The morning rush of patients was over; monitoring vitals, sending laboratory investigations, prescribing medicines and all the relatively small yet hectic duties that internship brought were done with for the day. The patients were in their beds and that provided her some rare quiet moments. She pored over the books that would enable her to cross yet another threshold of her medical career, a postgraduate degree. She concentrated on the questions, mentally eliminating choices and zeroing on a single answer. Confidence surged and ebbed with every guess.
Two hours passed by. Apart from a casual chat with the nurse on duty, there was nothing to interrupt her studies. Few seniors came by later in the evening, and she updated them about any changes in the patients’ conditions. Her duties lessened and she closed her book and waited for nine pm when she could finally go home. Everything seemed dull. She looked at the clock, the minute hand mockingly refused to budge even after what seemed like an eon.
Then he walked in, a confident stride. He had come for his evening shift. Suddenly she became aware of how heavy and awkward her hands felt; and not knowing what to do with them she picked up the book in front of her. Emoting a bilaterally equivalent expression became impossible and she was stuck with the right side of her face trying a hesitant smile, while the left eyelid drooped and the nostril flared. She took in furtive glimpses of him without being too obvious. She was acutely aware of the fact that he stood a few inches away from her and that was her cue to freeze. The simple task of handing over a patient file to him made her sweat glands go into an overdrive. He was totally oblivious of what his presence was doing to her, he probably didn’t even notice that she existed. Time seemed to gallop now, and soon it was time for her to go home. She cursed this relativity of time!
He used to be just another face, another acquaintance. The words that came to her mind when she had first seen him were, “Oh My God! What Acne!” It might have been sudden or gradual, it’s a blur now, but she had looked flustered every time he looked at her or the rare times he talked to her. He hardly knew her, nor did she. And there was no use of harboring any romantic notions for him as it wouldn’t have led to anything. Be reasonable, she chided herself repeatedly. But the heart had stopped taking orders from the reason-seeing-logical-thinking brain. There was a visible disconnect between what she thought and what she felt.
So here she was, acting like an over-enthusiastic teenager, feeling elated every time she caught a glimpse of him or saw him smile; when she had firmly decided that falling in love wasn’t a consideration in the near future.
What was it?
It wasn’t love, it’s too deep a word to assign to her feelings for someone she hardly knew. It wasn’t lust, she didn’t obsess or fantasize about him. It wasn’t an infatuation, he was not the most eligible guy around. It wasn’t the want to be in a relationship, she knew and accepted that he would never reciprocate her feelings. She didn’t feel the urge to see him, or be with him constantly.
She was just happy that there was this boy out there who made her smile every time he crossed her mind. And that’s that.