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Chapter 7

William Baldwin Patterson was born on July 19th, 1965. His mother died in complications at childbirth. He was the only child that had come into their household. His father Christopher Patterson was one of the biggest names in Pediatrics at that time. He was the sole heir to the Patterson fortune. He grew up in the lap of luxury. He always got the best of everything but somehow he wasn’t spoilt. He had a vary caring nanny who looked after all his needs and made sure that he was brought up properly. His father tried to devote as much time as he could to his kid but since the death of his wife, the senior Patterson had lost all his interest in family life and thrown himself into research and his work. It was very rarely that the senior man actually spent time with the kid. The little time that he did spend with the child, Will treasured. He always tried to please his father. Somehow it never seemed to be good enough for no matter what the child tried, he could never spark the interest of his father but he kept at it. Then at the age of 8, tragedy struck again. His nanny, the one who had brought him up, died. She was buried at the family cemetery. Will was inconsolable for more than a week. He refused to eat anything and locked himself up in his room refusing to do anything. He had just lost the closest thing to a mother he had ever had. Then at the door he heard his father’s voice. His father said, “Son, let me in, I want to talk to you.” Will opened the door for his father and in walked his father. Little Will looked at him and knew that he wasn’t going to stay and talk to him. All he really wanted was a hug from his father, a comforting arm over his shoulders, a few whispered words of comfort but it never came. His father stood by the side table, looked out the window and said in a voice that seemed so detached, “Son, I’ve decided to send you to a boarding school. You will make friends there and you will enjoy yourself there. It’s the best for the both of us.” He turned to his son, looked at him once and then walked out of the room. Will was devastated but the kid was resilient. He knew this was the way it was meant to be. He seemed a changed child after that. He packed up his clothes that very evening and when he came down for dinner that evening, a meal he was accustomed to having on his own, he seemed to be detached from his surroundings in a very eerie way. All this was noticed by one of the under butlers and he let the head butler know. The head butler brushed this away as simply grief over losing his nanny and also the news that he was going away to boarding school. It will build character in the kid said the butler. It will make a man out of him.

Will left the next evening to the boarding school. On reaching there the authorities who had been intimated that Will might be a little depressed in light of all that had happened were surprised to see a very happy and content Will. Will said he was looking forward to his life here in boarding school. The authorities were pleasantly surprised by what they saw and rushed to send word to Will’s father that Will seemed to be handling things relatively well. The head butler who always knew what was happening, looked at the under butler and said, “See, I told you. Everything would be alright.”

On the surface everything seemed to be going well. Will seemed to be excelling on all fronts. He was always at the top of his class. He was always the first to grasp some new concept. He spent a lot of extra time with his teachers and worked that extra bit until and unless he was clear with the concepts. He also had a great many friends. He was always amongst the most popular children in class. He was always ready to help a friend out. Even when it came to sports, he was the first person everyone wanted on their team. He simply seemed to be the best athlete in their school. It wasn’t fair complained some of the children. Will was simply gifted as an athlete. He was a natural at every sport. He took to baseball and basketball like a fish to water but the sport in which he excelled was football. He was simply the best quarterback that had ever played at their school. When he took the field, he transformed into this machine and there really seemed like there was nothing that could stop him. Then there were the women, there always seemed to be a whole gaggle of them behind him at every point.

He seemed to have everything going for him but there were always those isolated events that his matron had recorded in his books that were a little suspicious. There was this one time when Will was seen repeatedly kicking a dog hat seemed to be doing nothing to him. Some of the children who had seen him do this ran and called the matron. By the time she reached Will, he was standing over the dead dog. She started shouting at him until she saw the tears in his eyes and only then did she notice that the pool of blood was not just the dogs. The dog had apparently bitten Will. When asked about the incident, will had said that he’d been walking down the road, on his way to the park when this crazed dog had come running at him from nowhere. He had gotten scared and had tried running but the dog was too fast for him. It had taken a bite at his ankles and he had gone down. The dog then had gone for his neck and Will had fought back to save his life. He had somehow managed to get to his feet when the dog had lunged at him again. In an act of self defense he had kicked out at the dog and connected squarely with the jaw. It seemed to have momentarily stunned the dog but he wasn’t sure. He wanted to make sure the dog didn’t come after him again and he didn’t want the dog to attack anyone else. He was worried that in the time he would take to find help, someone else might get attacked. So he kicked the dog to death. While he was reprimanded for his violent response, he was praised for his bravery and received a citation for his singular bravery in the face of adversity that might have saved the lives of many others.

Will passed out of school at the top of his class receiving high marks in biology. He received many offers for football scholarships to study in the most prestigious of institutions. He rejected them all. It seemed like he was bent on following in his fathers footsteps. He showed a great interest in the subject of clinical medicine. He applied in the top medical colleges of the country and was accepted in the most prestigious of them. There too he excelled in every facet. His work was exemplary. He would put in hours that others never knew existed. One of his professors remarked of Will, “That kid has an almost insane amount of determination and drive. He will go places.”

