He awaits news of what has befallen him, we his return

He awaits news of what has befallen him, we his return

Human, After All

Anubha George Can keep a secret even while telling the story @anubha.george

Silence spoke volumes that day in early January. No students rushing about in the corridor, no scramble to get into the admin office, no loud music blaring out from classes. People sat around with their heads bowed, talking in hushed tones, sad teary faces looked back at each other. All of us on the campus were in mourning.

One of our students had been in a terrible accident in the early hours of that morning. He was in a car with his parents and his brother on their way back from a visit to a famous temple when it collided with a lorry. Our student was the only one to survive. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries. He had broken ribs, a fractured lung, spinal injuries and bruises all over his body. Survival was at stake. He was in and out of consciousness. But survive he did. Was it down to his will to live or the hand of God? Was it luck or karma? Was it down to diligent doctors or a miracle? We didn’t know.

But what his friends knew was that they needed to be with him. Six of them got on the first available train to Kozhikode where he was admitted in hospital. They didn’t worry what time it was or how much it cost. They didn’t think that the journey was a long five hours. They didn’t care that he studied cinema while some of them were journalism students. It didn’t matter to them that they had barely known him in the six months since college started. What they showed that day was camaraderie and humanity, friendship and strength of character. For those of us who were left behind in Kochi, they kept us posted on the goings on in Kozhikode. Gone was all the whingeing about life and apathy towards the world. Suddenly, these 20-somethings were grown up and mature individuals who made this brave decision to support their friend no matter what.

We had an inter-department fest coming up a few days later. The posters were out, teams had been invited, the social media campaign was in full swing. We collectively decided to postpone it by a few days. Nobody seemed to be in a mood to have a good time. How could we when one of us had suffered such tragedy.

While our student fought for his life in hospital, the bodies of his parents and brother were brought to their native place for their funerals. Some of the faculty hired a mini-bus to go to Thrissur. It wasn’t something that needed thinking about. We just did it.

We got news that every time our student came around, he asked for his mum. He couldn’t remember much, just that he had been in an accident. He wanted to see his mother, he wanted her with him. The doctors decided not to tell him that he’d never see his Amma ever again. Or his Appa. Or his brother. The condition he was in, it was best not to upset him. He couldn’t possibly survive that.

All of us in college, students and teachers, made Sadako or origami birds for him. The story in the novel “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” is based on the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. I need not tell you what our wish was. You know that by now.

It’s been a month since that day. Our student is still in hospital in Kozhikode. The road to recovery is hard, littered with many surgeries and medical procedures. His college mates still visit him from Kochi. Distance is not something they think about. He still asks for his mum. And he still doesn’t know she’s no more. His memory of those hours is hazy. The parents of other students have offered to contribute towards his fees and his future. While time stands still for him in that hospital, all of us on campus are united in grieving for what has befallen him.

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