Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Shivangni Saha

Tragedy Inspirational


Shivangni Saha

Tragedy Inspirational

How To Save A Life (Mini Stories)

How To Save A Life (Mini Stories)

19 mins 173 19 mins 173


I used to know this girl called Mira. Her last name? I can't remember that much. We weren't close. The only reason I remember her first name is because she died, in front of me. Never thought I'd say something as cliche like that, but turns out, stuff like that happens in reality. Yep, even strangers can witness a milestone occurring in someone's present time, sometimes, we can even predict a milestone the second before it happens. What I'm trying to say here, so very poetically, is that doctors see people be born and die, gods gift people death and life, and I, saw someone suicide.

Her name was Mira. Oh, I already mentioned that, didn't I? I guess once one's name no longer exists in the 3-dimensional, along with their entity, we tend to remember it better than ever, as an expression of repentance. Repentance. Forgiveness. I pray for my forgiveness. 

We don't remember their name out of pity, sympathy, grief, or as a warning. No, because if we did, every single day of our lives, 'til they were no more, would be spent by us stuck in one place. But we move on. The families of victims move on. The friends of victims move on. The lovers of victims move on. The gods of victims move on. Nobody stays stuck, truthfully. Apart from those few cases, in which once in a blue moon, the Grim Reaper snatches two souls instead of one, leaving one physically dead and the other without the will to live, in the end, the latter kill themselves too- like Romeo and Juliet. After all, the boy traveled all the way back just to commemorate his death. I'm not belittling anyone's coping mechanisms with the concept of death here, whether with a stranger or a loved one. All I'm trying to tell you is that I've moved on from this girl's death. I swear. It's been 10 years. I have- even though I shouldn't have. So I decided to write about it. Cut out my heart and paste it right onto this screen. Force the words out of my mind and onto my fidgety fingers. Spill it out once and for all, so that I never have to think of it again... is what I tell myself. But really, I'm still in the middle of moving on. I'm stuck. It's been 10 years, and I'm still- stuck.

It was a pretty evening. The sky seemed like it was right out of a canvas painted with the most pastel shades of crimson, orange, and purple. A Vangough indeed. Creamier than steamed milk, more vivid than your dreams. I'd gone up to the school's rooftop for a breath of fresh air, a change of environment. And then, I saw her. She was standing on the ledge as she abruptly turned around to catch the perpetrator who'd interrupted her special quiet time. Only I wish the "quiet" was temporary. Her perfectly pressed uniform's ribbon inconsistently dancing o the wind's beat. Her pure black shoes glimmering against the dim lighting of the sky. Her scars, basking in the blood of the orange sunset. Honestly, it was such a perfect day to die. I noticed her the moment I swung the door open. It's hard to miss someone who smelt like helplessness more than the actual term, and of course, there was the standing on a ledge. 

Her face was so innocent.

She looked at me like she knew nothing. Her eyes wide open, her mouth tracing the vowel "O" in the air. The wind was fast that day, so for once, her abnormally long hair was lifted up, and I saw scars on her neck. I thought, "girls don't usually get physical, right?" Yeah. I saw a girl on my school's rooftop, standing on a ledge, and this is what I thought. Looking back, my dumbass should've thrown myself off with her. And maybe, while we'd be floating in the air, I could have been her shelter, her protection. I could have hugged her; shielded her from the ground. Given me to her, giving myself up for her. You may think I'm being dramatic here. "It's not your fault". "You didn't even know her". But that's what hurts the most. I didn't know her, but I knew of her situation, and I still, stood there in awe, in disbelief, gawking right back at her, as if I was the one in her place. It was a good minute I think. The amount of time we spent studying each other. Did she wait that long to see if I'd run to her? Did she stare at me for a whole minute, in hopes that I'd be the one to stop her? Was there a single part of her that just might've thought, "maybe he'll save me if I let him"? 

That one minute was so precious to us, and I let go of it. I let go of her. 

She awkwardly smiled, almost as if to tell me "don't tell the teachers." I mean, you're about to die, and that's what you're hoping for?? I could be wrong but, it all seemed pretty crystal clear to me. In fact, I object to what I'd said before. I don't think she was hoping for me to save her. I think she was hoping to find one more person to remember her. And what better way to get someone to remember you than imprinting the scene of your literal death in their head? 

Every day, I pray for forgiveness. I pray that I'll move on. That I'm innocent, and I'd heard nothing about her like the rest of them. Praying that my crooked reflection in her eyes was not a cry for help. That I could go back in time and save her. 

That I'd saved a life.


