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Ruskin

Ruskin

8 mins 22.4K 8 mins 22.4K

Chetan is standing at the window staring at the snow that has been falling since morning. His neatly packed bag is waiting near the door. His bus leaves at 6.30pm which is 15 minutes from now. There isn’t much time left, he needs to decide now whether to stay or leave. Door opens and Richa enters. She looks worried.

 

“We don’t have much time. Would you be staying for the surgery?”, asks Richa.

Chetan turns and stares at her with a blank expression for few seconds.

“Yes I am staying.”, he replies.

“As Chief of Staff and your friend it’s my duty to remind you that although you would be of great help for the surgery but you have every right to leave. There is no obligation for you to stay, especially considering Shweta’s condition back home. Are you sure you wanna stay and help?”

“Yes, I would stay”

“Then let’s not waste anymore time. Scrub up, she is very serious.”

 

Chetan wears his scrubs and enters the operation theater. He knows it’s gonna be a very long night and this woman would need every shred of their strength to survive. The entire staff including Richa is nervous and they should be, this is a very complicated surgery for a hospital that was just inaugurated a week ago. This is the first government hospital in this small hilly district called Shoja. Chetan was sent here from AIIMS Delhi to oversee the opening and to stay here for a week to get things running. A lot has happened over this week for Chetan. He alongwith Richa dealt with all the pain of getting a hospital started from scratch. His wife Shweta who is expecting her first child back home got sick and had to be admitted to the hospital. Her condition hasn’t been improving.

 

---

 

Sahil is standing out of the operation theatre door, peeping in through the small window as his beloved wife Aahana fights a battle for her life. Aahana loved snowfalls, she wanted to see one. It started snowing over the weekend and without even wasting a day both Sahil and Aahana left to witness it. Little did they knew that the same snow for which they came all the way from Chandigarh would cause their car to overturn and leave her hanging between life and death.



Throughout the night Sahil paced up and down the hall outside the Operation Theater. OT door would open at almost regular intervals, a nurse or a doctor would hurry outside, grab things and go back inside.

 

Finally around 4pm the surgery ended and Chetan came out, Sahil approached him hurriedly.






“How is she?”, asks Sahil

“Surgery is complete. Now we would just have to wait. It’s actually up to her now. She needs to fight for herself. ”, says Chetan

“She’ll see through this, I know”, says Sahil.

Chetan nods in affirmation and moves out to find his phone.

 

Chetan is trying to call back home, he is worried about Shweta but the call is not going through. Sahil watches him doing so.

“There is no network. Even the landline is down”, he tells Chetan.

Chetan sighs and sits on the bench placed in the waiting area.

Richa enters the hall with three cups of coffee in a small tray. “Coffee?”, she asks.

Sahil picks two cups from the tray and hands one over to Chetan.

 

He takes a seat on the bench opposite to Chetan, “I wanted to thank you both for all the help” he says, nervousness clearly showing on his face and in his voice.

“There is no need for thanks”, says Richa with a faint smile on her face.

Sahil looks towards Chetan who just sits there as if he heard nothing.

Richa intervenes, “Don’t worry about him. He doesn’t understand things like thank you since college.”

“You were in same college?”, Sahil asks.

“Unfortunately, yes”,  she replies taking a seat adjacent to Chetan.

 

A few minutes go by in silence.

“What were you thinking, driving in such a storm?”, asks Chetan in a condemning tone.

Sahil gets a bit startled at the question.

“She wanted to, she loved snow. She made a plan out of the blue and I agreed”.

Richa senses the tension, “Love marriage?”, she asks.

“Yes”, Sahil replies.

“How did you guys meet?”

“Uh...That is a long story”

“Well, we all have time I think, right Dr.?” asks Richa.

Chetan gives a slow reluctant nod in agreement.

 

Sahil starts his story.

 

She was the happiest girl in this world, full of life. Dancing, acting, photography, singing and anything else that you can think of were all her hobbies. However, the reason of her extreme happiness was not just these things, it was something else, it was love. Yes she was in love, she was in love with Ruskin. No, not the famous writer. This was her Ruskin, she named him. She called him that because he used to write wonderful stories for her.

 

Life was all good and  happy, but then family happened. Her parents wanted to marry this chirpy little girl off fast. If not marry at least get her engaged with someone they liked and just to be clear that was not Ruskin.  But Aahana being the rebel she was, decided to run, run far away with Ruskin and live the life of her dreams.  A plan was made, Ruskin was to meet her at bus-stand early morning. They would catch a bus and run away. It was the perfect plan, what could have gone wrong?

 

She reached the bus-stand early, it was still dark. Ruskin was not there yet. She waited, she was scared and the cold winds were not helping. Soon light came up, Ruskin was still not there, she was even more scared now since anyone could have spotted her there and alerted her parents. She heard footsteps behind her that she recognized. Ruskin had finally reached the scene. It had started raining slightly.

 

It looked like a fight broke between Ruskin and Aahana, and Ruskin seemed to be on the receiving end of it. He was standing there with his head low, Aahana was crying. Turns out Ruskin didn’t want to run away, he was scared.

“Ruskin, I am leaving either with or without you.” said Aahana and made her way towards the first bus she saw moving. Ruskin stood there in rain, tears welling up in his eyes. He could see Aahana crying through the window of the bus as it moved away from him.

 

Sahil takes a pause at this time.

“Then, what happened then?” asks Richa curiously.

Sahil continues, “Then….then I found her, crying alone at Chandigarh bus-stand. She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, even though she was sobbing. I wanted to help. It was lucky that I was with my sister whom she trusted and agreed to come with us to our house. And since then we have been together.”

 

“And what about Ruskin?” asks Richa.

“I actually don’t know. She never saw him again. She made a point to never see or talk to him. She hated him. ”

 

“Excuse me, I should check on the patient.”, Chetan leaves.

“I’ll come too.”, Richa follows.

 

The next couple of hours were spent waiting. It was 6.30 in the morning and it was still snowing lightly. Aahana was still unconscious, Sahil was along her bedside waiting anxiously for her to wake up. Chetan was about  to leave for his bus which was at 7, there was nothing more he could do here now.

 

Chetan decides to bid Richa goodbye before leaving. He can hear the landline phone in Richa’s office ringing as he makes his way towards her office. Apparently it was fixed early  in the morning. Chetan enters the office, Richa is on the phone, she looks sad and worried. Chetan’s heart starts trembling with fear as Richa motions him to get the receiver. Chetan knows somewhere in his heart the news he is about  to hear, but he doesn’t wanna believe it.

 

“Sorry Chetan sir, we couldn’t save her or the child.”, says the voice on the other end of the line.

Chetan drops the receiver, tears start rolling off his eyes.

Richa is sobbing. “It’s not your fault, there was nothing you could have done. There was nothing you could have done.”, she says.

“I could have seen her once for the last time. I could have told her how much I love her, one last time. I should have gone Richa. I...I just didn’t want to ditch her the second time. You know Richa, you know.”

“I know Ruskin, I know. It’s not your fault.”, Richa hugs Chetan.

A nurse walks in, “Doctor, patient is conscious.”

“Ruskin, I need to go check on her. I’ll be back, don’t leave without seeing me.” says Richa while wiping her tears and making her way towards the ICU.




Chetan lifts his bag and makes his way outside through the snow. He stops at the hospital gate for a moment, turns back to look at the window in the ICU. He can see Aahana conscious, Sahil is along her side holding her hand, Richa is staring back at him from the window. There are tears in Richa’s eyes. He turns back and walks away into the snow…..









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