Its been a month since the weather has remained faithfully hazy. The clouds of suspended dust, the sudden sandstorms and the morning smogs have taken a toll over my eyes. I’ve never been particularly allergic or sensitive, but the recurrent eye infections as well as blurry vision at work forced me to take an appointment with the ophthamalogist over the weekend.
At the clinic, I expected to find many with similar ailments, but apparently I seemed to be the only patient in-waiting with an eye swelling. After the examination, the doctor confirmed a minor non-contagious infection, reasoned that the blurry vision was due to eye strain, but expressed concern over the recurrency. She hinted it could be a rise in blood sugar levels and recommended I check at once. My heart raced; I did not want to be diagonosed so young with the dreaded disease and paced myself to the pathology lab with a request for express test results. After the test, I was informed that it would take 3 hours for the report, so I was shown into the waiting room.
While I was seated I noticed I was directly opposite a glass door of the chilren’s ward room. Little kids all in hospital pyjamas were strewing across the section, giving the nurses a hard time with their childish antics. Just then, my heart almost skipped a beat, my eyes widened and my body paused into a virtual statue. Through the glass doors, in the kid’s ward was a volunteer I knew very well…..and what was he doing here??
Flashback Year 1998: Venue – Christmas Festival, High School grounds – back then I used to be a complete geek in school with no sense of fashion, trends or any of the ‘popular stuff’. I lived in the surburban area, and hence had very few friends…actually a single best friend – Janet. She was nowhere to be seen during the festival so I wandered aimlessly around the game kiosks having played almost all and won nothing. Just when I was about to call it a day, I met Henry. Henry left our school 8 years ago to shift to a boarding school back in his home country. He had obviously changed in built and stature, but still recognisable. After I called his name, he was surprised to find someone who recognised him after all those years. “Yes I remember you too” he said, “in fact I remembered you all these years and hoped to find you. I even kept a card ready in case I finally met you” and he handed over a greeting card with the words “Merry Christmas Sweetheart”. I was taken by surprise, and my head suddenly tuned to Backstreet Boys ‘As long as you love me’. We had an amazing chat for the next twenty minutes or so, remembering old times, till I finally said that I had to return home. I was so eager to attend school next day felt like I was among the ‘popular’ girls and having met someone this festival. I went over to Janet, who seemed to have an equal mouthful of news. “I met someone!”, she exclaimed, before I could pop the same line. ” Do you remember Henry? the cute guy who used to study with us? He recognised me, and said he was waiting for me all these years & even carried this card with him incase he found me”, promptly showing me a ditto card that I had received the previous night. Her face was still cherry red while mine switched to blue. After her excited one- breath recollection of the event finally came to a halt, she managed to ask me “so what you got?” I didn’t have much to say, but showed her the card I got which was self-explainatory. With the infatuation now sizzled off, we both realised that there was no addressee inside the card, but it simply said “From your ever loving Henry”.
I never met him after that, and 14 years forward, I am now just 6 feet apart, separated by glass doors (thankfully) and feeling a surge of embarrassment. I looked around the waiting room for a vacant seat that would prevent me from catching his sudden view, but didnt find any. I prevented making any sudden moves that would stir up attention. I was angered for having seeing him at such an anxious time, and angry at myself for having had to fall for his gimmick at school. I had outgrown all my insecurities over the years and this guy brings it up in a couple of seconds.
An hour passed, and he hadn’t noticed me yet. I took the opportunity to check what he was upto and it seemed he wore a volunteer’s badge and was busy assisting nurses and entertaining children. The kids were crowded around him amazed at his card tricks, balloons and ipod music. I noticed his talent – the natural ability to charm, and he seemed to use it well among these sick patients. Everyone – from the agonising to the recovering had a smile on their face. Perhaps it was the same 14 years ago; All he ever did was make a non-popular girl feel special, and it was my immaturity to overthink & brand him in a negative spot. What he was doing here, was something I could never comfortably go about doing. Thankfully, my reports arrived with my sugar levels well within the normal range. As I exited from the glass door, thanking God for my health I glanced at him as he pushed a wheelchair of a little girl. He looked at me but didn’t recognise, and I sweetly waved at the girl and smiled.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” [Is 55:8]