Alisha couldn’t believe what she was reading! She read and re-read the text multiple times, but still couldn’t fully digest the meaning of it. Frustrated, she threw her phone across the bed so hard that it landed on the coffee colored rug in front of the bed. She took a throw pillow and screamed her lungs into it. She screamed and screamed till her throat started hurting.
But, she did not let a single tear drop from her eyes. She had never felt such a strong anger for someone before this. Not even for Rohan. And this bitterness that she was feeling was beyond measure.
‘He still wants us to be friends, really?’ Alisha thought. ‘Which fantasy world is he living in? Doesn’t he want to know what I’m feeling? What I want?’ All these thoughts kept her awake for most of the night. She finally fell asleep when her eyelids couldn’t remain open even she wanted them too.
She got up in a grumpy mood and opened her bleary eyes when the alarm rang. She had to do her duties, no matter how much turmoil in her personal life.
Sighing, she got up, and got ready to go to the hospital. She searched for her phone and finally remembered where she had thrown it. She thanked her stars that it had landed on the rug, otherwise she would have to go for phone shopping as soon as the stores opened. After connecting her phone to the power bank and dumping it into her bag, she headed to the hospital. All the way, she was praying that her day should go in peace. She was just not in the mood to handle irate patients that day.
When she finally reached the hospital, it was pure chaos.
“Oh No!” She said. “Please God, help me to handle this day well. You never listen to my prayers, at least give me some patience for today.” She said to herself, as she entered the premises.
She was absolutely clueless about what was going on. Just as she was heading to the changing room, she bumped in to Diya.
“Thank God! You are finally here. We were trying to call you like crazy since night. But you were not answering your phone. We need as many hands as we can for this emergency.” Diya said in a single breath.
Alisha was feeling absolutely dopey as she said, “I really don’t understand what you are talking about.”
“Alisha! What is wrong with you? It’s all over the news. There was a major fire in the city and so many people are injured. They are bringing in at least twenty to thirty victims every hour.”
“Oh! That’s tragic. But, do you think I’m a ‘news watching’ person? Alisha snapped.
“Whatever! At least you should have answered your phone.” Diya said in exasperation.
Alisha took in a few deep breaths muttering ‘patience, patience’ before she said, “Let’s get working then.”
She was sent to the emergency room, where she had to deal with the more serious patients and stabilize them, while the junior doctors were left to do first aid for those who had minor injuries.
Amidst all the chaos, her mom called. “Mom, I’ll call you in some time, I’m very busy.” Alisha managed to tell her mom before she cut the phone. She did not give her mom the chance to even say ‘hello’.
After stabilizing a few patients and shifting them to the intensive care, she was exhausted. She also had to break the news of those who did not survive to their respective relatives. This was the only part of her job that she did not like. She was not very good at delivering bad news. Hell, she wasn’t even good in receiving bad news!
And being an anesthetist, it was not her job to deliver bad news even if something bad happened. But today, she was an ‘all in one’ person. She was the nurse, the ward boy, the maushi and even the sweeper, apart from using her expertise in saving the patient’s life. And she had no qualms about it. She knew it was an emergency and they were running low on man power as a few had also gone to the site of the accident.
Finally, as the hours passed, the work load reduced. They had cancelled all elective surgeries for that day due to this tragedy. When everything was under control, Alisha breathed a sigh of relief.
She was experiencing a dull pain in her stomach which she attributed to hunger, so she gulped down a wada pav with some tea while on her way to the doctors’ room. She also had a paracetamol tablet to help in alleviating the pain.
In the doctors’ room, she found Diya and Tarun discussing about the day. Alisha hugged them both as a gesture of companionship in difficult times.
“I’m really sorry, Diya, for snapping on you this morning.” She said.
“Hey, no worries, I’m sorry too. We were all so worked up that we couldn’t filter what we were saying.” Diya replied.
“Yes, I know. It was really stressful. A few patients are shifting to private hospitals from here.” Tarun joined in the conversation.
“There may be a few more coming, those who were trapped inside and all, but we are done for the day. Another team of doctors is coming, so we just need to brief them and then we can leave.” Diya sighed as she said that.
Alisha looked at the time and gasped. “Oh! It’s 7 already? Can’t believe we have been working ten hours non-stop!”
“Yes. Now I’m dying to go home and have a shower!” Diya said.
Another hour later, Alisha was back home.
She scrubbed herself off the dirt and sweat and changed into her pajamas. Her stomach pain was gone, but she was still feeling hungry. She ordered a vegetable gravy and chapattis from a nearby restaurant.
While waiting for the food, she decided to call her mom.
Her mom answered immediately. “Alisha! I was so worried. How are you dear?”
“I’m fine mom, what happened? Why are you so worried?”
“We saw the news about the fire in that club and all patients being taken to the hospital where you work. That’s why I just wanted to talk to you. I was calling you since early morning. But you refused to answer!”
Alisha scratched her head before saying, “Yes mom. It was on silent and then the battery went dead. And thankfully, the alarm clock that you had gifted me came to my rescue. Otherwise, I would have never reached on time.” She continued further, “And I did not know about the fire also. Only when I reached the hospital, I came to know about it.”
