The Come Back – Chapter 2 – Professor Reed (fiction)
by Anita Menon
Professor Reed walked into his class with stack of papers in his hands. When he entered the class, his students got up on their feet. He thought it was unnecessary but his students always insisted. He felt tired even before he had begun his class. He realized he was dragging his feet and was completely oblivious of the whispers going around while he took his place at the center of the podium. He looked around his class and felt himself blanking out. He couldn’t recognize a single face in the class. He held on to his desk and then sat down slowly in the chair. One of the girls in the class got up and ran up to him and started speaking to him but he couldn’t hear her voice. He could see her moving her lips and her expression concerned. Then suddenly the room went dark.
When Professor Reed woke up he was surrounded by white walls from all sides. He found himself lying down, covered by a white sheet. He knew he was stark naked but he couldn’t move. He felt his hands and legs heavy and weary. His head pained like someone had knocked him over with a bludgeon. Slowly he felt his eye lids getting heavier and he was sinking back into slumber. He realized immediately that he was in an operation theatre and being operated upon. He looked around and recognized his chief surgeon. The surgeon, realizing that his patient had regained consciousness nodded his head in acknowledgement. Professor Reed knew almost instantly what had happened and resigned to what was happening. He did not want to think about anything right then and slipped back into a restful bliss.
He found himself going back in time when he was young and had just started working as a PhD student at the University in London. His mentor was the most renowned Professor and he was fortunate to be working under him. He worshipped the very ground his professor walked. His professor was from India and lived with his family in the same college campus. As the young James Reed he found himself working in the library, working hard and late into the night. He saw himself and his teacher sitting at a pub and clinking glasses of Scotch. They laughed and discussed politics until very late in the evenings. The young James was serious and sincere about his work. He knew he had a long way to go to become the academician he hoped to be and impress his Dr. Iyer. He had forsaken all other company in this pursuit and had no desire outside of it. He had been to the Dr. Iyer’s home so many times for dinner and a late evening game of chess. Dr. Iyer’s wife was a timid woman who hardly spoke at all. The young James Reed learnt to say his polite Namaskaram to her before she fled inside murmuring something to herself. He remembered the walls of Dr. Iyer’s house were covered with photographs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. He recalled the first time he had heard the tinkling of anklets and felt the sweet sound resonate in his head. He looked around the room for the source but could not find it. He found his curious heart get better of him and found himself searching for the source of the sweet sound in the rooms adjacent to the Living room where he was seated. He bumped into the tiny, frail body and looked into those beautiful dark eyes. She was dressed in traditional attire that seemed a bit flamboyant for a girl to wear at home. Then she moved and the anklets sung again, giving him goose bumps all over. He looked at her face and was shocked beyond words. It was Anna.
Professor Reed woke up with a start and found himself in the ICU. He saw Anna’s face pressed against the glass door looking at him with sadness