Five Fridays


“Are you ready?”

“Water” I replied oblivious to her question.

She reluctantly picked up the flask and filled the glass till its brim and plonked it on the table, spilling some of the water.

I picked up the glass while being seated on the chair in front of that huge table. There were few files piled up at one of its edges. At the center, lay a wide white rectangular cardboard, fastening the white blank sheets to it. An antique wooden stem nib-dip ink pen lay over it. I have always loved that pen. The way it soaked the ink on its nib was nothing less than a romanticism, providing meaning and life to that lifeless ink by carefully etching words out of it.

“Are you ready to sign?” she repeated herself letting out every word with a tinge of softness wrapped around it.

“Don’t ask me again. I may not be able to accept my decision.” I repeated gathering the dying fragments of confidence within me.

“Okay! If that is what you want…” She opened the leather-folder that she held between her arms and placed it on the table.

I peeked at the one-pager and all that I could comprehend was just one word. REZA

**** ****

“Have you ever felt love, Reza?”

I asked watching the ends of the hair strands that defiantly dared to sway in front of her face, skimming the surface of her cheeks. She playfully pulled herself away from my embrace and stood up. The whitishness of the sand beneath us refracted a spectrum of colors in her eyes making them sparkle with happiness.

“Why do you think, I keep waiting patiently for this day of every week. My SILLY,”

She smiled and turned away to rush through the flock of seagulls that were idling over the waves that kept kissing the shores. As she ran towards them, the seagulls wiggled their rejuvenated feathers and took off, enveloping her and circling her as if she was a part of their own; as if they had been waiting for her to join them…as if she was their Princess.

“I love you MY SILLY”, I heard her as a wave swept towards me, depositing sands between my toes.

**** ****

“You need to sign at the bottom. Here” She came closer to me while bending a little and pointing out the area of the signature by her finger.

I wanted to take time reading it but the more I tried to grasp those sentences, I was losing myself to the magnanimity of the truth written over it. Memories made over a day of every week was too much to be encompassed on that single page.

**** ****

I smiled as she slowly opened her tired eyes on me.

“Heyy…My SILLY”, she tried to sit on the bed, taking the support of the headrest. I helped her with a couple of pillows behind her back.

“When did you come? What day is today? Is it Friday already.” She tried to scan around trying to get hold of the reality?

“I never left.” I murmured to myself, trying to hold the torrent of tears that brimmed my eyes.

She looked at me with the same weary smile. She struggled to extend her arm towards me. I grabbed her hand midway with mine, entwining my fingers with hers and clasping the grip with the other hand.

“I can’t go out today SILLY. I want to but I feel…so tired.” She forced those words out, laboring every word with heavy breaths.

“Will you stay with me here?”

I could only nod. Words had already surrendered in front of my feelings.

“Will you come back next Friday again? You will na??” I had always adored the tonality of her voice when she wanted to add extra affection to her words.

I could only nod while a teardrop hastily made its way over our entangled fingers. She slowly drifted back as she closed her eyes on me.

**** ****

I picked up the pen and dipped it in the small ink bottle, immersing it in the semi-viscous black fluid. The color of the ink exuded the darkness of my life amidst a brief shine of Reza’s company. I scribbled my name at the end of the page. The name that had already abandoned my identity. It was just a couple of words that related me to the world but I did not care about the world anymore. All I was concerned was who was I for her and I had eternally accepted to be her SILLY.

**** ****

“Hello, Sir.” The security guard greeted me, yanking the heavy steel gate of the campus and making an entrance for me.

I read the board as I made my way inside.

THE TRANSIT TO HEAVEN: Care Center for one and all.

That signage always drew my attention every time I walked in.

I treaded on the asphalt walkway that coiled its way like a serpentine through the well-maintained garden and ended towards the main building. Rows of palm trees walked along the pathway on both of its sides, giving a feeling of exclusivity and royalty to the pedestrian.

The lady at the reception flashed a familiar grin at me.

“Reza is waiting as usual towards the beach gate. You are late.”

“How is she?” I was curious to know.

