Sania was walking fast and almost broke into a jog. Though she kept walking and walking through the long and winding corridor, she felt she was getting nowhere closer to her destination. Wiping the sweat over her brow she marched towards the end of the corridor and stopped. It was marked ‘ICU’.
For a whole two minutes, she stood outside the door wondering whether to go inside or not. She looked at her toes, wondering if she would find her answer there. She closed her eyes, and taking in one deep breath, she pushed the door open.
She entered and stood rooted to her spot, transfixed. The continuous beeping of the heart monitor was the only sound that punctured the deafening silence of the hospital. That, along with her throbbing heart, refusing to go back to its natural rhythm since the found the news.
There he was lying with an oxygen mask over his face and breathing deeply. Eyes closed, he looked serene sleeping on the bed. She wanted to touch him, but she just could not move. It was as if her legs had turned to lead, she could not move them towards him.
Sania was abruptly shaken out of her reverie as a voice behind her said out loud, “…just check and see if the breathing is normal. And…excuse me what are you doing here?”
Sania turned around to see a hospital nurse in her pristine white uniform march in with a tray full of implements that looked like tweezers, and various kinds of scissors. Uncannily she couldn’t see the nurse’s face.
“I-I-I-I-I was just…just” is what Sania could manage. Stammering, Sania flushed and before she could say anymore the nurse changed her voice to a more irritated one and hissed-
“PLEASE do not enter the ICU without permission. Only relatives allowed. You don’t belong here. Now go!” said the nurse as she pushed Sania away and slapped her arms.
‘You don’t belong here’ kept ringing in Sania’s ears as she was brought back to her senses by her friend who was shaking her arm.
“Sania! Sania! SANIA!!! Are you okay? Get up! SANIA!” yelled her friend as she dimly opened her eyes. Now wide awake and looking at her friend, Sania realized that it was only a dream.
Sania felt rather humid to which she realized she was soaking with perspiration, all over.
“Are you okay Sania? I think you had a bad dream. You were yelling in your sleep. Are you okay?”
‘You don’t belong here’ was still ringing in Sania’s ears. That voice seemed so familiar. Why wasn’t she able to recognise it? And why couldn’t she see the nurse’s face?
“Hey, I’m fine Tashi. Thanks for checking on me. I’m fine” lied Sania with a wry smile. Tashi looked worried. But Sania’s head was elsewhere, fixated on those four impactful words ‘You don’t belong here’.
To Be Continued…