Every Sunday the blue car would pull up sharp at 6 PM at the parking lot of the nursing home.A young man in his mid thirties would emerge ,a routine that was never missed in the last few years.He would bring a basketful of fruits and spend an hour with a young and charming lady patient.There would hardly be any conversation.She was in no condtion to talk.She would be sitting on her cot with a vacant look in her eyes or even if she chose to look at him there was no sign of recognition.Sometimes she would excitedly scream as if she was passing through a nightmare but would become quiet soon after he gently caressed her with his hand. .He would be seen constantly wiping the tears flowing from his eyes.The nurses the orderlies and the doctors attending on her knew him as her guardian..But they had no more information whether the lady in question was his wife or a lover. Her general health was excellent except that she had lost her memory and senses..She has been here since the last eight years.There has been no sign of improvement.
One evening the chief nurse who was retiring from the next day came on her last round along with her successor, briefing her about the patients.She explained the tragic illness of the young lady due to an accident and how there has been no progress in her condition.When the new nurse saw the young man in tears and looked at chief nurse questioningly, she quietly led her away.
It was next Sunday.When the new chief nurse saw the young man in the lady’s room smiled at him and said”Can you kindly come with me to my room? I wish to talk to you.”
Once in her room she said “I am told that you are her guardian and that you are the only one visiting her for years.I can see the pain in your heart and have not missed noticing the tears in your eyes. I learn she gets excited after seeing you but subsides after you gently show your care for her.As one who is interested in her well being, I would like to know more about you in relation to her and why you cry every time..”
The young man was quiet for some time as he tried to recapitulate the happenings that took place long ago. He then slowly said” She is not not related to me.It was years ago in one January night I was returning in my car along the highway.It was dark with poor visibility due to fog I was in a hurry to reach home. She was travelling with her husband and her small baby and approaching from the opposite side.It was then the accident took place when my car collided headlong against hers.Her husband and child were killed on the spot.We were rushed to the hospital by the passing patrol.The shock of losing her dear ones affected her so deeply that she lost her senses since then”
“Why should you feel guilty as the accident took place due mainly to darkness and poor visibility?.Have you a feeling that it was due to your fault? You seem to have done your duty as a compassionate man by getting her admitted here and bearing all the expenses.Besides you have shown your care by regularly visiting her.Truth to tell, it is somewhat strange for someone to take such abiding interest in the victim of an accident..Is it that you have a feeling of love for her” the chief nurse asked.
“Yes, I have held myself responsible for taking away her happiness at such a young age when she was in early twenties by killing her husband and the baby and pushing her into such melancholy..No amount of my help or care would wash away my guilt” he said
“What guilt you are talking about? I heard you started visiting her only during the last two or three years and that initially you were not seen” she asked
He kept quiet till he was prodded again.” I was in prison serving sentence of five years for rash driving.I have started coming thereafter” he said
“Why do you cry everytime you come? Accidents happen despite best care..Do you hold yourself responsible for her sad plight?’she asked
“Yes madam, I am fully responsible for this situation I wish to make amends”
“Are you married?”she asked
“No, I am not married.I wish to give her a new life once she turns normal.I am waiting for it”
“Why do you cry? You have not said anything about it” she persisted
“I was the culprit.driving the car when fully drunk.I wish to atone for the grievous wrong I did to the lady and the two souls I killed" he said finally