Updated: Jul 14, 2022
It was quite dark outside.There were very few vehicles moving around with their sounds slicing deep into the silence of the night.The leaves of the trees outside the Clinic gently swayed in the cold breeze sweeping through the atmosphere, with quite a few of them succumbing to it.
Mithali stepped out of the clinic onto the road.Was it raining? No,it was just the humid wind that she was feeling.The tresses of her hair were flowing regally in the wind.She looked at her watch in the dim light of the streetlight.It was 09.05 PM.She shuddered a bit.Usually,it never gets this late.Today was a busy day at work.She fumbled with her keys in the bag.Her fingers trembled a bit while locking the door of the clinic.She tried to open the door to see if the lock had fallen into place.She routinely did this as a way of reassuring herself.She remembered how her mom used to say regarding this that she was always meticulous about everything. Well,she was not wrong either….
She started walking along the roadside dimly lit by the streetlights.Her home was just about 2km from the clinic.She was wearing a purple salwar kameez with its yellow dupatta hung tightly around her neck.It swayed in the wind which was still blowing rhythmically.She folded her arms across to get relieved from the cold.
Usually,she used to drive back in her “Hero Pleasure plus”.It was a gift from her dad on successful completion of her MBBS course.However today she had dropped it off for the periodic service but couldn’t retrieve it as she had expected, owing to the heavy rush in her clinic.She never thought walking back would be this difficult,especially at this time.
It was her decision to work for sometime before pursuing her postgraduation and her cousin brother’s now desolated clinic was the perfect place to start.Her brother didn’t stay long as he moved into the city for a brighter perspective as he told everyone.But she knew the actual reason- he could make frequent outings with his girlfriend whose family was settled there.
Mithali kept walking .She felt she had finished around half a kilometre by then.It was getting increasingly difficult to move forward.Her phone was having network issues since 2 days hence it was of no use to call her dad to pick her up.She had told them not to wait after her as she couldn’t predict when her consultations would get over.After all, most of the rural population starts pouring into her clinic towards the evening as there were no other consulting doctors or clinics for that matter, for a radius of about 5 km.She remembered that she was excited to be a part of the medical fraternity during her UG days especially because she was viewed respectfully by her neighbours and other schoolfriends,considering the fact that a very few of the region rose to heights in education and career.But once she got into her house-surgency days ,she started understanding the real meaning of being a doctor- to empathetically care for her fellow beings,to do her part in easing their struggle and the immense self-satisfaction it brought along with it.She couldn’t help but smile.
It was around 09.20pm as she glanced at her watch.There was still about a 15 min walk to her home,at the least.Her parents might start getting worried now.She increased her pace clutching herself tightly.She rechecked to see if there was any network bar-nothing.
It was then that the sound of a bike engine revving up fell on her ears,just behind her.She swiftly turned round to see what it was.
Nothing….as far as she could see.
‘Did I imagine that?’ she wondered.
Still skeptical,she resumed walking but she could not help looking over her back one more time to affirm.
Still the same.
Her mind was racing..she was quite sure she had heard that sound.Maybe her mind was just making it up.She accelerated her steps.
The wind was howling.The rustling of leaves kept going constantly as if on a musical instrument.The only other sound heard was the rhythmic footsteps made by her stilettos as they tapped over the paved street.
Suddenly,someone pulled her back by her dupatta.She was terrified and fell down.
It was a thorny shrub by the side of the road.Her dupatta was caught in it.She heaved a sigh of relief but still her eyes were searching all over the place,as if someone invisible was there.She felt like she could hear suppressed laughs.
Mithali frantically searched for her mobile in her handbag.She tried to restart the phone hoping the network might come back but it also came with the possibility that it won’t be switched back on due to low battery.But she decided to take that risk.The night couldn’t get any darker.She didn’t want to take any unwanted risks here.She resumed walking.
The weather was getting harsh.The wind was constantly accelerating and with it,her palpitations too.She felt a jolt as if her heart was trying to escape out through her mouth.She swallowed reflexively…
The mobile sprang to life and she could see the blocks of network going up.She went to the call log section.No sooner had she kept her finger on the phone log than it got switched off.She was exasperated.She wanted to throw it away but still clutched onto it on second thoughts. Of course,things would never be of any use when you desperately need them the most.
She looked at her watch again.It was 10.30pm.The bad weather was slowing her down.She pulled herself forward dragging her weary legs along the edge of the road. Only if it would not rain..she was desperate.
An eerie sound again..as if a person was speaking out loud.And then she saw it.A silhouette of a person approaching her from behind with something in his hand.Mithali took the stranger to be a man judging by his appearance.She could see he was wearing a balaclava over his face so that she couldn’t make out any details. The figure was fast approaching her from afar.She tried to run,but her legs would not budge.She stumbled onto the road with her hands outspread.The person was almost near her now.She has to muster some courage and fight lest she sinks…
Her eyes were searching around for some weapon-something for self-defence.But it was difficult to see anything at all in the haziness.It had started to drizzle now all of a sudden.It took both the stranger and Mithali by surprise and in a split second,Mithali slided out the barette on her hair and thrusted it into the man’s wrist at quick pace.
The sudden attack took him offguard and he fell onto the road from his bike with a screech.The bike slided and fell right onto his forefoot and he winced in pain.Mithali started running as fast as she could into the darkness without looking back.The rain was slowly intensifying and she was becoming breathless.She knew she was closer to her house.She had to run for her life.She tried opening her handbag to pick up her mobile.She fidgeted with the power button again but to no avail.It just won’t arise from slumber…
She glanced back to see if she was still being followed.She could see nothing as of now.She was running ahead,but with her eyes behind.
All of a sudden,there was another sound of a motorvehicle approaching her from opposite but she could make it out only just in a split-second on turning her head.She gasped,as the headlights glared in front of her eyes.The tires were screeching to deceleration but the vehicle hit her on the body with a thud as she slowly fell back with failing vision.She knew she touched the road but nothing felt real anymore.A part of her mind seemed to be leaving her,as she became unconscious.
Mithali was woken up by a sound somewhere near her.She raised her head from the consultation table and searched for her glasses.Finally when she got hold of them,she kept it over her eyes with both her hands and blinked.
A middle aged lady was standing in front of her.Her face was blank and she could see that she was bit shabbily dressed,with her white saree spotting dirt at multiple sites.She was standing with an OP ticket in her hands which she shoved in front of Mithali.
I slept again,daydreaming! …Mithali thought to herself wearily,as she took the clean chit of paper from the woman’s soiled hands.
“Batao maan,tumhen kya beemaaree hai?”she asked the woman preparing to scribble down her complaints, while her mobile by the side of the table was constantly making notification sounds,from their old school group.She tried avoiding the phone while adjusting her specs with her left hand.
The Sun was shining brightly as usual outside with the heatwaves pouring into the clinic as well.A bird sitting on her bike’s mirror flapped its wings and flew away,annoyed by the heat.
It was 5pm on her watch.