MEMORY GAME – I

“Hi Shikha, is the Dr busy?”

“No Ma’am, he is waiting for you.”

Neha thanked Shikha and swiftly walked down the small aisle that led her to the office of her husband, Dr Rajan Tripathi. Clad in a chiffon saree, sindoor adorning her hair partition, delicate gold bangles in her hands, the anklet bells clicked softly as she walked. Neha was a gorgeous woman in her early thirties and a perfect life partner for Dr Tripathi.

While Dr Tripathi was very much like any other doctor – busy with patients and hospital all the time, Neha was very much like any other homemaker – perfectly managing all the needs of Dr Tripathi and taking good care of the entire household. She would pack a freshly cooked meal everyday and take it to Dr Tripathi herself because she was well aware of his love for piping hot and fresh meal. Also, it was this one hour in the day that was their “WE TIME”. No one was allowed to disturb them except extreme medical emergencies which was a rare occasion. Shikha had strict orders from Dr Tripathi that no phone calls should be transferred to him and no patients should be allowed to see him during the lunch time. Barring this one hour, Neha and Dr Tripathi barely got any time together, thanks to the profession of Dr Tripathi that kept him busy and the big family that kept Neha busy.

Life was beautiful. Love, prosperity, a supportive family and a cute little son. What else one could ask for? Neha thanked almighty every single day for sending Dr Tripathi in her life. The 6 year-old saga of a typical arranged marriage, the hesitation of starting a life with a stranger and healing a broken heart at the same time was long forgotten now. The present was just perfect.

“Hey Neha… come, come fast. I am very hungry. Have been waiting for you for so long. Gotta tell you something. Remember I had told you about one of my patients…?… He is getting a discharged today… ” Dr Tripathi said in one breath as soon as he saw Neha.

“Come on doctor, you talk only about your patients the whole day and I am sorry I do not remember who you are talking about because I don’t care!”, pat came the reply from Neha who was disappointed to hear about his patients even during the lunch time. And anyway, how did it matter because, as always, all that Dr Tripathi would talk about is how he operated a patient, how this happened, how that happened . . . blah blah blah!

“Oh Neha, you don’t know how happy I am today! I know you don’t want to listen but please listen any way! You remember, the other day I was telling you about the patient who revived from coma after 3 years? All his reports came out normal, we had kept him under observation for a week and now he is getting a discharge today. Isn’t that great? I am going to miss him, you know! 3 years… can you imagine, 3 years… every single day I would visit him even though my assistants would do the checkups, I would talk to him, pat his hand and ask for a hi-five! You know right, that the patients in coma have a functional brain and they can comprehend what we are talking to them? God knows, if he would remember my hi-five now!” Dr Tripathi was a little bit emotional unlike his usual self. There was something special about this patient.

This patient was referred to Dr Tripathi 3 years ago when he slipped into coma. His case was complicated. He had suffered an accident a few years back and had suffered a head injury. He recovered from that but three years ago he had a brain hemorrhage followed by a partial memory loss and as his condition worsened he had slipped into coma.

“Uff… enough of your patients stories. Have your food now…” uttered Neha bitterly to cut the thought process of Dr Tripathi. She quickly moved to the side table to set the lunch for him. As she got busy in arranging the spread for lunch, there was a soft knock on the door.

“Oh no, doctor! Don’t tell me you have invited any doctor for lunch. You should have told me before, I would have cooked a better menu and some sweet too!” Said Neha and frowned at Dr Tripathi.

“Relax Neha, this must be the same patient I was talking about. I had asked him to drop by before he leaves…. come in come in….”

Neha rolled her eyes and didn’t bother to turn around to greet the patient. She had already started disliking him for hijacking their lunch time.

“Thank you doctor. I gather it was you who treated me for all these years. Thank you so much! ” said a familiar voice. Neha was surprised to hear this strangely familiar voice. She tried hard to recollect where and when she had heard this voice before.

“Not at all. It was my duty. Take good care of yourself. Follow the schedule of medicines and some tests that I have prescribed to you and even though I would like to see you again, I hope you never need to see me, not at least as a doctor! Okay then, bye! Hope your family has come to pick you up. Will you be staying with them now?

There was a moment of silence.

The patient cleared his throat said… “Well, I don’t know! I don’t remember my family. But the sister said that the lady who keeps visiting every day is my mother and she has come to pick me up. I am not sure if that’s the truth. But there is very little that I can do. That lady has all the legal documents and photographs that prove our relationship. By the way doctor, did Neha come to see me? I have been asking everyone about this since last one week and nobody seems to know…..

Finally, Neha could recollect whose voice was this. She turned around in a lightning speed . She couldn’t believe she was seeing him alive! Her world had come crashing down. She failed to understand why was she told that he had died in a road accident. For all seven years she believed him to be dead and here he was, standing in front of her in the form of flesh and blood. Was destiny playing a joke?

When she had thought that she had finally put her past behind and that life is just perfect, and here he was. And in what condition? Partial memory loss? He didn’t remember his family but he remembered her? Did he still love her? Did she still love him? The plate fell down from Neha’s hands and both the men at once came rushing to her…