Anjana could not get any more sleep that night. After having her dinner, she tossed around on the bed for about an hour longer and then got up. Since, sleep didn’t seem like an option anymore, she decided to Google all the hospitals in Kolkata and draw a route for herself that she would take from one to the next in her search for Sameer.
Anjana got off the bed sharp at five in the morning. She took a cold shower, drank a cup of coffee, and by six, she was out on her mission.
Anjana did not plan on wasting any time. The more ground she covered per day, the earlier she would have a chance of finding Sameer. She had her whole approach planned out.
She would take the easiest and fastest available medium of communication to a hospital. Go to the reception area. Show Sameer’s picture and mention his name. Ask if they had him admitted at any point. Leave. Go to the next hospital.
And that is exactly what she did… For days… Which soon turned to weeks. Every morning Anjana would get up and leave the hotel by six, went to as many hospitals as possible and returned to hotel at about nine in the evening. She would have something to eat during the day only if she remembered to. Coffee was her best friend. Unfortunately, she was still no where close to finding Sameer. But the impact of following such a harsh routine had started affecting Anjana’s health. She had grown a lot thinner, there were dark circles around her eyes, and she would get dizzy all of a sudden. She would have to take a break, sit down, have some water and then continue.
It was a hot Wednesday afternoon. Nearly three weeks had passed since Anjana had reached Kolkata. She was out on her daily hunt. She had just come out of another hospital, disappointed as always, and was waiting at a nearby bus stand when she started to get dizzy again. A bus came and the crowd got into it. Anjana backed off a few steps and sat on a nearby bench. She took out a water-bottle from her purse and just as she started to drink from it, she noticed from the corner of her eye that a man had come and taken a seat next to her on the bench. The man was sitting really close to Anjana. She could get a nasty stench from this man. Still gulping down the water and looking at the man from the corner of her eye, Anjana shifted a little on the bench. She finished the entire bottle in one go and got up from the bench and started to leave, giving only one last glance at the stranger. “Probably another homeless beggar,” Anjana thought to herself. “No lack of those in Kolkata.” Right then, another bus came and Anjana stepped into it.
“Fuck… Fuuuccckkk… FUUUCCCCCKKKKK!!!” The bus had barely left the stoppage when Anjana started shouting. “Stop the bus! I need to get down!” Even before the bus could really stop, Anjana jumped off the bus.
A couple of yards away, the homeless beggar was still sitting on the bench. Anjana was now staring straight at him, while the man was just staring down.
“Sam…” The words barely came out of her mouth as she slowly started taking baby steps towards the man. It had to be. This had to be Sameer. There was no other way. The man was still looking down. Anjana walked right up to the man and stood in front of him.
“Sameer?” Tears rolled down her eyes as she spoke his name.
The man was still looking down.
“Robie…” Anjana said once again, this time taking her palm and touching his cheeks softly.
Still no response from the man.
“Sameer?” This time Anjana put her hand under his chin and lifted the man’s face up and her own eyes filled with horror.