Thursday 15 August 2013

Short Story 2013 Shortlist, Prashanth Ashok

The Silent Chaos

Around 10 AM, December 29, 2004
Stanley Hospital, Chennai

Priya (full of dried tears) : “Doctor, it has been more than two days since my husband was admitted here. Can you tell me how his condition is? Please do let us know whatever it is”
Doctor Samuel : “Madam, you know very well that we are trying our best to save your husband. But he is not the only patient here suffering after the calamity. We do have thousands of other patients to look after. Please try to understand”.

So saying, the doctor walked away. Priya collapsed back onto the chair once again, prayers finding their way towards God, out of her mouth.

“God, please don’t let my husband die. Take mine instead. He is such an amazing human being and you know that. How could this happen to him? You have already taken my child away from me. Not my husband as well. I still haven’t mourned my daughter’s death. He and I would do that together. Let him live, at least for this. Please, God. Please. Spare my husband’s life. I still haven’t given him his birthday gift. It still lies underneath our bed. I want him to get back home and hunt for it himself. Take my life. I am content with the time we have spent together. I am more than willing to die. Take mine, spare him. Let him live. You know, he has always told me that his lifelong ambition was to go on a trekking expedition along the Himalayas. Let him achieve that first. Let him live. God, please save him. Please, let him not die. Take mine instead. Please! Please! Please!” – Priya’s mind was torn between an array of emotions. The tears seemed to have a free flow down her face and they seemed not to cease ever. Her beautiful face was a complete mess. More than anything, she was completely alone. No one was there to give her even a moral support.

Around 6 AM, December 26, 2004
Along Beach Road, Marina

Appa, appa, anga paren (Dad, look there)” – Akshara pointed somewhere to the right.

Aksha, chumma iru. Daddy vandi ottaren la. (Aksha, keep quiet. Daddy is driving, right?)” – Rahim moved Akshara’s hand back.

Illa pa, anga perusu perusa ala varudu. (No dad, I can see huge waves there)” – Akshara did not stop.

Adhellam onnum illa kanna. Ala perusa than varum. (No my dear, waves will be huge)” – Rahim smiled at his daughter’s innocence.

Sonna kelu pa, idhu rumba periya ala. Nee paren oru vatti. (Listen to me daddy, this is a very huge wave. You see there once)” – Akshara insisted.

Enna kanna nee. Seri pakkaren iru. (Ok, I will see, my dear)” – so saying, Rahim turned his face.

He was terrorized by what he saw. He had never seen such gigantic waves, in all his life. Hell, he had not even heard of them. By the time he could even react and turn his bike, the waves caught up with them and completely swept them off.

Few minutes later, TV channels blared the flash news – TSUNAMI STRIKES INDIA.

Around 8 AM, December 26, 2004
Stanley Hospital, Chennai

The ambulance rushed into the hospital, with a few patients alive and mostly corpses.

Those alive, were put onto stretchers and rushed to the Emergency Ward.
Those not alive, were assembled in the mortuary.

“Nurse, quick. Put him on ventilator. I can see an injury to his head. Lets see if there is any haemorrhage. Lets start all emergency procedures” – Dr. Samuel rushed his assistant. Once on ventilator, the doctor hastened to look into the wallet he had retrieved earlier for any ICE(In Case of Emergency) numbers.

“Rahim” – the doctor read out aloud. He rummaged through the wallet and found a picture of a lady holding a child. “Maybe his wife and daughter”, the doctor said to himself. He found a piece of paper with a mobile number written on it. He dialed the number.

Around 9 AM, December 26, 2004
Stanley Hospital, Chennai

Priya ran into the Emergency Ward of the hospital.

“Oh my God, Rahim. How could this happen to you? You, of all people. Why such a terrible punishment. Where is our daughter? God, why did you do this to my husband? Don’t you know he is such a good person? Why Rahim” – Priya cried her heart out. The whole atmosphere was nauseating. Priya couldn’t stop crying. She didn’t know what to do.

