Hey all thanks for all the lovely comments.. Here is my next chapter..
Mahir sat in Dr. Rehan's office, resting his head in his hands. What had the potential to be one of the happiest days in weeks had had a tragic ending. Maybe he had set his hopes too high, and the inevitable crash was too much for him to handle. The blank, empty look on Bela's face triggered emotions he had only encountered in a dim parking lot on a cool night. Mahir didn't have the mindheartto respond her query. So, he mumbled 'I'm sorry,' and, as quietly as he had entered the room, he exited.
Mahir had walked around aimlessly, concentrating on a single conceptbreathing. Air enters the nose, down the trachea, through the bronchus, into the lungs a simplistic route. In Mahir's mind, his and Bela's pathway should've been the same; fall in love, get married , move in together, conceive a child, and live happily ever after. There is no detour or forgetting with whom you will be taking the journey.
"I know this is not the outcome you're expecting, but it's progress nonetheless," Dr. Rehan assured him.
Mahir raised his head, meeting the doctor's gaze, before mumbling a somber "I know." It was an improvement, he knew, but he couldn't deviate from the outlook he'd had the last month or so. Was Bela not remembering him worse than her not waking? In his current mindset, Mahir couldn't decide.
"Your wife is suffering a condition called Post-traumatic Amnesia, usually occurring after a head injury. It seems she's lost nerve pathways required to retrieve long-term memories.", Mahir was quiet, his gaze fixated on his untied shoe lace. "Mr. Seghal," Dr. Rehan stood up and walked around his desk, pulling a chair closer to Mahir. "Traumatic amnesia is often transient."
Mahir looked up from his shoes, not sure if he had heard the doctor correctly. "What was that?"
"Her tests indicate that there is no brain damage, which explains the retention of her implicit and procedural memories...Her memories can be triggered back."
"I don't understandtriggered back?" One thing that Mahir had learned within the last few hours was not to get his hopes up too high, but this small affirmation excited him more than it should have.
"Yes, to a certain extent. See, depending on the stimulus, it might trigger an emotional response, even a memory." Mahir scrunched his brow, looking puzzled at the doctor. Considering his state of confusion, Dr. Rehan continued, "She may associate a flowery smell with a garden or someone who gardened. But the problematic part is to discern the stimuli. People associate things differently or not at all. So it's hard to know how to exactly fish the memories out."
"So, you're saying that she may remember me? Our kids?
"Yes," Dr. Rehan said with much hesitation. "But the best thing you can do right now is support herbe there for her. She is in a strange world right now." Mahir nodded, suddenly feeling guilty about his previous encounter with Bela.
"On another note," Dr. Rehan continued, "Your wife should make a full recovery. She could be discharged within the next week."
"Really? That's good! But, will she...um...be willing to come with me? I mean, I'm a..." Mahir paused, choking on his next few words, "complete stranger."
"In cases like these, I advise the family not to be strangers. Your presence will speak louder than words."
On that last note, Mahir shook hands with the doctor and proceeded down the hall towards the elevator where it would lead him to the 6th floorthe ICU. He had a new mission in life: to be there for Bela. He knew she would have done the same, or more than he had. He walked briskly and purposely towards her. Mahir was surprised to find the room lacking the tumult of nurses from before. The only sound was the echoing beep of the monitors. He walked in and was faced with the same lost expression from before.
"Hi," he said hesitantly.
"Hi," she responded, her voice soft and hoarse. Tubes and wires still engulfed her small frame.
"I'm Mahir," He extended his hand and she shook it hesitantly.
"I'm Belaat least that's what they've been calling me. Am I supposed to know you?" Mahir was not expecting that question just yet.
"Yeah... I'm your... husband." Mahir said cautiously. He watched her demeanor shrink as his statement sunk in. Maybe she didn't need to know that just yet.
"Wow!" Tears began rolling down her cheeks as she looked at the man standing a few feet from her bed. She had no recollection of him, or of anything for that matter. Everything was a blur. She knew, from what the nurses told her, that she was in a hospital and that she had been in an accident, but that was as far her understanding of herself went."I-I..."
"It's ok," Mahir interrupted. He wanted to hold her, wipe the cascading tears from her cheeks, and it took all he had in him not to follow his instincts. "If you need me to leave now, that's ok! I understand. Just know that I am..."
"Don't goI don't want to be alone." She interjected.
Mahir narrowed the space between them, reaching out to hold her hand. She winced, but didn't recoilhe was contented. The room fell into a comfortable silence, as neither of them spoke. He wasn't going to bombard her with information she wasn't ready for. Mahir was going to wait for her initiative. That way, he knew she would be ready. For now, silence was his most eloquent answer. Baby stepshe thoughtbaby steps.
"I'm a bit tired, if you don't mind I'm going to rest for a bit."
"Yeah... That's fine."
She closed her eyes and he watched her gradually fall asleeplistening to the steady sound of her breathing. May be this wasn't going to be so hardhe thought. But then he saw the image of histheirchildren, and his heart fell to the pit of his stomach. How is he going to explain this to them? Or to her? She was taken aback by the fact that she has a husband, and then he is supposed to add two kids in the mix? Mahir was about to go for a walkto clear his head when a nurse entered the room.
"Mr. Seghal, a Mrs. Sharma is in the waiting room," the nurse said softly.
