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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 22 page 16

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He wished for an earthquake to bring the hospital down. It didn’t matter if he ended up dying in the tragedy. The responsibility to take the decision for his wife was breaking his sanity.

A soft hand pressed his shoulder. Riya had promised to visit him today. Eijaz didn’t turn around to see her face. He lacked the courage to look into her eyes. Since the past year Riya had reasoned with him to free Sonali from her coma. Eijaz kept on delaying.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a wavering voice. Tears welled up in his eyes. He didn’t know if they were from Sonali’s condition or because he had disappointed Riya again.

“Don’t be,” said Riya and dragged a chair next to him. “Everything will be all right.”

Eijaz felt a throbbing pain on the left side of his forehead. He tried to force his thoughts back to the happy days, before Sonali’s accident, before the seven years of misery.

He wished the stress would burst some vein in his head, giving him instant death.

“You still can’t decide?” asked Riya in a soft voice.

Eijaz shook his head. “What if someone comes up with a cure tomorrow? I don’t want to live with the regret that I could’ve saved her.”

“I understand,” replied Riya. “But you have to live your life as well.”

“And what about her?”

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” said Riya. “I can’t help you. No one can help you. We can only give advice but at end of the day it’s your decision. You have to make the call some day.”

Eijaz leaned back in his chair. His eyes fell on the wall clock. He wished its hands to stand still. A bitter smile came to him as he realized that even if the clock froze for ten years, he still wouldn’t be able to reach a decision.

He turned to Riya. “Help me. Absolve me of this responsibility to decide for her.”

“What do you want?” asked Riya.

Eijaz didn’t know whether Riya loved him. He didn’t have enough mental energy to think about it. He looked into her eyes. One day she’ll have wrinkles and so will he. Fear seeped into his mind as he realized the passing time. “I want to live my life,” he said.

“Are you tired of Sonali?”

Eijaz nodded. “Very much.” Anger seeped into his weary body. “I just want her heart to stop beating so I can get on with my life. But I can’t be the one who pulls the plug. I’m sorry, it’s too difficult.”

Riya rubbed his back. “It’s okay.”

Eijaz put his face in his hands. “Tell me what to do. Please just put some sense into my head.”

“Don’t worry. Let’s go for lunch now. We’ll think over this some other day.”

The words brought a wave of freshness over Eijaz’s body. Riya had given him time to think. He went to the washroom and splashed water over his face.

The two friends walked out of the room. At the door, Eijaz turned around to his wife. A thick switch on the wall to her left would free him and it would free Sonali. Not wanting to think more, he left the room.

As he drove his car away from the hospital, his gaze often went to his mobile on the dashboard. No call came from the hospital saying his wife had passed away. A self-help book lay next to the mobile. The book was titled Thirteen Steps to Let Go. Eijaz decided to throw away the book once he reached home. He looked at his mobile again. He picked it up to see if maybe it was on silent mode.

There was no call. His freedom was further delayed.