“Are you ready?” His mother asked.
She wringed her hands, she wasn’t ready. “Yes.” She nodded.
“Don’t be nervous.” His father instructed. How had he known? Maybe, his father was as intuitive as he had been.
She nodded again, her speech abandoning her temporarily.
She pushed the door open and there he was, sitting on the bed. Physically, he looked well but she knew what was hidden under the smiles and the normalcy.
“Hi!” she said, forcing a cheerfulness that she didn’t feel. It was hard not to look away from him. She was afraid her face would betray pity. Carefully hiding her face from his parents, she said again, “Hi!”
She could hear some sound come from him, slow and painful. “Muhh..” he said, struggling to look at her, trying to turn his face so that his good eye could look at her.
“Remember me?” She asked, feeling a hopelessness that welled her eyes with tears.
She wished he would shout out “I remember you!”, but all he could say was “Muh!”
He could see her moving away from him, almost recoiling with sympathy.
“Mmmmh!!!” he struggled more vehemently.
She turned away, after ten years, all he could manage was “Mhhh!” She couldn’t understand what he meant.
“Don’t you remember her?” his mom asked, looking at her son with utmost tenderness. She held his face lightly so that he could focus.
“Muh!” he repeated.
“He remembers you..” His mother reassured her but how could his mother know for sure? Maybe it was just something he said all the time. It didn’t have to mean anything.
She feigned politeness and sat in front of him as his mother fed him slowly. Breaking pieces of chappatis into small bits so he didn’t have to chew too much.
Maybe I shouldn’t have come, she thought, I don’t have the strength to face this.
She admired his parents for the brave face they put on, but honestly, they were doing such a good job of it. The laughter, the smiles, the easy flowing jokes, it was all genuine. Some people were just blessed with the strength of a thousand elephants. His family was one of them.
She had heard that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Never imagined that she would get to see it. She kept her distance from him, just looking at him was upsetting her. She could only imagine how his parents dealt with it every day. Maybe with time, the hurt and the disbelief had diminished.