

Things hadn’t changed much since then. I still had a lot to study, but I had an equally busy schedule of work at the hospital. Yet, I had to study, if I wanted to clear my Post Graduation Entrance examinations. Getting to study Surgery wasn’t easy, and practicing it wasn’t easy either.

I had seen my father since so many years in this profession. I wished to reach the same position too. But there was a long way before I reached there. I had to get into studying first. That was an obligation towards the position I sought and towards the dreams my parents had for me.

There was much more that I had to do now. Some added tasks, some obligations to myself, for my own peace and for a friend in need. No, she probably didn’t need me. A friend in trouble, which she wanted to come out of, and if she was the one I worried about so much, it was an obligation for myself.

I realized that I was lost in my own thoughts when I heard the genre of songs change to the latest ones from morning prayers, which meant it was 7 A.M. It was still raining, though it seemed that it was soon going to stop. This rainfall would only get the chill more severe than before.

I hated shivering in cold. Actually I wondered why it got so cold. Everybody had a problem with that. Everybody couldn’t face the severe chill. Oh but there was an exception, I thought about her. All this time, I had seen her with a thin jacket only, with just the colours changing, but the kind remaining the same always.

I wondered what she did, to avoid feeling cold. I laughed at myself when I thought about exceptional metabolism. Of course, I had a strong feeling that it had nothing to do with metabolism or any medicine.

There, now I was going in a very stupid direction. I stopped myself right away and switched off the radio. I was there for work and I had already spent some time in leisure. With no more rainfall outside, I expected my day at work to finally begin and as I saw a patient coming inside, I thanked God that it had finally begun.

At 11 P.M. again, I habitually thought of paying a visit to my friend at her place. It wasn’t necessary, but I still wanted to and I did not want to get into the reason of what I wanted to do. I could say to myself that this was going to be the last night in this camp because the next day, I would leave from there at night, and even she might leave, I wondered.

I stepped out, now accustomed to the darkness, the path till her tent, the boulders on the way, the barking of the dogs from some distant place at that part of the night and the sound of the insects.

Something which added to the usual sounds was the sound of the chilly breeze that night. The breeze which made the weather severely cold, and I shivered despite wearing two jackets. I realized as I walked, that it was drizzling.

I felt that when I put out my hand and felt very tiny and light drops on it, which seemed like snow to me. I wondered why the weather was being such. I decided to quickly return from her place after seeing her, because I did not want to fall ill.

As I reached near her place, I saw a beautiful view which made me forget that I was trying to escape that weather a few minutes back. It was a moonlit night again. The moisture in the weather around me seemed to be present in the air that I breathed in.

I could smell the weather! The drizzling atmosphere made it seem like a snowfall with the hazy mist around me. I could see a mystic view around me as if I had just entered a heavenly hill station.

The breeze slowly wavered inside my shirt and entered my lungs, and it seemed soothing. I tried to breathe in more of it. I closed my eyes and let more of that feeling capture me. I got drowned into it completely, forgetting that I was standing outside in that weather. And the most surprising aspect was that it had an unexplainable warmth which did not let me shiver for a second.

I stood there till I heard her voice from behind, “I thought you felt cold outside, doctor!”

“Yeah, I do”, I said, trying to sound natural, coming back to my normal tone from the miraculous moment I had just experienced.

“And?”, she raised her eyebrow like an investigator.

“But there was something really different tonight. It was very magical, you know. I mean…”, but I didn’t know how to explain what I felt.

“Oh. That’s wonderful”, she smiled and it was then that I noticed that she was still wearing a thin jacket as usual even in that weather. I wondered how she managed to stand over there as if it was a summer night. And in that mystic moonlit atmosphere, she seemed like somebody who did not belong to this world.

She continued, “I am glad that finally you can tell somebody that you don’t feel cold”.

“No, that’s not the case. I feel cold. I was shivering a few minutes back in fact. But I don’t know how, for some minutes, I felt very warm and it was beautiful outside”, I tried to explain.

She laughed,” That’s good. You know I don’t understand why people hate this season. Winters are so beautiful. How can they seem chilly?”

“That might be the situation with a super girl like you. But not with common people like us. We have blood in our veins, common blood, not a heavenly warm liquid like the one that you have in your veins, the constituents of which, I would like to study someday”, I pulled out my tongue.

“Very funny. My veins also have common blood like yours. You know, it is a trick how to avoid feeling cold, so that the chill becomes beautiful”, she said like a teacher trying to make young kids wonder about unknown things.

