The Enchanting Midnight

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Mystery Turns Into Fear

CHAPTER 7

Mystery turns into Fear

I came back to my tent. The morning was cold, but warmer than the night. The midnight, yes, it was mesmerizing and mysterious too, I wondered. The sun was just beginning to come up, trying to bring some warmth in that chill. I could see people from many tents waking up and getting back to work. The residents were also visible. It was finally another day at the camp.

And a busy day lay ahead. I was already tired from my previous day’s schedule but I had to continue. Considering the fact that the residents were convinced that we were there to offer more help, many more had turned up that morning. This was a good sign for our camp being successful. So we felt more enthusiastic to move ahead with it. Also, my pending tasks had been completed so I started attending casualties.

However, the reminiscences of the previous night were still on my mind. I couldn’t stop wondering what all was hidden behind what I had seen. I felt drowsy but my mind seemed to be awake even then. I was trying to concentrate on my tasks but my mind was going elsewhere. I had to submit my report for the previous day to Dr. Reddy, who was going to arrive soon.

I got busy with the patients for the next three hours and had forgotten about the report till he came.

“Oh Good morning sir”, I got up surprised by his arrival at an unexpected hour, “You are here so early!” I felt I shouldn’t have said that.

“Good morning Dr. Siddharth. I felt why should it be only you guys working early in the morning here. And to tell you the truth, I had less work in the hospital today”, he replied.

“That’s good sir. You finally have a day where you’ll less busy than your usual schedule.”

“No no, I have many other tasks to be done. One for instance is checking up here for any assistance. Though, I know you would handle it all well. And…”, he paused looking at me, “You look very pale and tired. Didn’t have a good sleep?”.

“Actually sir I was trying to complete the pending tasks I had after yesterday’s work and I didn’t come to know that it took me the whole night, until I saw it was early in the morning.”

“Oh poor you. You need to take rest too. You can’t continue this way for all the days you are here. It will affect you and your work too. You see we don’t need our doctor falling ill”, he laughed.

“I will take care of that sir. Yesterday had just been the first day, trying to adjust with the load and time. That won’t be the case further. Oh by the way the report is done sir”, I felt proud of myself deep inside while saying that.

“Oh that’s wonderful. You did that too”, he said as he took it from me, “I’ll check with others now. Good going doctor”, he left.

The last words made my mind wonder about the night again. Not that nobody else called me ‘doctor’, but the way she called me that had somehow made it obvious to be called by her in the past few days. Every time somebody else called me ‘doctor’, I couldn’t stop from reminding myself how it sounded in her voice and smiled at myself. With her thought, my mind again entered into the earlier state. What had been troubling her?

The day went busy as more time passed by. Apart from the patients, which were more than expected, we had other visitors too. A team of senior doctors, who had to be attended despite the work. They had been sent by Dr. Reddy in appreciation of the way we carried out our work. A team of volunteers from the campaign who came to seek help regarding the distribution of medicines and vaccines. Some local residents who sought advice regarding some health issues, and some journalists for covering the updates of the camp. Not to forget some of my fellow colleagues who wanted to take a break in between for a few minutes, and I sent them back with a little more work assuring them that they would be free earlier than the previous night.

With all the events around me, I hardly got time to sit and relax. However, I was sure I would not be busy like the first day and I was right. Moreover, there was something about that day which made me feel more energetic. The appreciation received by Dr. Reddy was very valuable to me. I could not keep the increased enthusiasm out of my way and it showed.

Around 9 at night, our team actually got over with that day’s work. I sat relaxed because I had completed my pending tasks for that day too. I was only left with my report which I had kept to be done after dinner. Everyone of us wanted to straighten our legs and feel fresh before we went to sleep. Sleep, was after all seeming to be a rare and priceless aspect over here. My colleagues and I decided to take a walk around the place after dinner. It was the first time they were going to explore it, but it wasn’t the first time for me. However, I did not want to tell them about it.

We kept on wandering near our tents for some time. Even at that time of the night, the chill had started showing its presence, accompanied by fog, which was surely going to increase as more hours would pass. Some of us suggested to walk over to the place occupied by the campaign volunteers and have a small talk with them, but the idea was soon discarded when we realized that they would be equally tired. After more than half an hour, we returned to our respective tents, thankful enough for the time our schedule had provided us that day.

