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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 22 page 16


dark hospital street

Two Prisoners

by Ajay Tulsiani

With his thumb, Eijaz rubbed the back of her hand. It felt cold. He looked at the door behind him to be sure no doctor or nurse was around. They’d probably tell him his effort was futile.

In front of him, Sonali lay still on the bed. Eijaz pressed his thumb into her skin, but Sonali’s eyes didn’t open nor did her lips twitch in pain. There was a crescent mark on her hand where Eijaz’s thumb had struck. He raised her hand to his lips for a tight kiss.

“Wake up,” he whispered. “Please wake up. I cannot live without you. It’s been seven years now. For the love of God please wake up.”

His mobile beeped. He removed it from his pocket and saw a message from some bank trying to sell a loan. Eijaz tossed the mobile on the bed.

Last night he had browsed through ‘letting go’ quotes. Words of ‘acceptance, moving on, and leaving the comforts of the shore’ had encouraged him enough to steel his decision to pull the plug on Sonali. He had closed his eyes and nodded to himself that he’d pay one last visit to his wife and then he’d set them both free.

Five minutes later, the words ‘what if’ burned through his decision. What if someone finds a cure the next day?

Coldness hugged him in the hospital room. His wife’s hand was also cold as he licked her palm. She was a living corpse. He knew she wouldn’t wake up. The doctors were sure. His friends had begged him to accept destiny, let Sonali go so he could move on with his life.

But letting her go felt like someone was slowly pulling out a chunk of flesh from his stomach without anaesthesia.

The ECG machine on the table to her right recorded her steady heartbeat. Another machine to her left kept her alive. He wished for a power outage, some giant calamity that would deprive the hospital of electricity long enough for Sonali to die. Then he would have someone to blame for his wife’s death.