“Don’t you make a lady wait now.” She teasingly added and my heartbeats calmed from a hue of happiness that lay underlining her voice.

I hurried towards the other end of the campus. I had been eagerly waiting to listen to her voice once again to brand me as her SILLY.

**** ****

“Thank You.” She politely smiled at me while collecting the leather-folder from me and then signaled me to follow her out of the room.

Two guys clad in white scrub hospital uniforms stood outside the room. They followed us as we walked through the empty corridor.

While walking, I tried to recall the words that a few moments ago I had struggled to comprehend out of the one-pager. There were all those letters and characters printed on it that could have painted Reza in front of my eyes or could have made me feel the warmth of her company. However, as I walked behind the lady, barefooted on the cold white tiled pathway, all that I could recollect was the betrayal of the droplets of rain on me ripping me apart.

**** ****

I waited at the bus stop while the sky thundered and poured heavily. The roads were empty and so was the stop. I was the only one out there half-drenched and half-tensed. I looked at my wristwatch. With every passing, second and with no sign of the arrival of the bus, I grew restless.

I stepped out from the bus stop and holding my small backpack over my head, I ran in the rain. I ran towards Reza’s place. I ran without any idea of how I was going to reach the stretch of so many kilometers on foot.

As I scuttled under the unforgiving downpour and through the unrelenting winds, I kept hearing her voice in my head.

“I will have only 5 weeks left, once I get in…SILLY. Promise me you will never miss those 5 Fridays”, Reza looked deep into my eyes, sincerely pleading me to do her that favor.

“I promise”, I replied kissing her forehead.

All at once I stopped midway on the road, under the ruthless rain. Like lightning, the realization hit me that today was the fifth Friday.

I screamed with all my tears as the reality dawned on me. I cried and shouted and wept hard, falling on my knees in the middle of the lonely road.

Yet all that I got in return was my screams suppressed in thunders and tears lost in the rainfall.

**** ****

We entered a small room. The walls of the chamber had a wooden texture while a small light bulb glowed at the center of the ceiling. One of the sidewalls of the room was masked with a panel of huge switchboards. A series of five small LEDs glowed in green at the top of the panel, providing a relief that everything was in place. Two operators stood near the panel, clad in green uniforms.

The lady gestured me to take the seat on the single wooden chair that was placed just below the hanging ceiling light. The two guys who had followed us took their positions at the corners of the front wall.

The operator handed off a clipboard to the lady. She stood beside me, ticking off the items on the checklist fastened to the clipboard. I just sat there on the chair, with my arms resting on the armrest and head fallen back to the backrest and stared at the front wall, wondering why a thick curtain covered the entire length and width of it.

I looked at my fingers and saw the black ink smudged between my thumb and index finger. In that blotch of blackness, I felt as if the dark eyes of Reza were staring at me, right into my soul just like the first time I had seen myself in her eyes.

**** ****

Life is incomplete without love. Love makes us hopeful. Hopefulness makes us seek for a miracle. The miracle that can only keep us hanging over an edge of life. The life that always completes the circle sooner or later.

For me, death was that miracle I attempted to delay for Reza. Reza- the girl who had been under the medical treatment of my team. I had always tried to keep myself detached from my patients. It helped me to look beyond emotions and cure them.

I was told by her former doctors that she was beyond curable yet I was hell-bent to save her and prove to my peers that I could be next to God. I had been so cynical with my capabilities until the moment I failed in front of the cycle of life. We did all that could be done before we announced that she was beyond being saved.

All that I could do in the end was to give her just 5 weeks – 5 last Fridays of her life to her.

“Hey, Doc! Will you come and meet me every week until…?” Reza stopped abruptly as the reality sunk in her.

Emotions that I had always kept at bay for all my patients were waiting to turn into a tsunami to hit me and that Tsunami turned into Reza. She was the first patient that I would be losing in my unblemished career. Maybe my failure linked my heart to that 25-year old girl.

She smiled at death with so much love in her heart stored for life while I just stood with my head hanging down.

“hey, Doc…Don’t be silly. I knew I was beyond saving. I just loved your company” I kept crying in front of her. The dam of my emotions was no more intact with my mechanical principles.

