A fresh day it was. Bright and Sunny. Weekend, no need to bother about work, I thought. I had an appointment with a friend that day. We both usually talk every day. It’s not that today is something new. A few months ago, she told me she was moving to the city I was working in, for job purposes. She got sick of the job, and was leaving it to explore the world, start ticking off things of her bucket list. After she moved here, she called me up one day and she wanted to meet me. I asked her if she had any preference of places to meet. She wanted to meet me at my house. I didn’t understand then. I accepted, halfheartedly, though. She came and I made dinner for her. We stayed up and talked all night. She had breakfast and left in the morning. Slowly that started becoming a routine. Every Friday, she used to show up at my door step and then we talk till morning. Talking to somebody like that isn’t something I never did, in a very long time. Yesterday, she called me up and said that she had some appointment and she wants to meet for breakfast. I said Ok and asked her to come to my place and I’ll make breakfast. She didn’t want to meet at my place, but rather, she wanted to meet me outside. She explained that she had some other work that she needed to do, so she prefers meeting out.
I felt a little dejected. But still, I was getting to meet her. That was what I justified myself with. And so here I was, waiting at our favorite restaurant, at the center of the city, wondering why she called me out here rather than our usual routine, which was to spend the night at my place talking about things.
A few minutes later, she shows up.
Her: Hey! Sorry I’m late.
Me: That’s okay. So what’s up? Why here?
Her: I told you. I have something I need to take care of and I can’t afford the little time that we have with you cooking.
Me: Don’t you like my cooking?
Her: I spend nearly every Friday and Saturday at your house for a few months eating your cooked food and surviving. Do you think that was because I didn’t like it?
Me: Fine. I give up
Her: Don’t be like that. There was something that I wanted to tell you and I wanted you to just talk to me and not bother about the food. That’s why here.
Me: You could have got food to the apartment, can’t you?
Her: Yeah, I didn’t think of that. But really, trust me, after what I have to say, you’ll want to be out.
Me: I hardly doubt that. Anyway, what is it?
Her: Fine, let’s get something and go to your place. I really want to go.
Her: Yeah. Let’s go there.
Me: Fine, as you wish. Your wish is my command.
Her: Stop kidding. Get something first.
As she said that, I was wondering how easily she gave into my desire. She never does that. Something happened. That was what I could get from her behavior, although her face wasn’t giving away anything like that.
After we got to my place, I fixed some cereal for her, which was her favorite and then I unpacked and set the table for eating the little breakfast. Upon her further request, I had dimmed the lights, closed the curtains and put a candle. On my insisting, she replied that she wanted to have a candle light dinner with me. I’m screwed, I thought.
Her: Tell me, how was your week?
Me: Really!? You drag me from here to someplace else and then back here and you ask me how m y week was? What happened? Why are you like this now?
Her: Nothing happened. And what do you mean, like this?
Me: You never give in to what I want. You did that today. What happened and how serious is it?
Her: Nothing happened.
Her: okay, something happened. That was why I asked you to come out today.
Me: I’m all ears.
Her: I want you to know that you have become a great part of my life for the last few months. You are my best friend and I hope we had something more than this. I hope we’ll be together till the end of our lives.
Me: Is this a proposal? Is that what you’re doing?
Her: (hitting me on the arm) No, you idiot. This actually is serious. Listen to me carefully and don’t interrupt me.
Her: You really are amazing. You were there by me in the times I needed someone. When I was down, you were there for me. But all this time, you never knew that I was down. I have kept you in the dark and I hope you can forgive me for what I am about to tell you.
I was already dreading something. Her trying to be serious, giving in to what I want and asking for forgiveness, they were just the signs. And she was down? For how long? And why?
Her: Okay, here it goes. (Exhales heavily) I just have a few days more to live.
Me: You getting married!?
Her: No, you idiot. I am not getting married. I just have another week left in my life.
Me: Let me guess, you have a review at your job, which you’re dreading. Is that it? Did I get that right?
Her: Be serious, dude. I have opened up to you about the deadliest secret I was holding and you are making fun of me?
Me: (slowly) I can’t believe it. What happened?
Her: It’s just like that. My health is deteriorating. And the last time I went to the doctor, this was the time that they have given me.
Me: No, it can’t be. You’re kidding, aren’t you?
The world suddenly felt cold and dark, as if dark clouds have blocked the heat and light from the sun.
She wasn’t laughing. It really is serious. She was going to die? Of a disease? Why?
Me: No, it can’t be. (Putting my fingers on my temples) Wake Up! Wake Up!
Her: This is not a nightmare, this is reality and this is truth.
Me: Why are you telling me this now? Of all times?
Her: I want you to be there at my final moments. You were the only one I looked forward to everyday in my past few months. None of my friends know I’m here. Only you do.
Me: Really? And how did you think it was gonna be on me? Do you think it is easy, to even think that one day I wake up and realize that you are not gonna wake up ever?
Her: I know it is hard. I feel that same too.
Me: God, I used to love working. But once you started crashing at my place on Fridays, I can’t wait for the weekend to see you. I can’t wait to get home, just to talk to you. And now, suddenly, the reason I come home, is going to be vanished. And I will be coming home to this, empty, dark, apartment, which is devoid of happiness? No, this can’t be happening.
Her: Believe it or not, it is happening. This is not something that you want, neither do I. But the time has come.
Me: So, now what do we do?
Her: Accept and move on.
Me: Move on!? That’s going to be really hard for me.
After that, we had no topic and a while later, she left, saying she wanted to go to the doctor’s. From Monday, she’ll be in the hospital and she wanted me to visit, if possible.
If possible, as if there was something in the world which was more important that her. I immediately sent a mail to my superior, saying I can’t come for the whole week and rushed behind her to the hospital. After she left the doctor, I asked him personally, is there any chance that she can live?
What the doctor replied left me in shock. “There is. Actually, she is recovering a lot faster than we expected. When we first diagnosed her, we expected that she won’t live for more than a few months. But when we said that there is a chance that she might live, she would make a fuss that made her condition worse. So a few days later, we showed her some tests and in that we told her that she won’t live after a while. Since then, I don’t know what she was doing, but her symptoms have reduced. She is actually normal now, although we haven’t said anything to her regarding that. We just want to tell her on the date that we gave her. It is all a well-structured plan, please don’t do anything that will tip her off.”
I couldn’t believe what he said. He said the same thing what she told me, with one small detail, which made my life very happy. I can see her again. The world was bright and sunny again.
She was waiting for me outside. I know what has to be done now. I need to spend time with her. It was me, who helped her recover. She was down, it’s my responsibility to help her be the wonder she is.
And I will.
Sometimes, it is all in our head. Sometimes it is real. Sometimes they mix up.