I wondered with the same expressions about it, looking at which she replied, “Not now, but later on.” I dropped those expressions, “But you can’t deny that you felt wonderful tonight. Didn’t you?”, she looked at me with her questioning eyes.

“I felt great. It was the first time. I was surprised, but it was wonderful I admit”.

“Then you will surely love to know the secret behind making the chill yours”, she laughed. “Are you sure you are okay outside? I mean you are a beginner to be able to sit over here”.

“Yeah, I am perfectly fine”, I replied.

She walked to a nearby boulder. By that night, we had fixed places with two boulders near the tent, where we made space for ourselves.

“I didn’t understand how it is raining at this time, you know”, I said with the hope of knowing something.

“Ha ha ha you know. I made it happen. I have my connections up there and I love this misty weather”, she winked at me.

I could only smile at her witty reply, because I understood that I was not going to be told anything.

She continued, “But this is the last night over here. And then again, the same office and the same house”, she sighed. I was looking at her, trying to notice the change in her expressions, when those three words unknowingly came out of my mouth, “And same bus”.

She looked at me for a while as I tried to wonder why I had spoken that, “And same bus”, and smiled at me. I smiled back.

“So, your work about this camp and its study must be over now, is it?”, I asked her, trying to forget what I had just said.

“Not exactly. My work is a little different from yours, doctor. In fact, some of it will begin after the camp. I have facts and most of my reports are prepared, but I would need some concluding parts about it. It is not just about the problem. I have to suggest a solution too. Like every other report in this world”, she seemed lost for a minute.

Then, as if coming back to reality she looked at me again and I immediately tried to look at the sky. Probably she noticed that and did not utter a word. There was a complete silence for a few minutes. Neither of us tried to break it. Being aware of the presence too, we did not acknowledge it for some time.

I did that because I was trying to be normal and take the surroundings inside me. I did not know why she was doing that. But I felt better not to interrupt her because that silence seemed ecstatic to me, and we remained silent.

After what seemed like hours, she spoke, “So I think your work would be over tomorrow. When are you leaving from here?”

“Probably around 8 or 9 at night. My work will be over, yes, but just that for the camp. A lot of work awaits after that”.

She looked at me again, probably trying to find what I meant through those words. As if she understood what I meant, she smiled and nodded in agreement. “Yes! A lot of work awaits. For me, at the office too”, she laughed at her own words. I wondered if that was natural or an attempt of abstraction for her inner thoughts.

“When will you leave?”, I asked her.

“Around the same time”, she replied, lost in her own thoughts, to which I did not respond. Sometimes, I felt, it is better to give a person the space that is called ‘Personal’ for a reason. We sat there as the weather remained mystic with the same drizzling.

The drizzling continued the next morning too. I smiled at myself when I thought that it was being controlled by her, as she had said. Despite the drizzling and the chilly weather, the work had to go on. Surprisingly, back in my tent, I shivered though it was daytime. I wondered how I had felt warm at night there.

The whole day went busy in checking some last emergencies, vaccinating the remaining residents, distributing medicines to them along with instructions and preparing reports about the whole process. As I had told her, my work for the camp would be over after this.

We were visited by Dr. Reddy in the evening, who gave us instructions about getting everything back to the hospital latest by 10 P.M. And by the time he left and we started putting our equipments and belongings back into the tent, it was already 8 P.M.

By 9 P.M., we were ready to leave. I felt tempted to turn back and look at the place, the slums, where during a camp, I had found out so many things that I had wanted to know. I looked for the last time at the remains, at the place where our tents used to be, at the place where some distant people used to be, at the sky under which I had experienced so many different things. I felt a stream of thoughts running inside my mind.

And then, as I knew what had to be carried with me from there, I turned back and stepped inside my van, to start something that I had thought of. As our van reached the main road, I noticed a lonely figure on the roadside.

At a second glance, I knew it was her. I asked the driver to stop right away and asked, leaning outside the window, “How are you going back?”

She seemed startled at first, but then became calm as she saw me.

“I was wondering about it”.

“You can join us if you want. It is late so you may not get a public transport from this place.”

She looked at me, then at our van, seeming confused.

“We will take a few minutes at the hospital. And I’ll be driving back home. So I can drop you near your house…if you want”, I added. I wondered if I had said the correct thing and then concluded, that I had. It was necessary to add ‘if you want’.