“Wait that’s is a really cute name. Hey, Silly…you are from now MY SILLY…” she branded me in an instant while I blushed within. It was so strange that death can be defied in latent crafted happiness.

“Don’t worry about me now. Just come and meet me every week?” I looked up to see how brave and hopeful she was even at the threshold of her life.

**** ****

“It’s time”, the shrill tone of the lady brought me back from my trance. I might have passed out for a few minutes in my memories.

She looked at her wristwatch and nodded her head, indicating something cryptically to the operators. To her nod, the operator pushed down the huge plunger that was fixated to the side of the switchboard panel. A whirring sound snatched me back from my marathon of memories. I craned my neck towards the noise to see that all those five green lights turned red one by one with every passing second.

The operator pulled back the plunger and again the red lights turned green all at once.

“Testing is done. Five seconds as scheduled. We are good to go Ma’am”, the operator replied to the lady.

“Get him ready”, she looked at the guy standing at the right corner of the front wall.

Nothing mattered to me without Reza around. So, I sat there completely confused about the happenings while staring aimlessly at the signboard at the top of the front wall, hanging above the thick curtain.

**** ****

I looked up to read the same signage that I had read for the last few weeks at the entrance of the campus, whenever I came to meet Reza.

THE TRANSIT TO HEAVEN: Care Center for one and all.

I have always felt a pang of discomfort whenever I read it. It was a health care unit for the people could no more be healed with medical care. It was like the last lap of the journey of life taken care in love. Maybe love was all that only left connecting us.

**** ****

The guy, clad in white scrub, came towards me and started to strap my arms to the chairs first and then my legs to the bottom of the chair with the strong leather belts. He then came behind me and pulled back my head slowly and strapped my forehead to the top rail of the backrest of the chair. He then fixed a wired pouch over my clean shaved head and fastened it around the chin with its hanging belts. He was completely mechanical and precise to his job with zero expressions or emotions on his face. Once he was done, he got back to his position.

The lady looked at her wristwatch again and then turned towards me.

“We will start now Doc Muller”, she said to me.

Neither could I nod nor could I reply. I just stayed fixated to my state and stared at her.

“Remove the curtains now” she indicated the guy standing in another corner to pull up the curtain.

I looked ahead, watching slowly as the curtain gave away the transparent glass, covering the mid-section of the wall. On the other side, few people sat on the bench to witness my fate. All of a sudden, my eyes got glued to the last bench, which was occupied by a single lady. She looked to be in her early twenties. Her hairs were roughly tied in a ponytail while one strand of it hanging in front her face, kissing the surface of her cheeks. She stared at me with her dark eyes that brimmed with tears on the edges. In a flash of a second, the truth hit me hard. I felt as if I had hit the rocky bottom of the ocean bed with the water choking my lungs. Sudden loneliness and confusion clenched my heart as I gasped for air to breathe. Yet all I could do was to stare at her with those flared eyes of mine and listen to the warden standing beside me.

“Hello ladies and gentlemen. You all are gathered here to witness the execution of Mr. Vanderwick Muller aka Doc. Muller” She addressed the small gathering on the other side of the glass.

“I am now going to read the affidavit signed by Doc. Muller in agreement to this execution.” She paused to open the leather folder that I had signed a few minutes ago.

Her words pierced my soul as the reality slowly started to settle in and at the same time, the person sitting on the last bench agitated my mind with her presence. She was none other than Reza.

How was that even possible? I kept asking myself?

THE TRANSIT TO HEAVEN: Care Center for one and all, is a government funded and administered care center for the terminally ill mental patients who have been founded guilty of severe crimes. The list of the crimes pertaining to the admission to the care center follows Annexure 2.1.2. The definition of terminal mental illness is as per Policy 1.1.1.

The organization provides a calm and peaceful environment to the patients for the final juncture of their lives until their date of execution. All the healthcare services and the therapies for the patients are looked after by the government appointed best-in-class psychiatrists. There are round the clock officers and caretakers to look after the safety of the campus and keep the patients in-check.

