Friday, March 8, 2019

The Sun Chaser



"Hurry up! we're getting late", said Walter sitting on the driver's seat, he already had started his car's engine. 

Samantha rushed towards the car in her black stilettos and blue shift dress.

"The show would start any minute", said Walter while pulling his car away from the driveway.

The auditorium was filled with gleeful parents and caregivers, some were engrossed chatting with their friends and family,
while others were glancing through the program schedule in their hands.

Walter and Samantha, made their way cautiously through a seated audience in the middle row, fifth seat.

Walter was clearly unhappy with his view being blocked by a huge man sitting in front of him and he was trying to peak
through his left and right. However, Samantha sat comfortably on her seat and was immediately engaged in a brief discussion
with one of the audience sitting next to her, who appeared to be the grand mother of a child performing tonight.

The lights were turned off with only the dotted lines showing, like in an airplane to let the way through the exit. To much of
his relief, the huge man in front of Walter exchanged his seat with a short lady and went to sit near the aisle. Soon, a young
woman in her late twenties acquired the stage, she was wearing a black dress and pumps, and was holding a mic in her hand.

"Good Evening! Ladies and Gentlemen", she said with a broad smile on her face, "I am Ms. Wordsworth, and tonight I will be
your host, our children have not only given their time and effort but also their heart and soul in learning the music, and
after tonight's performance, you will take back with you not just your child but a musician home, so let the concert begin".
She left the stage, leaving the audience applauding loudly.



* * *

"Prepare for the surgery", he informed the nurse and then looked towards the army gentleman standing next to him.
"Moses, I will not be around for a few hours, please inform the Capt."

"But, will it not be wise to discuss the potential difficulties with the authorities?" asked Moses worriedly.
The patient's tiny arms were blood stained and the nurses were wiping them up, his fragile body lying on the stretcher

with oxygen mask on his face. Dr. Collins stared at the wall in front of him for a few seconds, and then without saying a word he
rushed inside the camp.

Dr. Walter Collins was an American military surgeon, deputed at a war zone in Iraq.
He had performed multiple surgeries before, but somehow this time he was critically nervous. The body of an Iraqi boy was discovered from the rumbles after an air strike, probably his own house, and he was barely breathing, his chances of survival were negligible.

After five long hours of surgery, Dr. Collins advised his staff to shift the patient to the ward. He sat down on his chair kept in a corner of his camp, contemplating the kind of discussion he might have with his superiors in relation to the local Iraqi boy upon whom he just performed a surgery. While he was still beholding those thoughts, that Moses returned and informed him that Captain would like to see him immediately.


"I understand your ethical dilemma Doctor, but Surgery?" said, a tall sturdy army gentleman, probably the Captain of the American troop deployed in Baghdad.

"I had no choice, Capt.", said Collins, the boy needed immediate medical attention.

"Well doctor, In that case I may have to make an appeal about your deportation, as you totally over passed us this time".
to which Dr. Collins said nothing but looked straight into the eyes of the Captain for a second and then left without saying a word.

Dr. Collins was deployed in Baghdad as a surgeon from past three months and these three months he had surpassed his military superiors more than any other military doctor might have done, especially when it came to civilian women and children.


The next evening, when Collins entered the room, the boy was still on ventilator meekly breathing. He tried to scan carefully his face and the boy's broad yet sharp features under the oxygen mask grabbed his attention.

"The boy is responding well to the treatment doctor", said the nurse.

"I believe he should revive back in 24 hours", said Collins while scanning through his chart which the nurse handed over to him.

Moses entered with an intense face as usual and greeted Dr. Collins. "I maybe the bearer of two bad news for you Doc., which one would you like to hear first?", he said.

Dr. Collins, still scanning the chart smiled and said, "Tell me the worst of them all first".

"Well, you're being deported next week, and soon to be replaced by another surgeon", he paused, "and the second?" Dr. Collins asked, now staring through his glasses at Moses. "This boy, your young patient, is declared an orphan".

"Let's grab some coffee", he said while handling the chart back to the nurse and asking her to keep him informed about his progress every hour.

Private Moses was Dr. Collins's only friend in the army camp, who's life he had saved after a severe battle around three months ago, right after he had been deputed. "I always thought, they will let you stay", said Moses after taking his first sip of coffee.

"And what makes you think that?" asked Collins with a sarcastic smile on his face.

"You are a good doctor Walter and they all know that", "besides" he continued, "You have saved the lives of many soldiers".

"That's my duty Moses and moreover, who wants to stay back anyway", Dr. Collins smiled and looked down upon his coffee mug.

"But it's not good for your career Walter", Moses said.

"And do you think I really care", replied Walter.

"Stop lying! I know you love your profession, you are the most selfless human being I've ever met", said Moses who was now clearly upset with the news of Dr. Collins being deported and his cold reaction to the situation.


                                                                     ***
                                                                     
"He opened his eyes, but didn't say anything", said the nurse.

Dr. Collins had been anxiously waiting for the boy to wake up and say something, he had been around his bed from a while now. After a little wait, the boy finally opened his eyes and saw this middle aged tall man standing at the end of his bed. He kept staring at them for a while and then pointed his index finger at him, and opened his mouth as if trying to say something, but no words.

