Sumit is very happy today. Finally, he is going to do something worth a while, something that will make him feel more human. He is now cruising his bike at an average speed of fifty-five kmph on a wide lane of the Shaheed Path, feeling joyful. The feeling of helping someone in utter need is always good and beautiful; filling the heart with utmost pleasure. He is accelerating his bike slowly along the lane, as he thought about how all this started.
It all started a week ago, on a lazy Wednesday afternoon, extremely bored after pulling a shift of continuous four hours, without a single break at his office, and seeing no scope of gossiping as everyone else was still busy in meeting their deadlines, he sat on his chair behind the desk and started scrolling his Facebook and his eyes paused on a status put up by his friend Arminder’s dad. The status read:
“Urgent AB+ve blood platelet needed for 16 years old Harsh Mehta, fighting for his life against leukaemia. Admitted at SGPGI, Lucknow. Please help! By finding a donor. Please share this message. Contact Person: Mr. Atul Mehta
Mobile No.: 9*******45”.
Though Sumit had often seen these types of messages that mostly turned out to be a fake and an attempt to loot the hard-earned money. Having a more than considerate heart; it often leads you in trouble and Sumit was such person who always ready to help the needy. Once, he too had walked into such a trap. A year ago, upon receiving such a message, he volunteered for help.
He went to the hospital where he met Ramesh (though this could be a fake name), who claimed his mother was critical. He took him to her room as well. In the room a woman aged about sixty-five was sleeping. With IV drip penetrating through her bulging vein; a catheter pouch lying across the corner and all the machine wires attached to her skeletal body were describing the agony she was put through. Her condition sent a shockwave of chill across Sumit and made his skin crawled.
Ramesh said, “She had an accident in the bathroom a week ago since then she is in this state. In fact, she even lost fifteen kgs over the week. Doctors said that they have to operate her and the operation costs Rs. 75,000. The room charges are itself costing Rs.5500 per day. I have already made an arrangement of one lac rupees and can arrange a few thousands more. Can you spare some bucks for her treatment? I will return as soon as possible. I already have applied for the insurance, and will get a reimbursement. Please! It will help me a lot and I will be in your debt forever.”
Seeing the plightful state of the lady already made him nervous through his bones. He was impatient enough and agreed to help with a sum of 35k without asking the name of the lady or name of the doctor treating her or the type of operation to be performed on the lady or the date of the operation or the name of the insurance company, the list can go on. He simply went to a nearby ATM withdrew the sum 35k and gave it to him. After spending some more time with Ramesh, over a cup of tea, and asking him various details about the accident, Sumit made him promise to contact him at the time of operation. Then he returned home with sheer contentment in his heart.
Couple of next days he waited in anticipation of a call from Ramesh, but no such thing happened. On the fifth day, as he remembered it clearly it was about two’ o’clock that he called up Ramesh and the cell phone was out of reach. He tried it several times but the result was the same:
“The person whom you are calling is out of the network coverage area. Please try again after sometime.”
Over-sympathetic heart of Sumit now started going portent and his anxiety level start growing as he thought about the old woman. “Has something happened to her? Was the operation successful, or not?”. There were many such thoughts crawling into his mind right at that moment. So, he finally decided to visit the hospital.
The stars had already filled the bright night sky till the time he reached the hospital. He frantically climbed up the stairs and reached the room where the old lady was admitted; 315 it read.
He knocked on the door and a response came from the other side, “Who’s there?”
At first he thought it was a bit odd that the person on the other side of the door was not Ramesh, clearly, it was not his voice, this voice has a husky tone to it.
“It is me, Sumit. I have come here to ask about the well-being of mataji. Is she alright now? How was the operation? Was it successful?”, He asked desperately.
“What operation? And who are you? Do I know you from somewhere?” asked the person as he opened the door. Sumit was right it was not Ramesh but somebody else, he never met this person. “I am an acquaintance of Ramesh, we met two days before,” Sumit answered confidently while taking a peek inside the room. There was no doubt, it was the same room, the old lady was lying on the bed, as miserable as the day he last saw her.
“Who is Ramesh?” the question hit him hard, very hard. He then told details of the incident to this new person. How he met Ramesh and paid him for the surgery so that mataji could recover sooner.
