The Routine

In continuation of The Strength

When Sneha opened her eyes she was on a hospital bed, surrounded by two doctors, a nurse, the guy at the enquiry desk and Ajay. The look on the enquiry desk guy made it clear that he was already in trouble for letting Sneha enter the I.C.U. room. The doctors looked worried, too. The expression on Ajay’s face was unreadable.

“What were you doing here?” one of the doctors asked her when she opened her eyes.
“I was just visiting.” Sneha could not think of any other answer.
“Visiting? Really? Whom?” The doctor clearly did not like that Sneha had sneaked into the I.C.U. room. What was she thinking?

“Being on the staff does not give you permission to enter the closed rooms.” He commented.
“I am sorry” Sneha whispered and looked at Ajay. The look on his face was still unreadable. Sneha thought she would do anything to know what he was thinking.
“Anyways, what happened here?” the doctor asked Sneha breaking Ajay’s and her eye contact.
“Nothing. I just walked in and collapsed on the floor. I have not been eating properly for last couple of days, maybe it was the fatigue.” Sneha explained.
“Your blood pressure skyrocketed! You almost had a heart attack and this is all you have to tell us?” Doctor asked again.
Yes, there was more, Sneha thought. I think I saw Smriti sitting on the bed and staring at me, then extending her arm towards me as if asking me to hold it! Or maybe I am going mad, she sighed.
The doctor shook his head and giving instructions to the nurse walked away, the other doctor who was a silent spectator walked away too. The guy at the enquiry desk mouthed “I am dead” and followed them. After writing something on her writing pad, the nurse too left the room.
When Ajay and Sneha were alone in the room, the expression on his face changed! There was concern but there was a question, too.
“I just wanted to spend some time in here, think about everything, and gather as much strength as I could and maybe because I was thinking about Smriti; I thought I saw her. She extended her hand towards me as if asking me to hold it and when I walked closer to hold it, I had almost reached it, almost touched it when I collapsed. That is all I remember.” Sneha explained to Ajay who believed her. It was seen on his face.
“Smriti’s father also told us that he had seen Smriti open her eyes and believes that she spoke to him.” That is all Ajay said but from his tone Sneha could make out that he was sad and was wondering why it did not happen to him, why he did not have such a memory of hers. Ajay wondered that if Sneha could see Smriti because she was thinking of her then considering how many times in a day he thought of Smriti, he should see her walking, sitting and sleeping with him. None of them said anything.

After a while Ajay said “I don’t know whether doctors would let you leave today. They said when that guy found you on the floor and called the doctors, you were shaking violently. When they finally managed to lift you up and check your vital signs your blood pressure was really high and they immediately took an electro-cardiogram. I was just wondering what do we…” before Ajay could complete the sentence, Sneha spoke his thoughts aloud, “tell Shreya.” and she nodded deep in thoughts.
“We need not tell her anything. I am fine and I think we can go home now. I will talk to the doctors. They cannot hold me here against my wish.” She said.
“It is not about what you want or what I want as for that matter, it is what is best for you, what the doctor says” Ajay said in an angry tone.
“Fine! Let them check my blood pressure again, do whatever tests they want to do, give me whatever medicines they want but I know for sure that I am going home today.” Sneha said with confidence. Home, the word sounded sweet to her ears. Home, it was her home now, she wanted it to be.

Ajay talked to the doctors and the team was back again. Sneha realized that the doctor who was a silent spectator earlier was actually the technician who had taken her E.C.G. He moved the machine towards her and then the doctors pulled the curtains leaving Ajay on the other side of it. The nurse checked her blood pressure first and even though it was well in the normal range, they preferred to get an E.C.G. done. When the senior doctor was convinced that Sneha was healthy to go home he mentioned the same to Ajay. To be on the safer side he prescribed an SOS medicine.

When Sneha and Ajay reached home, she walked towards the master bedroom saying that she wanted to rest for a while before Shreya came from school and she made snacks for her. Ajay then walked to the study. Sneha knew that the study was the room where he would be spending most of his time when Shreya was not around. She did not really expect him to sit and chit-chat with her but she did want him to at least walk her to the bedroom.

Once in the bedroom, Sneha changed into one of Smriti’s comfortable clothes and slid into the warm bed. She did not know when she slept. She woke up with a jolt and rushed to Shreya’s room and opened the door to find her doing her homework.
“Hey why did you not wake me up?” She said walking closer to the girl and kissing her hair.
“You looked really tired.” Shreya said.
“Come, let’s make something for you to eat” Sneha said and they both walked down to the kitchen.
Walking towards a cabinet she pulled out a packet of Quakers oats and immediately Shreya complained, “Oats?”
Sneha turned to look at her and raising her eyebrows said, “You promised me you would learn to eat it without complaining.”
Shreya looked at her for a while and then said, “Ok” and walked towards the dining table. Both Sneha and Shreya saw Ajay watching them.
A moment later, Sneha’s forehead creased. She saw the look on Ajay’s face and then understood the reason behind it. None of them knew how Sneha knew about the oats episode.

Sneha pushed aside the thought and Ajay decided not to say anything either. Shreya finished her oats and walked back to her room. Sneha made coffee for Ajay and her which they finished in silence.
Sneha busied herself in kitchen and Ajay, for a change, sat in the living room watching television. When Sneha finished the cleaning she walked over to Shreya’s room to take a look at her school work. And when she walked out she felt the joy of a proud mother. When Sneha’s friends who were mothers told her things about their children and then commented that Sneha would know only when she would be a mother, she had always envied them. However, the present day Sneha felt that every woman was already a mother to some extent and was capable of experiencing the joy. Being a mother to Shreya had brought out the mother part of her being.

Sneha walked towards Ajay and sat next to him watching television for a while. Ajay noticed the change in her demeanor and was glad that Sneha felt more confident about herself than she had been earlier in the day. He looked at her and smile and she smiled back. Shreya joined them after a while and the family watched television together for some time before Sneha walked back to the kitchen to make preparations for the dinner. While cooking, Sneha could hear the father and the daughter laughing in the living room as they watched a comedy show. She smiled to herself as they felt sure that everything was going to be fine from now on.

Instead of having dinner at the dining table, three of them decided to eat sitting on the couch and eat while watching television. After finishing dinner, each one of them carried their own plates to the kitchen and kept them in the sink. Ajay brought in the bowls and the water jug while Sneha scrubbed the plates and Shreya helped her wash them.

After watching television for some more time, Sneha finally picked up Shreya and took her to her room. Tucking her in and wishing her goodnight she walked out of the room leaving the door slightly open. Ajay and Sneha watched television for some more time and it was Sneha who finally got up to go.
“Do check all the doors and windows before you come to bed.” Sneha instructed and Ajay looked up at her. Then, without turning back, Sneha walked to the bedroom. When Ajay entered the bedroom Sneha had readied the couch for him, placing his pillow and the quilt on the couch and she was already in bed, sleeping with her face towards the couch.

Ajay brushed his teeth and rested on the couch, staring at the ceiling. A moment later Sneha switched off the lights and wished him goodnight.
Ajay turned to look at Sneha after a while. Seeing the easy rise and fall of her chest, Ajay assumed that she was asleep. He stared at her peaceful face and was taken aback when she suddenly opened her eyes.
“What?” she whispered
“Nothing” he said a little embarrassed. Sneha smiled and he smiled back and then closed his eyes. Sneha shifted in bed and slept on her back. They must have been asleep only for a while when they both heard a knock on the door.