Karthik did not know where he was. It was only darkness around. He looked up and noticed that the sky had neither moon nor stars. He felt lost and hopeless. “Shakti”, he cried in despair. But he couldn't find her anywhere around.
Slowly fear started to engulf him; the darkness started to scare him less and her absence tortured him. Then, he saw a tiny light emanating from far end. He walked towards the light. As he neared the spot, he saw Shakthi.
Her skull was ripped open and her eyes were red with blood. She smiled and said, "I am going Karthik. You can enjoy your life. I will not trouble you anymore". Soon she vanished into smoke.
"Shakthi, don't go. I am sorry”, Karthik cried. He wanted to vanish into a smoke too. “Karthik… Karthik…” he heard her voice again. The sound which seemed to be too far away and feeble became clearer and nearer eventually.
With a shudder, he opened his eyes and looked around. His eyes were moist but he smiled with relief when he saw Shakthi lying on the bed. She smiled back too. He gently caressed her fingers. He saw that a tear escaped her eyes. He immediately wiped it off and said, "I am here Shakthi. Don't worry. We all are here. Sleep well. You will be alright soon".
She smiled again as she mumbled, "Will you be alright too? Will you not worry too? We are all here for you. Karthik…" In the mid-sentence she dozed off. It was very difficult for her to speak. Her mouth were dry and she had to think long to find the right words. Her head seemed to weigh a ton and even breathing was hurting her. But she had to reassure him. She had to let him know that she is there and she will always be there for him.
Karthik kissed her forehead gently and let his tears flow. Those tears didn't make him feel week, but strong. Very strong.
Each day in the hospital was an opportunity to rediscover each other. Karthik would tirelessly sit next to Shakthi, hoping that she would open her eyes. When she does, Karthik would be excited and reassure that she will be alright soon. He would tell her that doctor has said that she is showing a good progress. All along, she would be looking at him intently until she fell asleep again. He was living only for those few minutes when her eyes would be transfixed on his. Her silence and her reassuring smile was all he had. He realized the he could do anything for that and relentlessly wait for that. Sometimes, it would make him recall those days when they were still dating. He would wait for hours together just to meet her for a couple of minutes. The cycle seemed to have come a full circle. That’s the beauty of love, isn’t it? It lets silence speak too. It makes life worth living.
“Karthik, I am very sorry”, Shakthi murmured one day while oscillating between consciousness and unconsciousness. “I should never have fought with you. Blamed you. Doubted you. At least I should have been careful!”
“Shakthi, I should also have taken to meet your dad. I should have understood that you have lost your parent and that you are deeply hurt. Instead of being a moral support, I was in my own world without realizing that you are my world. Anyway, past is past. Remember that everything happens for a reason. All I want is you to get well soon which you will. I want my Shakthi back. I can’t imagine living without you”, he said.
A few minutes of silence took over the ICU ward and the only sound were the sobs in the middle of beeps of the sophisticated machines in it.
Then, they heard a mild knock on the door.