Teenager browsing internet, chatting, shopping and social networking is not a uncommon sight these days, but a teenage girl doing this in a hospital sitting beside her sick father is not a so common these days.
This young, smiling, thin, sometimes tensed, talkative girl, on fourth floor, A-wing, Room number 204 lived a very unusual life from thegirl of her age. No regular school, no tuitions, no friends (actually, not the kinds we have), no outing, no girly gossips! (Almost!), she had been in that hospital for four years now, her father met an accident, from which he could never recovered, her mother was there with her for one year and after that when all the money started fading away, she left, her own mother, wife of a sick husband. Girl’s relatives stood by her for another one year but they too left, knowing that if a man’s wife has left him, why bother about him and his daughter, if something were to happen to the father, who will take care of the girl, she would be a burden.
So, there she was, with almost no money, no family and sadly with no future, all she had was a old laptop, plenty of smiles with a tear or two here and there, a sick father and a little ray of hope, that someday…someday…it will all be fine, not great, but just fine…She learned to not get her expectation to high early in her age, so “fine” in her world was “fantastic, great, amazing…” in ours.
One day while this girl was sitting under a lamppost with a laptop on her lap and a wheel chair lying next her, just outside the hospital. A boy probably of the same age, a cigarette between his lips in far end of right corner came walking towards this girl with his both palms open and facing outwards and pulling both his shoulders pulled and said, “Can you light my house?” (In that strange pitch when you have cigarette between your lips, for non-smokers it is that pitch when you are shouting and standing on the wrong end of toilet “waiting” to get the person sitting in the right end of the same toilet “waiting”, to come out fast)
Girl: Yeah sure! Just give me two drums of kerosene oil and a matchstick; I will put your entire house on fire. (Looking at the smoker,away from her laptop)
Smoker: Oh! Sorry, sorry.
Girl: Come on; believe I can light your house, only a girl can, you know.
Smoker: What? That. I mean. Yeah…I mean wanted a matchstick or a lighter for…(taking his cigarette from his mouth to his hand, in the normal pitch, for both smokers and non-smokers, when no one needs to go to toilet)
Girl: Oh! It’s ok. I was kidding.
Smoker: My elder sister is here for some check up.
Girl: Ok. Are you a chain smoker or just for…just like that.
Smoker: No, no, not a chain smoker. Just like that…
Girl: Oh! Then I should not refer to you as smoker.
Girl: Actually I am writing my diary and I referred to you as smoker.
Boy: Oh! You write diary, so its like daily you write about your experience and people you meet and everything?
Girl: Yes, you got the concept pretty quickly.
Boy: (Smiling) I think about writing diaries, stories…but after writing my Mathematics exam I get scared of even touching the pen.
Girl: You should use computer, writing with pens and pencils can be scary, it’s so difficult to erase what you write and it always leaves mark, behind them. Use computers for writing, you can wipe out everything out andstart afresh.
Boy: Yes, you are right.
Girl: Plus, if you get bored, you can always watch porn.
Girl: So, what exactly happened to your sister?
Boy: (Confused for a while because of the p-bomb dropped by the girl) She ate something may be allergic to, actually I am not even sure, and I just came with my family.
Girl: How can you be so ignorant of your sister’s problem and smoke, without even knowing, she is fine or not?
Girl gets very angry and prepares to switch off her laptop and begins to leave, when suddenly the boy lift her in both his arms and puts her in the wheel-chair standing next to the lamppost.
Girl: Thank you. But you should take care of your sister and I don’t need your help.
Boy: Listen I am really sorry, I just wanted to help, hey…
Poor girl, she must be going through a lot, all the girls and boys of her age are enjoying their time, going out, dancing, partying and here is she sitting in wheel chair, trying to connect to the to the real world through her laptop. I wish she could walk, just like us. Why is God so cruel? The Boy thinks, string at the girl, struggling to move his wheel chair.
When the boy was about to ask something about her condition and family, someone called him and he left the angry girl sitting in wheel chair with laptop.
Same time, same place under the same lamppost, the same girl was sitting with the wheelchair next her. The boy comes this time without the cigarette in his hand.
B: Are you writing your diary?
B: Why would you write your diary on computer, shouldn’t it be a real diary?
G: It’s a computer diary.