“Are you Rahim’s wife?” – enquired Dr Samuel, when he walked into the room, towards Rahim’s bed.

“Yes doctor. I am Priya. How is he? Please tell me he will survive. I cannot bear to imagine anything happening to him” – Priya pleaded with the doctor, her eyes full of tears.

“We are trying our best, Priya. But his condition is extremely critical. He has suffered from some haemorrhage in the head. We are trying our best to remove a blood clot. I cannot say anything for 48 hours”.

“Doctor, what about my child? My daughter Akshara. She was with Rahim” – Priya asked the doctor.

“Your daughter? Only Rahim was brought in here. No child was brought along with him. I am afraid they must have been separated. I hope your daughter will be found soon. Did you try to contact the police? Oh wait, is this your daughter, by the way?” – Samuel handed the photo to Priya.

“Yes Doctor. She is my child. Such a beautiful girl, isn’t she? Oh my dear, where am I going to find you? Are you still waiting for Mummy? Don’t worry darling, mummy will soon find you” – Priya was muttering to herself incoherently.

“Do not worry, Priya. I will see what I can find out about your daugh…” – Dr Samuel broke off, seeing that Priya was not listening.

Around 4 PM, December 26, 2004
Stanley Hospital, Chennai

“Priya, I am afraid I have some bad news for you, concerning Akshara” – Dr Samuel walked upto her.

“What! What is it Doctor? Is Aksha alright? Please tell me my daughter is alright. Uncle, please speak. Please Uncle” – Priya cried.

“I am sorry, Priya. Akshara is no more. I happened to see her…" the doctor could not complete his sentence, as Priya collapsed on the floor


“Something is not right. How could my daughter die? No, the doctor is confused. Or wait. Why should he be confused? Is my daughter really dead? Is my beautiful girl really no more?” - she could not comprehend her daughter’s death. She seemed hysterical, although she did not speak.

The doctors gave her a round of strong sedatives.

Around 1 PM, December 29, 2004
Stanley Hospital, Chennai

As Priya recollected the events of the past three days, she could not control her tears. Once again, she started crying. Besides, she was all alone.

“How much my life has changed in two days. It seems so fresh in my mind, that Aksha was so enthusiastic about planning for Rahim’s birthday. Yet, my daughter is no more. Dear God, how could you do this to me? We were such a beautiful family. Aksha meant the world to both Rahim and me. Why did you take her away from me? Instead, you could have taken my life and spared my child’s. Why do I have to live, when my daughter is no more. Why did Rahim have to go out on that dreadful day? Oh My God, Rahim. Why do I have to suffer? Why won’t you come back to me quickly? Why give me all this pain? You know very well that you are my world. I have no one left Rahim. What would I do if something were to happen to you? Would I be orphaned yet again? No, I cannot bear something like that. Rahim, you better come back to me quickly. Oh God, what would I tell you about Aksha. She was such a lovely girl. Come back to me, Rahim. I cannot live without you. Remember all the wonderful times we spent together? The first time I met you at work, when you bumped into me and gave a sheepish smile? That’s when I fell for you. And now, you are here, fighting for life. Remember, when Aksha was born. You said, we would give the entire world to her? Now, she is no more, Rahim. Our daughter, our sweet Aksha, is dead. She is no more. And now, I am praying that God spare atleast your life. I am not bothered about mine. Let him take mine, but you should live. You are such a wonderful person. You have been good to people all through your life. You mean the world to me, Rahim. Have I ever told you how much I love you? You mean everything to me. I love you Rahim. I love you, my dear husba…” –

“Priya, can we talk?” – Dr. Samuel walked upto her.

“What is it doctor? Is Rahim ok? Please tell me his condition has improved. Is he out of danger?” – Priya was scared.

“Priya, I am afraid I bear more bad news. We tried our very best to save Rahim. But God has destined otherwise. I regret to tell you that your husband Rahim is no more” – the doctor spoke.

Priya collapsed that very instant. Her otherwise chaotic mind, was now completely silent.

No comments:

Post a Comment