Dear Son,

If you're reading this letter, I hope it finds you well. I hope you're finally happy. As you know, I talk to the heavens every day as apart of my daily routine and now, I do even more so. Yes, I've been communicating with them more ever since you've left me, in hopes that one day, they'll let me hear your voice. Oh, how I miss your voice, son. I miss your hands, I miss your arms, I miss your eyes. I miss your smile, I miss your frown, I miss your tears, I miss your good, I miss your bad, I miss your mischievous. I miss you every second of every day. With every falling flower petal, I find myself asking about you, instead of my HighSchool crush! Isn't that funny? I bet you would've laughed, even if it wasn't. I miss hearing someone laugh at my terrible jokes. As you know, your dad doesn't laugh at anything, whether his favorite comedian's on TV or it's my pitiful dancing. I know I shouldn't be telling you such details, ones that could make you sad, but what can I do son? I have no one to talk to about these things anymore, and sometimes, the weight of them is too much of a burden for my worn-out, 40-year-old shoulders. You'd be 22 this year. I'm sure you would've carried it for me, just like you always did. But I could never do the same for you. How could you, a young boy of 17, have managed to perceive my silent cries, when I, your mother, could not see your pain? It's as if I, the one who gave life to you, had also stolen it from you. Now don't worry. I don't view myself like that, I know you'd feel distressed if I did. And I won't distress you anymore, nor will this world. 

Milly still comes by the house with her mom every now and then, she's 6 now! It sure has been a while. Every time she's over it's always the same "Where's bare bhaiya?" in that questionable Hindi accent of hers. Haha, she's learning her Hindi alright, Gauri di made sure to grow our culture within her, and of course, Daiki is as supportive as ever. Her interest in Japan paid off in more than one way, that's for sure! You'll also be happy to know that Anita drops by once a year or more if she's in town for a longer duration. It's been 5 years, and that girl still takes care of our needs, if you were still here, I would've definitely wife her for you! She was the one and only time I'd agreed with you on a girlfriend, and I'm proud of my decision to have done so even now. What's more is that every time she visits she brings us a new flippy toy, to put in your room, the one you'd use in school a lot, remember? You'd insert a finger in one of the holes and spin it around, I never saw the value or usefulness of that object, but it seemed to make you happy. Either way, you have a collection of those waiting in your room now, so you better come back and wipe them all spick and span, Anita's wasting good money to keep you interested even in the afterlife! Aren't you a handful? Well, we certainly miss having a handful rather than an empty one. 

I still make saag paneer for you on Saturdays. Your dad seems to stare at it for a while before eating, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't do the same. You'll be proud to know that I've been pursuing my passion for writing now. I've published three children's storybooks so far- you're in every one of them ;). I know, a lot has happened. I should've written to you more, the last I did was 4 years ago. I'm sorry. Anyways, not to get all senti now! As a hobby, and something just out of the goodness of my heart, I've been going every Tuesday and Sunday to read children's stories at the Angel Orphanage in Hauz Khas Village, they all still remember you as the boy who distributed fruit candies to them. About 3 Sundays ago, one young boy, perhaps of 9 or 10 years, came up to me and said "Oh! Aap unki mummi ho na auntie? Fruit candy larka? Kesa hai wo?". He smiled a lot like you. But wow, that part of town really reminds me of when we'd go out for dinners with you. And no matter what, you'd always order an overloaded dessert, regardless of whether you liked it or not. You really do need to reduce your intake of chocolate, I hope you're doing so up there... is what I'd usually say, but honestly son, just lives now. Just live as you are, just stay as you are. You have nothing to perfect, you're already in that state and always were to me. I just want you to feel safe, Ray. 

You will always be the sunshine.

Love, mama.

PS. Maybe now, I'll know how to save a life.


My grandma was a good woman. She never received much in turn, but she did her best to give. She had the most adorable, lovable personality ever. Looking back, I wish I'd spent more time with her.

The sad part is, I don't know what killed her. Was it her old age? Her sickness? Her loneliness? Us? 

It had been 10 years since my grandpa, or nanu, my mother's dad died. Mom and dad went to him and stayed by his side for 13 days, until he inhaled his very last breath on the hospital bed, also his deathbed. For those 2 weeks, my older brother and I stayed at a family friend's house. I remember sleeping next to my brother and asking him, "do you think nanu will be okay?". I can't remember his response, but I do recall there being a heavy moment of silence before he replied. More silent than the night sky, more empty than the space between us. Fast forward 2 weeks, mom and dad returned home. It was evening, my brother and I was waiting for them in the living room. Normally, you'd celebrate one's return, but this time, we simply exchanged blank, yet anticipating expressions as the air became more moist than usual. Almost, suffocating. Mom and dad were quiet. A third one was seen to be dangling behind the door, as she so softly doodled into the shelter of the house, carrying an oversized portrait of our grandpa. Nani. What is Nani doing here? No one had told us anything until after a few hours of their arrival, but I should've realised what that meant right then. She only had us now. 

