Paul was hurrying to meet Stella his elder sister in the hospital. His sister had some major surgery and was recovering. The young boy was attached to his sister but never liked the smell of a hospital .The family members took turn to be in the hospital. He was required to spend two hours in the evening till his mom relieved him. He brought a couple of times flowers for the vase by Stella's bed. The sight of colorful flowers made her happy. Paul would relate to her all the happenings in the school and about her pet dog that had turned quiet and morose after she came to hospital.
He had to pass through a general ward to reach Stella's cabin. There was a row of beds with all of them occupied by patients of different ailments in different stages. Some with tubes attached for drips or oxygen, some with heavy bandages on their raised legs, some moaning in pain and many weak and drowsy. The nurses were always seen busy tending to some patients. During visiting time the scene resembled of a market place with visitors milling around each bed.
Paul did not fail to notice every day only one bed bereft of visitors. A young girl of 13 years lay with her head raised by lifting the head of the bed in a reclined manner. The girl though wan and sickly in look was attractive. There was certain sadness in her eyes and looked lost and lonely. While Paul had an aversion for the sick ambience and rushed through the ward in a hurry, he used to linger at the girl's bed for a moment or more. One day to his surprise she smiled at him. Unsure of himself he smiled back at her and hastened to his sister's room. He parried his sister’s question when asked why he seemed happy.
The next day as he crossed the ward, he stopped at her bed and smiled. When she smiled back at him, he noticed a faint nod suggesting that he come near her. Paul went near and said “I am Paul.I come daily to visit my sister. I don't see anyone with you on any day"
"Sophia is my name. I have no one. You are my first visitor" she said and giggled. The two tiny dimples on her cheeks enhanced her charm.
"Don't worry, you will have one daily henceforth" he said laughingly."I must hurry. Will see you tomorrow"
It became a routine for him to spend a few minutes with her and regale her with happenings at the school. He never asked her about her personal details after she said she was from an orphanage. But this not dampen his warmth for her, rather he spent more time with her impelling his sister to ask why he was late of late.
It was a Thursday and it was more than a fortnight since he bought flowers for the vase in the cabin. He bought a bunch of tulips in pink, yellow and blue on the way to hospital from his pocket money. As he stopped by the side of girl, she smiled and cast a surprised look at the flowers though she did not ask him anything about it. It was on an impulse that Paul thrust the bunch of flowers in her hands.
"Is it a Valentine gift on Valentine day?”she asked.” I am so happy as it is my first gift in my life. I am sorry I have nothing to give you except a warm handshake" she said
"Frankly I didn't know that today is special. But I am happy that I could be your Valentine and hope to be so always" he said and warmly shook her hands. Sophia gently wiped the tears of joy from her eyes. She was no longer a lonely soul and her eyes sparkled.