The End of My Dreams.
by Eva Bell
The last patient for the evening had left, and my helper was preparing to lock up.
“Wait,” said a lady, "I must see the doctor now.”
“Not tonight Ma’am. We’re done for the day. I can give you an appointment for tomorrow.”
“I will see the doctor now. This is an emergency”
The voice was almost hysterical. I peeped out of my cabin to see who this persistent lady could be. She had pushed aside the helper and glided in. Even after all these years, I felt a queer tug at my heart. Why must she barge into my life again, making me painfully aware of the wound that had never healed?
“Hullo Mayura! What brings you here after all these years, and at this hour?”
Her face looked sad, and in her eyes were mirrored a thousand sorrows.
“I want a shoulder to cry on,” she said, “You were the only one I could think of. I’m going to divorce Vijay.”
“How dare she take advantage of me,” I thought. “She still knows the power she can wield over me.”
Aloud I said, “What makes you think I can help you Mayura? I’m not a marriage counselor. I’m a psychiatrist.”
“You could at least be kind enough to listen.”
“Vijay is a colleague. Our relationship goes a long way. I can’t take sides and I can’t pass judgement on him.”
“Then I better go,” she said, tears streaming down her eyes. “You’ve forgotten that we’ve been friends since we were toddlers. We were bosom pals remember?”
The wound inside me began to throb. “I’ve never forgotten, Mayura,” I wanted to say. But no, it wouldn’t be kind to remind her. Right now she needed comforting.
“Wait Mayura. Sit down and let big brother hear all about it.”
“Vijay is in love with one of his patients. She’s been in and out of the hospital this past year. When she’s admitted, he hardly ever comes home. And when she’s better, he’s always escorting her around.”
“How did you find out all this? You seldom come to the hospital.”
“He’s been rather frank about it. He says he can’t endure being a puppet in my father’s house. He wants his independence. Doesn’t like anyone breathing down his neck.”
“There you are! He’s given you his reasons. Stop being possessive and give him his space. And for Goodness sake, stop rubbing it in that he owes his wealth and his career to you.”
Early in our College days, Mayura fell in love with a dashing young fellow, who was very conscious of the effect he had on the ladies, but chose to keep aloof and concentrate on his studies. He was the son of a school teacher, and but for the government scholarship he won, would never have afforded a University education. The more distant he seemed the more was Mayura’s determination to marry him. I knew there was no escape for Vijay.
One day, I saw her in a corner of the library in tears.
“A lover’s quarrel,” I ventured.
“Get away you lame ass,” she said angrily, “Why must you always keep spying on me?”
We were neighbours since we were born. Her house a grand mansion, stood next to our modest bungalow. My shyness prevented me from making friends easily. But Mayura didn’t seem to notice. She was always dragging me out to play even though I couldn’t run as fast as she did. With her I felt no inhibitions. I’d keep her in splits with my funny stories and jokes. Her eyes would light up with mischief and her bubbling laughter would echo all around her when she was happy. However, she had a temper too, and her petulance often disturbed me. But she was the only playmate I had, and I always overlooked her faults.
I loved her with a deep devotion.
Mayura grew into a beautiful woman. I always thought of her as my own. In our adolescence, there was a certain degree of intimacy between us, which made me hope that it would last forever. But she had no such romantic feelings for me. I was a harmless lap dog to stroke or to strike as the fancy seized her. A pang of jealousy would shoot through me each time I saw
her drool over Vijay. But I knew I didn’t stand a chance, and had to content myself with her friendship.
If Mayura wished for the moon, her parents would have bought it for her. Vijay needed no persuasion to marry Mayura, especially when it came with the assurance of assistance for further education in which ever specialty he chose. Mayura dropped out of College and was content to be his wife and adorn his home.
Vijay and I were in Medical College together. Mayura’s parents had moved away to a better locality, and I lost all contact with her. I saw her just once at a hospital function. She looked radiant and was dancing cheek to cheek with Vijay. They looked a happy couple.
The years drifted by. Vijay specialized in Medicine, and I in Psychiatry. He continued to work at the hospital, but I served only in an honorary capacity, as I had my own consulting room in the suburbs.
Now here she was before me, fiddling nervously with her handkerchief, a picture of dejection.
“I love him so much,” she said, “I can’t bear to share him with another.”
“And yet you speak of Divorce? Go home Mayura. May be you’re just reading too much into his words. When was the last time you told Vijay that you loved him? Or have you just been accusing and nagging him? You can’t buy love with all the money your father has.”
“You too are on his side,” she said angrily.
“Despite my weakness for you I’m not blind to your faults. In marriage, it is not just marrying the right person. It’s being the right person too.”
I had heard of the affair between Vijay and his patient Remi Dhawan. Gossip had been around for over a year. The situation was messy because Vijay was a married man and Rema, a leukaemic patient doomed to an early death. Either this was Vijay’s revolt against Mayura’s overbearing attitude, or just a harmless concern for a glamourous ex-beauty queen who needed a prop for her failing strength.
It all began with Vijay donating blood when Remi was in a near-fatal crisis a year ago. He had personally supervised her treatment. To the dying girl, the attention of a handsome doctor was a straw to clutch at. Remi’s dependence boosted Vijay’s flagging ego. Out of their need for each other Love blossomed. During remissions, Vijay spent his free time with her. During exacerbations, he tended her as her physician. It was unethical on his part, but Vijay knew she was dying.
Remi died a week after Mayura’s visit to me. I drove to her house to tell her there was now hope for her marriage. Her face was still drawn and sad.
“Vijay will come back to you. Give him time. And when he does, show him you care.”
It took some effort for me to say these words, knowing how much I still cared for her. If I played my cards right, perhaps I could have made her fall in love with me. But I had to put distance between us. I had done my good deed for the day.
Almost a year later, they walked into my clinic hand in hand.
“We’ve come personally to thank you for your help,” said Vijay.
“My help? I don’t understand.”
“It will only take a moment to explain. You know I quit the hospital after Remi’s death” The place was too full of memories and I had to get away. So I joined a hospital in Tanjore. But after a while, it got very lonely. I realized how much I needed Mayura. Only this time it would be on my own terms. I wrote asking if she would be willing to leave her wealth, her comforts and her parents and come to me. Frankly, I wasn’t even expecting her to reply. Obviously your advice proved effective. She came at once sans baggage. We’ve been happy together ever since.”
Mayura threw her arms around me. She often used to do this as a child.
“Thank you”. Thank you my friend.”
That's all I’ll ever be, a convenient friend. I sent them away with my blessings, and looked sadly at my crutches standing in the corner. How did I ever dare to dream!