The halogen light from the top blinds me almost; for a moment I just wonder they show it so wrong on the T.V. My nerves are in a frenzy state and every muscle in my body has tightened. The thought of going under the knife is very bewildering. And seeing the doctors covered in white and wearing masks makes frightens me further. Why am I not drifting into sleep? Probably for an anomaly like me, the anaesthesia takes time to be effective, and as I slowly lose my consciousness; I see the images of me, my hearts, he, his heart and us. I am about to lose my awesomeness, my uniqueness, my speciality though it may be an anomaly to the so-called science fraternity.
'Are you sure, Rhea?' asks my mother.
'Of course, I am. Survival of the fittest, mother. I'm not going against Darwin. Also, I don't want unnecessary scars on my body.'
It is a known fact that we are all born to die. And frankly, I don't understand why it is such a big deal. If it were not for my mother I would have said that to the bunch of people outside my house, some of them with young kids, shouting slogans, waving placards, literally wanting me to cut one of my beating hearts out. "Save A Life. Donate!" they shout.
For someone who is one in billions, 7.125 billion to be exact, I expect to be treated better. Scientists are still befuddled regarding my condition that gave me two hearts in my mother's womb. But years of research and sticking needles into me have led them nowhere, and they have labelled me as a freak mutation. It's so rare - literally one in all humankind - that they didn't even name the anomaly (as they call it, I will call it awesomeness). I wanted to name the condition myself, something on the lines of Rhea's awesome hearts, but the doctors aren't thrilled with the suggestion. Instead they want to cut one of them out and save a life. Huh?
An IQ of 180, increased concentration, exceptional athleticism and a phenomenal metabolism rate - are just the few boring benefits of an increased blood circulation. Why would I ever give that up?
“People are nut heads. They don't understand how unique we are. They are just regular stuff. Don’t bother dear! You are a God’s child. You carry two hearts while we all have only one,” says Lakshmi, my Transgender friend, that evening.
She is from Bikaner, and she is absolutely a darling. She loves me, and she understands me but only after my mother; she is like a big sister to me. She is an aspiring model and is on top of the world as she bagged a modelling assignment recently. I was telling her about the discussion I had with my mother, and she was completely elated on my decision of not cutting myself. As we sit sipping our evening coffee, my eyes fall suddenly on the article in Deccan Chronicle, holy shit, it is about me in big bold headlines: “A LADY WITH TWO UGLY HEARTS”. Lakshmi is as much baffled as I am. I grab the newspaper from the opposite table, and we both read simultaneously.
The article is full of crap, the same rhetorical question? And I am ugly because I refused to donate a heart. I turn red by the time I completed reading the article and Lakshmi interrupts my thoughts, “Hey, the fellow’s name is Nimish.”
She points to me his name at the end typed in bold. “I will have Jade look into who he is, and let us just go and blast him. How dare he call you ugly?” I am so furious about the entire article that I actually wanted to slap him. He has no right to put allegations on me. If I don’t want to donate my heart, I don’t want to. That does not make me a monster. Why doesn’t this world understand that we are all born to die, and so will I, and so will they, and so will that Nimish. But right now I am so furious that given an opportunity I will kill him myself.
Jade, our dear friend, finds the details about Nimish. He is an upcoming Journalist and aspires to make a mark for himself, but currently not doing that great. No wonder why he is trying to earn fame by writing about me! That is not happening. He is also an activist. He fosters very strong opinions and does not approve of transgenders, gays, and lesbians - basically orthodox and unconventional in his thoughts. Jade is a dearest friend and will always be. Jade arranged a meeting with Nimish, and we wait for him that morning at Café Coffee.
He has a very calm exposure about himself and after he has seated himself comfortably on the chair opposite to me, he holds out his hand to me, “Hi, I am Nimish”. I was observing him keenly, my hands intact at their place. I am not shaking hands with him. Lakshmi flares up, “You don’t have any right to write all those bull shit about Rhea. What do you know about her”? I am still calm and saving my words for a later stage.
Nimish takes a deep breath and looks at me directly peeping into my eyes, “I am honored to meet you. I always wanted to meet and tell you..uh um”, he tries to adjust his voice as if the words got struck in his throat, “I don’t know how to tell this, I was observing you, I did a lot of research on you, I tried several times to get an appointment or meeting with you but you refused. I wrote several messages and letters but no response. I did not know Jade was your friend. Only if I had known earlier. I could have met you earlier.” He sighs.
Lakshmi interrupts him, “You mean to say that you wrote all that crap just to meet Rhea? And you think we are buying this”? Lakshmi rolls her eyes and exchanges glances at me and Jade but we both are staring at Nimish and trying to digest what he had just said.
