Shilpa was meeting Kunal almost after a decade now. She couldn’t believe that she would ever meet Kunal in such conditions.
‘Vitals?’ asked Shilpa to the paramedic standing beside the strecher.
‘BP 80/50, PR 110, SpO2 84%…The CT and X-Ray plates madam’, the paramedic handed over the plates to Shilpa. Shilpa looked at the plates carefully and exhaled with her mouth.
‘CT is within normal limits but the lower limb bones are crushed…Admit him in the emergency surgery unit.The patient has lost too much blood. Please run the routine tests and arrange 3 units blood for transfusion. Also inform the blood bank to keep units in reserve. The patient may collapse any minute.’ Shilpa ordered the intern. The intern started to jot down the advice. ‘Its a road traffic accident right?’ asked Shilpa to which the intern nodded yes. ‘It would be a police case then…Send the ticket to my room after it arrives…Okay?’ The intern nodded a yes again.
‘Umm…Also write a refer to the orthopedic department and after they had seen the CT and X-Ray plates, sent the plates for a proper report.’
The intern ran and began to do things she was told. Shilpa went to her room and wrote a detailed note about the findings and the injury report. Meanwhile Kunal was placed in a bed and was visited by various doctors from different departments for opinions.
‘Police is trying to reach his family. There is nobody to give consent.’ Shilpa explained to the panel.
‘He should be operated now…His condition may worsen.’ suggested a surgeon.
‘But he’s not stable yet…And blood has still not arrived.’ the anaesthesist argued.
‘Doctors,’ Shilpa said in a low deep tone going closer to the monitor, ‘Tall peaked t waves!’ she pointed to the ECG.
‘Crush syndrome?’ the anaesthesist looked at Shilpa, ‘The lower limbs were crushed…We have to operate but there is chance of hypovolemic shock. Doctor Shilpa…What do you suggest? Its your case. Anyway the patient may…’
‘Call the team immediately. We will operate. We have to take the chance. As soon as blood arrives we have to transfuse’ ordered Shilpa.
The surgery was started and one hour had passed. ‘Doctor Shilpa you seem nervous…Your hands are shaking. Are you alright?’ one of the doctors asked Shilpa, ‘Its the first time I am seeing you so stressed, we have done such emergency surgeries earlier…’
‘Nothing doctor… Actually I know the patient personally’ replied Shilpa looking at Kunal’s face.
‘What! Shilpa are you okay? We can manage. The patient is almost stable.’
‘No. I am fine. I was in school with him. I didn’t remember his name until I got his ticket. I just…’ Shilpa stopped and again looked at Kunal. The surgery went on for another hour. Kunal was out of danger now.
Shilpa was exhausted by the long surgery and couldn’t go home. She slept in her cabin and was awakened by a knock on the door the other day.
‘Goodmorning Doctor…The patient has returned to conscious state, the police is here to meet him. Should we…’ the nurse stopped when she noticed Shilpa shutting her eyes. ‘Should I tell them to wait?’
‘Yeah…First I would examine the patient’s state, till then tell them to sit in the waiting room.’
Shilpa quickly freshened up and headed to the ward. Kunal was sitting with the help of the back support. He still had his oxygen mask on his face and looked drowsy due to the pain medications he was put on.
‘Goodmorning! Mr. Kunal…I am your Doctor, Doctor…’
‘Shilpa? Hey we were at school together! Don’t you remember me?
‘Yeah I do Kunal. How are you feeling today?’
‘I don’t know…I mean you chopped off my legs and…’
‘It was necessary so as to save you…You were dying and I had to save you anyhow. We didn’t had any of your relative or friends for the discussion and you were totally unconscious…We did what we thought was right.’ Shilpa sighed. ‘The police wants to talk to you and before you tell them about the accident I want to…’
‘What do I tell the police? I don’t remember a thing from the night. I only saw lights coming towards me and the next thing I remember is lying in this bed without my legs!’
‘I am sorry Kunal. What happened is unfortunate…But the police will investigate into it and I would not… rather cannot stop them from doing their job.’
After examining Kunal, Shilpa let the officers question Kunal while she attended other patients.
‘So what do you remember from that night? Anything and everything.’ the officer asked.
‘I was returning from my studio late that night on my bike and suddenly a speeding light came towards me. That’s all I have officer.’ Kunal sighed. ‘I might have had a little alcohol but certainly not much to jeopardize my riding. But wasn’t there any clue of what happened there? I mean the vehicle or something?’
‘I am afraid but no.’ replied the officer. ‘We checked the road thoroughly but haven’t got anything yet. Also to our bad luck the CCTV camera on the road was out of order. It is indeed difficult to find the culprit but we assure you we’ll try our best. Till then take care Mr. Kunal and if you remember anything…feel free to give us a call.’
‘Yeah sure..Thanks officer’. Kunal smiled overcoming the pain he felt.
Shilpa was heading home after the tiring shift she had but before going she stopped by the ward to talk to Kunal. Kunal was talking to the nurse and seemed disturbed.
‘Is everything alright Nurse?’ Shilpa investigated.
‘Doctor I have given the adviced pain medications to him but he is arguing to give him more. I told him…’
‘It’s okay, ‘ Shilpa smiled at the nurse and patted on her back, ‘I will talk to him…Please attend other patients.’
