At about half past eight, a slim old man with complete white hair, barely an inch taller than Anjana, wearing a pair of grey cotton trousers and half sleeve black and white checkered shirt carrying a small duffel bag, entered the hospital. He was closely followed by a woman in plain moss green saree. She looked a few years younger than the man. Definitely his wife. Something told Anjana that these were Sameer’s parents.
Anjana slowly approached the couple.
“Sameer…” she started questioningly.
“Yes… Yes… We are Sameer’s parents. Where is Sameer? How is he? We want to see him…” Sameer’s parents frantically started talking together at the same time.
“Calm down… Please… Calm down… Uncle… Aunty… Please come with me.” Anjana guided them to the couch where she had been sitting.
Once they were all seated, Anjana started with her side of the story. Right from the very first mail which Sameer had sent her to how they became friends, her marriage, how they had never met and yet were so close, she leaving her home to find Sameer, her experience in Kolkata, the office visit, the house visit, the police station visit, where she finally found Sameer and exactly in what condition, and finally the hospital. She skipped the part where Harsha had told her never to return home if she left that night.
Sameer’s parents patiently heard the whole story. Listening about Sameer’s present condition, the old couple could not hold their tears back.
Just then, a nurse walked up to them. Looking at a paper stuck to a clipboard she was carrying, the nurse inquired, “Sameer Bhatia?”
“Yes yes…” replied Sameer’s father as he stood up.
“Please come with me… The doctor wants to talk to you.” informed the nurse.
The nurse led the path as Sameer’s parents along with Anjana started to follow her.
As they walked, Sameer’s mother started talking to Anjana. “How will we ever repay you? We cannot imagine what you have done for Sameer in this condition.”
“Condition?” Sameer’s father looked questioningly for a second towards his wife and then at Anjana and then back at his wife.
Sameer’s mother pointed towards Anjana’s belly. Sameer’s father turned towards Anjana again.
“Oh… Oh my god. Congratulations.” Sameer’s father brought his hand forward and Anjana shook it back. “Thanks uncle,” she replied with a dry smile.
“How many months?” asked Anjana’s mother.
Anjana recalled the day she had first found out she was pregnant. It was the happiest day of her life. When she gave the news to Harsha, he too jumped with joy. They couldn’t sleep that night. They had spent the entire night discussing names for the child, what kind of parents they would be, which school they would send him or her to, and all things which seemed like a fairy-tale at the moment. It was nearly two months before leaving Bangalore. Another month was about to pass now. Before she could answer, they entered the doctor’s cabin.
The doctor asked them all to take a seat and started explaining them about Sameer’s condition.
“Firstly, Sameer is in no fatal danger right now. But, there are some things you all should know. He cannot recognize anyone or remember anything. He is unable to create new memories as well. It is as though his memory has been wiped clean. Or rather, he does not have a memory at all. How did it happen? We cannot be cent percent sure as whatever happened with him has happened a very long time ago. Couple of months for sure. But it was probably some kind of drug overdose. My guess would be Geletin Xfoam, a type of chloroform. It’s a drug which is usually used by thieves in buses and trains to make people unconscious and rob them. An overdose of this drug could have such an impact on a person’s memory. Anyhow, it is not a permanent damage. While the effect of this drug does not wear out only with time, we definitely have medicines to fix that. But ultimately, it is going to be a matter of time. A lot of time. I am talking years here. You will have to be very patient with him. We can discharge him from the hospital in a couple of weeks after taking care of all the obvious that he has borne as a result of living on the streets for such a long time, but after that it will be all up to you folks. Just make sure he takes his medicines on time and ensure that he does not take any mental stress. Keep him happy and his mind relaxed. He will be fine.”
With these words, the doctor left the cabin. Sameer’s mother started sobbing. His father hugged her silently. Anjana couldn’t just sit there. She joined the hug as well.
From that day onwards, Anjana stayed with Sameer’s parents at the old flat in which Sameer used to live. They would take turns to visit the hospital. While his parents would tell stories to Sameer of better times trying to help him remember his past, Anjana would just sit near his bed and read him stories from different books. On a lucky day, they may get a reaction or a single word out of him; on other days, he just sat there like a statue. After a month, Sameer was finally discharged from the hospital. Physically, he was quite fine now, but mentally, there wasn’t much of a difference. He still did not remember anyone or anything. He still spend the days staring blankly at the walls and nights sleeping like a child.
After spending a week at their flat in Kolkata, Sameer’s parents thought it would be best if they all went back to Chandigarh.
“Probably being in the place where he grew up among the people he knew forever would help his memories return faster.” Sameer’s father said one morning at breakfast. His wife agreed, and so did Anjana.
Although, Anjana did not want to leave Sameer, she knew that she had done her duty. It would probably be best for her to return back to her life now and pick up the shattered pieces to see if there was still anything she could do to get things fixed. Well, she was nearly 5 months pregnant now. Maybe this coming child would return the joy in her life. Also, it would be really difficult for the old couple to take care of two people in such a condition. While Sameer’s parents insisted that she should go with them to Chandigarh, Anjana convinced them otherwise, with a promise to keep in touch and visit them some day.
Two days later, Mr. & Mrs. Bhatia along with Sameer and Anjana left for the airport.
Anjana got on to Air India flight AI-763 for Cochin, while Sameer along with his parents got on to Vistara UK-720 for Chandigarh.