As I sat in the bus on my way back to the campus, I went through the events of the day. It was unbelievable that Mariamma died, yet I saw the nurses changing the bed sheet and I knew there will be another patient in that same bed right now.
I missed her smiling face.
Did I treat her well? Could I have done anything different that would have made a difference to her? Was I rough when I pulled the needle out? Did I hurt her?
That is the problem when people die. They don’t give those who are alive a Chance to make amends. There is never a second chance once someone die.
When the conductor asked for the money. I had to dig through the mess of dried flowers, eosin pencils and few pieces of scrap papers in my coat pocket to find the exact change.
The jasmin flowers!. I took the string of flowers out.
The once white petals were now brown. Some of the buds bloomed, some didn’t and most of the flowers were coming off the string. Life is like that, I thought. Some live, some die living and other die after living.
I felt bad for not taking care of the flowers.
I was meant to have kept it on my table in the evening when I came back from the hospital. I had forgotten to take it out because I was busy going to all the senior’s room and asking if anyone knew who was Rasputin.. I did see the flowers in my pocket when I was putting the money in the morning, but I was already very late for the morning rounds and I didn’t want to waste more time taking the flowers out and sprinkling water on it to keep the freshness. After all it was just a string of jasmine flowers and it was too late to save them. I consoled myself by thinking that I could buy a string of flowers any time I wanted. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Arm and a leg!
Memories don’t cost an arm and a leg.
It is the regrets that eats your conscience. I could simply shake my head and say that flowers never last and I shouldn’t feel bad for not taking care of a string of jasmine flowers. But the truth is, I had to live with the knowledge that I was reckless and didn’t appreciate a gift from the bottom of heart.
I came back to the campus in time to go for the evening rounds. But I didn’t go. I wasn’t ready to see a new face on bed 1.
Aparna was standing by the hostel main door and as soon as she saw me, she screamed
“Where did you go? Everyone is looking for you”
My heart started to pound,
Oh No, George and the anonymous letters.
I didn’t come back in the afternoon and my classmate who helped me the last time George send those letters had gone home because he had Chicken pox. What did George write this time? My chest felt so tight. I was sure I was going to suffocate and die.
“Dr. Murthy wanted to see you this afternoon after the class.”
“Huh, that is all you know to say? Where in the world did you go? Dr. Murthy is going to be angry with me because he asked me where you are. I am your roommate and I didn’t know where you went. Now he is going to fail me.”
“Come on Aparna, be sensible. He isn’t going to fail you because you didn’t know where I went.”
“You can say that. Remember the last time, what was that guy’s name, the one with chronic conjuctival irritation, the one our Biochem prof thought came to the class drunk because of his red eye and failed him purposely?”
I didn’t bother to argue with Aparna. I had other issues to worry about.
“Any idea why Dr. Murthy wanted to see me?”
She shook her head. “Where did you go?” She wasn’t planning to leave me alone.
“Oh! What books did you borrow? Can I see?”
“Nothing important Aparna, it is ..” Before I could complete the sentence and tell her that all the books are about Russian history, she snatched the books from my hand.
She saw the titles and looked at me.
“What are you doing?” She asked
“What do you mean?” I asked
“Why are you reading Russian history three weeks before internals? Is there something you are not telling us? Did Dr. Bhatti teach you something? What is Medicine got to do with Russian history?” She looked all worked up.
A pretty common problem among the medical students few weeks before the exams. Nobody trusts anybody and everybody watches everybody, because you have no idea who managed to get in to the good books of professors and get exam question hints.
“Aparna, there is nothing. I borrowed this books, so when I am bored studying all the ‘ology'( Microbiology, Pharmacology and Pathology), I can read something else, so my brain won’t freeze.”
“Oh” She sounded so relieved.
I checked my watch. Too late to go and see Dr. Murthy.
I wondered why he wanted to see me. I had submitted all the records. I passed all the class exams. In fact I scored the highest marks, so technically there shouldn’t be any reason why he wanted to see me. Unless of course he wanted to see me because of my poor attendance record. But even that shouldn’t be a problem. The Pharmacology dept attendant only needed 20 Rs to give anyone 90% attendance and I know I have 90% attendance.