Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Lost and found...
His usual gang - Amit, Tejas, Meera, and Anushka had decided to catch a late night movie, but he wanted to have that book at any cost.
"Carry on, guys,I have some work" he'd told them, amidst sniggers and raised eye-brows.
He stepped out of the canteen, to his bike in the parking lot, when he heard a voice behind him.
Nishant turned. A frail looking man in his fifties. He looked familiar, but Nishant couldn't place a finger on his face. Probably one of those patients he'd to take care of in the afternoon.
"Son, I'm Mohan Rao from Vijayawada...and I want to go back home."
Vijay looked around to see if the man was accompanied by care takers. He certainly looked frail, and looked quite lost.
"I'm sorry, I don't think I understand. You want to go home...?" He said instead, waiting for the man to complete the sentence, perhaps.
The man advanced slowly. Something was wrong with his walk. Nishant cleared his throat.
"Sir...are you with somebody? Maybe I can inform at the reception. Come with me..." He started.
"No no. I'm fine, I just... just want to go home. I'm..I'm Mohan Rao."
"Yes sir, I got that," Nishant said, slowly.
"I need your help, son."
Just then Nishant spotted Amit and Tejas walking by. They spotted him as well.
"Hey, Nishant. You sure you don't want to join us?"
Nishant looked at the pale face of Rao, and then his friends.
"Uh, sorry guys. I have to get a book."
They waved him away and continued.
"Yeah, so Mr. Rao..." Nishant turned, only to find the man gone. He looked around, his eyes searching, but couldn't spot him. Maybe he'd catch him on his way out and offer him a lift or something. Then he chuckled to himself - not all the way to Vijayawada though.
Canteen, the next day. They were talking in hushed tones, when Nishant arrived, and fell silent as he neared them. He was famished. He sat down with a loud sigh. "I could eat an elephant."
He looked at the silent faces around him. "What's up, guys?"
Tejas shook his head silently, and the others toyed with their respective plates and cups.
"Did I miss anything?" Nishant smiled. "How was the movie?"
"Boring," Meera droned.
Tejas was solemn. "There was a cop here today."
"What for?" Nishant asked, placing his books on the empty chair beside him.
"He was talking to the principal, I believe...about some unclaimed body."
"Unclaimed body? Here? What, one of the cadavers?"
"Yeah, the one we'd been working on."
"Oh, shit," Nishant said. "And..?"
"The cop was saying, the body belonged to some guy from Andhra. His relatives were apparently enraged. Said they'd not signed on any paper authorizing the body to be given to the college. Apparently our Princi too didn't know how it came to us. So, there was a show-down between the relatives and the cops."
Anushka said, "Anyway, the real zonker is - the body's gone from the hospital as well."
"What? How can that be? Gone, where?"
"But I thought, we got bodies only after all the paperwork, right? Maybe the cops only arranged for its disappearance," Nishant said and got up as the boy behind the counter waved at him to come get his lunch.
He turned to leave but stopped. "Wait a minute. Where did you say the body was from? Andhra, huh? Uh, where in Andhra?"
Meera said "Vijayawada. Some guy called....Mohan Rao?"
Nishant wasn't hungry anymore.