Episode 1

NOT GUILTY

The alarm clock struck 6 in the morning. Sameer woke up to the noise of the clock and then switched it off. As he got up, he yawned and then from the bed, looked out of the window, there was a chill breeze blowing through it.

Sameer thought to himself, “Winter is already here. I cannot leave the house without a jerkin. It’s worse if it rains. I cannot afford to catch a cold and miss even a single day of my job.”

The setting around Sameer looked odd. The walls had not been white washed, it was dampened in some areas, and there were cracks. Sameer searched for his mobile, it had gone under his pillow. He took it out to see if there were any calls during the night.

He was sad for a moment and then smiled thinking, “Those were the days when I used to get calls even at 3 am and now, this mobile of mine lies silent. More than me, it is my mobile that looks sadder for not ringing. It is almost a month now that it has rang and before that, it never used to stop ringing.”

The mobile looked ‘quite’ costly but did not suit the surroundings that Sameer was in. He got out from the bed telling to himself, “Let’s get started. No more wasting time.”

Sameer looked at himself in the mirror. He ought to have a shave. As he took the razor, and saw his reflection again, he thought with a smile, “I may have lost everything but my charm remains. No wonder there are still a few people in this world who still loves me.”

Sameer finished shaving, brushed his teeth, and then after a quick bath, dressed up in white shirt and pants. He was an ambulance driver. He then checked whether he had taken all his belongings – his wallet, his id card and a pretty costly digital watch. Before leaving, he checked his wallet for his driving license.

“I used to look for ways earlier to fool the officers but now when it comes to saving somebody’s life, I cannot be complacent.” said Sameer, satisfied that he had his license.

Finally, he took the door keys and after drinking a glass of water locked the main door. He was then greeted by the landlord, Govardhan who was reading the morning newspaper.

“You have to pay the rent today, remember!” said Govardhan.

“I will give it today evening, sir. I am getting my salary today. Rest assured you will get it.” Sameer replied

“You are looking smart today. Is there anything special?” asked Govardhan, still looking at the newspaper.

“Seriously sir, I am getting bored with that Dialogue.” commented Sameer.

“Just making you feel good, that is all, good bye.” said Govardhan, with a giggle.

“Thank you, sir. Good bye.” Sameer responded.

He was hungry and rushed to a small tea shop. After having his fill, he rushed to the bus depot to get the first bus. He reached his destination on time – the K.G.R hospital, and huffed and puffed towards his senior, Damodar.

“Why do you put yourself to task always? Relax. No one will say anything. There are those in the night shifts who have not even left home.” said Damodar.

“Maybe, they are very obedient and committed.” said Sameer.

“Well, I am not really sure about that. The work that we do here requires us to stay on our toes all the time. You will come across people who have never gone home on time because of sudden requirements.” commented Damodar.

As they walked towards a van, they caught 2 men sleeping. They were tasked with cleaning the van; however, they slept off in the middle of it.

Damodar looked at the men, shook his head and said to Sameer, “You talk about commitment. Look at these people, they are committed to sleep at work but their unique abilities to stay awake in hard situations are praiseworthy. I cannot stop loving them but I cannot stop hating them for this temporary attitude. WAKE UP, YOU DIMWITS!!”

The 2 men suddenly got up and saluted Damodar as though he was an army general.

“Ok, ok. Cut that out. Here, take your salaries.” said Damodar, handing over envelopes to the people around him.

Sameer checked his salary, no cuts, he received it in full.

Suddenly, the coordinator came with a doctor and 2 nurses.

“You people need to take them to the given address.” said the coordinator, giving a piece of paper to Damodar.

“Ok sir, we will. Get into the van, doctor.” said Damodar.

“Those equipments are going with us.” said the doctor.

Damodar signalled the 2 helpers to put the equipment into the van.

“Hmmm… This doctor has been called to check on a patient who seems to be counting her last days. Let’s go.” said Damodar.

