Always be the light in someones dark world !!
Naksh and Keerti are still sleeping when we leave the hotel for the mental asylum where Alia is admitted. We had looked up the address yesterday and everyone we asked knew where it was.
Naira and I have hardly talked since morning. We are a little unsure of what we’ll say to Alia. Not only that; we don’t know what to expect. According to his notes, Alia doesn’t talk or understand anybody other than her brother. She talks through her smiles, which only Virat understood.
We won’t be able to tell her anything. And even if we do, what will we even say to her ?!! I sweat thinking what I would’ve done had Naira not been with me.
“This is going to be strange.” I tell Naira.
“I know.” She says.
We enter the building. It’s an old one, probably standing since the early 1890s. We ask the receptionist if we could meet Alia. She asks if we are from her family. We nod. She brings out a register, goes to the alphabet A, painfully slowly, and then gets to Alia. It has a log of all the visits made to her.
Our eyes light up as she turns the register towards us. All the entries are of one name — Virat Kohli. We check the dates — he used to come there every fifteen days, except for a few occasions. The last day he visited the asylum was two days before the blast. Naira and I look at each other and we feel sorry for Alia. She will never see her brother again and she probably has no idea about it.
“Ma’am ?!! Do you know Virat ?!!” Naira asks the lady.
“Yes.” she nods.
“Did Virat come alone to meet Alia or with someone ?!!” I ask.
“Alone.” she says and gets busy knitting her sweater.
“Thank you so much.” Naira thanks her.
The lady shows us to the visiting room and we wait there. It looks like an expensive place; the waiting room itself is done up in expensive wood and well-designed wallpapers. A little later, a ward boy in a white uniform wheels in a girl, wearing a slightly old and worn-out hospital gown, in a grey wheelchair.
The head of the girl is tilted towards one side and she looks at us with deadpan eyes. The ward boy wheels her towards us and stops inches away from Naira. Alia’s face is expressionless. She must be around nineteen, but her hair is a little sparse and I’m guessing it’s due to the medicines.
Even though Alia is thin, frail and slightly pale, I’m sure she must have been a very pretty girl. Her bony frame is quite visible from outside the hospital gown. Her eyes have sunk in but there is an inherent twinkle in them. Like the last flicker of a burning candle.
“Who are you ?!!” the ward boy asks.
“Umm, we are friends of Virat. You know him ?!!” I ask.
“Yes. He comes here every fifteen days. Nice boy.” the man says without thinking twice.
“Are you their cousins ?!!” he asks further.
“Actually, we don’t know him. He died…” I start to tell him but Naira interrupts me.
“I will tell you. Come with me.” she says and takes the ward boy a little away from Alia.
She starts to tell him everything that she knows. I wait with Alia and watch them from a distance. I look at Alia and she seems to look at me. I smile at her, but she doesn’t respond. She looks blankly at me, motionless. I know she isn’t expecting me; she is expecting her brother to be near her and to make her smile.
There is no way I am telling her that her brother is dead. I look at the ward boy, who looks shaken as Naira tells him everything. He takes some time to let the news sink in. They come back to where Alia and I are.
“She doesn’t understand anything.” the ward boy says and looks at me. He looks perturbed.
“What should we do ?!!” Naira asks.
“I don’t know.” the ward boy says helplessly.
“Almost every patient here has been abandoned by their families. Only a few of them get visitors. Alia is one of those lucky few. I don’t know much about medicine, but human contact and love are what keep these people alive. I have seen many people die when they stop getting visitors. Their bodies get weak and they stop eating. Alia needs her brother.”His voice trails off.
Alia is not smiling. Her eyes seem even more sunken now. Maybe she sees the horror in our eyes.
“Can she hear us ?!!” Naira asks.
“Yes, but her brain can’t process it.” the ward boy says.