Of course, there were our relatives, but we thought it'd be best to welcome her into the family of her only child. We weren't a very closely-knitted extended family, I guess. No bad blood, just, not good enough either. One thing I'll remember forever though is the night of that day when mom and Nani decided to sleep by my side. I asked mom, "What happened to nanu?" and she said, "he's in a better place now, he's with Shivji." "He's in a better place now." I hear that all the time nowadays, but back then, it was a rarity. In fact, that was the first time I'd heard that phrase- at the confused, naive age of 7. More than her reply was her embrace from that night that is forever engraved in my mind. It felt warm to me, even though I bet she was cold.

Fast forward 10 years, I'm 17 and my grandma's been living with us ever since then. She's a truly beautiful woman, and she keeps getting more adorable with every passing day. But so does she get lonelier, more easily tired, and more in pain. Starting about 2-3 years ago, she began facing major physical issues. They started with her knee and progressed to her back, legs, hands, and even chin. We discovered she had Parkinson's. Even before that, she'd been on hearing aids. Maybe it was the not being able to have a proper conversation with her because of her weakened ears that lead us to ignore her after a point, maybe it was her stubborn attitude towards making friends and socializing, maybe it was her constant overthinking and anxiety about everything, maybe it was her need for someone every second or that she only held us back during family trips, or maybe it was her persistent complaints about the pain. I know, we're twisted. After all, that was what made her human, especially at her age, and she was still, trying her best. Either way, we should've sat with her more. I should've sat with her more. I should've watched her melodramatic serials with her, I should've shared my problems with her, I should've brought her daily tea to her, I should've hugged her more, talked to her more, made her laugh more. I'm nowhere near the perfect child or grandchild, but to her, it always seemed like I was. Is that what it was? I let it get to me? I took her for granted and pushed her away until she could barely walk towards me, emotionally and physically? She may not have had much to say, she may have been mad at us, or even intimidated by us. But she was always smiling. Always, always. Even with the bags under her eyes further dispersing with each day, she was always smiling. And man, she had the cutest smile ever.

So Nani, did we kill you? Could I have saved you?

Because I think I could have. I think from now, I'll choose to save a life.


"Dr., Maya's heart rate is abnormally increasing, you need to see her now!"

The nurse was just barely able to slow down before she almost crashed into me with that speed of hers. Her expression more contorted than my highschool self after a forced haircut. Now I don't know what my face looked like at that moment, but I could feel the heat from my knotted vessels scanning through my body. 

I ran. I don't think I've run this fast before, not even for my school marathons. 

I swung the door open violently.

"Scapel now!"

I've done this for 20 years now, but all of a sudden, I'm more scared than usual.

Her name was Maya. She was a good kid.

*4 years and 4 months ago*

"Her name's Maya Anand, she's 10 and she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma a week ago." The specialist clearly stated as we made our way to the children's area.

"She's 10 but has Neuroblastoma?".

"Yeah we know, you're gonna have to observe this one extra carefully."

I entered the room. A tiny girl with a head smaller than my hand promptly turned around to face me. She had big, bright eyes, they reminded me of my mother's. 

"Hi, I'm Dr. Eli. It's nice to meet you, Maya. How are you feeling today?"

Her excited eyes immediately frowned as she let out a big sigh and said,

"I don't know why everyone's being so nice to me, I know I have something dangerous, but I'm tired of all the "how are you?"'s and "anything for you'''s. Like what do you want me to say? I feel terrible but it's fine."

"Uh- what?"

And with that, I burst out laughing. I'd never laughed that loudly before in the hospital. You see, I don't smile much in the ER. I mean who does unless they save someone's life, right? And of course, I'm happy that my patient ended up living, but this was never what I wanted to do. You might see something as saving lives like the role of God, but I don't, because even when I don't want them to die, there are still many others who do. And that, unfortunately, drenches me in more trauma than the happiness of saving 1000 lives does. I'm not trying to sound conceited or ungrateful for saving so many lives here, I'd just rather save them all. Wouldn't you?

But for the first time, I'd felt very genuine laughter, a very natural smile spread on my face. She felt like the little sister I never had. The accepting family I never had. I wish I needn't sound so cheesy, but it's the truth. 

(A day in their life 4 years ago)

"Dr., you're tie is weird, it's too bland for someone who already lives a bland life."

"Oh wow, well I never noticed, thank you for pointing that out about my tie... and life." 

She can be a little bit rude sometimes, unintentionally of course.

