Vibhor Aggarwal
‘Earlier I used to be afraid of the dark, I wouldn’t allow my mom to shut the lights off and won’t go to sleep for hours, but now I would trade my accumulated wealth to see the face of darkness shroud my eyeballs.’ Rajiv resisted the urge of scratching his face.

‘How about itching?’ The doctor asked in a non-passionate voice
‘It gets worse with every passing day. It is hard to bear the morning sun.’ Rajiv finally took the paper napkin and wiped the squirm off his right eye.
The doctor passed him a cotton swab and again started the rigorous counseling session He held up a card and said ‘Can you read these letters?’
‘E…F…P…T…O…um L’
‘Repeat the last letter please.’
‘L’ Rajiv faked confidence.
‘Are you sure, it’s not Z’ the doctor asserted the last letter.
Rajiv couldn’t say it clearly.
‘Your eyesight is getting weak. In fact, it has deteriorated ten percent since the last session. I am prescribing another eye drop and couple of sedatives to help you sleep. And Rajiv.’ He paused to gain undivided attention from his patient. ‘I know it is tough to resist the temptation but you need to stop scratching it’
‘Yeah doc. I will.’ Rajiv took the paper from his hand and picked up his tinted glasses from the side table, he stumbled while trying to get up, the Doctor offered help but he rejected it and got up on his own.
Rajiv left the office before the doctor could suggest the stick. Rajiv called a cab to take him home, with a quick stop-over at the medical shop and when he reached his single bedroom apartment, the first thing he did was to switch off all the lights, removed his glasses and went to bathroom.
He splashed water on his face and splashed it again and again until his shirt was soaked in water and his eyes have quenched their thirst. He would have cried out his pain but tears won’t come easily.
He looked in the mirror, he hasn’t shaved in a month nor did he have a desire to shave any time soon. The scar on his brow ridge was prominently visible. He massaged the area around his eyes, particularly the eyelids. They were still paralysed, apparently he again have to spend the night with his eyes wide open.
‘Hey freak, how was the appointment?’ The voice came from the hall.
‘They all are okay until I go blind.’ Rajiv yelled. ‘And don’t come in here.’ Rajiv stopped the person as soon as he heard the footsteps. But the door of the washroom was already ajar.
‘Oh my god Rajiv, Why are you sitting on the wet floor, and why is your shirt all soaked up.’ Rajiv looked at the source of the voice and thought if only she was not beautiful. He held her hand and stood up though he felt weak in his knees.
‘Sneha I have an eye condition apparently there isn’t enough space in this house to accommodate two blinds.’ Sneha didn’t react to his scathing comment but instead took him to the bedroom.
The room was a dark and only a minimal light escaped through the windows which were otherwise curtained. She removed his shirt and threw a towel at him, ‘Help yourself freak.’ She said before leaving the room. Rajiv smiled and yelled ‘What no pity sex today?’ but Sneha was already out.
Rajiv hated the nights, every night he would lay on his bed waiting for the sleep to come but the primary requirement for sleep was never fulfilled. The sedatives were helpful only to a certain extent; above all he needed eye drops every hour. On the bright side Sneha always lost in the game of stares.
After over thirty sessions with the Doctor, during the course of one month Rajiv was reasonably satisfied that there was no cure and there never will be. Although in the first session, when the Doctor diagnosed him with the disease called Bell’s palsy. Rajiv’s first reaction was to look it up on Wikipedia.
Apparently it is a type of paralysis in which a person loses control of his facial muscle. Sometimes it is the lower lip, some people won’t stop winking, some can’t chew, there are some people who can’t open their eyes and then there are rare cases like Rajiv’s whose eyelids are jammed and won’t shut.
The Doctor ensured him that often the disease was not a big deal and would get cured on its own and only in rare cases it won’t go. Rajiv was disappointed when the Doctor thought that it might be a rare case.
One day Sneha was reading a book in the hall, when she heard a blood curdling scream from the bathroom. She ran into the bath room and saw that Rajiv was lying on the floor; a box cutter lay bare on the floor with its blade stained in blood. The crimson liquid flew out of the corner of his left and right eye, they were not merely self-inflicted wounds; they were the tears of blood.
Sneha took him to the hospital and admitted him while, the Doctor was informed.
‘You need five stitches on each side.’ The doctor was calm but his voice reflected a subverted anger. Rajiv groaned in reply, while Sneha stood beside his bed concerned.
‘Doc will he be ohkk.’ Sneha asked. The Doctor, clearly annoyed he answered ‘Sure, the only problem is that he has damaged his tear ducts so you have to do all the crying for him.’  Rajiv chuckled.
The doctor continued ‘Soon you will need a new pair of eyes, but with your current condition the Eye bank may reject your case as ineligible.’
‘Great, I also don’t want new set of eyes; I just want to remove these.’
‘Ok, if you want so.’ The Doctor was about to leave when he turned around.
‘Really… a box-cutter…you know there are more violent TV series to take inspiration from.’
Rajiv chuckled and then groaned in pain…

Sneha squeezed the last droplet of Chlorhexdine on Rajiv’s emerald green iris which made a stinging sensation and blurred his near blind vision. She placed the empty bottle back in the medicine box and checked the stock for other medicine.
‘Honey I am going to the medical shop.’ She announced while scribbling a bunch of names and picking her bag she started humming the song.
Rajiv heard her humming the song, which gradually faded in the background and then died when the door was slammed shut. He again heard a faded humming of an old lullaby which grew louder.
‘Sneha…’ Rajiv growled. But the humming didn’t stop.
There was something familiar in the voice, which was making Rajiv uncomfortable, He shifted his head around the room and try to scan the room with his blurry vision. No one was on the left side of the table, he turned his head to the right side; a familiar faint figure appeared on his bedside.
The voice no longer discomforted him, a peaceful smile spread over his face.
‘Maa, Maa…’  The figure smiled back at him.
She gently caressed his hair and ran her fingers on his face, it was soothing touch, it took away all his fear and all of the anxiety. He regained his vision and saw the figure doused in bright light.
‘Sleep, sleep son, everything is alright. Now sleep.’ His eyes felt heavy, and then image faded in the darkness that gradually overpowered his vision. It was all dark and calm, now he could sleep without ever needing to blink.

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