Naira kneels down near the wheelchair, takes Alia’s hand in hers, looks at her, smiles and says, “Your brother, Virat, loves you a lot, still does and will always do. You are the most precious thing to him. He sent the two of us to tell you that. You’re the best sister he could have ever asked for. You are very beautiful, Alia.”
She kisses Alia’s hand and runs her fingers over her face. My eyes well up and the ward boy looks at me. He is moved too.
Slowly Alia’s lips curve into a smile. The ward boy is wrong. She does understand. There is a moment of silence. Naira smiles back at her and Alia smiles more.
“She reacts to that name.” the ward boy says. “Virat.”
“Have Virat’s parents ever come here ?!!” I ask the ward boy.
“No.” he answers.
“Have you ever seen a girl come here with Virat ?!!” I ask.
“No, but Virat often used to say that a friend of his wanted to meet Alia. I can’t really remember her name. Oh yes, Anushka. That was her name.” the ward boy recollects.
“Wait.” Naira says.
“What ?!!” I ask.
“Anushka.” Naira says.
“What ?!!’” I ask, confused.
“Look.” she says. And we look at Alia. She is smiling.
“You know Anushka ?!!” Naira looks at her, clutches Alia’s hand tighter and says, “Do you remember her ?!!”
“Do you want to meet Anushka ?!!” I ask.
Alia smiles again.
“You like Anushka ?!!” the ward boy asks.
Alia smiles yet again.
“You want to talk to Anushka ?!!” Naira asks.
The ward boy looks at us and says, “She never reacts like this. She only reacts to Virat.”
“We need to get Anushka then.” Naira says. I nod and we smile.
“Do you know Anushka ?!!” the ward boy asks.
“We don’t know her, but we can find out.” I say.
“Alia probably doesn’t understand the words people say to her, but she can feel the love of the people close to her. From what just happened, it looks like she considers Anushka as one of her own. Even though she has never met her in person. Virat must have told her all about Anushka. We can’t tell her or make her understand what happened to her brother, but we can make her meet Anushka. If that’s possible.” I state.
The ward boy looks concerned. It’s sweet of him to care about this crippled girl so much. Things like these make you love the world again. Despite the corruption, the hatred, the animosity that engulfs everything around us, sweet souls like his make the world a better place.
The ward boy tells us that it’s time for Alia’s medicines and she needs to be taken away. He tells us that this was not the scheduled day for visitors and Alia had to be checked up by doctors, and also that she has been growing weak lately, and not been responding to treatment. We nod worriedly.
“We’ll come back to see you again.” Naira says.
She takes Alia’s hand again in hers and kisses it. I don’t know whether anybody else notices it, but Alia smiles. Everyone loves Naira.
Naira tells the ward boy that we would be back with Anushka and asks him to take good care of Alia. He smiles and wheels her away. We thank the lady at the reception and leave the asylum.
Days like these make me feel so lucky. The girl in that wheelchair has nothing to live for, just the sound of a few names. That’s her only happiness in life. And I ?!!
I have everything — a loving family, great friends, the love of my life, a little money to live on. I have absolutely no right to complain. But I still do. We all do. It’s our tendency. We crib. That’s our default state. We always look at people with a better life, a better car, a better girlfriend and wish to have a life like theirs.
Alia smiles once every fifteen days when she sees her brother.
A stupid, irrational bomb blast took that away from her. Now she has nothing to live for. So unfair. I have everything.
I clutch Naira’s hand and tell her that I love her, and we head towards our taxi that waits outside the asylum building.
Precap : When Keesh get to know about the Diary !!
I am so sorry for the late update. I had to submit my assignments today and it took me almost hal of the day to write them and the rest went in the college. But then here is a long update for all of you. Hope you all like it.
So its not just about conveying Virat’s feelings to Anushka any more. Its also about Alia’s life. So Kaira would be now more pumped about finding Anushka. Stay tuned as lots of drama is coming up.
Do comment. Keep smiling. Keep watching Yrkkh !!