The speech therapist called from the local hospital, examined the boy but couldn't find any fault.

"He doesn't seem to have any internal organ failure, this could only mean one thing, he has lost his voice out of the trauma he faced, maybe the bombardment" he added.

"So, what do you suggest" asked Dr. Collins.

"He may or may not, depends", said the therapist. "depends on what", said Dr. Collins, "Well, if the environment  is favorable enough for him", replied the therapist.

The next morning, Dr. Collins came for his rounds and saw the boy looking outside the window, he asked the nurse, if she could bring him out in the open on a wheelchair.

The boy was brought outside and he looked quizzical, but soon after he was left alone by the nurse only in the company of Dr. Collins. He was constantly staring at the bright sun in the sky, somehow today it was shinning extra bright maybe due to clear sky.

"Do you like it outside?" asked Dr. Collins, while looking at the boy who was still staring at the sun.

"You see, if you try, you may get your voice back. You know there ain't a problem in there", said Dr. Collins as he gestured towards the boy's throat and opening his own mouth loud just to show him, how he talks.


                                                                      ***

He held the letter from the authorities in his hand and looked visibly upset not because he didn't want to go back, but because he had to leave the boy behind unattended, most likely he would end up in an orphanage with little care in a place which has a faint future.

"You can file for his adoption", said Moses who had been standing and watching Dr. Collins from a while now.

"Are you crazy? on what basis? I don't know what the boy wants, I know what the authorities think of me and of course, I know the government and their no adoption policy here, so how do you think it would be possible?" asked Dr. Collins.

"Well, go back first and do some research and introspection about your own life", said Moses "You always wanted a son, and you know why Rebecca left you".

Before, coming to the war front, Dr. Collins was practicing at an American civil war hospital in Pennsylvania. His two years of marriage and a year of courtship with Rebecca ended when he showed interest in starting a family. Rebecca was a TV anchor and after a lot of struggle had finally bagged a show of her own to be aired on prime time on the national television, she wasn't ready to start a family. Their disagreements eventually led to a failed marriage, and a heart broken Collins immediately found a way out his agony in the form of coming to a war front. But, who knew that he would meet an innocent eight year old, who's face would remind him of a son he always wanted.

"I'll adopt him", said Collins and left the room.

Dr. Walter Collins had just a week in his hand before leaving for US when he filled for the boy's adoption. It was tough and emotionally draining, with a plea filled, he had his last hopes set on the Minister of Labor.

"You can name him", said Moses. "No, not as yet, not until he is my legal son", said Dr.Collins.

The boy was gazing at the Sun and when he saw Dr. Collins approaching, for the first time he gave him a smile. For some reasons, this gave Collins a sign, that he likes him.

"You like the Sun, do you?" said Collins, pointing at the Sun with a smile.

"Na am", said the boy.

"Hey, buddy you just spoke, can you say that again?" Dr. Collins excitedly sat down on his knees close to the boy's wheelchair, curious, thrilled, but the boy didn't say a word again.

After spending series of sleepless nights and anxious days, one day Dr. Collins was sitting on his desk when Moses appeared, "You owe me a beer tell me you do",  he said with a grin on his face. "It's your day bro." he said again, "Your adoption has been approved".

Dr. Collins and his attorney started the paperwork to bring the boy to America on humanitarian parole, and with a series of support letters from the minister, lieutenant governor, the Iraqi doctors etc. he could finally do so.



                                                                               ***

On the white sand, they both were sitting peacefully gazing at the sun. "Would you like to get wet?" asked Collins to which the boy nodded.

He showed his utmost enthusiasm on the beach to which Collins was taken by a surprise. He was splashing water on Walter and within no time, they both were playing in the waves. While he was busy playing in the water, his regular friend caught his attention and he pointed at the Sun again and spoke his first English word "Sun" which he was being taught by Walter from last one month after their arrival from Iraq.

"You soon would be ready to start school son", said Walter delightfully.

He started proceeding in the waves towards the sun, trying to chase it, unafraid of getting drowned.Walter had to bring him back explaining why it is not safe to get deep into the ocean.

                                                     
                                                                             ***

The concert began, and the boy appeared like a gentleman, in a black tuxedo and a white tailored shirt, he sat in front of the piano and his little fingers started moving to play,  Journey's "Don't stop believin", he played like an expert pianist. When it ended, everyone in the auditorium stood up to applaud. Dr. Walter Collins was applauding like crazy with tears reflecting from his eyes.

Dad! the boy ran towards him, after the concert was over, "Did you like it?" he asked.

"You chased it like you chase the Sun", like a real pianist "I'm so proud of you".

Samantha who was standing by his side, bent down and congratulated him on his success, to which the boy cheerfully reciprocated. He liked Samantha ever since he met her after coming to US. She was always nice to him and was the one who discovered his interest in piano.

"Can we go to the beach tomorrow?" asked the boy "Yes, of course", replied Walter. The boy who was extremely happy to hear that, ran straight outside into the direction of the setting sun. Walter followed by Samantha treading on her heels, shouted  "Cyrus, Stop! we'll get to see that tomorrow from the beach". 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Karma