It was on a winter night in
I slowly walked up to the door and asked, “Who is there?” No one replied. I again asked, “Who is it?” The stranger instead of replying rang the bell once again. I shouted, “Who are you looking for?” I didn't even know whether my visitor was a girl or a boy. This time my 'visitor' banged on the door. I made a vain attempt to look into the eyeglass. But my conscience told me that the intruder had his or hand on the eye hole.
Now for a young girl of 24, alone in an unknown city and that too on a stormy night with a strange visitor at the door is indeed frightening. At this moment the clock struck and I knew it was . I felt my way up to the telephone and pressed, ‘redial’ which had his mobile number stored. The same old voice said, “The mobile phone you are calling is switched off…please dial after sometime.”
Meanwhile my intruder had pressed the doorbell thrice and banged the door twice. Then there was silence for sometime and just after that I heard a sound as if a paper was being pushed in through the gap beneath the door. I picked up the paper that was of no use to me. For the first time in my life I felt my helplessness.
I am blind. When I lost my eyesight at the age of 15 just before my School Leaving Examination, I lost all hope. But my parents helped me a lot and they never for a moment let me realize that I was blind. I gave my examination and passed out with flying colors. I even got chance in an engineering college and came out as an engineer. My studies were only by hearing. Mom and Dad spent sleepless nights, reading out fat books and writing whatever I said. He used to come and visit me everyday with flowers, storybooks, magazines that he himself would sit and read out. Then I got a job as a teacher in Goa and by lord’s grace he too was transferred to Goa. During all this time I have never felt my helplessness for many warm and strong hands always supported me but today………BANG!!!
My thoughts were broken and I realized that my visitor was still standing outside, waiting for me to open. Suddenly the strong feeling of humanity over shadowed me and I didn't know why I opened the door. My visitor was a girl. And my sixth sense told me that she was younger to me. Outside it was raining as if the whole world will be flooded. The girl said a “Thanks” in a very soft voice. I understood that till now she had been replying me but since I was tensed and the wind kept gushing and sweeping, I couldn't hear her.
Many questions came up in my mind and at last I asked her, “What’s your name? Do you know my friend or me? Where do you come from?”
I must have sounded like a teacher for she stammered a little and then said, “My n…name is M…aria. I know none of you personally but the church where you two go to pray on Sundays is near to my house. I have seen you there.”
“Oh! Then where are you coming from in this stormy weather?”
The girl hesitated a bit and said, “I … I …am coming from the…the…hospital. My mother has been admitted in the morning.”
“Then you must be wet. I’ll give you some clothes to change.”
“Why haven’t you switched on any lights?”
I was surprised. She said that she knew me then doesn't she know that I am blind? I tried to play along and said, “Actually, I was sleeping and so I had switched off the lights.”
“Which side is the switch? It’s too dark out here!”
“I’ll switch it on for you. Go to the right and you’ll get some clothes there.” It was our guest room where I sent her.
She went in and I was left to my thoughts again. “Who was she?” my mind kept asking me.
I was left to myself for around ten minutes and then she came. “The dress was exactly of my size. Is it yours?” she said.
I quickly turned and went into the kitchen, pretending not to have seen her and said, “Which one are you wearing?”
“I am wearing the black velvet, long frock.”
“That was my favorite dress when I was in college. It seems you have a good choice of clothes. I think you are a teenager. Are you?”
“Yes. I am in my last teen.”
“What would you like to have tea or coffee? I believe it is very cold outside, isn't it?”
“Yes. It is chilling outside especially with the draught blowing. If it is possible then please get me a cup of coffee.”
She was a warm and cozy person. She reduced my fears and I could feel more comfortable in her presence. She had a good wit. A person who knew how precious life is! One who knows how to enjoy and be merry! She made me laugh like my childhood days. And slowly in her presence I forgot that it was 2.00 in the morning and he was not at home yet. When I was assured that she was of no harm to me, I asked her, “Don’t you know I am blind?”
She was shocked it seemed, for her tone changed and in broken words she said, “I am so sorry to have disturbed you like this. Actually I never knew. Whenever I have seen you at the church you were steady and cheerful like anyone else present there.”
I am sorry I didn't write till now what my friend did…well, he is a doctor. Just at that moment the phone started ringing.
She said, “Will I receive the phone call for you?”
“No, no, I can do that. I am not to that extent an invalid.”
I picked up the receiver. From the other end his voice came in a tired and worn out way. He said, “I am sorry I couldn't inform you. I don’t know when I am going to go home. So you don’t be tensed. An accident has occurred in the hospital and a patient of mine has escaped. She is a dangerous young girl of nineteen with a soft and husky voice. She usually stammers while speaking. So you be careful.”
I didn't know what to say. I turned and then there was a click in the door and I knew that she was gone. I was bewildered and dumbstruck and I didn't know what to tell him. But I have remained silent about that night forever. Neither did I tell him that I did not meet his ‘dangerous’ patient nor did I tell him that his ‘dangerous’ patient had become a friend of mine for one night. But Maria or Della (as she told me) was always there in my memory.