Friday, September 7, 2012


"I don't wanna go! You know how I feel about hospitals. They are so depressing." Ranbir complained.

"Oh, come on! Don't be such a kid. You need to get that knee checked." chided his fiancee, Nina.

Ranbir rolled his eyes.

It was a late foggy December evening. Ranbir had had an accident the previous day. There was no visible injury but his leg was stiff.

"Come on." she smiled at him and took him by the hand.

Nina was a psychiatrist and she was taking him to the multi-specialty hospital where she worked.

"Fine." Ranbir grunted.

"And, I want you to meet a very special patient."

"Why?" Ranbir asked as he sat in the passenger seat.

"She's such a poor little thing. I feel so sorry for her. She's actually very nice. She's not 'mental' in your terms. She lost her memory in an accident. There was a serious injury to her head and she now thinks that she's a kid." Nina informed as they drove slowly to the hospital that was merely twenty minutes away.

"Sad." Ranbir agreed.

Once at the hospital, Nina took him to Dr. Kumar, the orthopedic surgeon.

"You get yourself properly diagnosed. I'll be in the psychiatric ward. Bye." she smiled, as she left him outside Dr. Kumar's office.

Dr. Kumar ruled out any broken bones and Ranbir heaved a sigh of relief. He was prescribed some tablets and an ointment to be applied twice a day.

Ranbir went to the general psychiatric ward but Nina was nowhere. He decided to check all the private wards.

He reached ward no. 9 without any success.

"May I help you?" asked a nurse there, when he had opened the door and peered inside.

"Um, do you have any idea where Dr. Nina would be?" he questioned.

"She's with a patient. It was an emergency." the nurse answered.

Ranbir did not seem to be listening. He was staring at a pretty girl who looked twenty-five arranging soft toys on her bed.

"Sapna?" he walked past the nurse towards the girl.

The nurse followed him to the bed.

"Sapna?" he repeated, beside himself with bewilderment.

"Oh, hello!" Sapna smiled sweetly at him.

"What are you doing here?" he said holding her by the shoulders.

"Let go of me." she pushed him away.

"What's wrong with you?" he said holding her arm tightly.

"Pooja! Make him go away. He's hurting me." Sapna whimpered.

"Leave her, sir!" the nurse said sternly, loosening his grip on Sapna's arm. Ranbir let go reluctantly.

Sapna cuddled one of the big teddy bears and curled into a ball beneath the blanket.

"You must leave." the nurse ordered Ranbir.

But Ranbir was unable to move.

"Please." the nurse said, pushing him a little.

Ranbir came back to his senses.

"What's wrong with her? Why is she behaving like that?" he asked the nurse.

"Come outside, please." the nurse signaled.

They walked to a balcony in silence which almost gave Ranbir a heart attack.

"Please tell me what's wrong with her." Ranbir begged.

"She was brought here by an elderly lady, Mrs. Malhotra who had found her on the road covered in blood. Some vehicle had probably hit her. She had serious injury to her brain. It was a complicated operation since she was unconscious. When she woke up two days later, she did not remember anything. Moreover, she believed herself to be a kid. She's been here for three years. We know just her name, that too-"

"Because of the tattoo on her wrist" Ranbir finished.

"Yes. How do you know? Do you know her?"

"She's... a friend..." Ranbir whispered lost in thought.

His face was contorted with pain.

"There you are! I've been looking all over for you!" Nina exclaimed when she spotted Ranbir in the balcony.

"I've night duty tonight. Anyway, what did Dr. Kumar say?" she asked.

"Ranbir?" she touched his cheek when he did not reply, "Is everything okay? What did the doctor say?"

"Uh? Yeah."

"What's wrong with you? Pooja, what's wrong with him?" she turned to the nurse when Ranbir did not reply.

"I don't know ma'am. I just told him Sapna's story. I think he's just sad." the nurse shrugged.

"Aw!" Nina hugged him tightly, "Sapna is the same girl I told you about in the morning, the one I wanted you to meet. Isn't she a darling? But, poor girl. God knows why this happened to her."

"I've to go home. Gimme the keys." Ranbir said abruptly freeing himself.

"But your knee! How will you drive?"

"I'll manage. Just gimme the keys." he said curtly.

Nina handed him the car keys, a little hurt and really puzzled.

Tears clung to his eyelashes as he hurried down the corridor. His feet automatically stopped in front of Sapna's ward. He opened the door and looked inside. There she was, sketching in a notebook. She looked up at him when she heard the door being opened.

"You?" she pouted as she recognized him to be the one who had hurt her earlier.

Ranbir tried to smile at her but Sapna stuck out her tongue at him.

His anguish was killing him and it showed on his face.

"Aw. Are you sad, mister?" Sapna came running towards him, "I am sorry for being rude. Here, take this chocolate." she smiled at him.

His grief choked him. His chest tightened and he was blinded by the enormity of the pain.

"I am sorry." he almost broke down as he hugged her tightly.

"It's okay." she patted his head.

He wanted to scream. He let go of her and rushed to his car as fast as his injured knee would allow.

Once inside, he gripped the steering wheel tightly and let the tears that stung his eyes burn his cheeks.

Sapna was the love of his life. But, he had to leave her because his mother did not approve of her as she was an orphan. His father had died only recently and his mother was his only family. He could not bring himself to go against her wishes. They had moved out of Bangalore into Delhi and he had never tried to find out how Sapna was doing without him.

He had been in Delhi for three and a half years now. So Sapna had probably come to Delhi a few months after him and met this fate.

He wanted to kill himself. He was responsible for Sapna's plight.

"I will go mad." Sapna had smilingly told him when he had casually asked her what she would do if they were no longer together.

Her words resounded in his head and he covered his ears, wailing.