Wake Me Up When It’s Over

-Animesh Rath

“Hey. Will have to stay back. Another shift. Much Love. M.”
“Hey. Had Dinner. Will sleep. Come back soon. Sanitize your coat and clothes in the other
room. Have kept the geyser on. Stay safe. Love ya. P”. “Read 02/05/2021, 19:30”

He could see his glossy eyes reflect on the screen. “How long do I wait?” yelled Pratham in an
empty room as the fairy lights, hanging on their pictures, glimmered on the otherwise dark, dull
walls. With deep breaths, he curled himself into a thin sheet in a desperate attempt to sleep. But
the bed kept thrumming as Pratham kept changing his poses like a baby in distress and
confusion held captive in a cradle. “Today is so different. I don’t miss her fingers running
through my hair.” said while lying face-up on the bed. After all the nights’ May was away treating
the patients during the second wave of Covid, Pratham developed a habit of talking to the
ceiling fan to distract himself from the feeling of loneliness. “Do you think I’m starting to un-love
her? It’s only been three months since we got married! Fan. And I haven’t spent a single fulfilling
weekend with her!” like always the patient, the never-spoken fan kept listening.

With another failed attempt at slumber, he walked up to the window of his room with a pack of
cigarettes and a lighter. Took one out and lit it up, as he gazed out of his window. He kept
staring at the empty roads, and closed shops and a ring of silence could be heard. The smoke
started to hit the roof, “You know every morning before this lockdown happened, we stood here
sipping our tea, judging the people on the road. That bald, grumpy, oldie Sharma from the
second floor? He used to walk like he was angry for being born in the first place. I know I
shouldn’t be laughing but May used to judge him so badly. I miss his walk.” said as he looked

back at the fan. “May was saving money for us to visit the Buddhist Monastery in Tawang. I
have saved some too. That’s the first ticket I’ll book when it’s all over.” While the cigarette burnt
into a plastic bud, Pratham’s eyes couldn’t ignore the numerous ambulances racing up and
down the human-less road. His Formula One fascination kept him hooked on this not-so-normal
Ambulance race loaded with people and body bags.

He walked back to his bed and sat down near the bed stand, facing the window. Looked up and
said, “Do you think May has forgotten my existence by now? Is the patient more important?” As
the fan kept swirling slowly, “I’ll take that as a yes. And you know what? I’ll not wait for her! I’ll
write my journal, and sleep like I don’t care. I too have to wake up and work. I have a job too”
The fan did not utter a single word. He reached into his bed-stand’s drawer to take out his
journal, pen, and a box of antidepressants. It had become a daily ritual for him every night. Took
two and swallowed them as his therapist prescribed. Opened his journal to a fresh new page.
Kept his bookmark of a dried rose covered in resin that May gifted him on the day after he
proposed to her. He started to write while tears rolled down his eyes wetting the blank paper,

“Date: 12/06/2021. Time: 2:03AM. The geyser is still on. The stove is still waiting for you to cook
my French Toast before you leave again. But it’s been a month since you have slept forever and
yet I can’t catch sleep. Is this my new normal, May? Anyways, see you on the other side. Much
Love. P.” He looked up at the picture of him hugging May, which he stuck on the fan the day
May passed away to give him comfort while lying sleepless on the bed. At that moment, teary
eyes accompanied a wrecked smile, as he exchanged glances with the lifeless picture on the
ceiling. Empty room, chaotic emotions, but the picture of May reduced the loneliness in an
uncanny way. “Good Night, Dr. May Sebastian. You saved thousands of lives. You did a great
job. I’m so proud of you! Come back soon!” he whispered as he drifted into sleep that night.

Photo by hans middendorp

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