B: Ok. Do you know that 0.03% of the people who write diary commit suicide?
G: Do you smoking can reduce your sperm count?
B: Do you know 12% of the people who seat in front of computer for more than two hours can excel in horse riding?
G: Do you know you are actually standing on that filthy cow dung?
B: Oh! Shit.
B: Do you know that 34% of the people who stand of cow-dung don’t wash off their feet for more than two hours even if water is available?
G: No, I am just hoping that you belong to that 66%.
Both start laughing and shake hands.
B: Do you know that whatever I said was just made up?
G: No, wow. You really said it confidently.
B: Thanks. (Smiling shyly)
G: But the fact, I said about sperm count is a fact.
B: Yes. I heard about that.
G: So, how’s yours?
G: How’s your sister?
B: She is fine, but doctor said she would have to stay for some days, just under observation.
Girl starts to shut down his laptop. Looking at this Boy pulled the wheel chair near her; he did not touch her as told by the Girl last time.
B: Listen, can I ask you something?
G: Yes, sure.
B: I hope you don’t mind?
G: No, why, ask me anything, anything you wish?
G: (Girl started talking before the Boy could ask his question) We should play this game, ask me anything?
G: Yes, you ask me anything, and then I will ask you anything. But we have to be completely honest and we can ask anything, I mean anything.
The Boy is kind of confused, as he was about to ask about the Girl’s condition and what exactly happened to make her wheel chair ridden. But this game “Ask me anything” game really got him all confused. But anyway, he could not say no to her.
G: You go first.
B: How did this happen to you, accident or you were born with this condition?
G: Actually, I was born with this condition.
B: This must be really hard for you?
G: No, you that’s not fair.
B: I am really sorry, of course it must be hard for you.
G: No, no, you cannot ask two questions, it’s my turn now.
The Girl was pretty ok with her state of being, thoughhandicapped she just had a carefree attitude to her, which made her kind ofmade her all the more interesting to talk to.
B: Oh! That. Ok, ask me anything.
G: Do you have a girlfriend?
This is first time Boy looks in Girl’ eyes and he was stuck. This Girl and The Boy locked their eyes for the time. Here we go…
The Three Second Rule:
“The three seconds rule (also referred to as the three-second rule or three in the key, with a breach often termed alane violation) requires that in basketball, a player shall not remain in the opponents’ restricted area for more than three consecutive seconds while his team is in control of a live ball in the frontcourt and the game clock is running.”
That was for all you basketball fans out there (I am really sorry I got carried away) but for all humanity including basketball player, hold you breath, this is not the first time you are reading this, for most it has happened many time, for some unlucky one never but this is it…
Those “Three Seconds” are like magic with no tricks, when the Girl asked the Boy that question all the Girl hoped was the Boy should say is: “No.” Great thing is all the Boy wans to say is: “No.”
But those three seconds looking each other in the eyes, everything just stopped, three seconds feel like eternity (if it’s a cliché, so is love).
Girl (Three seconds): That weird happiness and shy smile, just looking at the Boy gives her shiver. As if she knows the answer but wants to hear it from him, but the doubt remains and the suspense reaches its peak somewhere near 2.152 seconds (Mathematics still sucks!!!). When those three happiest moments of life seconds ended, the Girl felt that she has lived a complete new life, she was born, met this guy, fell in love with him and with a blink of an eye died looking at him, weird but true.
Boy (Three seconds): In the bewilderment, he lost his identity and became a complete new person; all hecould see now is that shy and hesitant smile on the Girl’s face and smile, looking at her beautiful black eyes.
They never saw this coming, it’s just the second time they are meeting each other, but just how can that one simple question caused somany emotions to surface. Standing under the lamppost the Boy, looking at the Girl seating with her laptop in her hand. At the end of those three seconds, when they moved their eyes away from each other. The Girl some reason felt embarrassed having asked him that question and Boy was just confused and surprised.
It took about five seconds to overcome what happened in those last three seconds, and then Boy took one step towards the Girl and offers his hand to the Girl and takes deep breath and with a smile,
Before he could say anything an Ambulance arrives and two hospital wards wearing white uniform got down from the Ambulance and took an old man out and from side of the Boy’s view the Girl, the same Girl who told him that she can put her entire house on fire, why writing anything of paper is scary, cigarette can lower his sperm count, wait, wait, isn’t she was on wheel chair, she was handicapped, she cannot walk.