‘Kunal…I know you are in pain but we cannot give you more of the pain killers. It would be harmful to you.’ Shilpa tried to calm Kunal down.
‘It’s too hard. Its paining a lot. You can never ever imagine the pain.’
‘Hey, did you tell the management about your family or any known person? I am sure if you have a good company you would feel and heal better.’
‘I have friends but nobody is so much close to me. Moreover they have their lives to life…Many of them are my mere drinking partners.’
‘Only my father who is least bothered about me.’ Kunal looked at Shilpa . ‘He disowned me when I denied to run the family business and started to follow my passion.’
‘So what’s the passion? May be that could help!’
Kunal laughed to it and looked at his legs which ended soon after the knees. ‘Dance…Dance is …Or I should say, was the passion of my life.’
Shilpa felt as if a dagger went straight through her heart. ‘Kunal I …I had …I am so sorry…I .’
‘You took my passion to give me life. Pointless life?’
‘No. Life is never pointless. I will help you Kunal. I promise,’ Shilpa held Kunal’s hand.
In the coming weeks Shilpa spent her spare time sitting beside Kunal’s bed and talking to him. She tried her best to provide the emotional support and confidence which seemed to be lost in Kunal after the amputation. They talked about the stupid stuffs they did in school. The classes, the classmates, the gossips of the classmates and more. When Kunal was stable enough to be discharged he had nobody or no place to go to.
‘Where would you go?’ Shilpa asked.
‘I only have my studio and that too is of no use now I guess… but I will figure something out, I have the strength now.’
‘I know you are better now but I still insist that you come to my place. It would be good for you. You have some disabilities now and…’
‘Right…I forgot I am handicapped now.’
‘I didn’t mean that besides you are not handicapped. You are a man with disabilities who still has the ability to serve the society and hence not a handicapped person…until you give up!’ Shilpa said in one breath.
Kunal smiled at Shilpa with astonishment. ‘You have done so much for me Shilpa…You even paid the bills. I don’t think I could take anymore favours from you.’
‘Okay then do me a favour…Live with me!’ Shilpa teared up while speaking. ‘You know I had feelings for you since a very long time. You ignored it. Even I ignored it afterwards thinking it may be for the good but it never turned any good for me. I still…After so many years have not found anyone for whom I could feel the way I feel for you!’
‘Shilpa I know that but think about it… I am not a good choice…I am not even a choice for you. I think it’s the sympathy talking. You will eventually feel burdened. I will make you slow. I will…’
‘May be I am ready to slow things down a bit.’ Shilpa shrugged and went closer to Kunal who was in the wheelchair. She bend forward to kiss him. ‘Please! I am literally begging you.’ They kissed.
‘You don’t have to. Last few days were something different for me. I was happy. The only thing which made me happy was dancing. And now that I can’t dance the way I did… the thing that brings me joy is you!’
Kunal went with Shilpa. They started living together and seemed to be enjoying every bit of it. Kunal started a new passion that was music. Shilpa would go to work as usual in the morning and when she returned in the evening, all the tiredness would just vanish listening to Kunal’s music. They would talk for hours.
‘Hey! Isn’t this your slam book?’ Kunal picked up a fancy thin book from the magazine rack.
‘Yeah…My first one.’ Shilpa replied. ‘I always keep my firsts in a special place.’
‘There is my note too…’ Kunal laughed as he turned the pages. Kunal rolled the wheels of his chair and went close to Shilpa who was sitting on the sofa. Kunal brushed her hair with his fingers.
‘Will you marry me?’ Kunal proposed.
Shilpa closed her eyes and took a deep breath. ‘I have something to confess to you…’ Shilpa seemed nervous. She took Kunal to the garage and handed him a broken rare view mirror.
‘It was my first car. I couldn’t get rid off my first so I had to at least keep a piece of it. It is the car…’
‘Which hit me?’ Kunal completed. ‘I know.’
‘What? I don’t understand you told that you didn’t remember any thing…’
‘I lied. I was conscious till you came out from the car and checked if I was alive. I also heard when you made the call to the hospital.’
‘Why did you not tell the police? Why did you save me?’ Shilpa cried.
‘To save me…Not you.’ Kunal laughed while Shilpa looked at him with astonishment. ‘I was finished…I was a complete failure. The studio was gone from my hands. I was heavily drugged and was about to finish my life. Then the best thing happened to me…The accident!’
‘So you used me to get all this..’
‘To get a decent life…You almost killed me but you saved me.’ Kunal winked at Shilpa.
‘You didn’t love me? I did all this for you and…’
‘Oh! You loved me? You too pretended didn’t you? You hoped to get out of the guilt.’
Shilpa wiped her tears and stared straight at Kunal’s eyes. ‘Yeah it’s true…I didn’t love you. But what next? Would you tell the police about that night?’
‘No but I want my reward to keep it a secret…’
‘So you are blackmailing me?’ Shilpa lifted her eyebrows.
‘Not at all… Think it like a deal.’ Kunal replied with cool.
‘Its a deal then…But marriage is off the table.’ Shilpa clarified.
‘Absolutely Doc!’ Kunal threw the rare view mirror in the bin.