It was a cold wintry night at New York City. At the late hours of the night, the air was filled with the distant sound of fading sirens and the crisp movement of slow moving cars in the neighbourhood alleys.
The secluded room on the inner wing of St. Anthony’s hospital was quite cut off from these happenings. Inside Room Number 306, all you could hear was the on and off beeps of the heart monitor and the deep breaths of the sole patient there.
His name was Joel, who was brought in during the afternoon after he collapsed complaining of a chest pain. Joel, a professor of Nuclear Physics at the State University was a man in his thirties. He was a handsome man with an athletic build and a charming voice. Students thronged to his classes just to catch a glimpse of him while he delivered some of the most spectacular lectures. His knowledge on the subject matter of Nuclear Physics definitely showed how well read he was. Joel was passionate about his work and his life basically revolved around it. People often wondered if there was a woman in his life. Since there were no obvious signs, they told each other their own versions of his love story.
Right outside Room Number 306, seated on the visitor’s lounge, there was a lady waiting for him. A still figure clad in a black dress and constantly staring at the hospital clock, she sat there quietly. Her lips and nails painted with the reddest ink, almost blood red; a tear drop escaping her eyes along with the mascara which begins to wear off her eyelashes. She wasn’t quite dressed for a hospital visit. Her attire made her look like a runaway Broadway actor or an Angel of Death.
The hospital staff were so engaged in their night duty that they barely took notice of her. Perhaps, they thought that she was his wife or lover. Nothing that was unseen or unheard of for a typical hospital scene. It was just another day at the hospital; nurses were checking their calendar and paging their husbands or families, resident doctors were on their usual rounds and just the aura of silence that reminded people that they were in a hospital. Like I said, nothing was unusual about that night.
Inside the room, as Joel stayed unconscious, his physical self as alive as that of a sleeping man who’s not quite sure about when he’s going to wake up again. His skin was pale and almost transparent. You could spot the delicate movement of blood sluggishly flowing through his green veins and his chest rising up in between those fragile gaps of time. Even in his state of slumber, he could still feel the piercing pain of his heart that was gradually spreading across the rest of his body, killing him like a slow poison. It was almost like something was trapped inside his heart and it was struggling to find a way out of its undue confinement. He had to release it or keep it with him forever until the last breath left his body.
Inside his mind, there were these dark bubbles that slowly changed colours and opened up a series of visions in front of him. These were his favourite memories; his mother’s smile when he went to attend his first day at the university, the first lecture of Nuclear Physics, the scene of him laying down in the grass and looking across the Chapel, and that’s when it all started. He saw her for the first time…
A girl in green shirt and jeans, coming out of the lecture hall; she had eyes like the ocean and a smile like a beautiful butterfly flapping her wings. Samantha was a senior year Literature student and quite the popular girl from her batch. She looked at him and gently nodded her head. This became a daily ritual; the exchange of nods and smiles but just that.
Joel just liked to be a distant admirer because he was very afraid about how he felt about her. Every night, he would see her in his dreams and almost all his idle moments drifted away towards thoughts of Samantha. He was quite sure that she mustn’t have ever thought about him like that. Perhaps, it was an infatuation that definitely showed signs of a growing obsession. He became more scared of his feelings. She was a senior and most likely she was dating this guy from her class. He had seen them together many a times.
Samantha had another story. She was quite sure that she was in love with Joel. Almost every day, she would think about him and how perfect he seemed. When she heard that Joel was studying Nuclear Physics, she was even more impressed but kind of intimidated by his knowledge. He seemed like a polite and intelligent boy who was definitely sure about what he wants in life. Maybe, he liked sticking to this routine of silent and distant greetings. She was nothing more than a senior for him. If he had thought any bit more of her, he would have come up and spoken to her. Why wouldn’t he? She kept wondering and confided all her feelings in her diary. Perhaps, that’s the way it was supposed to be. Incomplete, unsaid and left like that. Samantha was a shy girl and she would never gather the guts to confess her love for Joel.
This story of silent love continued till the day Samantha got married to this businessman from UK. Her life changed and so did Joel’s. Samantha left town and entered into the social life of British culture. There she learned more about art and met many famous writers, actors and other artists. Samantha started taking a keen interest in theatre and pursued her career as a theatre actor. She wasn’t the same old shy Samantha anymore. Now, she was a bold lady and a famous personality.
But one thing remained unchanged, her feelings for Joel.
Joel never forgot her. He joined the state university as a professor. He grew more handsome with age and women would line up to spend their nights with him. But Joel never changed. He kept his love life private and humbly declined the attention of his female admirers. Every night, he would read some poetry or novel just to learn more about the life of artists. He kept track of every show where Samantha performed. He still loved her very much. So much was still unsaid. But it was too late as she was somebody else’s wife now. She had a different life and he had his solitude to keep him company. Their worlds don’t meet. It was a classic case of ‘inertia’.
One morning in June, his life turned into a greater tragedy when he picked up the morning newspaper.
June 06, 2004 – The New York Times
“Broadway actor dies in a car crash just after delivering her life’s best performance. The world mourns Samantha’s sudden death.”
Now, Joel lost all his chances to tell her that he had loved her all her life. After a few days of grieving for his beloved, one day he collapsed in between his lecture. That’s how he landed up in Room no. 306.
The woman outside the room was actually his ‘Angel of Death’. Samantha had come for him. She kept waiting for the moment where Joel would take his last breath. The wait seemed too long…
Suddenly, there was a loud noise of a car crash next to the hospital building. Samantha ran up to the terrace to see what had happened. The hospital security ran right after her. ‘Listen! Lady you can’t go up there!’
But she was too quick. She looked down at the street and saw the body of a small girl hanging out of the car window. It was time. She closed her eyes and sighed.
The guard was right behind her.
She turned around and said ‘Not today, Sir. Maybe, tomorrow… It’s the little girl’s turn today’.
Then, she jumped down from the terrace and started falling slowly into the deep embrace of darkness. Black wings sprung out of her dress as she fell down, one level after another, further towards the streets. From the streets, she looked like a ‘Falling Angel’ draped in black finery. She was the messenger of death after all…
Back in Room 306, Joel wakes up in the morning. He’s a 24 years old Joel again, who studies Nuclear Physics at the state university. He wakes up gasping for breath. He’s going to tell her today…