I sat down to finish with my report which was not going to take more than 20 minutes, as all the other entries were already prepared carefully. It was 11 P.M. and I planned to go to bed around 11-30. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I had the thoughts about last night, but somehow I was trying to put them aside too. This was not the appropriate time to get into all that. Trying to judge and plunge into somebody’s life did not seem sensible enough, and that too at midnight. I tried to calm my mind by reassuring myself for the nth time that I will surely do something about it later and started with my report.

As expected, it took me only 15 minutes and I was totally idle by 11-30. Now, my mind started to wake up and my body wanted to sleep. In between the two, it was I who kept struggling with both. My thoughts started running in all the directions.

There has to be a reason why the girl is always so mysterious. She seems to have stories hidden behind everything that she says. More than that, she tries to hide it under a cover. The cover of her mysterious smile and the cheerful personality which she showed to everyone around her. Had I not seen her last night, sobbing silently and then unsuccessfully trying to hide it behind other unexplained stories, I would not have thought of this again.

I continued to guess the reasons behind her despair, may be it was only momentary. May be she was just disturbed by something small and had forgotten by now. But her attempts to be somebody else did not let me believe that. Moreover, had it been something small, she would not have given it so much space, I thought lying down.

It was exactly midnight by then, and my body had started to give up before my mind. I struggled hard to keep my eyes open but the after-effects of two days and one night had finally shown up. I didn’t come to know when I dozed off.

“Dr. Siddharth!” I heard a voice call my name. I was in a dark forest where I was trying to figure out my way. I had no idea how I reached there. I needed a light.

“Dr. Siddharth”, the voice again called me. I looked around for the source of the voice. I had to find the direction.

“Is it you?”, I enquired but there was no answer. The voice kept calling me but I could not find the way out.

“Dr. Siddharth! It is an emergency. Please wake up”, somebody shook me.

I opened my eyes. I had been dreaming but the voice was real. It was one of my colleagues in the tent.

“Oh. How long have you been calling my name?”, I felt caught again, wondering what I had spoken while sleeping.

“No it has just been a minute. I am sorry to have disturbed you at this time but we need you. It is an emergency”.

“Of course. Just give me a minute”, I said getting up. It was early in the morning because I could sense absolute silence outside and the darkness was not so profound.

I accompanied my colleague out of my tent. It was 5 A.M. and I was trying to get out of my dream and from my drowsiness. It was cold outside which made it more difficult to walk upto where we had to go.

“What has happened exactly?”, I tried to distract my drowsiness by talking.

“There is something wrong with one of the volunteers. Probably the after-effects of the busy schedule or something else. The patient seems to be normal but is not able to respond to the surroundings normally, though there is nothing that seems wrong. Even the pulse rate is normal, but there is something I could not understand. The way we respond to the usual sensations around us in unconsciousness is what seems to be wrong with her. I mean I don’t know how to explain, and I thought it has got something to do with a prolonged state of hypertension. A group came to me saying that she had seemed pale throughout the previous day. Since I couldn’t understand more, I thought I should ask you to come and see her.”

As he was telling me all that and as we were reaching nearer to the place where we intended to go, my heart started beating faster. I wished what my heart was wondering would be wrong but it wasn’t. I got sure of it as he pointed to a tent where I had been before. I felt the chilling sensation run through my blood as I was told to enter.

I entered inside. The tent seemed more spacious than before. And all this time after trying not to look to the other side, I gathered courage and saw her lying there, probably unconscious. I did not want to believe my eyes. For a minute, I stood in silence, then as if regaining my senses, I proceeded and checked her pulse rate. He was right. There was nothing wrong with that. Even the blood pressure was normal. Yet, I finally understood what he had meant. She did not seem to breathe. None of her body parts gave the signs of inhalation or exhalation. I could not sense the breath out of her nose. It was only her heartbeat which confirmed that she was still alive.

I sat in horror trying to understand the situation. It was simply not making sense. A young girl seemed to have something wrong as if she was already very old. I tried making efforts to let her regain her consciousness, but did not succeed. I gave her a vaccination that would aid in reviving her consciousness soon and hoped for the same. As expected, she would be up in a few hours.

Till then, I wanted to talk to Dr. Reddy about it. I decided to update him with this case as soon as he came. It was important to me. She was important to me.

It was 6-45 A.M. Within a few minutes, I had another day with a hectic schedule ahead. I did not want to leave from there. I just did not want to leave her that way. But I did not know how it would seem. I looked around in the tent. Everything was neatly arranged as earlier, perfectly in place. Yet some things seemed to be misplaced.

