3 Dec 2012

Praying for a Miracle.

It was his hair that I noticed first. 'Lush' isn't a term I associate with describing a guy's hair, but it's the only word I could think of. He flipped the stray bangs off his face, much like Cameron Diaz did in Charlie's Angels. He did it disarmingly. Like he couldn't believe the strands could fall. He brushed them away with a exasperated expulsion of air. I tried not to look amused. It wouldn't bode well to be sitting in the first row during orientation into a new organisation and smile like a possessed woman.

He wasn't prepared with the presentation, he fumbled over the words and repeatedly apologized for his unpreparedness as he was not the focal for that process. Towards the end, he gave an embarrassed smile  that turned my pursed lips into open-mouthed gaping.

I've always had a thing for crooked teeth. Those smiles are so disarmingly cute that I prefer crooked teeth over straight ones. This was a full-frontal attack of the cute-smile variety. Smoothening my expression, I tried to look at the presentation, but kept looking if he'd smile again. In that hour, smack-brand-new to my company, I was crushing on one of the facilitators! At 6'1", he was tall and lanky with a hint of definition in his arms. Long hours of TT practice, I was to know later.

Much to my delight, he was in the same floor as I was. If I craned my neck, I could see the top of the gorgeously lush hair tapping away at the computer. It read right out of a Victorian era novel. I might have snorted in derision if it wasn't me in the protagonist's shoes! Coy looks across the bay, averting my gaze when he is around, temporary speechlessness in his vicinity, goosebumps on my skin when I went by the damn printer conveniently positioned a meter away from him: I could've played the part of a hopeless teenager! My friends inadvertently found this cute. Having seen me as nothing but confident among the species of the other gender, it came as a hilarious revelation that I could be prone to blushing/bouts of tongue-tied'ness followed by mumbling garbage. Yes, I can see how this can be charming. Jeez.

One particularly striking memory was during power cuts.  Each time there is a power cut, there's a brief moment of darkness before the backup generator kicks in. It was in one of those ten odd seconds that I risked a direct glimpse at him and found him staring right back. We were frozen that way under the flickering lights of our computers before the lights came back all too soon and we had to tear our gazes away. He might've known then. I can't say. In the frequent power-cuts that followed, my eyes inevitably found his.

Sometime, during this period, we started to speak to each other. I found out that he was subjected to much sniggering and elbowing by his friends when I was around. He apologized for their behavior and I blushed in response. "Get a grip, woman! This isn't a movie", I chided myself. But the heartbeat found ways to accelerate when he smiled. Or brushed his hair away.

It wasn't all cute-fest, though, it formed a major chunk of it. We spoke of inane things. Music. Books. Career. Philanthropy. He was one of the rare species who took it on himself to beget change by doing. Each Thursday he'd fast and feed the hungry outside Sai Baba temples. He went to the orphanages each week and donated part of his salary every month to the needy. "It's not a dent, but it's a start", he'd say with a glint of determination. His unwavering faith warmed me to my very core. It was around this time my crush started to fade away and was replaced with an easy camaraderie. An anti-climactic stroke painted over my crush and he became a friend. Not a very close one, mind you, but someone that I could walk up to and discuss philanthropy without the armor of cynicism.

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After what seemed like ages, my heart was pounding again upon seeing him. Already lanky, he looked even more withered on the CCU bed with tubes running through him. He was unconscious and a ventilator was breathing for him. I noticed the smear of vermilion on his forehead, probably from the Sai Baba temple that he fervently believes in. The heart-monitor was reading his irregular rhythm, confirming what the doctors said - "He is not responding to treatment, we're doing everything we can."

I sat there among his crying friends, staring into empty space. I don't have faith in the kind of Gods he believes in, but I hope with all my heart that he would be okay. 

I write this post to re-tell a story of long-forgotten goosebumps, of a crooked teeth smile and a heart radiating purity. A heart that is faltering. 

I write this as a prayer. A prayer to any faith. To anyone. I close my eyes and pray with absolute conviction that it will be answered. 


Fix his heart. Because there aren't many like his around. 

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PostScript: He looked frail in death. His father took it stoically. A glimpse was all I could see of him as they took him away, but it was all I could bear to see. May your soul rest in peace, Sai.