While I was busy recording the B.P of the patients, my mobile phone rang. It was Diya on the other end.
“Diya, how are you? It has been long since……”
“I will die soon Netha”, Diya spoke coldly.
“All of us die sooner or later”, I corrected. Diya had this habit of speaking about death whenever she had had a terrible failure in exams.
There was a pause.
Where are you? I enquired.
I am admitted in ward number 36, in YOUR hospital.
“Are you kiddin……”
Before I finished the sentence, the phone went dead.
I didn’t have to think to find out to which department Ward 36 belonged to. If she is not playing tricks on me, she is terribly sick. I packed the BP apparatus and set off to ward 36, which belonged to radiotherapy department.
Diya was being examined by bearded doctor. She was supine on bed. Her face had grown pale, and she had lost hair. Clearly, she had lost weight, too. I waited till the examination was over and caught the attention of the returning doctor.
“Sir, I am an MBBS student here. Could you tell me about Diya’s prognosis?”, I asked, looking intently at his beard. Why so many males wish to conceal their facial characteristics behind their beards is beyond the comprehension of us ordinary mortals.
“She’s been diagnosed of leukemia. She is nearing the terminal stage and perhaps she might not live for more than six months. We have been doing our best to……”
Seeing that my face has grown transparent, he stopped in mid air and left.
Diya was my best friend at school. She is an engineering student at a prestigious college. During our school days, her encyclopaedic knowledge in medicine always amazed me, while she used to give a hats off to my skill in untying complex numerical knots. But fate gave us a cruel twist in life- she joined engineering and I medicine.
We met the last in 2006, at the farewell function at school, when she wrote down in my autograph book “Last night Santa Claus asked me what I wanted for this Christmas. I said him that I want a best friend. So, if a fat man comes to your house and packs you up, please cooperate.”
I had appreciated her exceptional creativity till I discovered that those eternal words were copied as such from a cheap comic.
“Netha….” Diya called me in a weak voice.
I sat beside her.
I don’t know how long we discussed about our golden days at school. Finally, after an hour or so, she cried. I too.
I made it a habit to visit her ever morning before going to my ward. Her health seemed to deteriorate every day, but I tried my best to keep her in good moods. One day, she asked me if I could go with her to Poothakkaavu. I didn’t like the idea. Now, Poothakkavu is a place famous for Satan worship. This particular Satan is called ‘Chathan’ in Malayalam. Because I thought that it was my duty to keep her happy, I decided to take her to the place.
I had the privilege to see the life-sized statue of chathan in front of the main priest’s residence at Poothakkaavu. It was a funny looking figure, which looked like a human except for the two horns on its head and a tail. The tip of its tail bore a triangle. It was naked except for an underwear, and had a spear in hand. Reminded me of the Onida guy and Luttappi. The Chathan, I must admit, is a cool guy (it was his abs, 6 pac), at least with respect to looks.
It reminded me of a funny episode at the Moral science class. The nun asked in a dull, monotonous voice:
Who is the greatest enemy of mankind? – The question was aimed at Diya.
Satan was the expected answer.
“Mosquitoes”, Diya exclaimed happily. Considering that there was a chikungunya outbreak, Diya was not to blame. But the nun was not pleased and she sent her out of the class.
I waited for Diya outside the hall where the rights were performed by the priest to please the Chathan.
After an hour or so, she came out, with flowers and a laddoo wrapped in a banana leaf. She looked less desperate, and this was exactly what I wanted the chathan to do to her. Love you, Chathan.
On the way she wanted me to stop at the temple. She prayed at the temple and returned, looking happier. God, I love you too.
The paradox of seeking the mercy of both God and Satan was acceptable to me as long as it kept Diya happy.
In the coming days, I took her to the cinema, park and beach. She happened to love it all. Besides, she started loving me more, too. I took up the responsibility of checking her BP and pulse every day. I worked out a diet chart for her and gave her the medicines in time. We discussed current affairs and weather in the evenings while I poured her tea. She started feeling happier in my presence. Diya, I love you.
It has been one year since. Diya has crossed the limits of existence by six months, and is at the pink of her health. All lab diagnoses ( which I get done routinely every month) show that she is perfectly normal. She is back to college, and is at her academic best.