The Come Back – Chapter 9

by Anita Menon

To know what is happening, do read the previous chapter.

Prof. Reed’s latest reports were in and Anna was reading it hurriedly. She was in her room, lying on her stomach on the rug. The laptop was playing some of her favourite tracks rather softly. The light was dim and there was no noise except the ticking of the clock. As she read the crisp document, the pupils of her eyes reaching out from one end to other and filled with anxiety. Her brow creased and sweat beads had started to form. She couldn’t believe what she was reading. She immediately hit a Google search on her laptop and read up all the results that returned against it. Her heart was pounding and she was scarcely able to breathe. She hit a couple of other searches and none of them changed the conclusion. She buried her head in the crook of her arm and started to cry softly. She felt helpless but knew nothing can really be done to change the situation. She was right on her part to call the Dean of her college and tell her, that she would be dropping the exams for the current semester. The Dean was kind and understood her predicament. She even knew Prof. Reed personally and promised to drop by to see him.

She wiped her tears and decided to take things in her stride. She needed to share this malevolent news with Ash and Mrs. P. She had seen Ash walk out of the house in the afternoon. It was past dinner time and there was no sign of her. Anna wasn’t worried about her because she knew Ash could really take care of herself. Mrs. P had been generous by deciding to stay over for a couple of nights. Anna struggled with the thought of whether it would be right to tell her father that  his condition was beyond help. Maybe Ash could do a better job since Anna, would only crumble before she uttered a single word about the hopelessness of the situation. She had to focus since the news was so difficult to digest. She emailed a few of her friends, whose parents were doctors to see if a second opinion would help. She expected them to revert by tomorrow. She wondered whether it would have been any different, had she known about his carcinoma and tumour right from the start?

Her tears flowed and her mascara bled. It gave her otherwise pleasant countenance  an ominous look. She got up and checked herself in the mirror. She took a tissue from the tissue box on her study table and wiped her face clean. No sooner did she finish the prepping, she heard the front door of the house open and shut. She felt, she heard two set of foot steps and wondered who it could be. She glided down the staircase to reach the hallway that connected the front door and the living room. She saw Ash, with her backed turned towards her, trying to struggle out of her boots. With her, stood a tall, suave looking guy. She instantly recognized him and rushed to hug him.

Jai had finally come to see her.

He broke into an uneasy smile when he saw Anna rushing towards him. He quickly bent down to remove his heavy boots in an act to avoid her embrace. Anna stopped dead on her tracks when sudden reaction to her affection was met with an unexpected response. She couldn’t fathom why Jai was with Ash. It did not look right to her at all. She had sent texts to him day and night explaining the severity of the situation that she was in. He responded intermittently, as if disinterested. Talking to him was pointless as he only answered in monosyllables. When she had almost given up on him, she finds him standing at the door of her home. Maybe he wanted to surprise her and that was the reason he was acting all weird. All her uneasiness and heaviness evaporated, now that Jai was here to be with her. She needed him now more than ever. She waited for him to buckle himself out of his heavy boots before she lunged at him with all her enthusiasm. He received her warmly like a friend would; certainly not like lovers. In this time, Ash had already made her way to the drawing-room and had seated herself on Papa’s armchair. Jai and Anna, also made their way to the drawing-room and Anna noticed Ash and Jai were exchanging some covert glances. Something was not right and she knew it. She offered Jai some juice and decided she would whisk him away to her room for a chat. Jai took a sip or two of the juice and seemed to look more interested in his blackberry. He kept scrolling and intensely scrutinizing his screen like it was the first time he was looking at it.

” We should go to my room, Jai.” Anna suggested.

At this, Ash got up and made her way to the kitchen.

Anna made her way behind her and handed her the copy of the medical report that she was still holding in her hand. Ash looked quizzically at her but then understood instantly what the piece of paper contained. Anna’s white face had given her an indication of what she was about to read. Meanwhile, Anna had already pulled Jai out of his seat and was leading him to her room. Ash loitered around the kitchen reading the report. She felt her hands shaking and had to sit down immediately. Mrs.P had emerged from one of the store rooms beyond the kitchen carrying some dish towels in her hands. She noticed Ash crying silently with a piece of paper in her hands. Mrs. P realized that the news wasn’t good and rushed to comfort Ash. Both of them hugged each other and continued to cry.

In some moments, before they could even compose themselves, they heard raised voices from Anna’s room. Just then the door of Anna’s room opened forcefully and Jai rushed out. His beautiful face was red and features contorted, Ash noticed. He climbed down the stairs and stood facing Ash. His eyes fixed on Ash’s face, he spoke slowly, ” I’ll keep in touch”. They had exchanged numbers at the pub, earlier during the day. Anna, looked down upon both of them, still standing at the door of her bedroom. She was fuming and crying at the same time.

For once, Ash felt like she needed to rush to her sister to comfort her. She climbed up the stairs but was met with a volley of abuse from her sister. Anna pushed Ash away from her. In a menacing tone, Anna said, ” You have to ruin everything, don’t you? You can’t let me be happy. Not now , not then, not ever. How I hate you! Go away!! I hate you!”

Ash seemed stunned and looked at Jai who was still standing and watching the dramatic out pour. He took a cue and quickly made his way out of the house.

Mrs. P, with the dish cloth in her hand, quickly tottered out of the scene to busy herself with something unimportant.

Ash stood outside Anna’s closed-door, with the medical report in her hand. A hurricane of emotions was swirling inside her heart but right now she needed to go to her room and think this through. Just as she turned the knob of her bedroom door, she saw a text message flash on her cell phone. She opened it to find it was from Jai.

” I have broken up with her. Now,  can we see each other, please?  🙂 “