The Girl walk past the Boy with wheel chair and help the old man brought by the two wards hospital in the Ambulance sit and gave notorious smile and a wink at Boy and left with them. A old women carried by two men also walk past him, one of them shouting: “Hey its my mother who is sick not my father.”
The following morning the Boy after visiting his sister, hurried and searched the entire hospital, walking from those smelly hospital floor to floor, from Operation Theater (only theater you don’t want to accompany your girlfriend) to pharmacy, from patient rooms (little babies refusing mother’s breast milk, probably they already know that different flavors of Bournvita, Horlicks, Boost) to weird patient’s room (oh!!! They are having sex, while the patient is on oxygen, aren’t those two doctors from third floor) but all in vain, the Girl is nowhere to be found. The Boy thought she was probably a nurse in hospital. He was also a bit disappointed and angry because he lifted her the other day to help her, for he thought she was handicapped and as the wheel chair was a bit far away, but then she did notapprove of him touching her again. He was then a little humiliated as the Girl cheated him but that her asking him the question about whether he has girlfriend or not and those “Three magical seconds”, just created some sort of bonding between them, at least that’s what he felt but he must meet the Girl to know about more. He decided to wait in the same place, under the lamppost, same time, “I will smoke today.” he said.
The Boy having so many questions could not wait to meet her, he sees off her sister soon and leaves for the that lamppost early. He justcouldn’t believe what happened yesterday, when the Girl he believed to be on wheel chair walked past him. Even more curious was her question about his girlfriend, who asks whether you are single or not. But the biggest problemwas, actually not a problem but, the despite all this the Boy started to like the Girl, and that’s what made him blush as he waited for the Girl with laptop and wheel chair, well past the usual time.
He looked at the far end of the road and saw the red light of the ambulance approaching with that serious siren noise becoming louder. It stops just before the lamppost and just like the other day, two guys come out in white uniform, holding a stretcher, lie on it was young boy of about twelve years old crying and said: “Ma, there something in my mouth”, and spits something black and green, right on the face of the hospital’s white colored uniform wearing guy. Probably this little spitting guys parents also walkedpassed the Boy with a concerned look on their faces.
The Boy who was waiting for the mystery Girl kept looking at the boy in the stretcher when he got a glimpse of the same Girl with laptop and wheel chair, but this time she was just pushing the empty wheel chair. She came with such nonchalant moment and kept the wheel chair in its usual place near lamppost and sat on her usual place with her laptop switched on. Before the Boy could say anything to her and her lie about her pretending to be handicapped. The Girl asked:
“So, how’s your sister?”
“O, She is fine,” answered the Boy.
“What exactly happened to her? You said that she is allergic to something,” inquired the curious Girl, stealing a moment to look at her laptop and then looking straight at the Boy.
Now, the Boy realizes that he still isn’t know what exactly happened to his sister, all he does is come visit her, greet her and give some food which his mother gives for her. He felt a little embarrassed, as the Girl scolded him before for not caring about his sister and now after two days he still isn’t aware of her sister at all.
“Hey, Is everything alright?” asked Girl, looking at the puzzled face of the Boy; she thought something might be serious.
The Boy gets that; the Girl is thinking something must be wrong with his sister. This is the moment to save himself from embarrassment, not knowing about his sister’s diagnosis and ask her about her lie about her handicapped drama on wheel chair.
Boy: She was fine till yesterday, since this morning she is having severe stomachache and breathlessness also. She is on oxygen right now, but she will be fine.
A made up story by Boy, with some fake emotion and fabulous acting skills.
Girl: Let’s go to canteen and have some hot tea.
Boy: Sure. But, don’t correct me if I am wrong, because I know I am not. Didn’t you lie about your handicapped status?
Girl: See. I never said I was handicapped. You just carried me up and made sit in wheel chair and then you left. Yesterday, we were having a different conversation and before I could tell you that I am not handicapped the ambulance arrived, and how can you ask someone about “Handicap status.”
Boy: Yes, you actually never said anything about that. Then why do you sit with that wheel chair? Are you a nurse?