“Thank you doctor”, she said as she stepped inside with her bag.

That twenty-minutes long journey to the hospital seemed like a never-ending one to me. At least I thought so. The road was not very crowded, and though it was dark, the lights seemed to reveal that we were in the city.

We had the equipments between us and a silence that seemed to be louder than the sound of the breeze around us. I got the window down. I knew she would not feel normal without that breeze and that chill. She looked at me, “So, somebody is daring to get cold”, she laughed.

“No, just an attempt you see”, I giggled, feeling stupid from inside to get noticed for that.

In another five minutes, we reached the hospital. We got down from the van.

“I’ll take not more than twenty minutes. I have to get everything settled over here and report to my senior…”

She interrupted,” Take your time doctor. Work is important.”

I got the equipments settled in the respective labs with my colleagues, got the vans vacated, checked for the remaining things, and deposited the keys. I walked towards Dr. Reddy’s room to find him waiting for me.

“Oh finally Siddharth. You are here”.

“Sorry sir. I got late”.

“That’s not a problem. So, everything in place? You did a great job in the camp by the way”.

“Yes”, I wondered which thing he was referring to. When I couldn’t guess, I said, “Thank you sir”, and handed the reports to him.

“Will you join me for a cup of tea?”, he asked me.

I hesitated, “Actually…”

“Do you have to leave early?”

“I have somebody else with me, waiting to leave…my friend”, I added,seeing his questioning eyes.

He understood which friend I meant, “Oh fine then leave soon. How is she now?”

“She is fine sir”, I replied, “Good night”, I said, wishing that he did not ask further.

As if he understood, he did not, “Good night Siddharth”.

I left and hurried towards the parking where my car was parked. I got inside and drove to where she was waiting.

“Did I take more time than expected? You had to wait outside in cold.”

“In fact, you came ten minutes earlier”, she said, looking at her watch, “And I do not feel cold, doctor”, she said with a pride to which I could only smile. How had I forgotten that it was I who shivered.

As we drove back to my place, I switched on the radio again. At nights, they always played soft old songs, which were mostly my favourites. I kept the windows down there too, to which she did not say anything thankfully.

We did not speak anything until she heard the song that was being played and commented, “This used to be dad’s favourite song. Memories, they never leave us, isn’t it? ”

I looked at her silently, “You know, memories, thoughts and our own mind is more like a basketball. We try to dribble them from here to there, unknowingly, and if any of them overtakes us, it is a basket for the mind. If not, a basket for us”.

She laughed at my statement”, Basketball. Good one doctor. Reminds me of the time when none of my days went without seeing it twice. Ever played it?”

“Just a beginner. Had played it once in school at the national level”, I replied.

“National level! You can’t be a beginner doctor. How did I not know that!” she exclaimed.

“How can you know everything about me?”

“Because you know everything about me doctor”, realizing her words, she added, “I mean this wasn’t something not to be told”.

“Okay”, I laughed, “I admit that I was a basketball player. And when I had come to know that you played it too, I couldn’t stop smiling at the coincidence”.

“Same here”, she laughed, “How about a match?”

“Are you serious?”, I asked.

“Of course. It would be my honour to play with you doctor.”

“Okay may be”.

“When? Where? Is there any club here?”, she asked eagerly, as if she was asking when to get her life back. I couldn’t stop myself from noticing the enthusiasm she showed for it. We had reached her place by then.

“I don’t know. Whenever. There is a club near New Market itself…”

“Great then, tomorrow morning, done”, she said without asking me, then added, “I don’t think you will have any work on a Sunday morning at 6 A.M.?” She said, getting out of the car.

She had trapped me well.

“6 A.M.!! It will be very cold. Not fair. I am not a superhuman like you”.

“You will not feel cold tomorrow”, she smiled at me and I wondered how.

“So, done?”, she asked me again.

“You won’t let me leave without agreeing I see. Done”, I said as I smiled.

“Great then doctor. It will be really great for me to play again. Good night, oh and thank you”, I watched as I saw her speaking like an enthusiastic child for something really precious. How could I deny!

“Good night. It will be my pleasure too”.

“So, I’ll be outside your gate at 5-45 A.M.”. She looked at my confused expressions, “I don’t know the place you see”.

I nodded and left. I wondered as I watched the sky under which I didn’t feel cold again, if everything was happening for some reason. I wondered what it would lead to, as I knocked the door. There was something that was being led by my destiny.

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