I rush into the hospital and find Gennie talking on the phone. She points at the doctor’s room gesturing Dam is in there and pulls my hand down to sit next to her. “He’s alright, Mrs. Parkinson. Please don’t let this worry you too much. He’ll give you a call once he’s out of the doctor’s room. Yes, sure, Take care”.
“Dam’s mom, she wants to come and it’s…”
“Hw’s he now ? ” I sharply cut her across
“Dam is doing ok. But they say he might need a surgery on his right elbow. The car hit him on his hand while he was trying to get out of the driver’s seat. “
I sigh out my aggravation and ask her if she has got enough money.
“I have paid for the x-rays and stuff but I think we’ll need a lot more”.
I quickly leave for the ATM. I offered Gennie a bottle of water when I got back. She took it gratefully.
“Anna, there’s something else I want to tell you”.
“What?”, I ask her, sipping the water bottle.
“Did you know that Dam is a cancer patient? ” She says that so casually that I can’t really make out if I heard her right.
“He is, Anna. And I found that out myself only today when he told the doctor. Dam is leaving New York, the next month. Says he wants to just move on ”
There is this sudden gush of tears bombing out of my eyes and I can feel my heart shrinking thinking about what I just heard. I can’t hold the bottle firmly and drop it eventually. My fingers are trembling. I can’t even blink. I am shocked to the degree that I feel like slapping Gennie for giving me this news.
“What the hell…” I don’t know what I am saying.
Gennie holds my hands and tries to appear composed. But I can see tears in her eyes too.
“Don’t worry, he will be ok.”
I bang my neck against the head rest of the chair and look up at the blank ceiling.
“No body knows, not even his mom”, Gennie continues but I wish I didn’t hear anything.
All these days, all the fun and silly things we had shared. I have only seen Dam in the brightest of smiles. Every moment of hell I gave him and Gennie about my relation with Kenny, I know I have hurt Dam so many times because I was hurt myself and I couldn’t take it when Dam or Gennie tried to console me. I was always snappy and cranky and insane whenever we talked about Kenny or my life. And Dam would tease me at the end of it all saying I finally gave Kenny a chance to live and I would sometimes slap him. All this and more when he knew he was having this dreadful disease ? He was always listening to me like I was the most important person ever and all I have given him back is my share of truck loads of problems and a little companionship.
I sigh and close my eyes. For a moment I don’t see anything, I don’t see life. Perhaps Dam didn’t tell me about his little secret because he knew I would ignore it just like I had ignored him, all these days, all my life.
I curse God for putting people through the worst of life, but quickly remember Dam telling me once that God never puts us in problems; we choose our own mistakes and God goes through the toughest time trying to pull us out of it.
Dam was leaving ? Where would he go ? He doesn’t have anyone save his mom. Is there anything I can do ?
I lay there for hours, thinking and not understanding. They are doing the surgery on Dam’s hands. Gennie fell asleep for an hour.
I wipe my cheeks and feel a numb coldness and tears.
I look around. It must be almost midnight. The clock showed 11:15. I can’t believe I was sitting there for 5 hours. I pull myself out of the chair. I suddenly think of Kenny and the easiness with which he broke the marriage. I think of Michelle. I think of Dam. I think of Gennie. I walk across the hall and hold the window sill, gazing out meaninglessly. I see a church and some people gathering up for the midnight service. They are hugging each other, kissing. I can’t see more because eyes are welling up and I look up at the skies, stand there until my knees were tired.
“Ms Gennie, Ms Anna”, that’s the call from the doctor.
I turn around with a jerk and see Gennie hurrying towards the doctor. I don’t hear what the doctor is saying. But he’s smiling at Gennie and she turns back to give me a Thumbs up. For once in so many hours, I take a deep relieved breath and wipe my tears out and slowly walk to the room.
Dam is awake, smiling as joyfully as ever. “Did I make your Christmas eve adventurous, ladies ? “ He chuckles.
I wait at his bedside and smile, touching his arm. “Hey Anna, what’s up honey. Did Gennie tell you I was dead ? “ Gennie was laughing.
“Are you leaving” I crawl up closer to his face. Dam’s smile fades, he looks up at me seriously.
“Where?” Dam manages to hold the smile.
“Are you leaving the city, Dam?”
He doesn’t respond. He looks at Gennie who looks apologetic.
“Dam I am asking you “ I sound angry
“Anna, see, some things are better left unsaid and you.. “
“I am so sorry Dam, I am so sorry I am letting you go. I am so sorry I didn’t know”. I cry and lean across his chest. I can slowly feel his hands on my hair.
“Anna, I just thought I will let you live”, he continues to chuckle.
“Yea, Thanks Dam, you can, it’s your life. But I’ve just got a small gift for you.”
“Wow, for Christmas ?”, he exclaims “ I just hope it’s not another crazy kitten that crunches into me all the time”
I suppress my laughter. I had gifted Dam a barmy kitten, last Christmas.
“No, it’s not, but it’s gonna be yet another crazy being that will torture you for a life time ” I smile
“Ohhh no”, Dam groans “I know ! A puppy this time, right ? ! Anna for GOD’s SAKE, I HATE PETS “
I continue to smile.
“What, where’s the damn thing” He is curious.
I move further close that I can now feel his breath and whisper into his confused face
“here” And I kiss him, gradually feeling his hug tightening and tears flowing. But there is no grief , I know. I look into his eyes. For the first time, I have seen tears in his eyes. He still looks flabbergasted. He hasn’t taken his arm off me.
Wiping away his tears, I hold his hands and say
“Merry Christmas, Dam”
He still can’t speak. And he struggles to shift his gaze to Gennie to get her word that this is not a dream.
Gennie is smiling in tears.
I turn back and go “Merry Christmas, Gennie”
Tears get faster on Gennie’s cheek. She comes closer, kneels down by the bedside
“Merry Christmas to both of you” She somehow manages amidst tears and smiles .