One day can do wonders, yes it can.
One morning he woke up and felt a strong headache, a throbbing pain across the left side of his face. The pain started from the jaw, spread across his cheeks, left eye, forehead and went till behind the left ear. He remained still for a moment, thinking it will be over soon but it didn’t get any better. He checked his phone, read few emails, a couple of facebook notifications, some text messages, but he was looking for something else.
‘She must be sleeping’, he said to himself and tried to sleep again to get rid of the pulsating pain across his face.
His sleep was disturbed with continuous text messages. She had woken up. They exchanged few texts, wished each other good morning, shared the dreams they had while sleeping, cursed the distance between them and began to get ready for the day ahead. He skipped breakfast because of the intense pain he was still feeling. He splashed ice-cold water on his face several times which soothed the nerves a little, but the pain kept coming back. He made a mental note of visiting a doctor but forgot it as soon as he reached office. The to do list was more important to take care of. He got himself busy in work while his concentration was on phone, expecting her call any moment, or a text may be.
The pain was still there, in less quantity though, but he could feel the nerves wringing inside his head. The day kept passing minute by minute and the pain kept increasing second by second. She was in touch with him via technology which made him feel better. Her purpose of visit was about to be attained and in a few days she would be back home with him. He had decided not to tell her about the pain for multiple reasons. First, she would tell him how lazy he was to visit a doctor even when the pain was returning to him on a regular basis nowadays. Secondly, she would leave the work in between and that was not beneficial for her. Thirdly, she would restrain him to call or text as it might add to the pain due to regular eye strain on the phone screen. Fourth, she would start cursing herself that she wasn’t with him at this moment to look after him. Of all the reasons, he hated last one the most.
The distance between them forced them to live apart several years for one reason or the other. He had to work hard and get multiple promotions so they could buy a home. She had to finish her studies and get a promising job so she could offer her share as well. It was four years ago, when they decided to get married and planned for the time ahead. He wanted to be a writer but he had no time to devote himself towards his dream. Either he had to resign from his job and take a risk of failure or he had to continue his job and wait for a suitable opportunity to come to him. He opted for the second option. He waited and the wait took him further away from his dream. A couple of years later, they decided to live in. They moved into a nice loft apartment in Gurgaon and became the eye-candy of the society they were living in. Parties, get–together, long drives, eating out, clubs, discos, bars, boozing, dancing and sick leaves became routine and in no time they found themselves in a difficult situation.
He went into a depression and began to suffer pain across his face periodically. He never complained about it. A little splash of ice-cold water would do the trick, he would feel better and ready to go. They left the apartment and moved into a sharing accommodation with a couple who were already living in and finding it hard to manage on their own. A few bucks don’t harm anyone. He had to spend fewer than he was and his friend began to earn few more. But, things go worse before they get better. Few weeks later she complained that his friend had other intentions about her. It depressed him before it made him angry. She was beautiful, attractive and people hitting on her wasn’t new for him. He felt proud of it sometimes but never confessed it. But he couldn’t accept the same from his friend who was already committed. Friends broke apart, he left the home and moved into a smaller apartment in a busy locality of the city.
The pains which were lesser in intensity and duration began to increase. She began to worry about it and wanted him to visit to a doctor. He denied on the grounds that their financial condition didn’t allow them to spend on medicines unnecessarily. According to him, ice-cold water was a good remedy to get rid of the pain and it didn’t have any side effects as well. She didn’t say it to him again, but kept a regular and keen eye on him to trace the symptoms. During this, she got an offer from a news agency to cover a political uproar in the neighbouring state. She discussed it with him and he was happy to know she was finally getting a start. He told her to go. She wasn’t sure when she’ll be back from work as politics are no less than a festival in India and one couldn’t expect the dirty politics to end sooner. She left with a long list of instructions and he obliged each one sincerely.
It had been days since she was gone and he was missing her care, her questions, her inputs on his writings which he was doing in parts whenever he got free time in office or at home. They had stopped seeing their friends long time ago and that left him with a lot of free time to write. She loved his writings, it was always about her, one way or the other. She looked forward to his next article, next story or anything to trace her presence in his words. She loved this game. She called it ABQ. Answers Before Questions. While he was lonely from a long time, he felt his answers were incomplete without her questions. He was writing awkwardly, tearing apart papers regularly, failing to connect with his characters and spending hours texting her. He was not used to her absence, he didn’t want to get used to it at any stage of his life.
The pain was there, she wasn’t. He was more disturbed with her absence than the presence of pain. That morning, when she told him that she will be back in couple of days, he was feeling intense pain and he didn’t tell her a word about it. It was in his office when he couldn’t bear the pain anymore and finally told her that he was taking leave and visiting the doctor. She was in a noisy area so she couldn’t hear him properly. All she heard was him telling her that he was visiting doctor and he will call her later. She was worried but comfortable as well by knowing that he was taking his care, he was visiting the doctor and will soon call him. She hoped she would reach her destination by then so that they could talk peacefully, without any noise.
