The Come Back- Chapter 14

by Anita Menon

Every morning for the past one week, Anna had followed the same routine. She woke up, quickly dressed and had her breakfast. Then she checked her emails for any news from the university or the dean. Her Dean, being Prof. Reed’s friend and one time colleague was kind enough to let her skip this semester. She did not have many friends, but her classmates were kind to email her asking about her Papa’s health. Soon, she would head for the hospital and change duties with Ash. Not a word passed between them and Anna did not even look at her sister when she entered the hospital suite to take her place next to Papa. She would swiftly come and kiss him on his cheek, followed by a quick chat with his oncologist, who seemed sympathetic to their cause.  Many a times, he would drop by Prof. Reed’s ward even when it wasn’t really his round to do. He spent some time chatting with Anna about the any new treatment or sometimes just shared a reassuring cup of coffee with her. Anna quite liked his presence and felt secure since most of the day, she had nobody to talk to except for a little banter with the nurses who came off and on to check on his temperature and blood pressure.

In her  quiet moments, she kept going back to the evening when Jai had surprised her with his sudden appearance. He seemed to distant and awkward all the time. In their heated discussion, he revealed that he didn’t feel anything for Anna all the time that they had spent together. Anna found it difficult to keep her anguish inside and couldn’t help feeling that Ash had something to do with this turn of events. Only two days back, Anna had called Jai and they had such a fabulous chat and things looked better than ever. She was always aware that Jai wasn’t as committed as she was to him, but it was only a matter of time that would have changed. She hated missing the opportunity as it was so perfect with Jai. They were the golden couple of the University; smart, good-looking and successful. When she mentioned that as a reason to be together, Jai seemed perplexed.

” We can’t be together, just because we look good together!!” he had snapped.

She then, couldn’t bring herself to tell him, that she had already planned their life ahead with a big mansion in the outskirts of London, great jobs, beautiful children, a lovely garden, beautiful fountains and everything that her heart desired for them. He most definitely had different ideas. He felt, their relationship drained him a lot and he didn’t feel he was able to commit as much as Anna wanted him to. All the months that they were together, he felt stifled with her constant smothering and needed to take a breather for sometime. In his opinion, it would be better to take a break and think about where their relationship was going. Anna understood that this just a feeble excuse and now the ball was in her court. She took the bait because her self-respect was more important to her than the beautiful dreams she had woven  for them. She told him that she had no interest in hanging on loose threads and he was free to go. A wave of relief spread on his face, with this proclamation and Anna was crushed. On his way out, when she saw him talking surreptitiously to Ash, her doubts were confirmed. She couldn’t help but shout at her and all that anguish that had built up for years came rushing out. She went back to her room and cried for hours. It was almost dawn that she fell into a fitful sleep dreaming of fountains and butterflies in her garden. Her dreams wouldn’t stop hoping against hope, she felt.

Next day, weary from the emotional turmoil, she imagined Jai bursting from the front door and falling on his knees, admitting that he had made a mistake. But no such thing happened. Anna shrugged heavily, as she sat lifted her legs off the floor and settled for a more comfortable position on the hospital suite sofa. She had brought lots of books and music to keep her entertained, but her father’s condition made it impossible for her to enjoy anything.  She kept worrying about him but he seemed to be enjoying his time in the hospital. She frequently caught him smiling in his sleep and muttering to himself. It could be due to the heavy medication that he was on but sometimes she couldn’t help laughing out aloud because it felt so silly. She shared this with the doctor, who insisted on being called, Richard and confirmed her suspicion about the heavy medication being the cause. Anna started to look forward to seeing Richard everyday because, he let her relax.

Just then, as if through some telepathy, she saw Richard, charging through the door with a broad smile on his face. She couldn’t help but beam, herself.

“I have some great news for you Anna. It seems, the Professor is responding to the new medication and feeling a lot better now. It’s like some miracle and more like he willed himself to get better. Whatever it is, he should be able to go home in a few days. How does that make you feel?”
Anna could have jumped up and hugged the doctor in that moment of absolute joy, but she restrained herself with plenty of giggles and awkward movement. All these days of working on auto pilot had reduced her into feeling numb but now she felt the adrenaline pumping. She did not know how she could thank Richard for his unfaltering support and conviction in her father’s case. She would bake him a cake, she decided. The doctor, asked the nurse to fill in for Anna and asked her out for a coffee in the hospital cafeteria.

Together they sat facing each other, smiling awkwardly with steaming cups in their hands. Richard cleared his throat in an attempt to start a conversation and Anna looked away  to prevent the blush from spreading on her cheeks. How could she behave like a teenager? She was just recuperating from a broken relationship! But she moved those acidic thoughts aside and concentrated on what Richard had to say. Just then his cell phone beeped and in an instant got up to go. He apologized profusely to Anna and exchanged numbers with her. In many ways, she was glad that no conversation happened since she was still happy to be loyal to her sadness of breaking up with Jai. Her therapist had told her that, as a rule, she needed to give enough thought to everything before she moved on to the next thing and she always followed rules.