The next week went by in a blur. It was the first week of December and slowly I could feel the twinges and discomfort lessening. Sargam didn’t just work on my leg muscles but also on my mind. We had visualization sessions everyday where I visualized in great detail how I would walk out of the hospital on Christmas Eve, how I would sing to my fans at the Christmas concert and how I would enter the recording studio for the third album, for which we had already started composing. I didn’t tell Dr. Sargam but I often visualized walking hand in hand with her on a beach at night when the sky was filled with bright stars and moonlight is the only light that lit our path. I imagined hugging her and carrying her in my arms. I didn’t know how, but every day I was steadily falling deeper in love with her. It was so easy to be myself with her, share my dreams, goals and fears with her. I knew beyond doubt that she was the one I didn’t even know I had been waiting for. It was becoming increasingly important to heal to make all these visions a reality.
On 15th December, I felt confident enough to walk without any aid. Even though Sargam insisted that I wasn’t ready yet. I slowly put my feet on the ground and tried to walk with the help of crutches. I took the first step and felt pain shoot up my leg but it soon became bearable.I took the next step but I felt searing pain singe me and I buckled and almost fell when I felt Sargam’s arms around me. She broke my fall but it was my spirit that broke that day. I felt numb at first. The shock of defeat ricocheted through me. I wanted to cry and keen in pain and desperation but I reined it all in. Sargam tried hard to hide her disappointment, but I could see right through her reassuring smile. I could hear her telling me I was pushing myself too hard and that I was not ready but in my mind I was afraid that I would never be ready. I pretended to sleep while Sargam sat silently in my room and it was the first time I saw her sitting dejectedly with hunched shoulders.She wouldn’t tell me, but I knew she was hurt too. I was her first case and I had failed and let her down.
The next day, I pretended like I was fine and neither of us mentioned anything about that incident. I was just going through the drill for the heck of it and also to make Sargam happy by showing her that I was trying but in my mind, I had lost all hope. One evening after the session Sargam took my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “You know you should stop pretending. You don’t have to fake being alright if you are not.”
I didn’t know what to say to her and then suddenly, every vision I had flashed through my mind. If I gave up so easily, how would I ever fulfil them? Would Sargam ever choose to be with a man who couldn’t stand on his own two feet? I couldn’t give up now and disappoint her, my band mates and my fans who prayed every day for me to walk again. So I squeezed her hand and said, “I want to walk again for me, for my band mates and for my fans.”
Sargam smiled at me and said, “I never said it will be easy but I also never said that it’s impossible.”
I think I will remember those words for the rest of my life. They became my inspiration. I gave every exercise, every therapy and visualization session my 110 Percent. I did not doubt for a single second that I would walk out of the hospital on my own two legs. I think Sargam sensed my determination and optimism too and we worked together at making our dream come true. I wanted to walk not just for me, but for us.
On 24th December, every nurse, ward boy and doctor waited with baited breath to see me walk. This time before I took a single step, I closed my eyes and visualized feeling the power in my legs, imagined balancing my body weight on my legs, taking one small step and then another till I was standing in front of Sargam. For a moment I was seized with panic and the demon of fear and doubt reared its ugly head, but I beat it back and threw every negative self-doubt out of my head. I stood up and when I didn’t feel more than just a twinge, I took one step and then waited but nothing happened. I took another careful step and then another till I was steadily walking towards Sargam.
Everyone clapped and cheered for me. The head nurse was dabbing at her moist eyes.She too had grown fond of me in the past few months, despite my surly temper.The hospital and its staff felt like second home and I couldn’t help but smile at all of them cheering for me but the one person whose reaction mattered the most stood there in front of me motionless. I could see Sargam struggling to compose herself, I could see pride in her eyes as well as the tears pooling in them but she tried hard to hold them in. I could almost hear her sweet voice telling herself ‘calm down Sargam, he is just your patient. Be professional, you can’t cry every time a patient you treat heals and feels better’. I knew the exact moment when she told herself ‘to hell with professionalism’ and gave in to her emotions.
I found myself enveloped in the softest, warmest, most fragrant hug. Sargam cried from joy and relief. Everyone continued to cheer and I was overwhelmed. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. My emotions were churning violently like a vortex and I was bursting with the need to tell Sargam how I truly felt about her, so before I could stop myself or rethink my actions, I went down on one knee, albeit a little clumsily and told Sargam, “I love you, I love you so much, I don’t have enough words to tell you how I feel about you. Ever since you walked into my room, my heart was gone. You turned me upside down and you made me yearn for things I didn’t dare to believe I would have again. Thank you so much for being by my side in the toughest of times. Now will you walk by my side for the rest of your life?
I had always imagined proposing in soft candle light, dressed in a tuxedo, amidst shimmering lights and with the fragrance of flowers but today it felt perfect even in blinding white light, in a hospital robe, with the waft of medicines and that peculiar sterile smell of a hospital. Sargam simply froze and stared at me gobsmacked. With every passing second, my pulse scrambled.
“I’m sorry but I can’t accept your proposal.”
I stared at Sargam wide eyed and my heart dropped to my feet. That’s when Sargam burst into a nervous giggle and said hurriedly, “I don’t mean I don’t love you,it’s just that till your discharge papers don’t get signed, you are my patient and I’m your doctor and so accepting your proposal would be unethical.”
I laughed in relief to hear her say that and rising up, I pulled her close and hugged her. She tried to squirm away but I held on tight, “I’m finally standing on my own two feet and I’m not letting you go anywhere and if you think you can run from me, I’ll run right behind you.”
Just like how I visualized, I sang on stage, I walked into the recording studio wearing the exact same clothes I had pictured myself wearing, I went for a walk on the beach with Sargam and held her hand, I hugged her, I carried her in my arms and more than anything else I began to live again and never took anything in my life for granted. I became more grateful, more humble and with Sargam by my side, I learnt to walk again. She gave me the wings to fly again and she filled my life with so much love that I healed and became whole again.