Medical college was where he first met Diana. They were in the same class and they hated each other from the very first minute they set eyes on each other. She was from a small family and had worked her way to the top. He was the boy born with the silver spoon in his mouth. Everything had come easy to him. The both of them knew that the other was the only real competition. The both of them were the only ones who put in as much effort as the other. They both chose the same courses and their paths seemed to clash all the time. Every time they came across each other, they were filled with such loathing that their friends would snicker at them and imitate them in their rooms. The two of them whenever in earshot of the other would make snide remarks about each other making sure the other heard it. The amount of work that they put in was of the highest quality. They didn’t waste time in foolish pastimes like relationships. Both thought it was a waste of time but by the end of the third year, they were both seeing people. As the finals approached both stopped these ‘foolish activities’ as they referred to them and began putting in an insane number of hours. Needless to say the results were an intensely awaited affair. There really was no doubt as to who would be the top two. The real question was who would get the scholarship that was only offered to one person from the entire batch. Both had chosen pediatrics as their chosen field of interest. The results when they came out were no surprise. Both had scored the highest in their batch but the real surprise was the announcement of the scholarship. It had been awarded to both of them. That evening at the dinner organized by the Dean, in honour of the winners, the both of them were seen together laughing. Friends noted that they seemed very comfortable in each others company. From that day onwards they were inseparable. Many friends claimed that they had predicted this happening. They said it had to be that way. There had to be a happy ending. Both of them specialized in pediatrics and became major doctors in the field. They were both married at the same church where Diana’s parents had been married. Will’s father couldn’t make it to the ceremony. He had been held up in work. Will didn’t bother asking his dad too many questions. This was the happiest moment of his life. Three months later Diana was pregnant. Will was the happiest person in the world. It seemed to him like nothing could go wrong. Then tragedy struck.

It was the morning after Christmas. He and Diana were driving home after spending Christmas at her parents place. It had snowed the night before and the roads were very slippery. Diana was almost due. “It will be soon now,” was what their doctor had said. Will was driving home very carefully when Diana’s contractions began. Her water had broken. Will knew he had to get her to a hospital as son as he could. A very painful contraction hit Diana and Will pulled over to talk her through it. The both of them never saw the truck coming down the road, but they both heard the squeal of the tyre’s as the truck skidded and the last thing the both of them remembered was the truck slamming into their car.

When the medics first saw their car, they didn’t think there was anybody alive inside. They looked in and saw Will and Diana still strapped into their seats. Then suddenly the medics noticed that Diana was pregnant and they knew that if the kid had to have a chance, they had to do something quick. They cut the both of them out of the car somehow and rushed them to the hospital as fast as they could. When Will came to, he didn’t remember much. Then suddenly it all came back to him and he jumped up and screamed for Diana. The doctor came in and put an arm on his shoulder. Will looked up questioningly into his face. The look on the doctor’s face said it all. “I’m sorry Mr. Patterson; there really wasn’t anything we could do. She had lost too much blood and...” the scream of agony that escaped from Will’s lips was not one that the nurses and the doctor at the hospital would easily forget. Will didn’t even hear what the doctor was saying, “His Diana was gone, his life, all that he had dreamed about, all up in smoke.” Then as an afterthought, he murmured, “And was there anything you could do to save my daughter?” the doctors and the nurses looked at each other. They didn’t want to give him hope. The baby girl had survived but was in the incubator. She was born premature and the doctors had given her less than a 5% chance of survival. The doctor looked around him for support and then as he looked into the eyes of a man who seemed to have lost the will to live, he said, “Yes, she survived. She is on life support, and the doctors rate her chances of survival at less than 5% but yes, she is alive.” The change that appeared on Will’s face was remarkable. He seemed to become a changed person. There was reason for him to leave. There was reason for him to fight on. By a cruel twist of fate the only real injury he suffered was a couple of cracked ribs for the truck had rammed into the right of his car. His dad visited him once but not too much was said between them. Will recovered very quickly and spent all his time watching his little baby girl fighting to breathe. He named her Lisa, the name that they had both decided on. Doctors gave Lisa almost no chance but this father would not give up hope. He sat by her day and night. Read to her, talked to her, told her all about Diana and how they had met and how they had planned so much for Lisa. Miraculously, Lisa started recovering. Her vital signs started improving. She came off the life support system. She began to breathe on her own. She started feeding on her own and didn’t have to be fed through a tube anymore. “Will,” they said, “was the only reason the baby was getting better.” Nursing mothers pointed Will out to their husbands and said that’s the care they expected. The nurses all loved Will for they had never seen anyone so caring as he was. He was also quite knowledgeable about the subject that he always knew what was happening. Finally Lisa was declared fit to be released. That day Will bought all the doctors and nurses that had cared for Lisa gifts and threw a baby party for Lisa’s welcome home. All his friends were so happy for him. He began to come back to work again. He simply was the best at what he was doing and Lisa could not have had a better father. He was the most caring, understanding father any child could have asked for. Many a time his friends tried to fix him up with some woman or the other he always turned it down. He would say, “What do I need a woman in my life for? I have lisa.” Friends worried that as Lisa grew she would feel the need for a mother. Will shot their qualms down by saying, “If she has me she won’t need anyone else. He played the role of father mother and friend rolled into one for Lisa.

As the years passed, friends of will noted that Will got a little paranoid when it came to Lisa. He always took her to work with him. She would play in his office when he spent his time looking at patients. He refused to leave her in the care of a nurse. He was very careful about the friends that Lisa made. He always took extra care to make sure the kids were well behaved. Isolated incidents of Will beating up a neighbors child for pushing Lisa to the ground alarmed some of them but they brushed them away as the caring nature of a single father. Every woman that knew Will would point out to her husband the way Will cared for his child and would say, “Why can’t you be like that man?”

Will’s work also started improving. He became known as the best in his field. His life was coming together slowly. Then Lisa joined school. This was the first time that Lisa was going to be away from him for so long. The whole first day he hung around outside the classroom for he was worried that something might happen. On the other hand, Lisa seemed to enjoy herself. She seemed to like school and began to stay back after school to play with her new friends. “They are so much more fun to play with than you are” she told him once when he asked her why she now preferred to stay out with other friends. He understood what was happening and started letting her go visiting to her friends houses. Slowly friends noticed that Lisa had become less talkative in front of her father. She was more out going otherwise but the minute her father stepped in she would become quiet and even shy and bashful. They all thought this was very sweet, the way she showed her respect for her dad.

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