Girl: No. Actually my dad is admitted here and we don’t have enough money carry out the expense, thanks to the doctors here, they asked me do odd jobs and help the staff. So, I help them in various things, like taking patients from ambulance to emergency room, delivering medicine, yes, I am akind of nurse of this hospital.
They reach the canteen and the Girl gets two cups of tea and they find a table in the far end of the canteen, despite the nighttime, canteen is quite crowded with people.
Boy: (Smelling the tea, not drinking it) Shouldn’t you be there waiting for some patient?
Girl: (After a sip of hot tea) Sometimes I go there with wheel chair even if I am not told to, it’s like a routine for me. Take a sip, it doesn’t taste as weird as it smells.
Boy: (After a sip) Yes its good. But sugar is a little less.
Girl: In hospital canteen, most stuff you get has little of everything, little sugar, little salt, little spices, and of course very little taste.
Boy: (With a smile on his face) What happened to your father?
Girl: He had some heart problem and it just kept getting worse, I am in this hospital for over four years now.
Boy: Four years! Where are your mother and rest of thefamily?
Girl: She left us after two years, when there was no money left, but I believe she will come back. Rest of family never cared about us.
Boy: O! I am sorry.
Girl: Don’t be, I am not.
Boy: (A bit shocked by the Girl’s unconventional answer) OK. You go to school, right?
Girl: Just for exams, thanks to my principal, allowed me to take up exams and continue my studies. Anyway, I don’t care much about my studies. I think my dad needs me more right now than, I need education.
Boy: That’s right.
Girl: I know.
Boy: But for a better future you need education.
Girl: That’s right.
Boy: I know.
Girl: Without my father my education would be a hollow.
Boy: That’s right.
Girl: I know.
Boy: But your father cannot be with you for the rest of life.
Girl: That’s right.
Boy: I know.
Girl: Wait, but I am studying, not in a regular manner like most. Why such a long discussion.
Boy: You said you don’t care much about your studies. You started the discussion, not me.
Girl: It’s ok. No need be sorry and stuff.
Boy: What? When did I…
Girl: Don’t correct me if I am wrong, because I know I am not. Your sister isn’t on oxygen, is she?
Boy: How do you know that?
Girl: Just like that.
Girl: Its ok.
Boy: Can we have a cup of tea somewhere else, may be tomorrow?
Girl: (With a smile and looking up and down but not looking at the Boy) Yes, but I cannot leave my father alone.
Boy: O! It’s ok. We will wait for him, when he will be discharged from hospital, then we will.
Girl: You are too optimistic about that. Didn’t I tell you he is been here for four years now? I don’t know when I will be able go out.
For the first time Girl is not smile, her careless face, now has some wrinkle and sadness.
Boy: I can wait as long as it takes.
Girl: You are a lair I know you are joking.
Boy: Just wait, till everything falls into place, it usually does.
Girl: Let see.
They leave after a while, but not before the Boy gives his phone number.
Boy: In case of emergency you can me or dial 100.
Things did fall in place, Girl’s father showed sighs of recovery. The Girl was really happy and the Boy was happy too. They laugh, they talk, share and it’s seems like they found something in each other.
One day in the morning the Boy meet the Girl just outside the main entrance of the hospital, Boy’s sister has recovered and they were leaving. Boy and his family left in front of her. The Girl was really sad to see him leaving, she knew now he won’t come back. She lost a friend, and it was too hard to accept. Seeing him leaving with his family, everyone happy and laughing together, things she never saw in her life.
He left. She stood there waiting for some patient with wheel chair.
Same day, she came to the same place under the lamppost with the same wheel chair and laptop in her hand, given by doctors to fill patients data, about their medicine, check-ups, etc. She did not write diary, the way she told the Boy, she just lied so she can talk to him. She kept staring atside from which the Boy came that night, but there was no one, except few visitors and bystanders. She told herself that he will never come, for that, cup of tea he asked her about, it was just a joke. Trying her best to keep her focus on filling those data in files about patients, medicines, check-ups.
“There is a small tea shop, two buildings from here, its 24/7 we can go now, if you want.” Said the Boy, standing on the other side from the usual.
The happiness in Girl’s face is palpable, she has never smiled like that, last she did was long back when his father was well and they with her mother went for a movie in her summer vacation. She sprang up from her place, switched off her laptop and pushed the wheel chair inside the gate near an old gatekeeper and her something to him. The gatekeeper smiled and waved at the Boy and Girl too looked at him.
