Did I Overact?
I really had planned what to do the next morning. It came like a flash - the idea I mean, and then I started thinking over how to proceed. Yes, that's it. Wonderful getaway!
I remembered how my mom reacted when I had high temperature. The doctor suspected dengue. Mom was so terribly worried that she did not leave my side even for a moment. My father's concern was equally great. He returned earlier when my temperature had shot up over 104 degrees. I was overwhelmed by their anxiousness. I could imagine a repetition of the show.
The alarm by my bedside started singing. "Switch it off, you moron," shouted my sister who was preparing for her medical fourth year examination. I let the alarm blare for a couple of minutes and started moaning, making a show of trying to lift my hand and unable to do so. I heard her storming near me and hitting the clock hard, and I could feel her staring at me. "Thank you sis," I moaned, eyes closed.
"Get up, isn't it your semester exam today?" she questioned me. I didn't open my eyes.
She held my shoulder and started shaking me. "Get up, you idiot!" 'IDIOT'- the words reverberated. She was the brilliant one here. I was not bad. But her extraordinary performance made me an idiot. I just could not concentrate in my studies. It became bad to worse and I just stopped trying to get through my exams. I wanted to give it all up and go for something else - something which was lighter, happier. I wanted to run away from college, never, never to go there again!
I could hear soft footfall and knew at once who it was. It was my grandpa, who was my only confidant in the family. But I would not talk to him. He touched my forehead and stroked my hair.
"Janki! Janki!" he called out to my mom with urgency in his voice. I chuckled. "Something's wrong with Mukesh," he croaked.
"You took such a long time to find out grandpa? I knew it from the beginning," said my sister and giggled.
I could hear my mom's footfall, hurried with a tinkle of her bangles. "Why father, what's wrong?"
"Touch him, you'll know," said grandpa. I knew. My temperature must have risen. The effect of the chemical I had taken. It
was the chemical that simulated fever in human body. The fever could last up to four hours. I had seen its effect last time. Its effect on us all! And today another dose had gone into me.
I could feel my mother's touch, warm and tender and her hand was immediately taken off. I could hear a suppressed cry of shock. I said to myself," Mom dear, don't you worry. Its only for four hours."
Then thing started happening very quickly. Father came and then the doctor. Meanwhile I was keenly observing what was happening around me with closed eyes. Even my sister seemed concerned.
I could hear very well,the doctor talking at a distance, because the whole house was engulfed in silence. I wanted to open my eyes and see who were there. But controlled my urge.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Ratan. He seems to have passed away in his sleep. It must have happened at least four hours back. Seems like a massive heart attack to me. He had a weak heart, we all know."
"What the hell, doctor! Me dead? Look at me!" I opened my eyes and screamed. But what was happening? I could not hear me! I could only hear my mother's screams and sobs, my father's broken voice trying to soothe her, my grandpa's broken croaks and my sister's soft sobbing.
"Look at me, you all dull heads, I was feigning fever with a chemical, so that I need not attend the semester exam," I looked at the bottle at the bedside table. It was there with unbroken seal and contents full! "Did I not take the chemical? I thought I had. Did I die before that?" I shouted. I tried to get up. I was shocked that I couldn't even move a finger. "Mom, grandpa!" I called everybody. Father came and put his hands on my eyes. " No, don't," I shouted.
My sister came to me and kissed me gently. "Sorry Mukesh," she said softly, "I thought you were feigning illness so that you won't have to write your semester exam. You were so brilliant and my inspiration. Oh! what would I do without you?" She fell on her knees and sobbed violently.
Try as I might, I couldn't make them hear me. Worst of all I couldn't move. "I want to live. Can anyone hear me?" I kept on shouting. ****