He was driving over the speed limit, but he knew that if he had to get to the hospital on time the speed limit of 55 Kmph for the Highways was definitely going to be a barrier. The continuous driving had tired him out and he craved some refreshing tea. He decided to stop at the next rest stop. He was driving in the fog and he needed a break to be refreshed and alert. He could not have another accident. He shuddered as he remembered when he started driving he was in such a mad dash to get home. At that speed he had heard a thud and was so sure that he had hit something. He stopped and looked around and saw nothing. He did not wait for long though, he had to get to the hospital fast. So he looked around once again and assured himself that there was no one there and he went off. That though served as a wake up call for Aryan. He drove slower now, and was more careful about hitting the accelerator.
He had been called back after his mother had been admitted to the hospital with a sudden heart attack. Panicking he decided to set back into the city immediately, and even with the fog clouding his vision, he still had driven above the speed limit, with only one thought in his head, he had to get back fast. He had taken a much needed long break, but the flip side to his vacation was leaving his mother alone. He had struggled with the choice, but finally decided to go at his mother’s insistence. “I should never have left her alone. I wonder how she managed,” he sighed. The care taker he had arranged was prompt in shifting his mother to the hospital, and even calling and informing him. After all his working for the hospital for the past five years gave him some perks, immediate attention to his mother was one of them.
He could see the sign board of the rest stop, and he began to slow down as he approached the exit road. Mid week and this time of the day the restaurant at the rest stop was relatively empty. He went in placed his order for tea cause the coffee at these places made him nauseous and decided to eat as well, because he knew he would not get the chance later. These places were mostly self service, so he waited until he got his order. He had seen the corner seat was empty as he had entered the place and that is where he sat down to have this quick snack. As he was eating he noticed a young woman sitting all by herself sipping from a bottle of some orange coloured soft drink. She seemed scared and lonely sitting in the corner right opposite him. There was something about her; the only thing that drew his attention while having the quick snack was her. She was not exceptionally beautiful, nor was she dressed to draw attention, or seeking anyone’s notice. But somehow Aryan was fixated on her. He noticed her finish her meal and get up to leave. As she walked passed him, for a moment their eyes met and he saw pain in her eyes.
He had lost track of time while looking at that woman and Aryan wondered why the wordless encounter with the stranger was affecting him so much, as he went on to eat his food, he did not look at where the woman went. He finished his meal and freshened up. As he walked out towards his car he noticed her again. With no one beside her even now he was sure she was travelling alone, also he noticed no vehicle other than his. He was about to walk away, when something made him stop. He went up to her and spoke slowly,
“Hi, I noticed you are alone and are travelling. Do you need some help?”
“I don’t know you. Why would I take help from you? I will figure out a way?”, she said trying to sound sure of herself.
“If you are going to hitchhike then think that I am the person you took a ride from, I am Dr. Aryan,” He said stressing on the Doctor as if that gave him extra credibility. “I am going to city,” he continued.
She carefully looked at him, “Alright, you seem like nice person, and I need to go to City too. My friend stays there. I have to leave from here as soon as I can.”
Having said that, she got into the passenger seat of the car which Aryan had just unlocked. Aryan went around and got into the driver’s seat. He was extra careful about his driving this time. They sat in silence for the longest possible time. Aryan looked at his watch, “We should be there in about 30 minutes,” he thought.
Even as they sat silently Aryan could not deny that he was being drawn toward her. Just as they could not help it, he could not stop himself from staring at her. She on the other hand had not shown any kind of interest in him. Aryan could not just sit any longer, “Can I at least know your name. I mean we could talk for a bit. It will make the journey less lonely.”
“Doctor, where I am going it is pretty lonely. Nothing but Loneliness. I have always been alone.”
As they continued their journey in silence Aryan wondered what her story could be. He searched for some sort of explanation for her cryptic clues. They sat in silence and Aryan began to see the city in front of him.
As they neared the hospital the lady asked him to stop near the emergency ward. He stopped and looked around, the hospital was situated in a residential area and he wondered which of the buildings she was off too. Suddenly she said, “You are a good man Doctor. But be careful. Unknowingly it is the good men that always do the wrong things. And then they can’t live with the wrong. Forgive yourself for the mistake. I do.”
Aryan was confused, and he tried to ask her for an explanation but she had walked away. He decided put her behind him as he had his Mother to get to. As soon as he got to the parking lot, he parked his car in his regular parking spot. As he got up to the cardiac ward he saw Dr. Patel the head Cardiologist at the hospital stepping out of his mother’s room. He told him that his Mother will be fine, but needed a heart monitor and assisted breathing till her heart got stronger, which would take a few days.
Aryan had nothing to do but wait until his mother recovered. Now as he sat alone in her room he found his thoughts drifting back to that mysterious lady. He wondered what she meant by good people doing wrong things and how did that apply to him in particular.
Suddenly he was paged for an emergency. He had informed the hospital of his arrival and availability and so this emergency call came as no surprise. He looked at his mother and walked out to the ER. The nurse briefed him as to the victim was a lady in her mid 20’s, found lying in a ditch on the side of the road having suffered a major accident outside the city, early in the morning. The hospital was the closest to the place the accident happened, and so she was brought here. There was heavy internal bleeding but the extent of exterior damage was constrained to a broken knee and a few scars. But internally she was in need of immediate surgery, and probably damaged beyond repair.
Aryan scrubbed as he was being briefed, and now he wore the coat and the gloves and entered the operation theatre. He was prepping for the operation when, he happened to see her face. He reeled back in shock. He did not know how to react as he saw the mysterious woman lying on his operation table.