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Murali’s glance shifted to his buzzing cell phone placed on his desk at his office. His close friend, Prakash’s name lit the screen. He grabbed the phone and pressed the green button.
“Hey, Prakash,” Murali said, his chest lightened. It had been more than a week since they spoke last.
“Where are…” Prakash mumbled.
What has happened to Prakash? Why is he mumbling? “Yes, tell me, Prakash. Is everything all right with you?”
“You need to brace yourself, Murali. I have bad news.”
Murali’s heart started racing. What had really happened? “Yes, go ahead.”
“Your fiancée, Falguni -”
“What about Falguni?” Murali asked.
“She had an accident.”
Murali’s heart sank; he was nauseated and everything around twirled; his vision blurred. He composed and then said, “Where is she now?”
“She is battling for her life in the Apollo Hospital.”
“How did you get to know this?” Murali asked.
“Falguni’s friend called and told me the news a while ago. She wanted me to tell you the matter. She couldn’t dare to speak directly with you.”
Murali’s breath caught in his chest. “What are the doctors saying?”
“They don't want to say anything at this stage.”
Murali longed to see his fiancée. “I'll leave for the hospital immediately.” He paused for a moment. “Why don’t you join me?”
“But Falguni’s brother, Hemant-” Prakash stopped short of his words.
Even though Murali feared her brother, Hemant, who had been trying to break their love affair, Murali needed to go there and see her.
“I want to see Falguni, Prakash. And I’m not scared of her brother.” He composed. "And I want you to join me."
“Okay." Prakash sighed. "I'm at home. Call me when you arrive here.”
Murali pressed the red button and gently tossed his phone on his desk. He hadn’t expected things would turn so unfavorable to him. He had been dating Falguni for two years and they had been trying to convince their parents for the union. Everything turned upside down because of this accident. He hoped Almighty would save Falguni’s life. And he would unite with her.
Murali would’ve married to Falguni had they both belonged to the same caste. He hated Falguni’s parents for their stubborn stance over their friendship. Her parents and her brother, Hemant, were a hindrance to their efforts to unite. Falguni’s parents were a hard nut to crack.
He shifted his glance to the computer clock. It was just before noon, and he would ask his manager, Vikram, for a half day leave. He needed to see Falguni. I am sure she will survive and she will feel relieved after seeing me.
He crossed a few cubicles and approached Vikram, whose eyes were glued to his laptop screen; he was busy reading a technical document.
Murali cleared his throat. “Hello, Vikram.”
Vikram turned around. “Hey, Murali. What’s up?” His cheerfulness faded after seeing Murali.
“I am taking time off this afternoon.”
“Time-off? Why?” Vikram sounded curious. “Is there anything urgent?”
“Yes. I need to go to the Apollo Hospital.”
“Apollo Hospital?” Vikram looked sideways. “Is someone not well?”
“My girlfriend, Falguni, is admitted there.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Vikram knotted his brows. “What has happened to her?”
“Well-” Murali swallowed a lump in his throat. He wasn’t sure how to tell him the news.
“Yes, tell me, Murali,” Vikram said, his tone reassuring. “I’ll try to help you.”
“Falguni met with an accident.” Murali stared down at the floor.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Vikram paused. “Yes, you can go and see her.”
“Thank you, Vikram. I will keep you updated.”
“Alright.” Vikram raised his palm, gesturing him the best.
Murali stepped out of his office. The moderate, cold winter breeze made him shiver; the sun glowed in the centre of the clear, blue sky. The puff of air obscured the warmth of the intense sunrays. Murali crossed his arms to feel warm as he strode towards his car.
He had enough courage to face Hemant, who hated him. But Murali was going there with Prakash and need not be apprehensive of any backlashes.
The afternoon traffic was heavy. He waited at the intersection with patience for the red light to turn green. Traffic police tried to ease the congestion in spite of the signal lights.
Murali accelerated to cross the intersection and headed down the street. He parked his car outside Prakash’s house and called him. Prakash arrived and sat in the passenger’s seat. Murali drove out of the residential area and steered towards the main road.
“You better be calm if Hemant tries to brawl with you,” Prakash said, gingerly.
Murali looked at Prakash for a moment before he fixed his gaze back on the road. “I don’t think he will argue with me as Falguni is admitted in the hospital. He will stay calm to keep up his dignity.”
Prakash remained silent. He evidently agreed to what Murali said.
“Do you know how and where it happened?” Murali asked.
Prakash remained silent.
Murali waited for Prakash to answer; he continued looking ahead at the road.
“She was driving her scooter on the state highway,” Prakash said. “And she tried to pass a heavy vehicle.”
Murali’s heart sank. She was hit by a truck!
“Perhaps, it was Falguni’s fault as well. She didn’t slow her scooter even though the driver signaled her not to pass. The truck driver has confessed these facts with the police.”
Murali couldn’t believe Falguni made a mistake. She drove her scooter with care. She had been driving for the past five years. There must be some other reason for the accident. “What else her friend said?”
“Well-” Prakash stumbled for words.
“Yes, tell me. What else she told?” Murali repeated.
Prakash remained silent.
Prakash must be hiding something from me.