Reeja looked at her watch. She belonged amongst the small group of people who still believed in watches. The hands told her it was 11pm in US, which meant the surgery would have already begun in India. She took a pillow and leaned it against the wall of her bedroom. Slumping against it, she took her phone and thought “Now would be the time to call Akila”.
“Hey Aki. I know..Your hubby whatsapped me that you reached the hospital. Has it..started already?”, Reeja inquired solemnly.
“Ohh. Reeja…it’s been around half an hour since they took appa into the room..and I don’t know what’s happening”, Akila sobbed uncontrollably.
“I know…I know da..everything’s going to be alright, I am sure. Believe me now”, Reeja turned her face to the side, wiping her tears on the sleeve of her night gown.
“Open heart surgeries are common..but the doctor said appa’s case was a little complicated..oh..I don’t know!”, Akila’s voice trembled.
“Hush..hush..don’t Aki.. Listen..let’s pray. We will pray together. He is going to be alright. Let’s send out positive thoughts. I will be on the phone the entire time, don’t worry”, words were gushing out of Reeja’s mouth. She knew she had to stop Akila from thinking the worst.
“Yes..I know. That’s all we can do now..Oh this feeling, the smell of the hospital, the waiting room..it’s all so horrible. I wish this pain would go away Reeja..”, Akila voice was so hoarse now.
“Did you know our good ol’ BD quit her job? Oh and did I tell you, Varu’s teacher asked her to write down some things she was thankful for. Guess what she wrote? Trucks, lollipops, cakes and trampoline! Can you believe that!”, Reeja tried her best to shift the conversation to something else.
It took Akila a while to speak about something else, but Reeja didn’t give up. She gabbed on. They talked about husbands, kids, love, exes, destiny, history..touching everything in the world but the topic that’s topmost on their mind. Time crept up slowly. Reeja could see her husband, walk into the room and jump onto the bed, waving a goodnight to her. “Amazing he could sleep through anything..I wonder what would wake him up…probably his phone. It’s crazy that he has tuned out my voice, but not the ping of a whatsapp message”, she heard herself say to Akila.
Four hours and a couple of bathroom breaks later, they were scared shit but kept hanging onto their phone. It was more silence and less talk now. The phone, they felt, was their escape from reality.
Akila then let out a sharp cry, “The doctor…he is coming out. Oh Reeja, I am scared..I am going to let someone else go and talk to him…”. Reeja didn’t say anything. She waited. The silence was pure torture now. Finally a voice screamed, “Reeeeeejaaaaaa, he is ok!! Appa is alright!!! Appa is ok!! Thank God he is ok!! Oh God, it feels like my blood completely drained out of my body the last few minutes!! Oh my God, he is alright!!”.
Reeja smiled. “I know..I am so happy too! It’s going to be alright now..You be with your family Aki..I will talk to you later, ok?”, she sounded tired. Only then Akila noticed the time. “God, it must be around 5am for you there, right?!! Damn! Really sorry Reeju!! I never noticed the time..’Thanks’ won’t be fitting in any way..”, Akila went on. Reeja butted in, “Aki, come on, it’s appa. You would have done the same. Ok, bye. I will talk to you later, you be with amma”, she ended with a yawn.
As Reeja settled down on her bed, her movements seemed to wake up her husband, Vijay. “Heyy Reej,..are you just coming to bed now? Been ranting to Akila of how you and your team were laid off on a day’s notice? What did she say?”, Vijay murmured, looking at her. “Nothing. I didn’t mention it to her”, Reeja stifled another yawn as she stretched beside him comfortably.
That stirred him up. Getting up slightly he went on, “What! Why? You were crying the whole day yesterday! You kept on saying you have to talk with Akila about this, and only she can understand how important the job was to you! Did you at least mention your panic attack and how you were hospitalized for 2 days? No?!?”, Vijay let out an incredulous gasp. “How can you talk for hours and not mention the lay-off?”, he shook his head in disbelief.
“Because she needed a friend more than I did”, replied Reeja as she closed her eyes shut.