By Neel Anil Panicker

Both, time and she, lay dying in his arms.

He held them close, both, tightening his grip around her, as he counted her heart beats, the clock ticking by, the moments slipping away like sands off a child’s fists.

A phrase from the past landed on his mindscape.

“Junaid…enjoy…live…breathe…close your eyes, internalize these moments…live them…who knows when and whether they would ever come back.

Typical lover speak.

They were in Ulsoor Lake. It was mid-summer; the park bench they chose was secluded from prying eyes___an overhanging peepal tree branch gratefully reaching out and providing much needed privacy.

It was their fourth month of courtship. Four months, three days, seven hours, forty-eight minutes and…

Radha kept the count; he too, but more she.

He was too busy; his hands probing crevices in her body he never even knew existed.

She too didn’t hold herself back.

The couple’s delightfully delirious oohs and aahs were subdued enough to be mistaken as bird sounds.

The bliss lasted eight more months.

Ninth month, she was in the hospital.

“It’s a rare form of lung cancer. Practically undetectable. Acute stage. Her days are numbered.”

The doctor had been blunt.

Her clock was about to stop.


Her fingers stirred. He dug his ears closer to her heart. It was slowing; the pace uneven, the sound heavy and erratic.

She was slipping away. The love of his life was going away, and he couldn’t do anything to stop her.

There he lay, beside her, watching, hearing, feeling, dying with every single breath that was being stolen away from his Radha, the once effervescent, giggly, naughty yet loving girl he had given his heart to.

And thus he waited, and prayed, as did others in that hospital room, as did all in that five story multi-speciality hospital___waiting for a miracle to happen, waiting for God’s almighty benevolence to shower upon him, waiting for some supreme power___the omnipotent authority that runs the Universe and beyond to somehow  reach out and stop the clock___stop the inexorable, inevitable march of cruel fate.

All, their heads bent, in limbo___silently crying their hearts out for some happy reversal  of fortunes, some blessed twist in this fast careening towards tragic love story. Some thing that would restore and reunite two lovers wedded to each other and thereof to the world by the inseparable glue of undying love____a massive symbol of peace and humanity in this fast degenerating world of skeptics and naysayers, polarisers  and general worshippers of the Devil.


…the clock ticked by.

#neelanilpanicker #flash #fiction #shortstory #storyweaver

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