“You got scammed my friend, the lady who is lying there is my mother and I am the only family she has. She’s admitted here due to dengue fever and very low platelets count. Though she is recovering just fine, she is a tough one you know. But, thanks for asking about her well-being, thanks for having such concern about someone, who is totally stranger to you, you are a rare one you know.”
The truth sometimes can be bitter, really bitter but one has to put it down the throat, there is no other way. So, Sumit drank the bitter potion. He said goodbye to this new stranger and left the room totally bewildered.
A sudden voice shocked him, “Hey you, mister, can I have a minute of you?” he raised his eyes towards the voice, it was a ward boy.
“Yes, what is it?”
Ward boy came forward and put up a letter in Sumit’s hand and said, “Ramesh asked me to give it to you, he said that you will be coming here to see the patient.”
He opened up the letter it read as follows:
“I have looted many people in the past, but none of them like you. You have a very big heart which utterly sympathetic. Do not let anyone just fool you like this. And do not try to search for me as the mobile was stolen, and you will be getting it by now that my name was also fake. I am writing just because you seemed to be a nice person, sorry for your loss, but it is my profession.”
It was not just monetary loss, the loss he suffered emotionally was tremendous, it was like hundreds of spikes put right through him. He trusted someone, now that trust is completely shattered. How he will have the courage to help somebody else after an incident like this? His eyes were going wet, his heart was pumping fast, there were many emotions running through him, anger, confusion, regret, despairing. He clutched the letter and crumbled it like a piece of bread, unable to take control of his emotions he moved out, returned home and slept.
But this time it was different. It was Arminder’s father Mr Gurdeep Singh and as far as he knows he was a very sincere and responsible person. He could never put out status like this until he has known the person himself or had a very trustworthy source.
He decided that past was the past and it’s time to let it go he called up Mr. Gurudeep. He picked up the call, “Hello betaji, how are you?”
“Namaste uncle I am fine, I have just called you regarding your Facebook post this morning, can you tell me a little more about it.”
“Yes, sure. Mr. Mehta is a colleague of mine and his son his seriously ill, he needed help, so I put up that post. Are you willing to go?”
“Yes uncle, I was thinking about this and I will contact Mr. Mehta and will give him your reference. Is it okay with you?”
“Yes sure, do that, and thanks to you very much betaji.”
“Okay uncle I will contact him thank you”
After this conversation, he contacted Mr. Mehta and went to the hospital. He was a mildly obese man, but it looks like he had lost a few kilos recently. With fatigued eyes and limp-noodle handshake he welcomed Sumit, with a vapid and spiritless walk he signalled Sumit to follow him.
“We are going to the blood centre, there they will take samples of your blood and count your platelets, if it will be above one lac and fifty thousand then only you will be eligible for donating plasma. We have tried several people before but every one of them turned out to be ineligible.”
Raman used to donate blood on a timely basis so this was nothing new to him, so he just nodded his head and moved along. After reaching the blood centre Sumit filled the needed form and patiently waited for his turn.
“How is Harsh doing uncle?” asked Sumit.
“We do not know yet, doctors won’t tell much, but as much they say, his health is deteriorating day by day, doctors are trying to do as much they can, all we can do is just pray and leave the rest to the doctors”, Mr Mehta quavered.
After giving samples he went to meet Harsh. “At this tender age the boy is suffering very much”, thought Sumit after seeing Harsh’s condition. He was in ICU on ventilation, nothing to see much he said goodbye to Mr Mehta and returned home. He has to wait for the next day for the result to arrive.
Next day he got a call from Mr Mehta, “Your platelet counts are just fine, you can come and donate.” Sumit happily obliged.
This brings us to the present scene where Sumit is riding his bike thinking about it. He was lost in his thoughts and completely forgot that he is riding a bike and before he could realise, it was too late and he collided with an over speeding car which suddenly came in front one the one-way road.
Sumit’s bike ravaged the car bonnet and with a loud thumping sound he flew over the car and fell behind it. He felt a sharp pain in abdomen, he tried to open his eyes and tried to understood what happened, but all he could see is that the road surrounding him is turning red slowly. His heart was pounding hard, his mouth went dry, a sudden blackness was surrounding him; he passed out.
Category: Short Stories