The following paragraphs are in accordance with the crime committed and the mental illness confirmed for Mr. Vanderwick Muller a.k.a Doc. Muller. Age: 35, Male, Caucasian.

Doc. Muller was found guilty of several serial killings by an injection of an unknown lethal drug. The drug infamously known as “cruel-death” has not been identified to date.

He has a doctorate in microchemistry and nanoparticles and has been known to experiment for lethal medicines. The drug “cruel-death” percolates in the synaptic neurons of the victim, rendering him/her highly sensitive to the stimuli around. Doc Muller uses the high sensitive response of the victim to give them a slow painful and cruel death by experimenting his medical operations on the live body.

Doc. Muller was transferred five weeks ago to this facility and was allowed only Five Fridays of his remaining life. He was identified with a severe degree of hallucination disorder and was proclaimed terminally ill.

Dr. Reza had been assigned to look after him every Friday of the five weeks.

Doc. Muller hallucinates himself as the doctor treating Reza of her chronic disease. He assumes that he tried to cure her yet failed in his mission. He has swapped his position with Dr, Reza and for him, she has already died. He has…”

The words of the lady warden brought me to the reality of my monstrosity. The reality of the last five weeks all at once shed its veil in front of me. At the very final moments of my life, the hallucination seemed to pull back its claws from my mind and showed its cruel kindness to make me aware of the hidden demon inside me. The voice of the warden drifted away and slowly the reality of my Reza hit me hard.

“…Now Doc. Muller will be executed v.i.a death by electrocution. He has denied for any last words. Dr. Muller has a final five seconds to his life until death.”

She signaled the operator to pull the plunger.

As the plunger made its way down, the fresh flow of electrons rushed towards me and in those fleeting five seconds, all I saw was Reza sitting at the last bench staring at me with her dark eyes behind the unruly hair strand of hers that kept kissing her teary cheeks.

The sheath of my hallucination monster ripped itself apart and showed me the real happenings of those five Fridays.

5 seconds to death…First Friday

“Doc. Muller. How are you feeling today? I have brought you a photograph.”

Reza unfolded the white sheet to reveal a painting of a beach. The waves kissed the shore and a flock of seagulls danced merrily over the waves and in the skies.”

4 seconds to death…Second Friday

“Hey Doc. How are you feeling today?” Reza touched my pale arm and checked my pulse. I was struggling hard to keep up my eyes open and all I could utter was.

“You still here?”

3 seconds to death…Third Friday

“We will walk outside the campus today. Let’s go Doc. Muller!” Reza’s smile and her company kept my demons away from me.

As I walked holding her hands on the serpentine gravel path, fenced by palm trees on both sides, I couldn’t feel any more ashamed than I was of my monstrosity and heinous crimes I had committed.

I didn’t deserve such care. I didn’t deserve her sweetness. I didn’t deserve her.

2 seconds to death…Fourth Friday

“Where is Dr. Reza?” I asked the attended who brought me the afternoon meal.

He didn’t answer me and my anger turned into tormenting rage. I pushed him and ran outside the campus. All the guards rushed towards me. As I stood under the rain waiting for my Reza, I felt the blows of the batons from the security officials as they pinned me down on my knees under the rain.

It was the last Friday of my life. The last Friday with Reza but she never came.

Final Second…Fifth Friday

I looked at her across the glass for one last time as the final breath seeped out slowly and excruciatingly from between my lips.

I saw the tears in her eyes as her voice echoed inside the hollow vessel of my body.

“Hey Doc. Muller. Have you ever fallen in love?” she asked playfully.

“Why do you think, I keep waiting patiently for this day of every week” I replied

“You’re Silly. My Silly” She smiled.

Reza faded away from the back seat by scattering away like a flock of seagulls and flying upwards from the ceiling into the sky, as I closed my eyes on her for the final time.

“…He signed the affidavit, confessing his final crime of murdering Dr. Reza in cold blood. Her lifeless body was found outside the campus gates after her visit to Mr. Vandervick Muller on his third Friday.” The warden ended her one pager document.

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