Mahir made his way down the hall, finding Prerna Sharma on the verge of tears. She was such a pleasant and polite woman, from whom Bela took a lot, and Mahir was thankful for that. She had always been a rock for Bela, and Bela loved her, so Mahir came to love her as well. After the divorce, she was distressed, but optimistic, which helped Bela through the awful ordeal. Family gatherings had become a bit awkward, but over the years it had gotten betterkids always had a way to light up a room.
"Maa." She embraced him.
"Is she awake? I came as soon as you called."
"She is sleeping right now, still in the ICU ... but alert."
"That is great news..." Prerna paused, sensing a lack of excitement in his voice. "What's wrong Mahir?"
Mahir was silent. How was he supposed to tell her Bela wouldn't remember herher own mother? Not only that, but how was he supposed to admit his soul mate didn't remember him either? He stood, awkwardly glancing past her, perhaps at the ceiling, before meeting her gaze again. "Maa..." he began, "She can't remember."
"What?" The question came out barely a whisper.
"She doesn't remember things..." Mahir began, tears agglomerating in the back of his eyes. Prerna covered her mouth, in complete disbelief. "She didn't know who I was..." He shifted uncomfortably, trying to recompose himself, "But we need to be there for her, she can't afford to see us break. It is already confusing enough as it is." Prerna nodded. She couldn't seem to absorb the situation before her. "The doctors think it could be temporary... but it's still early to tell."
"Can we go see her?
"Yeah, but she's resting right now. The doctors have been on her the entire morning." Prerna was saddened; she wanted to see her daughter. "I was actually going for a walk, mind joining me?" relieve
They walked to the cafeteria, choosing to grab a bite. They were mostly silent, picking at the food. Mahir mentioned work and the kids, but Prerna rarely respondedshe was still swallowing the knot stuck in her throat. Sensing her uneasiness, Mahir decided they'd been away long enough. He stood up, throwing most of his sandwich away, and Prerna followed, making their way to her room.
Mahir entered quietly, while Prerna lingered by the door. "Hey, you're awake."
"Yeah, there seems to be a lot of commotion here," She said, stifling a yawn. She had managed to doze off, but between the beeping monitors and nurses filtering in and out, it made sleeping almost impossible.
"Well, you are in a hospital Sharma."
"Shaarmaaa what?" He noticed a smile tugging the corners of her lips.
"Sharma...It's your surname...I...um..." He stammered, "I call you that sometimes"
"Your mom is also here to see you," Mahir said, gesturing towards the door.
Bela widened her eyes, stretching her neck to see the person standing by the door. She was fairly tall woman, with straight black hair, and very fair skin. She wore a black saree and minimal jewelry.
"Hi honey," Prerna said walking slowly towards Bela.
"Hi," Bela said with tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. "I'm sorry...It's just... I don't..." Bela stammered, biting her bottom lip in an effortless attempt to keep it from quivering. Bela didn't remember her either.
"It's okay honey," Prerna said reaching for her hand, "We're here for you."
The room fell into an awkward silence as neither of them dared to speak. Bela didn't know what to say. She didn't know the two figures standing before her and apparently they didn't know this new person either. Bela felt part of a puzzle where everyone seemed to know how the pieces matched except her.
The silence was interrupted by the persistent ring of Prerna's phone. She quickly fished it from her bag, pressing the hold key. She had been waiting to hear from Pankaj and Suhani, Bela's dad and younger sister, since she'd left home. She quickly excused herself, heading towards the hall. Somehow the atmosphere became lighter. Mahir's presence was comforting. Bela didn't understand why, but she felt safer when he was around.
"Did you bring all these flowers?" Bela said admiring the small vases of flowers decorating the room.
"Some of them. The big one over there," Mahir said pointing to a vase with colorful daisies, "That one was from the people I work with."
"Oh... They are all very nice!" Bela smiledcontemplating asking her next question. "Is there anyone else I should know about?"
"Well... Maybe. You have a dad and a sister who are driving up from Delhi. If you're not ready to meet them, it's okay...," Mahir said, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "We're just really happy you're alright."
"Okay." Bela paused before asking her next question, "What happened?" Bela seemed more ready to ask questions than Mahir was to answer them.
"Well..." Mahir shifted uncomfortably in the chair, "You were driving home from your classes when a drunk driver hit you head-on. It was pretty bad." Bela widened her eyes looking down at her herself. She could see the remnant scars, not to mention the cast still housing her left leg. "You're getting better and the doctors are optimistic."
"Why can't I remember anything?" Her eyes were filling with tears once again.
"Um... you will, it's just going to take some time." This time Mahir didn't resist. He got up from the chair and embraced her. She felt the warmth of his body radiating through hers. "I will be here, always." Bela smiled wiping the escaping tears down her cheeks, but quickly retracted herself from his embrace.
"Thank you." She said sheepishly.
Btw... " With classes I meant.. teaching classes... You are a teacher Bela ". Bela was surprised to hear that.. "waoow I am a teacher.. that's cool she said ". Mahir smiled.. It was like the old Bela was back again...
Prerna returned, startling both Mahir and Bela. "Mahir, that was your mom, she's been trying to reach you all day."
"I left my phone in the car! Is everything ok?"
"Nothing's wrong. She wanted an update on Bela and to ask what time you're picking up the kids."
"What kids?" Bela gasped, the color draining from her face. Her eyes widened, darting from Mahir to Prerna for an answer.Edited by sarahgul - 2019-02-26T05:40:44Z
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