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The Call

by Dincy Mariyam
(Bengaluru, India)

"Ring, Ring……" ‘Ah! Who is calling me so early in the morning,’ I said on a supposed to be bright Saturday morning. I picked up the phone still covered head to foot in the blanket. It was my aunt.

‘Hello Aunty, Good Morning’ I said in a lethargic tone. I had to take the phone a few cm’s away and still I could hear her shouting ‘Finally you had the mind to attend my call. Do you know I’m calling the tenth time requesting you to come here? Each and every time you had some silly excuses. You are not giving me any excuses this time but coming to my home’. I listened to whatever she had to say silently.

And I said without thinking any further 'Sure Aunty; I will come today definitely'. I heard a condemned filled OK from the other side of the phone and then a long beep. And I fell back on the bed and threw the phone towards one corner of the bed. ‘Who wants to get up so early on holiday? It is so nice and cosy to crawl under the blanket. Oh, my dear aunt.’

After some time I looked at the time, and I freaked out 'Oh no, it’s 9.30’ I couldn't sleep anymore, so I jumped out of my bed and got ready. Within half an hour I was ready to go to aunt’s home.

There weren't much people or vehicles on the roads. The pavements seemed to be ‘partially' deserted. Amongst them, I saw some familiar faces. Vendors were setting their stalls.

I was about to cross the road, and suddenly I saw an old man, around 60, wearing a crumpled khadi kurta,floating white turned brown pyjamas and a Gandhi cap, collapse on the ground. For a second I was shocked and then realizing that no one noticed I ran towards him. He was unconscious. A lot of people started crowding around him and started muttering. Suddenly someone called an auto. To my surprise and shock, they pushed me into the auto. I was really embarrassed. I was sitting in the auto with the old man’s head on my lap. The auto driver asked ‘Kuthe Jayache Ahe?’ I replied in Hindi (because I didn't know Marathi) ‘Sabse pasvale hospital me lekhar jhao’ wondering how ignorant auto drivers have become these days.

Within 10-15 minutes we reached a nearby government hospital. With the auto driver’s help, I took the person inside the hospital and placed him on the stretcher. I paid the auto driver and ran to the reception. The receptionist was busy talking on the phone. "Excuse me,” I said once again "excuse me”.

She turned towards me with an accusing expression. "yes” she said in an irritated tone. "May I know where the doctor is?” I asked exasperated. She just pointed to a door across the corridor. I muttered ‘thank you’ and ran to the doctor.

He was rushed to the ICU. I was in a fix. “I was supposed to be at my aunt’s house and now I’m in a hospital,” I thought to myself.

I was carrying the old man’s bag and I thought I would go through it and hoping to find some address so that I could contact his family. There was his identity card, some old newspaper sheets, pension card and some other papers. There was his address on the pension card. But I couldn't find any phone number. I didn't know what to do. I saw a small piece of paper with a phone number which gave me relief. I didn't know whose number it was. But I thought I would call to that number.

It was his neighbour’s number. I told him the things that happened and asked him to contact his relatives. The old man was shifted to the general ward by the time. I was sitting on a chair next to his bed and he was asleep.

After 15 minutes, I saw a group of people frantically rushing towards his bed. It was his wife, who was around 50 and 3 young daughters. All of them were crying. I tried to console them saying there was nothing serious. I handed over the bag. He was on his way coming back after collecting the pension. He fainted and fell on the road because of tiredness (that was what the doctor said). The whole family was living on his pension. He had to get his daughters married. All these things might have worried him (my thesis). I gave some money which I had, to his wife. First, she refused but later she accepted.

It was almost 2’o’clock when I left the hospital. I walked towards the bus stop with much relief and satisfaction in mind. I was able to save someone’s life. Immediately my phone rang. It was my aunt again. "If you can’t keep your word then don’t promise anything.” I said, “Aunty, just listen to me.” “No, I don’t want to hear any excuses.” “Aunty, I’m on the way to your home. I’ll reach there in 10 minutes. I’ll tell you then what happened.” She kept the phone without saying anything. This time, I didn't feel angry but I was happy.

I walked towards the bus stop hopefully.

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