It was almost for forty eight hours Milan had lain like a vegetable on the flexible hospital bed, strapped to the tubes and pipes, his once eager eyes now blinking, each blink separated from the one that followed by an undue hiatus, suggesting a faint forgetfulness. His eyes were the only parts of his frail form, which were capable of motion. In a stark contradistinction to his being, everything outside the window always moved and changed in a predestined fashion tormenting Milan, reminding him of how inextricably he was tied to his still fate. The toxins had cost him his power to move. They had spread through his body and numbed it entirely.
‘It’s good to see you Lucy’ he murmured, his words barely audible. Lucy had tried to tip toe into the room but he had sensed her coming in and feebly greeted her without opening his eyes. Milan did not need to open his eyes for Lucy's scent was siren for him. Those inconspicuous flight of stairs, the fleeting lounge, the bus seats, the waiting cabin, the deserted conference hall, unknown lobbies so many places had enslaved his senses to her fragrance. Her magnetic scent evoked the exact same vibrations and the fleeting memories every time they filled his existence.
‘You smell lovely’ he remarked after a weak attempt at breathing in a long gust of her perfume. He smiled though. So did Lucy as she glided her fingers on his blossomed palm. Then like a sudden gathering of overcast clouds, her face assumed a strained expression as she gave a glance of regret at Milan’s numbness and sighed ‘Milan, you did not deserve this’, tenderly caressing his forehead. Her gesture clearly evidenced how contrite she was about his state. That she took upon herself the burden of his present condition. The long flowing end of her gown brushed portionally on Milan’s limp hands, sparking a spontaneous smile upon his pale face, as he spoke.
‘Perhaps I didn’t. But I deserved you. Don’t you think?’ he spoke faintly, mustering remnants of his feeble strength; he still hadn’t opened his eyes fully. But a wholesome smile denoting a certain satisfying realization, which comes when one is absolutely sure of his choice, adorned his drained face. ‘Ofcourse my love. Who else but you' Lucy consented. She took his hand in hers and kissed it. ‘You know there’s no one with me. No one. I’m very loney. I miss you Milan’ They looked at each other with unhidden anguish. Milan looked at her eyes for a very long time. They were angelic and signified his ultimate refuge from every distress. ‘So am I Lucy. And I know how it grinds you. The solitude, the melancholy and the writhing ache that comes alongwith it. Once you’ve known loving company you cannot stay without and then it is stripped from you. I know how it must be scraping you. I know my love’ Milan spoke with eagerness.
He rolled his tongue to wet his parched mouth and resumed ‘The worst part is that you know none of it is ever coming back. It’s just irretrievably swallowed by the obscure depths of your past. You can’t move ahead without it. You can’t go back to it. You can’t think anything except the limits into which you have been ordained. You cannot want anything except that one wish, fulfilment of which, every rational sense tells you is beyond possible. I know Lucy, all the nights and dusks in such loneliness. They are infinite and rigid’ He stopped to resume breathing. Lucy was nodding her head fondly playing with Milan’s fingers as if those were more precious than rare gems. She knew he understood, because he was likewise consigned to sufferings. 'Still, you deserved to be happy, to move on and find your life again, the one you had sacrificed away in devotion of abiding love’ she remarked
‘What I did not deserve was you leaving. What I did not deserve was free falling in love with the absolute faith that I will land safe but realizing mid air that the ground is gone, you are gone. What I did not deserve was you being taken away from me’ Milan asserted albeit with no strength in his voice. He continued feebly but with distinctness of a man who has been in distress for a long time to be sure of its strength. 'You know Lucy, I often think about those days of joy and sunshine; when we began our journey. I remember everything as if those events occurred yesterday. Just as if I would turn sideways and I would meet all those moments which would stand gathered at a point inviting me to walk back into them' he grimaced in pain again. Lucy tried to comfort him by placing her palm on his chest. He smiled instantly under her touch 'When pain exceeds its threshold I close my eyes in surrender and there is this peaceful gallery of memories which just comes to my rescue everytime and steals me away from that pain. I see us walking together, holding hands, I feel your lips under mine and I literally feel you hugging me. And I feel alright. I open my eyes and see everything blown away by my very breath. When the bubble bursts, pain returns with a swift vengeance. And I kneel in prayer. Asking the powers that be, the very powers that split us into two worlds, to take me to you' he confided.
Lucy was quiet. She wondered if what she was about explain Milan would be sound acceptable to him. Yet she began 'For a daughter who has seen so much hardship suffered by her parents when they were raising her, it is difficult to consciously put them through hurt's path again. I could have chosen to be with you, but that would have certainly meant the end of the two persons who brought me into this world and raised me with profound care. They would have never been able to put up with the mercilessness of the world, given the orthodoxy of my their homeland and given that I was their only daughter. So choosing them meant leaving you' she paused momentarily as if recollecting her last days. 'I tried Milan. After I decided to part from you, I tried a with every last bit of my strength to move ahead for the sake of my parents. I swear I did. But I realized soon that it was impossible for me to be without you. And it took me days and those thousands of seconds and nanoseconds in those days, of thinking over and over again before I gave in. I wanted to be sure that I won't be brought back and promised all vain hopes of being without you. So I had to go' By the time she finished, Milan lips seemed as if they would never part again to say a word. He was seeing flashbacks of that ordeal through those two endless nights when Lucy struggled on her deathbed and every day since the night Lucy died. Then he shut his eyes gain, tight, fighting tears. Lucy placed her hand on his face and cupped it and with a glint of pleading said ‘I can make all of this go away. You know that. I’ll fight whoever and whatever I have to and I’ll give you back to yourself’ Lucy offered with sincerity.