He went to the hospital. The woman at the reception sent him to a neurosurgeon after getting to know his symptoms. He was advised for further MRI & CT Scans and two hours later, he was informed that he is suffering from UCM, Unilateral Cluster Migraine. It was a rare migraine noticed in only 0.01% of the world population and men were believed to be more commonly affected by it than women. Doctors told him he was lucky to have himself checked up thoroughly as usually doctors do make the mistake of confusing UCM with a normal migraine which can be cured by taking some pills for a month or so. They asked him if he was accompanied by someone, he was not, he was alone at the moment. He was told to pay regular visits to the doctor to assess his medical condition and chart up his treatment analogy. For the periodic relief from pain, the doctor prescribed some medicines which were anesthetic in nature, to help the patient sleep despite of the pain.
He was unexpectedly quiet on the phone that evening. It disturbed her. She asked if everything was okay, he said it was. She said she would be home soon, he stayed quiet. He was sadder than he had ever been. He wanted her company. He wanted to tell her that he was sick with some stupid kind of migraine which happens to very few people, and which is a bit difficult to cure than the normal headaches. He said that he was missing her, she replied affirmatively that she was missing him too. His pain was rising again, it had been a tough day, he thought of telling her that he was tired and wanted to sleep. Before he could speak, she said that she was about to reach the hotel and needs to finish her day’s work and will call him tomorrow. They wished each other good night and disconnected the call.
He went to the kitchen to take out some ice from the refrigerator. As he made the water ice-cold and splashed it on his face, he felt a burning sensation all over the paining area. It was so strong that he couldn’t open his eyes. When the pain settled after few seconds, he looked at himself in the mirror and was terrified to see his face turned blood-red precisely at the paining area. He almost cried with pain when it came back again. It was getting tougher to deal with. He came into the living room and fell on the sofa. Tears began to roll down his face as he pressed the cushion at his face to get rid of the pain. A sudden thought crossed his mind, he went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. He stabled the knife at his left wrist and was about to make the cut when his phone rang. He had decided to end the year’s long pain for once and all by committing suicide. He became double minded about answering the phone or going ahead what he had decided for himself.
He rushed into the room and grabbed the phone. It was her. He felt a sudden relief and answered the call,
“Come back love, come back as soon as possible, leave everything you’re doing and take the next flight back home. I am not feeling good at all, I am missing you badly, I am suffering since morning, this pain is doing too much to me” he started sobbing “I went to the hospital in the morning and the doctors told me that I am suffering from an incurable migraine and I have to live with this pain all my life. I don’t care. I was about to commit suicide a moment ago, I can live with this pain only if you are here at this moment. Can you come right now? Can you just open the door and walk in?”
She was silent on the other side, shocked, unable to utter a word. He was in pain all day and he didn’t tell her! She felt angry but the sound of him crying on the phone was restraining her from bursting out on phone.
He said again, “Tell me! Speak up please for god sake! Can you just open the door and walk in?”
“No, I can’t”, she said. She couldn’t manage to say anything else.
He became silent. She was already silent. He realized that he had made a mistake by telling her that he was considering suicide to get rid of the pain. He felt deeply ashamed.
“I am sorry”, he said after a long gap.
“Me too”, she replied.
“Why do you have to be sorry?” he said in an irritating tone.
“Because I feel helpless out here. You suffered pain all day and you didn’t tell me! You got to know that you are sick and you didn’t tell me! You decided to commit suicide and you didn’t care about telling me anything! You are a mean, selfish, self-centered man, I have noticed you keeping things from me, hiding your pain, your doubts from me but how dare you hide your sickness from me?” she was using a strong tone which further saddened him.
“Don’t be sorry. I am sorry. You come back as soon as possible and I promise I will never hide anything from you ever.” he said.
“I am so sorry that I can’t open the door right now and walk in to slap your face hard!” she said in an angry tone.
“Why are you saying this?”
“I am so sorry to forget the keys at home while leaving, otherwise I wouldn’t be waiting outside the door. Open the door, I am home!”
“What? You’re home?”
“Yes, I am home.”
“Will you open the door?”
He rushed towards the door and opened it to see her standing there, tears rolling down her cheeks.
She dropped the phone and said “You stupid! How could you?” and she hugged him.
He felt as if everything was correctly at its place in that precise moment. His pain over the years, it had to be there, his continuous depression, his ups and downs in life so far, his visit to the doctor and knowing about his illness, his sudden decision of suicide, all of it had to happen at precise moments so he could feel her in his arms at this very moment. He hadn’t experienced her body against his body ever like this. It was a unique experience, the first of its kind and probably the last. He felt no pain, no depression at that moment, he felt as if he was saved by his guiding angel. The angel who was embracing him at this very moment.
“No one loves you on this earth as much as I do. You understand that?” she said kissing him wildly over his red face, “You are going to be okay and I am not going to leave you alone ever again, you stupid!”
He felt suspended between a dream and a reality. Few moments ago he was experiencing the worst he could ever imagine, now he was in her arms and she was assuring him that he will be okay and somehow he believed that he will be. He couldn’t differentiate between the two though. His eyes were closed, he was hugging her, he felt himself rotating around his navel very fast, his mind was getting out of control and at an extreme rush, when he couldn’t take it anymore, he opened his eyes.
She was lying beside him, he looked at her, she was looking at him. She ran her fingers over his forehead and cleared the sweat drops. He smiled at her and wished good morning. She returned the wish along with a kiss.
“What was it?” she asked.
He replied “Nothing. Just a bad dream.”