Shruthi was a sweet little girl of 10. She was dressed in red and pink when we met. She’s was just about my daughter’s age. I bet she’s just as naughty and lovely as keertana.
I want to be a dancer uncle, she replied. My mommy’s a dancer too. She told me that one day I’d be a graceful dancer just like her.
I smiled. That’s wonderful darling. So what kind of a dancer would you like to be?
I’ll be a bharathnatyam dancer uncle. She paused.
Ahh.. I have a little girl, just like you at home. She wants to be just like her daddy. You know sweetie, she’s your age. You should meet her sometime. I bet you both will be good friends.
I’d love to meet her uncle. She wants to be just like you?, she shot me a puzzled look.
I stood grinning like an idiot.
You are nice uncle, I like you.
Do you want some soup ma ? Its been a while since you ate anything. We dont want you to get exhausted now , do we?
No uncle. I’m ok. Where is my mommy? You said she was on her way. Is she still on her way?
ah, yeah. It is raining heavy , illa , its going to take her time.
Shruthi walked into my life with her dirty soiled dress and what was left of her school bag. I figured out her name from her math notebook. Neatly covered, labelled with barbie in blue, it read her name as Shruthi. I flipped through the pages. She had a good score. She was bright alright. A lovely kid with a lovely smile.
I was lost when she spoke again and yanked me away from my train of thoughts.
Uncle, she asked very meekly.
Sollu ma, i said
I’m scared. I’m a big girl now. I know i should be brave. but i’m scared.
There there.. you are a big girl. You are a brave graceful dancer in the making. Dont be scared, I comforted her.
Would it be ok, if I asked you to hold my hand? Please uncle…..
She held out her left hand. I gently placed my right hand over it. She gripped it hard.
Thank you uncle, she said. I’m not scared any more now. Amma is not coming is she? There was this new stern assertive tone to her. Strangely very confident and it felt like she was now very much in control of the situation.
I smiled. illa ma, she’s on her way. You wait and see. She’d be with us shortly. She’d probably stop by and bring you a present too.
the idea interested her. her face lit up. The moment behind us, her face straightened once again. Illa. She’s not coming. I know it, she concluded.
I dint know what to say. Looking at her, her voice, her petite fragile body, i stood overwhelmed to conjure the right words to comfort her.
She dint wait for me to say anything. Her peaceful face said the most profound words that ever came out from a 10 year old girl. I’m going to heaven aren’t I? she asked.
Her hand gripped my hand even tighter as she said it. She was weak. Her grip was weak. I felt the force of her gripping hand crush my heart. I couldn’t control myself. Tears involuntarily rolled out of my eyes for a second. My moment of weakness, and she perfectly caught it right.
Its ok uncle, she assured me. Its not your fault.
Shruthi was the lone survivor of a nasty car crash. Their family had met with an accident on their way home. They were rushed to my hospital. She was the only one who managed to survive that ambulance ride. She was dressed in pink. Blood was smeared all over her. I knew she dint have much chance of surviving this. She managed to revive. It was not her time 30 hours ago. I tried, but her trauma was too extensive and her body dint match her spirit.
We placed her in an ICU. She regained consciousness a while ago. I dint have the heart to leave her and head home. I cancelled my plans, my daughter’s birthday to be with Shruthi. I wish I had not spoken to her. I regret that choice. Wish she had remained a stranger. It would have, could have been a little easier to deal with. Coming face to face with Shruthi the budding graceful dancer who wanted to walk the shoes of her mother, lying to her face in hopes of her finding the strength to bear her odds. There are days when we doctors are seen as gods. there are days when we believe we are closer to gods. And then there are these days where we know the difference.
A mere mortal man with an education and a helpless hand, hoping for a miracle. Desperately hoping for a miracle. The way of the universe was winning.
The doctor in me was losing.
I forced a fake smile. I kissed her forehead. Rest now kanna . Uncle will be here. I’m not going to go anywhere. I’ll be with you. Rest now. You need to rest to get better.
Ok uncle, carried her feeble voice.
I looked towards the skies, searched for the gods above. Please, Please.. dont .. was all that i could muster.
The flat line sang a different song. I kissed her one more time. She was going to reunite with her family. She was going to be the dancer her mom always saw in her. I walked out with a heavy heart. I brought out my dead phone back to life.
Happy birthday sweetheart, i said. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t make it to the party.
(inspired by the beautiful morning and the 2cellos song : Shape of my heart)