Sameer sat on the driver’s seat while Damodar sat beside him, the former started the van, switched on the ambulance siren and then sped across the roads and streets towards the destination given.

The van stopped near a mansion, sameer honked the van horn and a man in his 50s came out to see. The doctor got down from the van along with the nurse and approached the man.

“Are you Mr. Sinha?” the doctor asked.

“Yes. Please come in.” Mr. Sinha said, he was in anxiety as he led the doctor inside.

The doctor signalled Damodar to bring the equipments. While the latter and the 2 helpers went in, Sameer was curious to know what had happened.

Sameer walked in and looked at the household. 2 men were standing and speaking with each other. There were 2 women who sat along with 3 children. One boy being the eldest playing a board game with the other 2 who were the youngest, possibly 4 to 5 years old.

The mansion was huge, probably would cost a million. The people in the house looked as though they were awaiting some news. Sameer slowly walked towards the room the group went into. A foul smell was coming from somewhere.

While the nurses along with the helpers were placing the equipments, Mr. Sinha came out with the doctor who said, “We are doing whatever we could, however, I do not see any hope. She is in her last stage. I can’t possibly say how long but just be prepared.”

Mr. Sinha then called his family members. No one was going close to the room. It wasn’t just the bad smell but there was something else too.

“Why the fuss when there is no hope! Someday it had to happen, isn’t it? Now just make sure that whatever paperwork regarding this property is necessary, we complete it quickly and allow her to rest in peace.” said the 2nd brother.

“Yes, brother. We are indeed sad about mom’s condition but what has happened has happened. Let’s think of the future. Let’s see to it that she has a peaceful death instead of making a fuss about this.” said the 3rd brother.

Sameer could make out that they were eagerly waiting for their mother’s death. They were more interested in the property share. Sameer couldn’t help smiling at them but at the same time feel sad about the lady inside. In her last moment of her life, there was no one sitting next to her, no one going close to her.

Sameer went in, even when he felt uncomfortable with that foul smell. The nurses and the helpers walked out the room while Sameer looked at the old lady on the bed. The lady was suffering from oral cancer. She had lost all her weight and strength. A photo of her hung on the wall as though making onlookers compare how beautiful she was and how ugly she had become now.

The lady opened her eyes and stared at Sameer who stood still beside her.

“Dear God, you have come to take me? Forgive my children, God. Let them enjoy their lives now. Take me into your grace. Please God, please.” the lady said, with whatever energy she had left.

Sameer was perplexed. The lady definitely had lost her mind too. The lady tried to fold her hands to pray, she had weakened so much that she had a hard time raising them. She had mistaken Sameer for God or… maybe she was seeing God. Then suddenly, those frail hands fell off. Sameer stared at the lady’s eyes; they were still. Nothing was moving. It was over.

Sameer came out and with a heavy heart and gave the news. The others including the doctor rushed inside to check. The women started wailing along with the children while the lady’s sons looked over the lifeless body as if it was nothing.

In the evening, Sameer walked up to his landlord and paid the rent. The landlord was able to make out that Sameer was looking glum today.

“Let me guess… You saw somebody die in front of your eyes, isn’t it?” asked Govardhan, Sameer stared at the former confused as to how he got to know about it.

“I may not be your father but at least I have the heart to understand what is going on in someone’s mind. Don’t worry, son. This is life. Millions will come, millions will go but life should go on forever. Go and take some rest. Tomorrow will be a new day. Good night.” said Govardhan.

Sameer went to his room thinking about what the landlord said. He unlocked the door, switched on the lights and then had a wash. He had brought dinner but he was in no mood to eat.

He sat on the bed thinking about that old woman. Suddenly, that old woman vanished and, in her place, he saw his father on that bed. Sameer is shocked and tried to come to terms with his present but he is unable to as his mind traveled through his past. Tears welled up in his eyes remembering that fateful day that changed everything.

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