He loved to work. While he ate, drank, slept, socialised, all he ever thought was of work. Not about the new woman he had met. Not about how she could hold his attention longer than others. Not about his brother who was getting married soon and was anxious to death. Not about his sister, who was just back from abroad after almost three years. Not even about his mother, who had been bed-ridden for months. His work kept him going. It kept him sane and above the mindless bullshit that went around him most of the time. There were no weekends for him. No sundays. Sometimes he would be tired and he would sleep a dreamless sleep. He never wanted his work to end.
It bothered some people. Not many, very few cared. But some did. His sister did not like the fact that he did not have ears to listen to her tales of adventures and escapades. One night, she confronted him. They had an argument. An endless argument about how he did not care, about he needed to take some time out for the family. About how if only he showed some genuine interest, it would be enough. He told her to stop picking a fight over “petty things”. From there on it only spiralled into a heated altercation. He shut himself in his room and wondered if he had over-reacted. He realised that he had. Every word she said was right. Except for thinking he did not care. He did. He cared. A lot. He was the eldest son, he had to work, and work with passion. He was doing great. The social circles were always abuzz with what a hardworking genius he was. But also about how aloof he was.
“May be I have to make amends”, he thought. He knew he had not been particularly kind with his sister, she needed some attention, but everybody was coiled in their own anxities and problems. He decided he would apologise the next day. Even spend the day with her.
She had gone to her room in a huff. Angry, hurt. She was back in a country where no one gave a damn if she lived or died she thought. Then she wondered if she had crossed a line and said rather hurtful things to her brother. She suddenly felt completely silly. How completely silly the whole arguement was! She knew her brother loved them all unconditionally. Suddenly guilt filled her. She needed fresh air. A drive would do her good and tomorrow she could apologise to her brother.
It was late in the night. But she left for a drive nonetheless.
“I am going out for a drive. Had a fight with Bro. Will be back soon. Just going to get some fresh air”
She left a text for her younger brother. Just in case they noticed she was not home.
But she was not back home soon. A drunken driver had hit her car.
She was in the ICU.
He drove to the hospital like a maniac. His heart petrified.
“I am responsible, if only we did not fight”, he thought.
But it was not guilt that petrified him. He was grief stricken that his baby sister was lying wounded and helpless. He ran to the the ward she was in. She was in a coma. No visitors were allowed the first few hours. Not even family. He fought with the doctors to no avail.
“But she is my sister!”.
He sat in the corridor for all those hours, numb. He had stopped thinking.
When he was finally allowed to go inside, he lost courage. With slow steps, he entered the room. Her face was swollen, crimson with wounds. It broke him.
He did not dare touch her, lest he hurt her. He stood there for hours, wishing the night’s argument had ended differently. He could have laughed at the taunts she had thrown at him and could have prevented the exchange from turning into an argument. He could have chosen to react positively. Instead of calling her “spoilt, silly & self-centred”.
He sat beside her and whispered “sorry , I did not mean anything I said”.
He waited for her to get better. The doctors offered only the usual – “we are doing our best”.
He stopped eating. He stopped sleeping. He even stopped working.
All he did was wait. Wait for his sister to get better as he tortured himself into thinking he was responsible. He spent all his hours in the hospital. There were other people, waiting on their loved one. All he did all day was look at all those people going in and out of the hospital. Young, old, sickly, new born babies, life and death co existed there in a dazed stupor.
He did not believe in god, but if there was one, he asked that god to make his sister all right again. Sometimes he would break into a laugh, thinking how desperate times could turn even a hardened atheist to prayer. He did pray. That was all he did. And he waited. He waited for her to get fine. One day, two days, three days, they kept slipping by, but she showed no sign of improvement. They did all the operations required. Not much changed. The wait was slowly killing him.
But he never left. And he kept waiting. He thought about the unsaid apology. And then about them when they were little kids. They used to play football together. She loved Chelsea.
“What a lovely young girl”, he would often think and tears would stream down his eyes.
Nothing anybody would tell him helped. Not the wise words of his Mother, nor the optimistic hope of his brother. He would not rest till he saw things get better. Till he saw her get better.
“We have an unfinished conversation to end”, he would say.
And so he spent the days and nights in the hospital in an endless wait. Would it ever end? Does it ever end?
As hope reduced everyday, he became obssessed with the wait. The longer he waited, the longer she would live. So he waited relentlessly. Sometimes he would be tired and he would sleep a dreamless sleep. But he never wanted his wait to end.