A Candle in the Wind- III

Next morning, she woke up with a flu. She took the day off and spent the day in bed, painfully aware of every hour that passed. Kavitha dropped by in the evening. Aware that Diya had barely eaten the whole day, Kavitha coaxed her to eat. But Diya had no appetite. Kavitha’s presence was reassuring, but Diya feared the loneliness and desperation that would return. ‘I want to die…I don’t want to live’, she chanted through her tears. Kavitha had never seen this face of Diya. Diya was generally happy and bubbly, and it was unbearable to see her in this state. Kavitha had tears in her eyes as she hugged Diya tight. Love was an emotion she could relate to, and she understood the depth of the wound love had left behind on Diya. Abhinav had been the center of Diya’s world- the sun of her solar system. ‘Take rest for a couple of days. You need to focus on your health now. To hell with Abhinav. We will sort out things slowly. But take a break from college. Apply for leave. You anyway have this flu for an excuse’, Kavitha advised. Diya was thankful for this warmth. She hugged Kavitha tightly, wishing she could stay back and keep her company. But Kavitha had to leave. ‘I will see you tomorrow. Just try and sleep for now’, she said. Diya nodded.
The evening passed and she managed to get through the hours of the night as well. The next morning, she decided to go to college and submit her leave application in person. She had no clarity on how long she wanted to be away. She had no idea what she was doing in life. None of that bothered her anyway. All she knew was that she wasn’t well and that she would be back only when she got well, whenever that was.
She walked to the Neurosurgery department. Dr V was in-charge of their postings. She liked him. He was friendly and approachable. Besides, she had always been in love with the brain, and so, she liked anybody who associated themselves closely with the brain. He was talking to someone in the OPD. She walked up to him and handed him the leave-letter. ‘I am not well. I want to apply for leave,’ she said. He looked at her, perplexed by her abruptness. She repeated her statement and burst into tears. He regarded her for a second. ‘What is the matter?’, he asked. ‘I am not well. I have flu.’, she said. ‘Nobody cries because they have flu!’, he said. He got up from his chair, patted her gently and walked to the door. ‘Come with me’, he said. She followed him to his room.
‘Now tell me the matter’, he said to her gently.
It was his tone. It made her look up. There was softness and warmth in his eyes, and a genuine curiosity to know. Quite unlike the psychiatrist. She narrated her story. He did not interrupt. She was clumsy at first, but as she spoke, she relaxed and was able to narrate with more clarity. She paused occasionally to see if he was judging her. But his eyes were just as soft and receptive. So she continued.
She felt like a fool at the end of her narration. It was the first time she had heard the story in her own words. It sounded stupid. She wanted to laugh at herself. It made her feel like a weakling who was incapable of being loved and incapable of handling her emotions. Probably, these were his very thoughts now.
‘Diya, I want you to listen to me very attentively’. His tone made her look up again. Contrary to her fears, he didn’t seem to be laughing at her.
‘You are a beautiful person. When I saw you on your first day here, you were so full of energy and happiness. I could not have imagined there was something like this sitting in the background!’, he said.
A drop of happiness rained in the desert of her mind. Until that point, she had believed that there was nothing of significance in her personality. Abhinav had only reinforced this by breaking up. But here was this renowned neurosurgeon, talking to her insignificant persona, validating something of worth in it.
She gave him all her attention. ‘I used to be like you. Overly sensitive. It is a good quality to possess, but sometimes, it is detrimental. My father was always worried about this aspect of me’, this was his opening statement.
He was like a tranquilizer. His tone was hypnotizing; it soothed the inner voices in her head and put them to rest. His eyes looked deep into hers as he spoke, and captured the attention of her mind. Her mind was suddenly quiet and still. In its silence, his words sounded loud and clear. That was the only sound she could hear. The nurse had interrupted to ask him something…the phone had rung twice…but she heard none of that. Her mind trusted him in his ability to rescue her from her current predicament. In the darkness of her mind, his words gleamed like gold. Indeed, those were the golden words that marked the turning point in her life. Until then, she had never looked at life analytically. She had never probed into the deeper pockets of her mind. She had never introduced herself to the philosophy of life. He introduced her to it. He took her on a journey of the human mind- its drives, its need for relationships, its need for validation, and so much more. It was fascinating. She felt as if someone had suddenly thrown her a rope to cling to, while she was still at risk of drowning.
‘So hang around. Don’t apply for leave. See the patients in the ward. We have posted one for surgery in the evening. Stay back for the surgery.’ He flashed a smile and asked, ‘Feel better?’
Diya nodded, but did not smile.
He imitated the grumpy expression on her face and said, ‘If you feel better, let it show on you!’ She smiled.
‘That’s a good girl. Now off with you. No more crying’, he said. He got up, gave her a pat on the shoulder, and left.

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