"I'll choose a tie for you. It'll be really cool and trendy! You have to know today's trends to stay young you know?"

"Would you do that for me?"

"Hehehe it'll be my pleasure!"

A goofy smile indeed, boy did she need braces. 

(2 days later)

"Dr.... your tie, I-" nurse bursts out laughing.

"What? I think it's very cool, very trendy. You got to know today's trends to stay young no?"

"Yes sir but, this makes you look like a 3-year-old, a bit too young don't you think?"

"Stop giggling, pizza is my favorite food, and Doraemon? A childhood as well as adulthood treasure." I said with a clearly offended face.

"Ah man, everyone's looking," I whispered to myself.

But I just needed to show it to her.

"You wore it! You wore it you really did!"

"Of course I did, what Maya gives, I display!"

That day was a good one. I had work of course, but I found myself laughing more and more with each shift. 

(3 years ago)

"You know Eli, you smile more nowadays, it suits you." 

An old friend of mine, who is also this hospital's chairwoman, said that to me. I felt happy, damn.

(2 years ago)

"I don't wanna take it I don't wanna take it!! It's so bitter, stop! This is harassment!"

"Uh- harassment? Where'd you learn such a big word? And no this is not harassment, I am trying to save your life by feeding you this medicine so eat it already."

"No no no!"

I then whisper, "I'll let you have your phone overnight tonight if you eat it happily."

And obviously, within 2 seconds she stopped screaming like an infant. 

(Present time)

"Dr. her breathing is becoming more shallow!"

"Chest compression now!"

(1 year ago)

"What happened? Why are you crying?"

"My, my, my-"

"Shhh shh shh shh, calm down, I'm here, tell me what happened."

"My, my, my mom said... that... she won't... she won't... see me anymore... if I don't sleep on time..."

Sitting by her side while wiping her tears and blowing her nose with a tissue, I surprisingly gently replied,

"She just told me she was lying, we met outside. She said she's just worried that if you don't sleep on time, your condition will get worse and then she'll cry more than you are right now. So please, less TV time and more sleep, okay? You don't want your parents to cry right?"

"N- no... I don't..."

"So then, what should you do?"

"Less TV time and more sleep..."

"There we go, good girl."

I patted her back as her dodo bird eyes squeezed out the last of her tears.

(Present time)

"Shit. SHIT. Why is she not responding?! Pass me the defibrillators- THE DEFRIBILLATORS."

Please. Please. Please. Please.

It was like every force that her body jerked off the bed with constructed the beat to which I lost my own breathing.

I'd been happy for so long, smiling for so long, that I'd forgotten what it felt like to cry.


*The monitor beeps a long, continuous screech*

(1 week ago)

"Dr., what's your name? I forgot a minute after you told me honestly haha, and never ended up asking you cause I just always called you 'doctor'."

"Wow. I'm kind of hurt Maya. But what would you do with my name anyway? Write a blog about me, the best doctor ever?"

"No, I just want to remember your name if anything goes wrong."

"Well, in that case, I don't want to tell you my name. Not until we know that everything is perfectly right."

(Present time)

Dear Maya, my name is Eli.

(2 hours after Maya's death)

My friend, the hospital's chairwoman, came to see me.

"I heard."

"So leave."


She flung her arms around me, and I weakly drowned in them, while crouching like a scared baby on the cold, tiled floor.

"I- I never... I never told her my name. She wanted... that was her... her last wish!"

"Eli sshh, calm down."

"How can I? I didn't even grant her last wish and she'd been granting me a smile for all these years!"

"She knew."

"Wha- what?" I responded while tears crowded my mouth.

"She wasn't dumb. She just asked one of the nurses. I saw her ask when I was coming to check up on her. She giggled. She said she'd name her puppy Eli whenever she got one."

"She- that's all? She knew?"

"Yes. She knows."


"By the way. Maya's parents would like to donate Maya's heart to a patient in need of one."

"So quickly? It's not even been a day-"

She cut me off.

"They're sure. That was actually Maya's last wish. They're determined to make it come true. Also... she wanted you to perform the surgery."

"No, no, no, no. No. I can't, I won't. I'll end up debutchering it or decide to not do it in the middle of the operation."

"Eli. This is actually Maya's last wish. You're her last wish. You went crazy thinking that you didn't tell her your name because supposedly you thought that was her last wish, but this?"

"This is actually her last wish... it's really what the kiddo wants. Ah, Maya, you're kinder than I thought. I guess what you give, I'll display. I'll make your wish come true."

Oh and on a separate note, just between you and I Maya:

Someday, I'll save a life. Or more than one. And I'll be really grateful that I did. 

Thank you for teaching me how to save a life, Maya. And what's more, thank you for saving mine.

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