By Faizur
“Welcome to Mumbai beta,” his uncle came to pick them up from the airport.

Two days passed, and they missed each other. He got busy with marriage work.

Morning, on the way to the marriage hall, he got a call from her sister.

“Would it be possible for you to come back here today?” she asked him; he could hear her sobbing.

“What happened? ” he asked her.

“Asra fainted; we’ve admitted her to a hospital,” she said.

“I’ll try to return soon. Please keep me updated on her,” he told her.

Time passed too slowly. He stared at his phone, hoping that she was alright.

That evening he got a call from her sister.

“I-I d-don’t k-know how t-to say,” she stammered.

“Please tell me she is alright,” he screamed over the phone.

“Asra has cancer, and the doctor said it’s in stage 3. She will be treated the day after tomorrow,” she cried uncontrollably.

Tears rolled down his eyes, his world shattered. He cursed himself for not being by her side.

“I need to go back; Asra is not well and is admitted to the hospital,” he told his mom.

“I’ll manage the people here. You go safely,” she said, looking concerned.

She knew something was wrong, and she could see that in her son’s eyes. She just hoped things were alright with a silent prayer in her heart.

“A ticket to Hyderabad, please,” he told the woman at the counter.

“Flight leaves in 30 minutes, sir,” she said with a smile.

He paid her and took the ticket, and sat on the couch aside.

To him, everyone seemed happy. He felt like it was only him that was suffering. He should never have left her side. He kept repeating it to himself. He kept blaming himself over and over again.

“I will be there in a couple of hours,” he texted Asra’s sister.

“Passengers traveling to Hyderabad, flight no 1083x are requested to move towards the counter,” he rushed as soon as he heard the announcement.

Sitting down on his seat, he looked out of the window, and the flight was speeding at the runway. Everything was dark; he could only see the blinking lights on the flight and some clouds. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He looked outside and prayed, hoping she was alright.

He rushed out of the airport. “Olive Hospital,” he told the driver.

Once he reached the hospital, he sprinted towards the reception.

“A patient named Asra was admitted here yesterday. Can I know the room number, please” he was panting hard by now?

“Room no 102, Sir, the second floor,” the receptionist informed him.

He sprinted up the stairs on seeing a crowded lift. He saw her sister sitting outside as he halted to catch his breath.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as soon as she saw him; she introduced him to her parents. Her parents were shaken, and so was he. They walked towards the room.

From the window, he peeked inside. One look at her and those beautiful days he had spent with her flashed back in his mind.

“Can I go inside?” he asked the nurse who exited the room.

“Only one at a time,” she said.

He went inside. She lay there with needles pierced on her arms. His heart shattered into a million pieces seeing her in this condition. He went near her and held her hands. They were soft and cold.

He called out her name, hoping she would hear. He sat beside her, speaking about the times they spent together. She did not respond, but tears rolled down her cheeks. Wiping those tears, he assured her that everything would be

“After you get alright, we’ll go grab your favorite burger someday,” he said as he held her hands tight.

Tears rolled down her cheeks, and he tried hard to control his emotions. He kissed her cheeks and walked out of the room. Her sister asked him to sit down and offered him water to drink.

Her parents went into the room, and her sister followed them. He sat there alone, staring at the emptiness as he felt loneliness engulfing him.

He wanted to cry to his heart’s content, he wanted to scream at the top of his lungs, but he chose to stay put.

“I’ll stay for the night. You go home and take a rest,” her sister told him.

He did not want to go, but her parents were standing with her looking at him.

“Banjara Hills, please,” he told the driver.

He couldn’t control himself; tears rolled down. It felt like he was all alone now. He wanted her presence around him. He couldn’t forget the way she was inside. All the memories of the times they spent together flashed in front of his eyes.

He couldn’t sleep that night, but fatigue took over him.

“Oyee pagal,” he heard someone calling him.

He turned back, and it was her; she looked so fine, no needles poking out from her hands anymore. Nothing was sticking on her body anymore. She was in the dress he got for her birthday. It was a white dress with colored stones sewed to it in designs. She looked prettier than ever. He fell in love all over again.

He woke up startled. It was 6:45 in the morning. He freshened up and rushed to the hospital. His phone rang, a name flashed – Asra, it said.

“Hameed a-am s-sorry, s-she passed away today morning around 3,” her sister said and started crying over the phone.

He stood there cold as ice. He wanted to run away somewhere, he wanted to scream out loudly, and he wanted to cry his heart out.

He closed his eyes, tears rolled down his cheeks, the times they spent together flashed in front of his eyes, the day he first saw her.

She was no more in this world.

He cried, they cried, she lay there motionless…

“Bahia ye lo,” the shopkeeper stood there with a pack of Marlboro in his hands.

We sat there looking at each other; in front lay three packs of cigarettes and now one more in my hand that the shopkeeper had handed over.

I could see tears in his eyes. He put his head down and cried to his heart’s content.

Never did his love cease,

Nor did hers,

Time passed, but not them.

Still in love was he,

Heights, he couldn’t reach.

Beneath the ground, she lay

Covered with earth;

Gone was she,

But not the love they shared.