I checked the wall clock, still two hours left to set my day off at the office.
Tired and exhausted, glued to my chair.
Account books, paychecks were all rolling under my hands one by one. Lots of our clients were irritating. However one of them was bizarre. Possibly in the 60s, frowning his brows almost ordered me to check his account balance by handing me a passbook. I asked him to wait for a few minutes. But then again, he was not in the mood to listen any of my request and continued screeching for another 2 minutes.
I gave up on him and busted, “Shut up!”
A wave of anger ran in my spine. What was he doing? Can't he wait for few minutes? Can't he see me working vulnerably?
But then I controlled and did his job first, at least then I could find some peace and that’s why they pay me.
There was few grand on his name. It was a pensioner’s account, he was an ex-serviceman indeed.
He went away with a smirk on his face, still some relief to me.
I took off from the bank, had dinner at an eatery which is four blocks down from here.
Later, I came back home, had a pint of beer out from the refrigerator and sat down to watch TV. Nonetheless, it was full of nonsense daily soap, news from politics, crimes. It irritates me and I know to most of us too. I mean after whole day working our hell out we all just need peace within ourselves and the rest.
So, I decided to take a walk. I went down the street for nowhere to go, no terminus. Just walking.
I was living a bachelor’s life. The family and the relationship we broke a year back was hundreds of miles away from the city. Also, working 9 to 5 don’t leave you with any energy to hang out with any of colleagues or make new friends. Staying in a 2 BHK flat alone, often down me disturbed and in quest of peace.
It’s been a while on the street walking, looking around. The pale yellow light was dropping on this stage of sinking day. Folks chanting evening prayers in the temple, buying and bargaining from vendors who were lined up through the lane.
In the middle of this jam-pack I surely wouldn't got any of peacetime. So, I decided to go back to my room.
Next day, lazy Sunday shows all his impression. I woke up at 9 and made myself a tea. Moved out to shop empty roads, quasi-opened bazaar, and people chanting morning prayers were first few things I witnessed.
Unpredictably, I saw the man on whom I screamed back at the bank. He was carrying some plastic bags, possible household stuff in them. Though this time he was looking totally opposite from yesterday. Mute, calm taking steady footsteps. He looked timeworn.
I followed him with few and far between urgencies of the day. He hangs up at the grocery store and went in. Seeing him in the hunt for something owner asked and assisted him to grab a loaf of bread. He kept it in his plastic bag and paid him. Once again he proceeded his marching, possibly leading to his home.
A few minutes later we were in front of a park, a suspicious place to live. He went in and sat on a very last bench in the park.
He saw me, I felt caught so I waved and walked up to him, and sat next to him on the same seat. He recognised me and frowned with a smirk just like a day before he did.
He questioned, “How come you are here?”
“Just hanging around,” I responded with most possible terrible answer.
“I doubt you live in the neighbourhood, never seen you here before,” he said lowering his brows, certainly not convinced with my reply.
I sat dumb, tried to avoid any eye contact with him by looking at the kids playing cricket few meters away.
“Are you following me?” He suspected.
“Yes..,” I answered awkwardly.
“And why?” He asked incensing his speech.
“Just out of a little curiosity,” I replied anxiously.
“You were screaming like anything a day before, on the contrary seem to be far more different today,” I added with honesty.
“What you found then?” He asked.
“Nothing,” I said.
Then the awkward silence came in, we were not talking to each other. He was looking at playing kids. And I was observing him, presuming what will he say now, will he be angry?
After a few moments, he broke the ice and said, “I was there to collect my monthly retirement pension. It’s been three years they are not dispatching it, give numerable excuses and assuring me to resolve the fault every time I went to complain.”
But, to my surprise he was not looking disturbed by the pension problem. Though old-fashioned round glasses with a crack on left lens, dirt stained Kurta on places and slackly knitted pyjamas gave me an idea about the financial status.
He inquired about me, my name, place I belong to and how I ended up in this city. This continued for a few minutes and I replied every question properly.
In return instead of asking about him, I tried to snoop out and asked, “How are you managing living then, foe the past three years?”
“I don't need it anyway, more or less I'll live three-four years,” he replied with putting an end to the conversation and set upright.
I acknowledged his will and set off any other questions. He walked away without any utterance, disappearing in the woods to the farthest sight of mine.
I walked back to my room and resumed to routine.
At night, I recalled about what happened in morning and went to sleep while wondering the kind of man I met.
Days later on coming back from the bank in the evening, I checked my mail box. It got an envelope, ivory coloured, fold lines makes it aged. In front it wrote, “From, your old strange customer.” I tore up the side flap and took out a paper, there was a letter.
I'm the same old customer of yours whom you met at park few days ago.
Happened to be an accountant like you, I had befallen an upsetting catastrophe 27 years in the past. I want to put across my feelings of fear during these years.
Money becomes useless in person’s life when no one is there with him to share the happiness. No matter how much you make, you end up broke and alone.
She was just 12 years old. Her mother, my wife left us broken when she was just a month old. My daughter Hannah, was all I’d in years of my struggle between the work and rising her. We used to share our sorrows, pain and happiness. From dawn to bed I used to nourish her like a mother and carried her like a father. She too used to look after me like grownups.
She will be my angel, all my life….
One day I called her, each time used to do when I came back home. But, she doesn't show up so I went to check her in the bedroom. Found her lying on her bed, I turned her up and called her name. Even now no response from her, she was merely conscious. I turned numb for a moment. Seeing my daughter in that condition was horrifying.
I held her in my arm and rushed to the hospital. It was a few kilometres away so I hired
a cab across the street.
