HE MET HER three times in his life…
The first time was in the hallway of the hospital, sitting a little distance away from him. There, on that bench she sat, wearing a blue gown that extended just below her knees, staring at the red hyacinths pitched in a verse just in her front. The hyacinths were beautiful. They gave a splash of red to the white walls of the hallway which was already illuminated by white fluorescent bulbs. However, there was only one thing more alluring than the flowers in that hallway, and it was the girl staring hopelessly at them. He liked the sight— of the girl staring intensely at the verse of flowers in front of her, as if she were jealous of it. If he had his way, he would pluck a leaf out of the flowers and give it to her, but he couldn’t. The lurking eyes of the stern-looking attendant in blue khaki uniform told him so. So he recoiled.
He would see her again a week later, sitting in the same hallway he had seen her before, donned in a red t-shirt and a Jean, staring. This time, she wasn’t staring at the flowers, but at the white, empty wall. At the far side of the hallway sat the flowers she had been so engrossed with just over a week ago, and now she suddenly had absolutely no interest in them. Instead, her gaze was pinned to a massive space of white concrete, as if it were some amazing piece of art.
Feeling mischievous and fueled by the desire to create a conversation, he walked up to where she sat and mouthed—
“The hyacinths are still as beautiful as you are. The walls are as blank as I am. Why then has the flower lost its allure to a blank wall?” He joked.
What he didn’t know, was that just as the wall, the hyacinths were blank to her too. Everything was, in fact, for she had been blind since the day she was born. But she looked at his direction, and smiled, and said to him in her enchantment of a voice—
“Just as you, and as the wall, the flowers and everything else has been blank to me since I was born.”
It took him a while to get what she meant, so he stood there, like an irresponsive teddy bear, his wide grin slowly straightening to a clueless blank stare. She might not have seen him, but she could tell from his sudden silence his dilemma. So she went under the bench and pulled her guard-stick out, then his mouth flew open.
“If you can hold a conversation without lacing it with pity and unnecessary empathy, you could sit with me and let’s gist.” She announced gleefully.
So he sat, with the guilt, shame and self-resentment that suddenly clogged in his throat. He sat, just beside her, heart in his mouth and bum at the edge of the bench. He sat, and while he searched for the words to say, she started: “So my name is Sally…”
SIX YEARS LATER, at the intensive care unit of the same hospital their fairytale started, he woke up from a coma. She was beside him, not as the random blind girl from six years ago, but as the other part of him that had said the vows while standing opposite of him in a church two years ago. A fairytale cut short by an accident that sent him struggling for his life in the ICU, she had been there, beside him, crying and praying. She sat behind him, her hands on his, when his eyes shot open. She felt it, so she called his name, and he made a sound. Everyone leapt for joy. She hugged him and kissed him, but he was cold and irreceptive. While she basked in the joy of her husband getting back around, she did not know, or was she prepared for the new reality— that it was not her husband who woke up, but a man who has become a stranger to even himself. For when he could finally speak, he acknowledged everyone in the room — His parents and siblings — but he looked at her, and the words that would change their lives forever rolled off his mouth: “Who are you?”
“Dissociative Amnesia”, that’s what the doctor called it. The man who had been the love of her life had woken up from coma with an amnesia that took away the last ten years of his life from his memory, so once again, she was a stranger to him. Once again, like it was six years ago, she was the random blind girl in the hospital room to him. There, when he woke up from that coma and saw a random, blind woman hugging him, was the second time he met her.
THE PICTURES, THE diary entries, the videos and every other means they tried to help his memory with only proved one thing at the end: that it was gone forever. So, like the two young, strange people in an arranged marriage, they lived together, yet they were worlds apart, like estranged housemates. Eight months had passed and she would give up trying, determined to live the rest of her life like a replay of fairytale movies. However, on that warm evening, while she sat in the yard, staring aloof and bleeding inside, he walked into the yard and saw a beautiful woman staring at the hyacinths planted in the yard, and he walked up to her and said—
“Hyacinths are beautiful, and so are you.”
There, he met her again, anew, for the third time. There, he would start to learn to fall in love with her all over again.
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