Ankit opened his eyes and saw the fan moving. Today he was feeling light and fresh. Maybe it had something to do with the morning. It was bright and sunny outside. The golden rays were brimming across the window and right onto him. He felt so much better today.
It was Covid that he had contracted and was hospitalised because of chest congestion. As he was young and healthy, there was nothing much to be anxious about. People with co-morbidities had more to worry.
He got up smiled at everyone around him – nurses, doctors, ward boys – and made his way out of the room. As he stepped right outside the hospital, he could breathe the fresh air. He loved it. Never in his life had he ever been admitted to a hospital before. It was actually painful to just keep lying on the bed doing nothing. I will never ever be going there again, he swore to himself.
The next day he went to office. They were working at 50% of their capacity and then there was the social distancing. He saw so many new faces. Many new people had been hired as many had succumbed to the epidemic. Of course, there were colleagues familiar to him. They were all so glad to see him again. During their break, he narrated his plight at the hospital. Sanjana, who had been his colleague and friend for over a decade, was really glad and hugged him. She brought him up-to-date about everything that happened in his absence. Thankfully, their boss was the same.
At that time, Ankit felt that despite his boss’ terrible temperament, it was good to see him again. Even his boss was happy and welcomed him with open arms. They chatted like old friends. Ankit was truly relieved.
He was glad to be back in action. Much as he loathed the hospital stay, it had done him loads of good. Through the intravenous, lots of minerals and electrolytes were given to him that he was otherwise missing out on. Also he had lost some weight, being on a liquid diet and the quarantine had helped him shed excess weight.
His life had changed after he had recovered. On the weekend, he was invited to Sanjana’s place along with a few friends. They had a blast. Lots of memories were dug up and new bonds were formed. They toasted “To us forever ……”
From Monday morning, it was office again. But there wasn’t anything blue about that Monday. Ankit easily made friends with the new employees of his company.
During lunch break one afternoon, he was sitting with Sanjana, who was reading a magazine. Their boss was soaking the sun in the gallery and stretching his legs.
“You know Sanjana, you must get admitted to the hospital”, Ankit said.
“What! Why?” Sanjana looked at him flabbergasted.
“You know, they do wonders there. I feel so full of life, energized and so light. I ran 20 kms today without feeling exhausted”.
“You are a trained runner. I don’t aspire to be that”, she retorted.
“There are other benefits too. I feel so energetic that I have hardly slept since the time I have come back, and yet I am so fresh in the morning”. At this juncture, Sanjana just looked at him for a few seconds before breaking into a soft smile.
“I know the reason for that…”, she replied.
“What is it…?” He asked.
“Because you are dead”. She put her hand on his hand to comfort him.
Ankit just stared at her for two seconds and then started laughing out loud. So loud that his boss who was stretching his legs came to them.
“What’s going on?” He asked.
“I told him…”, Sanjana told the boss who looked at her understandingly.
“She told me that I am dead….”. Ankit started laughing again. The other two waited patiently till he finally stopped.
“She is telling you the truth… You are dead. So is she and so am I. We all are dead”, their boss told him seriously.
Ankit became very quiet. He couldn’t believe what was being said around him. His world started spinning around him.
“It’s ok. You will come to terms with it. Everything is new for you. You will get used to it”.
“NO…..NO….NO…..NO”, Ankit was screaming. He got up from his chair and touched himself, his hands and feet. That is probably why he was feeling light, not because of the saline and liquid diet.
Suddenly it dawned on him – the new people he saw in his office were dead. That is why he felt so different. He realised that for so many days he hadn’t eaten or slept. Moreover, he realised that at the weekend party at Sanjana’s place they had raised a toast “To us forever…”
He had never really left the hospital.