When reached, I hustled to the reception and asked to admit my daughter. They told me to wait for a few minutes so I shunted down and went up to my princess whom I made lay on the bench in the visitors chamber. I tried to wake her up by all means but she didn't reply. I asked the lady at the reception to please call the doctor as soon as possible but she again asked me to wait.
After about 20 minutes receptionist came in and asked me to take her to the doctor’s cabin. I went in carrying her in my arms, he diagnosed her and prescribed some tests and medicines. I asked him what happened to her, why she was not responding. But all he told me to wait for the results. I asked them to admit her. But they refused it uttering all beds are engaged and directed me to wait.
I sat for another two hours holding her. Then one of the nurses came and asked me to admit her and took her into the patient’s ward.
After completing all the formalities I returned to see my daughter in the ward. She was lying on to bed unconscious, no one was attending her. When I asked the nurse she said doctor is not here, he will come in morning till then wait. I yelled to give her some assistance else she will die but she refused to help anyway and went away.
The whole night I spent gazing my daughter, crying and prayed to god for mercy. In the morning at 9 doctor arrived, I went to him with test reports. He gone through them and recommended some more tests. This time instead of taking any blood samples, they took her to some lab for testing.
After about an hour one of the doctors from medical team came out and told me, she needs a heart transplant. Listening something like this, you don’t expect when you bring a child to the hospital. I was shattered to the very inner core. He alerted me, her heart could no longer pump blood well enough with oxygen and nutrients to the organs.
They started treating her for another couple of days to check for any hopes, but she showed no improvement. Finally they said to me that a heart transplant was the only option left with us. But it was not easy to find a compatible heart.
Anyhow they found the heart after three days and asked me to deposit money for the transplant to start the procedure. It was a costly surgery, I dug out all my money and gave it to the hospital because the most precious thing of mine was dying with every passing second.
Operation went for another 4-6 hours. One of the operating doctor came out with a face of the least hint of success. I stood up shedding tears and asked him how does it went. He said they successfully transplanted the organ but we have to wait for another 72 hours of intensive care and look for any critical condition.
I went outside and visited mosque which was a minute away from the hospital. I prayed to Allah to save my child’s life, sat down there for some time.
On returning back to the hospital, I right away went to see my daughter’s room but was taken aback by the scene there. One of the two doctors was hushing something to the other one and was busy operating something on her. I went inside and enquired them about the problem. But nurse asked me to stay out and told me her pulse rate is going down because her body was rejecting the heart they transplanted. I got a setback. Her pulse rate was going down. Even after these many affords she was getting worse and all I could do was just seeing my daughter dying.
Doctors shifted her to I.C.U to keep her under observation for 48 hours, as they told me, giving one last try to save her life.
I asked for special permission to get inside and gaze at her from a distance, they allowed me. I was hooked up to the monitor attached to her which was displaying her pulse. We waited, and waited long. She was unconscious and looked deathly pale.
Hours passed away. Abruptly, I saw it dropping followed by a long beep and the monitor flattened.
I screamed, ‘Help!’
Moments later there was a chaos as nurses and doctors came into running and shouting instructions. I stood in the corner of the room, rooted to the spot with fear.
They started shouting names and medics were crowding around her bed. I could see syringes and drips crawling but I had no idea what was happening. I was blacked out.
Someone appeared with a defibrillation machine and operated it on her chest to give electric shocks.
It lasted like forever. I thought all about her, from her birth to this day. Begged god to please save her life. I was losing my child.
Can't recollect how long it continued. One of the doctors appeared from the group and asked me to wait outside. I refused, but he continued insisting so I went out.
Minutes later, same doctor came out to me with a convincing smile on his face and told me she was conscious now, I can go in and meet her. I asked him about her condition, he replied with a smile, “She will get better from now on.” The best thing I could hear at that very moment.
She was resting closing her eyes with an oxygen mask over her face. I couldn't hold up and shed tears. I wanted to cry but couldn't upset her so I wiped up and lead to my daughter.
I placed my hand over her head and caressed it gently. She opened her eyes and smiled a little.
My daughter was back with me at our house, later that week.
Strange Old Man'
It was supposed to be more of a story to me than a letter from a father, narrating about his frightening experience of almost losing his daughter. For the reason that neither I could connect to a few of those happenings he wrote about, nor had any familiarity of losing someone that close to me.
But, that was not the case. It was surprisingly out of the ordinary for me, I was flooded with so many emotions. I don’t know if it felt pleased, glad or something else. I was again and again re-constructing the scene in my head and thanking god to save her life.
Few days later, at my office I got called by my manager. I walked up to his cabin.
“May I come in?” I asked
He introduced me to a man seated in front of him, “He is Mr. Kundan, lawyer of Mr. Rashid Ahmed. “
“Hello,” I shook hands with him.
“We need to close an account of Mr. Ahmed, he died of a heart attack, a day before and wanted to donate all the money in his account to an orphanage,” boss ordered me.
I walk off to my desk, looked for the account no. my manager gave to me. Out of the blue a shocker came to me. He was the same old strange man, whom I met at the park, whose letter I got a few days back. It felt dejected to me. Like if I loosed someone closed to me.
I still remember total balance ₹ 72816 in his account. His due pension of three years got credited into his account yesterday about which he might be aware. I withdraw all the money to write a check in the name of the NGO and gave it to his lawyer and put the account to close as per the order.
The lawyer told me that he lived alone for past 10 years and the address he gave was near the same park where I met him. His daughter lives abroad with her family.
Next day, first in the morning I went to the same park, took a seat down for few minutes.
I came back home to get ready for another demanding day at work.