“How was your day then?”
“It was crazy, mom. Believe me, you do not want to know the gory details. I just came home.”
“Great. Then I think you need to rest. I’ll call you tomorrow. Good night dear.”
“Good night mom.”
Alisha stood, stretched herself and decided to update herself with the news. As she was watching the news, the doorbell rang. Anticipating the delivery boy with her food, she went inside to get the money. She opened the door to find a smiling Minnie standing in front of her.
“Oh, so now you are paying me to come to your house?” She said looking at the rupee notes in Alisha’s hands.
Alisha chuckled at that. She felt good smiling and laughing. The last twenty four hours had been quite dramatic for her, both literally and figuratively.
“No, Minnie. I had ordered food. Thought it was the delivery guy.”
“Great. So, I’m just in time for dinner.” She smiled.
Alisha looked at her teal colored knee length dress and said, “Nice color. Suits you. Looking very happy today?”
“Ah! Yes. Happy I am! I’ll tell you why. But, let me check you first.” She began twisting and turning Alisha’s hands and legs and pulling her hair.
“Ouch! What are you doing Minnie?” Alisha cried.
“Your mom has called me like a hundred times asking me to check on you. So that’s what I’m doing!” Minnie shrugged.
“Stop it now! I just spoke to her. I’m absolutely alright.” Alisha laughed.
They both sat on the sofa and Minnie switched the television off. “I can’t see this anymore. It’s just so sad. I don’t know how you guys deal with so much blood in your everyday life.” She said absently.
“It becomes a part of your life eventually. It doesn’t affect me so much now. I have become immune to it.” Alisha explained.
In the next few minutes, dinner had arrived and both of them sat at the dining table serving themselves.
“What else you had to tell me?” Alisha asked.
Minnie looked at her, smiled, and again started having her food.
“Stop the suspense drama Meenakshi.” Alisha purposely said her full name. “Meenakshi? Will you spill the secret that both you and I know cannot be any longer contained in that over bubbly self of yours?”
“That was awesome Alisha! I’ll tell you. Be patient.”
“Look Minnie, my patience has been tried and tested for the entire day today. So, if you want to tell me, go ahead. Or else, I’m going to bed post dinner.” Alisha sounded pissed.
“Whoa. Slow down there, darling sis. The good news is that Siddharth is coming back next month! We might get married after all!”
“Wow… That’s worth celebrating Minnie. What made him change his mind?”
“I think our last fight made him realize how much I mean to him. He just called me a couple of hours back with this decision of his. I wasn’t answering his call, you know. Then he called on my mom’s phone to talk to me. I was flattered, really.”
“Great Minnie. I’m really happy for you both.” Alisha smiled and got busy with her food.
Post dinner, they were just talking about the upcoming wedding, when Minnie suddenly asked, “Any message from Neil after that passionate kiss?” She wiggled her brows as she said that.
“Oh yes! There was.” Alisha said in an overtly enthusiastic tone. “Here, read it.” She opened the message and gave it to Minnie.
“What an idiot he is!” Minnie said. “I don’t know what else to say!” She exclaimed.
“We share the same thoughts on this Minnie. Even I don’t know what to tell him.” Alisha said.
After some time, Minnie said her good bye and left.
Alisha too retired for the night.
In the morning, she had another message from Neil.
'Hey Alisha, how are you doing? You did not reply to my last message, so I was a bit worried. Take care. See you soon.'
Alisha did not bother replying to the message. She tossed her phone aside and got ready for work.
At the hospital, she again had a busy day. A few hours later, she started experiencing the same pain in the abdomen which she had experienced the earlier day, but it seemed stronger in intensity this time. But she had enough food today, she wondered. Not wanting to take any risk, she asked a nurse to give her a painkiller injection. She experienced instant relief after that.
While she was about to be relieved from her duties for the day, she had another message from Neil.
'Hey Alisha, all well? No replies from your side?'
Alisha sighed and typed out a quick reply.
'Busy with work Neil. We’ll talk once you get back. Take care. Bye.'
Alisha had made up her mind now. She knew what she wanted. And if Neil couldn’t give it to her, then she wouldn’t be just friends with him. She couldn’t do that anymore. She was tired of fighting her own feelings. She was going to tell him how she felt once he was back.
After reaching home, she got ready for bed. She had dinner in the hospital canteen, so she was sorted for the night. The pain in her stomach had returned, but it was dull, so she did not dwell on it more. She had an off the next day and she decided to sleep a little longer. So, she switched off the doorbell and her phone and prayed that her maasi wouldn’t drop in to catch her breaking her promise. She giggled as she thought about that.
She woke up around midnight due to an incessant pain in her tummy. She felt nauseous and dashed to the bathroom to empty her stomach contents. But, nothing came out. She had a glass of water after some time. The pain increased in intensity and she dropped the glass from her hand.
She held her stomach with both her hands. She bent down in a squatting position in an attempt to relieve the pain. But, it was so severe that she cried due to the pain.
And then, everything went black.