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"I am sorry Mr. Ragavan, but we have tried our level best." the doctor patted my shoulder, as I sat hiding my face with my hand.
"I suggest you spend the night with her, we really can't predict the night ahead." he walked away leaving me alone with my tears that rolled down my cheeks.
I sat there for a few minutes with wet eyes, the time spent with her over the last 35 years flashed in a series of colourful images in my head.
I looked at the empty corridors of the hospital, the cold metal chairs, each of them have a story of misery to tell, I thought for a moment.
I pushed myself off the chair with all the strength I had and walked into the room.
The squeak of the door opening, woke her up, her hands were stretched along her body. Tubes with pins poked into her skin, she lay on the bed with a calm expression on her face. I walked across the room to close the window and ward off the cold breeze that crept in. Her tired eyes looked at me as I walked up to her, a hint of smile seemed to play on her face as I reached closer to her. I sat by her side finding it hard to control my tears, she looked at me, with the little strength she had, she lifted her palm and tried to pat mine. An effort to comfort me from the thoughts of losing her. The tears gushed out of my eyes as I saw her trying to make me feel better even at this physical state.
I bent down and kissed her forehead, she seemed to push herself close to me to say
"Don't worry Raaghu, nothing will happen. You just stay by my side tonight."
I kissed her again and replied "I am always by your side Lakshmi."
"I want to sit up a little." she requested.
I held her and helped her sit up with her back resting against a pillow. As I helped her, I looked at her finding it hard to accept that once a strong women now lay on the bed finding it hard to sit up. I held her for a second more making her feel comfortable of my support, I placed my palm softly on top of hers and sat looking at it in silence for a few minutes.
"Final good bye." she broke the silence with her soft voice finding it hard to breathe.
"Please don't say such things." I spoke out at once.
She smiled and tried to hold my fingers with hers, looking at them she spoke
"Do you remember our first good bye."
"How can I forget." I held her hand a little firm.
"Those magical days I remember them like it was yesterday...
"Ragavan you are late again, our student has not been able to use the typewriter for the last one hour. Can you please check?"
I was a typewriter mechanic and you a student. Although we lived in the small town of Madikeri, I had never seen you before that day. You sat on the stool with your head down writing something in your hand book. Not looking up even for a second as I walked up to you. I opened up the typewriter and you just moved away a little.
"You remember?" I asked her with a teasing smile
She smiled back, "I didn't feel the need to look at the mechanic" she spoke softly trying to tease me back.
"This smile Lakshmi, 35 years have passed but it has the same effect on me."
"That day, I can never forget that smile...
I kept trying to look at your face but your eyes had it down not interested to look towards me.
Finally you turned, those jet black eyes, soft cheeks with a blanket of a pink glow over them, curls that fell elegantly over your shoulder and then came those two, those soft lips parting into the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. I think I stood silent for minutes just looking at you type.
"I had to tell you a hundred times the typewriter was okay, but you still insisted on staying near it."
"Near you." I patted her palm and smiled.
I finally walked away but kept turning back to see if you would smile at me one more time, I had reached almost the door and was about to step out when you looked up, waved Goodbye and smiled at me one more time.
"I remember I reached my cycle and jumped in the air with my fist held up high excited that you smiled at me."
She looked at me, I held her palm and we both broke into soft laughs trying to re-live the past moments of sheer joy.
"Nikhil is at home?" she asked with her soft voice.
"Yes, I asked him to take Arnav home, he has school tomorrow morning."
She nodded and sat silent for a minute looking at the blanket that covered her pale body.
"School. You remember Nikhil's first day at school." she asked me trying to pull herself up a little
"Oh yes, he could never say Goodbye to you." I replied helping her sit up.
"The crying, the words...
"Amma promise amma, I will go from tomorrow." he pleaded with you.
Plump, fair boy, those same black eyes of yours, red cheeks that tempted everyone to kiss them. A green cap and a napkin pinned to his...
what was it, a superman t-shirt?