The newspaper clippings still remained but the pieces of writing were now missing. The coffee cup was beside her bed. Probably, she had been awake last night too, I wondered. I also wondered what it was that was troubling her so much. It was something really serious and with the current conditions prevailing, I needed to know. Though, I did not know but I had to know. Not just as somebody who cared for her, but even as a doctor for whom she was a known one, a neighbour too.

‘Somewhat’ known one, I corrected myself. I seemed to know nothing of what was going on inside her mind. I wondered about her family. She stayed alone. But she would have somebody behind her. I wondered if they should be found out and informed. Or I should wait. I also wondered why I had never discussed the usual aspects in these days.

Discussions. No actually we had not discussed anything. We talked so less. We simply spent time in silence. She was always lost in something and I was lost in noticing her silence and wondering what it meant. How foolish of myself!

“Dr. Siddharth! Is everything alright?”, a man called from outside.

I had been lost in my own thoughts for about 15 minutes. I stood up and just when I was about to leave, I saw a piece of paper over which the cup of coffee had been placed. I thought for a second and put it inside my pocket. No it wasn’t wrong when it is the question of somebody’s life, I defended myself.

I stepped out of the tent to look at anxious faces.

“Is she alright doctor?”, a woman probably in her fifties came forward and asked me.

“I cannot say anything about her condition right now”, my voice trembled, “But she will surely regain senses by evening”, I added to let myself sound positive.

“Somebody will be needed to stay with her till then”, I looked at the woman.

“Oh yes doctor, I will be with her. Such a nice girl she is. She has been taking care of me here. I wonder what went wrong with a noble person like her”.

“Thank you”, I could not resist. “When she regains consciousness, please call me again. It is very important”, I added looking at her.

It was 7 A.M. I silently left from there with my colleague. I did not say anything and he did not ask me anything. As soon as I reached my tent, I sat down on my bed with my mind remembering the sequence of events in the last one hour, no, in the last few days.

How I’d met her, how she has been, how I saw her always, how she seemed the previous night, and how she was now. It was all so confusing, and I really wanted to know it all. It was more than just a mystery for me, and I had just three more days and two nights in the camp.

I had to continue with my usual tasks but my mind was not coordinating with my body. I was thinking about something else. Fortunately, I had fewer work than the previous two days, which helped me to let my tasks be done without any problem. However, it was still a busy day. Despite my urge to go and see her, I could not. Moreover, I did not want to seem over caring about her to others.

At the back of my mind, I was still wondering about everything that I wanted to know and think. It seemed like hours before Dr. Reddy came.

I gave him my report for the previous day and we had the usual conversation, but my mind was elsewhere. There was something else I wanted to talk about.

“Are you still tired, Siddharth?”, he asked me when I was wondering if I should tell him.

“No sir actually..”

“You seem to be quiet. Anything wrong?”

“Yes sir, I was going to tell you about it”.

I narrated everything to him that had happened. Not missing out a single thing, I told her how I knew her since my mother’s accident and tried to explain everything. Dr. Reddy was not just my senior for internship but had also known our family all these years. I did not want to seem to be talking around a vague point so I told him some of what I thought of the reasons for that state of hers. He listened to everything without interruption.

“Good Siddharth. I am happy that you handled the situation. By what you have told me, she might regain consciousness by evening. As far as I can think, you seem to be the one who know her since longer than anybody else does over here…”

“I doubt that…”

“I think so. So when she wakes up, it will be better if you can make her feel at ease as if nothing happened. Do not talk about anything until she insists, and even then try to respond normally. And of course give me a call when she wakes up. I would like to see to this.”

“I will. Thank you sir”.

“It is okay. I know.”

I was busy with my schedule for the remaining day and kept checking for the time or for any news from her side. There was none. As time was passing by, my heart beat faster wondering if something had gone wrong. I went out on the pretext of getting some fresh air but nobody seemed to know anything new.

The evening went the same. I could not hide my anxiety and fear all this time. I could not concentrate anywhere. I did not talk to anybody. The dusk changed into night and the night was soon going to change into midnight. My pulse rate was definitely not normal I knew.

15 minutes after dinner, it was 11 P.M. I decided to stop thinking about my abnormal behaviour and proceed towards her tent. Just as I stepped out, a man collided with me.

“Oh Sorry doctor. I was coming to call you. You should see her.”

I did not listen to him anymore and tried to walk towards her tent as fast as my heart was beating. Was she talking? Was everything okay? I did not wait to ask him. I wanted to see her first. There was so much to be known, may be not now, but some time later and I had to know now.

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