In continuation of The End
Sneha waited outside the I.C.U. knowing that Ajay needed this moment with his wife. She had already taken away one moment out from his life forever. As she waited for the door to open from the inside, she thought about the conversation she would have with him, telling him how she was feeling guilty for sending him away when he had to be near his wife. Her chain of thoughts was broken when a nurse approached her saying that the doctor wanted to talk to her. Perplexed, Sneha followed the nurse to the room of the doctor who was in charge of Smriti’s case, the same doctor she had met with, before.
The conversation with the doctor was enough for Sneha to get the answers for the doubts she had in her mind about the way people looked at her earlier. It seemed the doctor had received a call from Smriti’s father enquiring about the state of his daughter and all the details. He had told the doctor that he planned on moving his daughter to a different hospital in their home-town. When the doctor had discussed this with Ajay, he had refused permission to let this happen. Ajay had called up Smriti’s father and they had a heated argument, right in front of the doctor. Ajay had then mentioned to the old man that he was planning on introducing Sneha as Smriti to their daughter Shreya and no one could stop him from doing it because he was too sure, this is what Smriti might have wanted. Smriti’s father, as told later to the doctor, by Ajay, had threatened to file a case against him if he did so. Ajay had disconnected the call and Smriti’s father called again to speak to the doctor and said he would be coming to the hospital the next day with the police to take away his daughter and then Ajay was free to do whatever he wanted to do.
He had finally agreed to Sneha being introduced as Smriti but he was against the pulling of the plug. He had told the doctor that he would keep his daughter alive and when she gained consciousness, she would take the much deserved place in Shreya’s life and the "woman" would then have to be thrown out forever, for good.
Sneha shivered when she visualized the old man spitting words into the telephone. Why did he hate her so much? Was it because she looked like his daughter, she was healthy and his daughter was on death-bed? What was Sneha’s fault in all this? Sneha thought about the conversation and for a moment thought that if what Smriti’s father had suggested would have happened, it would perhaps have been a less painful situation for Ajay. But what about her own life situation? A little voice in her head asked. Had Smriti been kept alive and would have, at later time regained consciousness, would it have been easier for her to walk out of their lives? Sneha pushed away the thought. She did not want to think on those lines. What was the use anyways? Smriti was dead. And, her death affected Sneha in more than one ways.
Thinking about the conversation again, Sneha wondered how Smriti’s father would now react to the news.
“Does Smriti’s father know about his daughter?” Sneha asked the doctor.
“We called him as soon as the nurse informed us about the shift in Smriti’s condition. In fact, he is in the adjacent room as we speak.” The doctor said.
This came as a shock to Sneha. “What?” she asked scared all of a sudden.
“He came to the hospital with a police officer. There was a showdown between the two. He accused Ajay of a lot of things. He then saw Smriti’s condition, the police saw all the reports and we explained the situation, told them about all the tests that we did and were supposed to do the next day. The officer understood, yet, for the sake of the old man he insisted that the man be allowed to take his daughter with him once her condition was under control.” The doctor explained.
“Why was he not seen when I came to the room? Not even when his daughter died?” Sneha asked confused.
“Because, he is unconscious.” the doctor stated the fact.
“When he walked into Smriti’s room he stood there next to her bed, watching her for a long time and then he collapsed all of a sudden. He’s had a minor heart attack” The doctor said placing a file in front of Sneha.
Sneha did not bother to see. “Can I see him?” she asked.
“Are you sure you want to?” the doctor questioned
“Yes.”, saying so Sneha got up and waited for doctor to show her to the room.
“Before that I wanted to ask you a personal question.” The doctor signaled her to sit and so she did.
“Do you know what you are about to do? Why do you want to do it? Stepping into someone else’s shoes is not as easy as it might seem to you.”
Sneha was tired of these questions. The doctor was asking her these for the first time but her own inner voice had asked her several times. Sneha shook her head and said, “I don’t know why I am doing this but I do know I have to. Now, if you would please show me to Smriti’s father’s room, I would like to see him.”
“I understand” the doctor said and got up to take Sneha to the room where Smriti’s father was. He opened the door and after Sneha entered the room, closed it behind her. Sneha walked towards the bed and before she could really reach the bed she saw that the old man had opened his eyes. Sneha froze. The old man was so intimidating. To her surprise, the man smiled. Of course, he did! Sneha thought. The man was unconscious all this while and now when he opened his eyes the first thing he saw was the face of his beloved daughter. Sneha waited for the look of realization to come over his face but the man continued smiling.
“Come here” he said in a hoarse voice. Sneha was not sure what to do. Was he calling her or Smriti?
She finally made up her mind and walked closer to the bed. She reached in time to see a lone tear trickle down and get soaked in the pillow. She went back in time to the moment when a tear had similarly tricked down Smriti’s eye. Oh no, no no no, she thought. She was not ready for another death. She was about to call the doctor but the man extended his arm towards her, the gesture that suggested she hold his hand. Still unsure of what to do, Sneha stood where was.
“Forgive me Sneha” the man whispered and Sneha’s eyes widened in shock. He was talking to her. He knew who she was. She was Sneha now, and not the woman who looked like his daughter.
She held the old man’s hand and sat on the stool near the bed. And, the old man closed his eyes. Sneha looked at the machine, which, to her relief, told her that the man was still breathing. She sat in the room, with the man who had once hated her so much, holding his hand, not aware of how much time had passed. Sneha did not know what had happened that changed the old man’s heart but she was sure everything was going to be alright. It was the beginning of her new life.
.. The Daughter