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  • Sulogna Mehta

A Bouquet of Blossoms

Waking up from his siesta, Jay’s eyes fell on the bouquet of flowers adorning his bedside table, which otherwise looks drab with several bottles of medicines, tablets and water.

Jay lifted the bunch of fresh, fragrant yellow and pastel pink roses, interlaced with tiny white perennials and tree ferns on the fringes. A big, bright red rose shone in the centre. He searched in vain for a note on the table or somewhere tucked in the bouquet but no – there was no mention of the sender.

When the duty nurse came to check the patient of cabin number 6, Jay asked, “Who put this flower bouquet here while I was sleeping?”

Sister Monica replied, “Possibly your friends or relatives who came during the visiting hour. My shift just started. Ask the ward boy or morning duty nurse.”

“But sister, nobody ever comes to visit me. I have no family, no close relations or friends. In the last six days that I am here, there has been no one who came to meet me,” insisted Jay.

Sister Monica nodded her head nonchalantly and left, mumbling that she will send the ward boy to Jay’s cabin if she sees him.

The ward boy peeped from the door an hour later. “Sister Monica told me that you are searching for me. What happened sir? By the way, I left some flowers for you.”

“Who gave those? That’s what I want to know. I can’t think of anyone who will send them to me,” answered Jay impatiently.

“Sister Lizy, who has gone on leave, asked me to give it to the patient. She urgently needed to go to her native place and rushed to catch the evening train. So, she didn’t come up herself.”

“Didn’t she tell you who sent the flowers? There is no note with the bouquet.”

“I don’t know all that. I am a new staff and joined this week. I was just told the cabin number and to deliver it to the patient.”

The ward boy left, leaving Jay even more perplexed and curious. Could it be his ex-girlfriend? But hadn’t she left for the US years ago with a project and later settled down with an American man over there? She had made it clear to Jay that their long-distance relationship was just not working. It has been six years now and he never heard from her again.

Three years ago, he developed a liking for a girl he had met at a fest in their residential society. After giving Jay the impression that she too reciprocated his feelings, the girl duly assented to arrange marriage. She even invited Jay for her wedding a couple of years ago. “No, it can’t be her. Where is her time or inclination to know about my hospitalization?” Jay gave a wry smile as he thought the impossible.

Then? It’s absurd to think that his boss or colleagues would extend this gesture. When he had informed them of his hospitalization, some joked that it’s an excuse to escape the year-end works. His boss had curtly asked, “When are you joining back?” And he told his boss that it all depended on the recovery.

It can’t be friends or cousins who don’t bother to find out about his silence in social media. His parents and grandparents are no more. His younger brother gets in touch from abroad only when a property-related issue needs his attention. So that rules out every probable name from his list of contacts.

Gradually, loneliness and a deep sense of dejection and failure had affected him. He had foolishly thought that alcohol would make him forget the sorrow and the lack of love around him but it didn’t help. Owing to extreme weakness (by often deliberately starving himself) and excruciating abdominal pain allegedly due to excessive indulgence in alcohol, Jay had to get himself admitted.

Holding the bouquet close to his heart, he drew a deep breath…the sweet smell of flowers was a welcome change from the typical hospital odour of disinfecting agents. “Someone, somewhere is there who cares for me …wants my recovery. Yes, I must live again, lead a beautiful life like these flowers and surround myself with happiness, peace and positivity. I would not dwell on those who left me but seek out those who can make me feel positive. I will quit drinking, take up my long forgotten paint brush and guitar again. I will make new friends from the travel groups on social media and go on treks with them. Life would be once more beautiful, different from this dull existence. Who knows I may find true love - be lucky the third time?”

Next day, as he sat looking at the bouquet, visualizing a happier future and drifting in wish-fulfilling thoughts, the duty doctor who dropped by couldn’t help but notice the difference. For the first time in a week, the dispassionate, depressed 34-year-old man, wishing to hear death’s footstep, is showing keen interest in his recovery, thought the doctor while Jay smiled and asked him how soon he can be discharged.

A couple of days later Jay was discharged. Carrying the bouquet with him, he hoped he would be able to trace the mysterious sender someday.

Meanwhile, a small drama unfolded at the hospital. A young female patient lodged in the cabin number 9 complained the hospital authorities that the flowers her fiancé had sent never reached her. She came to know about her surprise gift when her fiancé asked about it three days later.

Later, the same day, in front of the vacant cabin number six – nurse Monica was instructing a repairman to fix the metallic cabin number above the door, which was hanging loose and upside down, giving the impression of number 9 instead of 6. The new ward boy had delivered the flower bouquet to Jay’s cabin mistaking the inverted six as nine.

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