‘Don’t go. And if you must then I’ll come with you. If you leave, I'll try to give up my life again, and again and again, till I have you.’ he confidently replied. She conceded to his surrender. How could she not? It was brimming with his love for her, even after they had been separated. The temptation of their togetherness was hard to ignore. It was what they had fought for and waited for so long. Now all of their dreams could come true. They could then make up for all the lost moments of affection and care. And this time it would come with an assurance of eternity. All of it seemed so near, so real. All it required for happening was a stroke of will, to hold Milan’s hand and take him with her into everlasting companionship. She stood up. She extended her hand at Milan and held his hand. Milan felt a never before sensed lightness and freedom. He could hear exquisite music of eden birds and the never fading light of love engulf both of them. He could see the greenery ahead, the lush endless bouncing grass and a hundred rainbows cascading along the horizon. The waves of the sea were pristine, the water calm and tranquil as a bright sun scattered its shine all over it. A land of dreams, just as they had fancied in their love. The soul of Milan was ready to join Lucy in the quest for eternal togetherness.
Lucy heard urgent beeps of the multiple digital gadgets tasked to reading Milan’s life signs, denoting imminent ebb. One after another they kept going off. Lights in those devices blinked in rapid succession. Soon the doors of the cabin flung open and men and women in white aprons barged in, ominously observing the lights, the sounds and Milan’s frigid body. One of them exerted himself on Milan's chest, kept pressing it hard repeatedly in strokes, doing it continuously, stressing himself with visible expectation, but to the point of futility. In his career he had seen enough acts where promising young lives were ended over broken hearts; he felt no control over himself, his usual composed demeanour was taken over by a feeling of deep helplessness leading to verbal outburst. 'Dammit- wake - wake up..dying for no one.....get up dammit. your mother, your father.....waiting for sons to grow to their wishes and dreams...fools, all fools..wake up nowww..dammitt" he kept blabbering while pressing his palms hard on his chest, all the time grumbling, cursing, challenging knowing well his impending defeat. Lucy saw the door fling again. Only this time Milan’s mother rushed in and fell down on her knees by the bed where he lay. His father stood howling behind her. A hundred names Milan’s mother wailed away by his ears, the ones by which she had called him from the time of his birth and when he used to be a solemn boy and when he had cradled in her lap and when he would be adamant and stubborn and she would cajole him by those tender sounding nicknames. She kept pleading for her son to wake up, to be alright. Lucy observed all of this with her hand in Milan’s.
She wondered of her wishes a moment ago. Not a word left her mouth. Ahead lay the road to everlasting love and bliss and behind her were parents losing their only son. Crushed by the penetrating guilt, Lucy’s grip on Milan’s hand softened as she began letting go of it. She leaned, her hair covering his face, and kissed his forehead, and whispered ‘I Love you. It’s alright. I am always with you. Whenever you need me just take my name and I’ll be there’ Milan begged her to take him, gasping and waving his hand to catch hold of hers. But Lucy’s will was apparent. She wasn’t going to consign Milan’s parents to immeasurable grief. That was a cost not worthy of their pious dream. After that point, no matter how much Milan tried persuading her, she could neither stay nor take him along. Fate had written thusly for their story. There was a gradual glow of blinding white light which filled the room and Lucy began walking toward its genesis, as if her permission to be here had expired. She wore a long flowing white gown, the one which Milan always imagined her to wear in evenings they would spend together. It’s free end kissed the floor and dragged on it as she walked into the source of the beam. At its point, she turned back and looked at Milan. He had opened his eyes and turned his face at her. The thought that perhaps, a deep permanent bonding awaited them beyond life, did not leave his head. It broke him, the thought of staying without Lucy. Lucy’s heart sobbed inside, not letting her cries be heard, but she gave him a tender smile as if to say ‘My wishes are always with you love’.
Milan’s eyes opened. The shrieking beeps mellowed down and all readings began their descent to normalcy. He saw his mother hugging him and crying. His father stood nearby cupping his hands offering his deepest gratitude to the heavens for having returned them their son. The doctors and the nurses around had a faint smile on their face. Everyone seemed relieved and happy. He searched for Lucy as if he had woken from a dream. In one corner of the room near the window sunrays illuminated the cabin. Milan stared at that corner, wondering about Lucy’s presence there, where she last looked at him saying ‘Goodbye’. He instantly remembered Lucy’s stroke of will and its influence on his own. He felt his depression recede and a strong positivity fill his senses. He knew he was always going to miss his Lucy. But she wanted him to stay, to live, perhaps live for both, his share of joys and that of Lucy’s whose life had met an abrupt closure. He promised himself that he would live. That he would be happy. That he would never let anyone curse their story for having weakened him. That he would carry the legacy of their love into the world and spread it everywhere. That he would carry her love for the rest of his life. He smiled thinking about her smiling face near the window. That’s where he last saw her before the gates of clouds closed swallowing her immortal soul within their bosom.