Jade finally opens his mouth, “You could have written nice about Rhea.”
“I could have but then it would be just one more article that she would have put on her desk or somewhere in her drawer.”
He then faces me and asks me, “Ask anything about yourself and I will tell you more than you know yourself.”
“How much did I score in Maths in MSC”?
“You were the topper and with 98.5 percentage, you are the highest scorer till date. You have two awards in Maths, three medals and lot of other awards in…
Seriously? This guy knows which year I got which medal, where, when? I have to ask tougher questions because all of this information must have been in news. But still, how can he remember all this and that too perfectly.
Lakshmi in all her astonishment, “You got so many?” and Jade is impressed too. To be honest, even I am impressed. Well Jade, I don’t think he is interested in men. I ask Nimish, “What is my favourite cuisine”?
“Thai. Basil rice with papaya salad is your favorite.”
“What is my favorite color?”
“That’s wrong. My favorite one is Red.”
“You are lying. Is that why you wear black every alternate day.”
“My favorite music”?
“You like soft music. Your favorite is Kenny J.”
I was dumbfounded. How did he knew my favorite musician?
“You are a collector too. You collect old electronics. You have the first model of Television that was launched for the first time. Also, Vintage car, watch which once ornamented the Maharaja of Jaipur.”
“Well, all of this was in interviews or articles about me”
“Hmmm. You are a go-getter and once you decide on something, you will work hard to achieve the desired results.”
“This is a general observation. Anyone can tell that.”
“You are very sensitive to sun. You get frequently sun burns. You like to walk your neighbor's dog Scoopy, you are allergic to room fresheners, you like to swim and you put on your favorite Kenny J music when you are swimming.”
Jade suddenly bursts out, “Don’t look at me. I didn’t tell him”.
“Oh. No. Jade didn’t tell me any of this. I stalked you. I observed you. Do you know I am a regular swimmer, and I do come in the same batch as you do?”
I innocently say, “No. I don’t.” I was pretty much impressed by then, and Nimish had again forwarded his hand, “Can I have the honor now of shaking hands with you. I think I have earned it.”
This is how it had started and both my hearts had fallen in love with him instantaneously. Suddenly, my heart beat had spiked, my pupils dilated, every nerve in my body was feeling a new warmth. At that time I did not know that I was falling in love.
After that, we met and we met and we kept on meeting. Days passed by in texting, evenings spent on telephonic conversations, weekends indulged in romantic meetings. I was happy to be with him, to listen to his ideologies. He showed me a new perspective about life about things in general. Jade was obviously envious. He liked Nimish and was a silent admirer of him. But then I was his best friend so he was kind of okay with the notion of me stealing Nimish from him.
One day in our casual conversation, Jade confesses, “Rhea, I could not have lost Nimish to anyone but you. You are a darling and I wish you both all the best.” That was Jade, my dearest friend. Jade and Lakshmi are the world to me besides my MOM, and it is enthralling to have Nimish in my world. My mom was surprised to hear about him. She asks, “Rhea, are you sure?”
I say, “Never was so sure”. I wish my mom would have known how happy I am.
We got engaged on March 12th and Nimish had to fly to Assam to cover a story. I should have never let him go. My sixth sense was telling me to stop him, not to let him go, something bad is going to happen. But Nimish was very particular and he wanted to do the assignment. It was very important to his career. On that terrible day of March 14th, 2015, he was shot by a terrorist in a terrorist attack and was immediately hospitalized. The bullet had hit his heart and his heart was in a terrible shape. It cannot survive longer. The bullet had hit in such a way that his heart would stop beating at any time. He had a maximum three to four days and after that his heart would stop beating, and he would stop breathing. He was flown immediately to Delhi and would have to undergo a transplantation within three days.
And here I am, lying in the operation theater, so that the doctors can rip out my extra heart and transfix it in him. Aren’t people born to die? No, they are not meant to die especially when you love them. I understand now, that a person walking on the road who is just as eager as me to catch a bus might be a complete stranger to me, but he is loved and adored by his family, and for them he is not meant to die.
Outside the operation theater, my mom, Lakshmi and Jade are waiting anxiously for me and Nimish, each probably lost in their own thoughts. My mom worrying about my surgery and my well-being after the surgery, Lakshmi sobbing because my uniqueness will be lost, Jade trying to figure out whether he is more concerned about me or Nimish.
Slowly, I am drifting into unconsciousness and as I close my eyes, I think of only one thing, My anomaly which I call my awesomeness, will be in Nimish and that too is my awesomeness because he is me and I am him and we are inseparable now. Wow. What an awesomeness!