She came with a brisk walk towards the Boy, said: “My father usually sleep till morning, we can go now.” her voice is a little louder and sweeter, her eyes are wide open and shinning like cat’s eyes in darkness. She is happy, just happy, no worry, which is her usual routine for like past four years but now, for the first time there something new in her life.
They went for a cup of tea, they had two of it.
It became a routine for them, two cups of tea, daily. Life changed for good, she changed, she has always been happy and accepted her situation but now, he was happy for different reason. She found a friend, which she never had. Boy took her out to the world she never saw. Not far away from hospital, but just in neighborhood, she has never been outside of that hospital premises for four years, unreal but true. But now the Boy introduced to her a new world.
Not only Girl’s life changed, Boy was really happy to find someone like her, she does not knew much about outside world and so called etiquettes. But Boy enjoyed teasing her about her weirdness in a good way, he taught her how to eat with chopsticks, how to drive, they went for movies.
As if magic has happened in her life, her father gradually recovered from his long illness. As the days passed, the more Girl went outwith Boy and saw the world outside, the more father recovered. It was as if his father wanted her daughter to live her life, which she missed because of his illness. Things did start to fall in place.
One day when Boy came in night to take Girl for a cup of tea, Girl wasn’t there. He waited for sometime and then decided to go in check it for himself. At main entrance the old gatekeeper stopped him and asked him is he looking for the Girl. The gatekeeper knew this Boy from the very beginning and probably Girl also told him about the Boy.
“I have a news for you, its good or bad it’s for you to decide. The Girls father got discharged today.” Said the gatekeeper.
“It’s a good news. But she never told me about his father getting well and about leaving” enquired Boy.
“Probably, she was afraid that you would leave her, if you found out her father is alright and you don’t need to support her anymore.” Said gatekeeper.
“No, why would I leave her, I loved her, do u know where she lived. She said she lived here for four years but now where did she go.” Boy almost cried in front of gatekeeper.
“I think her mother came back and she paid for all pending bills and took them with her.” Said the old gatekeeper to Boy.
Boy hit a rock bottom with this news; he realized that he would never meet this girl again. He did not realize, he has become so addicted to this Girl, about her weirdness, her unawareness about outside world and simply her presence in his life.
He left shattered, to his home, that night became a lonely night. For past three weeks, he has been going out with this Girl in night for two cups for tea and their outing was even shifted to daytime in rest of the city. Her sudden disappearance that too without telling him, left him lost, in the middle of nowhere.
One day the Girl went to check on his father. She found that he was motionless, in his bed. Girl called him out but he did not respond and it occurred to the Girl that her worst fear has come true. She bravely but nervously reached to her father and called her: “Dad”. He did not reply, she did not say anything too. She knows, he left the little Girl alone forever, now she was just an orphan, no family, her mother left her long back and today her father to left her. A drop a tear came from corner of her eyes, she kissed her father on forehead and looked at the opened window, climbed on it and a breeze of cold air filled the room, she took a deep breath and said: “Now I am free.”
“No, no, no. Its just a dream, that cannot happen, its not true, she cannot commit suicide, he is alive, I will find her.” Said the Boy, waking from his dream, it was fearful and merciless dream for him.
He went to same hospital, same time, everyday waiting for her under the lamppost but the Girl did not come. All he heard was that oldgatekeepers voice from back, each night when he starts to leave, “She will come, she loves you”. That was the only time Boy smiled and waved the old man goodnight.
One day when Boy was about to come go the hospital, on his way, a voice came from behind, “I am still waiting for the answer. Do you have a girlfriend?” said the Girl, no wheel chair, no laptop, but the same Girl.
“I have one, now”, said the Boy.
“Can we have a cup of tea, somewhere?” asked the Boy, crying.
The Girl came up to him and kissed him.
Girl: I am sorry, I had to leave without telling, and I lost the number you gave me. My father got better and I though that…
Boy: I could never leave you, l loved you, l love you and I will always love you.
The world seemed so much happier now.
There is so much to talk and tell, with lots of questions and many possible answers. But what stood out the most was that the Boy once said, “I can wait as long as it takes” and he did, and the Girl did not disappoint him. Things did fall into place.