That Mickey mouse bag on his soft shoulders and big fat tears in his eyes.
He just wouldn't leave you, the teacher literally dragged him away and he came running out of the class to you crying,
"Amma promise amma, I will go from tomorrow."
The teacher then lifted him off to the class room and shut the door and I had to pull you away from the window.
"Four hours I tried to console you but your tears wouldn't stop." I patted her palm
"I felt like I was breaking a piece of my heart away." she replied looking into my eyes.
I smiled away
"You remember, the airport when he was flying away to The States for higher studies."
He had walked into the Check-in counter, we were supposed to leave but you insisted on staying for a few more minutes. You stood there like you had near that window on his first day of school, and suddenly he came running out of the Check-In counter to you, hugged you and said
"Amma promise amma, I will go from tomorrow."
We both broke into soft laughs as she spoke
"He then said Good bye and I stood there waving to him with tears in my eyes but a smile on my face."
"Arnav is exactly like Nikhil" she concluded.
"His birthday is next month, he was asking if we'll buy him a red car."
She smiled and spoke
The day we saw him on his first birthday when we went to visit them in Bangalore. Nikhil walked up to us and put him in my arms, those big eyes looking straight at us, trying to recognize us, those soft cheeks as fair as milk, that small nose and pink lips. He was a prince, the cutest baby. His tiny fingers and his small hands trying to hold your finger and Nikhil, he was so happy.
Arnav, the last five years he has added new energy to our lives.
"You buy him a red car tomorrow Raaghu, and tell him its from me. I may not be here next mon..."
"Please lakshmi" I cut her before she could complete her sentence.
"Raaghu as I sit here and think back at the last 35 years, the time spent, the laughs, the smiles, the tears that flowed. All the images that flash before my eyes, I see you by my side sharing them all with me." she spoke with a smile on her face but her eyes full.
"Lakshmi, Lakshmi" I kissed her forehead finding it hard to control my own overflowing emotions.
"Raaghu I don't know what will happen tomorrow, tonight might be my final Goodbye. I want you by my side." she tried to lean on me.
I pushed myself to her side and allowed her head to rest on my shoulder and spoke
"I am going no where Lakshmi, I am by your side. You take rest, we'll talk tomorrow morning. Nothing will happen Lakshmi." I kissed her head.
She smiled a little and lifted her head to look at me.
I got up and helped her back to sleep on the bed, I sat by her side with my palm holding hers.
"Raaghu thank you." she spoke softly
"What for?" I asked a little surprised.
"For making my life a beautiful one. If I leave tonight I bid Goodbye to all with a smile on my face but you all remember to send me off with one on your face. I have lived a very happy life Raaghu." she smiled
"Lakshmi, nothing will happen." I bent down and kissed her forehead still trying to console and conceal myself from the harsh truth that stood in front of me.
"Smile for me once, please Raaghu."
I looked at her and smiled, bent down and kissed her cheeks.
"Sleep now Lakshmi, take rest please."
She closed her eyes with a smile on her face. I got up from the bed and switched off the lights. Darkness engulfed the room for a minute, but the full moon light finding its way in through the glass window pushed out the darkness.
I walked back to the bed and sat there for an hour looking at her face in the pale blue light.
Till date she has looked the most beautiful to me, not a single moment could I think of feeling sad or depressed, she was always there by my side consoling me back to my happy self.
Looking at her lying on the bed, a moment of helplessness hit me, desperate i felt. She lay in pain, nothing could I do but just watch time take her away from me with each passing minute. Tears rushed down my eyes and I held her hand tight. A strong gush of sadness hit me and I suddenly felt empty like I had lost everything in life.
I looked at her face, she lay in front of me with a hint of a smile and no sign of pain on her face.
With trembling hands I tried to feel her pulse but found none. I wanted to shout out and cry in pain but her last words played in my head.
I called out for the doctor, but sat there holding her hand knowing that she had left us all.
I looked at her, bent down and placed one last kiss on her forehead and sat by her side with her last words echoing in my head but tears rolling down my cheeks.