Sweat dripped down my face with each breath. I couldn’t withhold any longer and raised my tired voice, “Can you make it fast?”
“Why don’t you come inside and take it yourself?” replied Laszar almost losing his temper listening my impatient voice.
I waited distraughtly for him to come out. After almost five minutes, he came out with a packet and handed it to me.
“How much is it?” I asked.
“You may give it later to me, now hurry up and rush home.” he said while pulling down the shutter of his shop.
I looked around for an auto-rickshaw but found none. Without thinking twice, I begun to run. My home was three kilometers away. Thinking about the great distance to be covered, I started running as fast as my legs would carry me. I didn’t stop at any of the frequent signals found at every half a kilometer. I was hit by a cricket ball on the way, but I didn’t stop. Instead, I ran like a mad dog on the streets of Trivandrum.
People on the road were staring but no one enquired my case. By the time I reached Sreekariyam, I was drained of energy. Panting and tired, I sat on a milestone to regain myself.
But it wasn’t long before my inner conscious reminded me of the remaining distance.
My legs were stiff and they didn’t allow me to move freely.
“Run… Run… “I whispered to myself and resumed sprinting towards home.
I finally reached. No one was around the apartment. Without wasting any time, I climbed the stairs of the three storey building. I almost lost my heartbeat upon reaching my door. As it wasn’t locked I stepped inside.
“Dad, are you so late?” said Miya, my 6 years old daughter who has been waiting for more than half an hour. I held her hand heading to the bedroom and said, “I told you to be with Mom.”
“Neena.” I called out to my wife who was laying on the bed, struggling to breathe.
I tore the packet which I carried in haste and drew out the inhaler. She wanted to get up and I helped her to sit by placing her head comfortably towards the headboard. She was covered with a fine sheen of sweat and was panting to the extreme. I shook the inhaler, removed the cap and brought it close to her mouth. She breathed in slowly, held it for some time and breathed out. After repeating the same for five-six times, I saw a respite on her face.
“Are you comfortable now?”
She nodded her head and said, “Need some rest.”
I helped her to lay back to the bed and came out of the room. Miya was so anxious to see her mom struggling for air that she stood silently.
“Miya, let mom take rest.” I turned on the ceiling fan and sat on the sofa in front of the television.
“Dad.” she brought a tumbler filled with water and sat on her little bean bag, in front of me.
“Dad, don’t we need to take her to hospital?” She asked.
After mopping the sweat of my face, I said, “She will be alright. Don’t worry.”
Miya didn’t speak for some time and asked after a while, “Dad, can I switch on the TV?”
I nodded my head and she switched it on. I stared at the television, but I couldn’t listen to what was playing on it.
It all started by 5 O’clock in the morning. I was excited, woke up early and turned on my laptop without disturbing my wife and daughter. I ran through the article once again and did one last round of proofreading.
“Aren’t you done with it?” Neena woke up. I checked the time. It was sharp 6’O clock.
“Almost. Can you please make some coffee for me?”
“Let me freshen up first. Fifteen minutes.” She headed to the washroom.
I had a glimpse at my Facebook page to check the online users. The number wasn’t encouraging. Coffee was served. To kill time I browsed some online news portals. Miya came of the bed after a while.
“Dad, didn’t you publish it yet?” She asked.
I checked the time and said, “In another 15 minutes honey, it’s only 8 AM. Let some more people come online.”
“Dad, you had been waiting for a month. Publish it now.” She ordered.
I loved to delay it by another half an hour, but I couldn’t overdo it against the commandment of my master at home. I clicked the publish button on my blog and sent the link to all my social networking sites.
“Neena…” I screamed.
“What??? What happened?” She rushed from the kitchen.
“It’s live now. See, people are reading it.” I showed her the number of hits it received as soon as it was published.
“What else will they do today sitting idle at their home!” She exclaimed and returned to the kitchen nonchalantly.
Yes, she was right. What else will they do on a nation-wide holiday? To be precise, on a national strike day. I have been waiting for this day for almost a month.
Isn’t it a better idea to release an online journal on a strike day? It is. With no option to come out of home, everyone will get at least a chance to visit their social networking sites. We would get such holidays at least twice a month and what more should an online writer ask for?
I was amused with the response I was getting from the moment it went live. Neena and Miya weren’t disturbed from their routine, since they have experienced it many times in the past.
Time was around 10’O clock. Neena returned from the terrace with handful of dresses and said, “I am not feeling well.”
I was too busy promoting my journal, but I took my eyes off the monitor and asked, “What happened?”
She fell on the floor upon a sudden and thunderbolts jolted my brain.
“Neena… “ I raised her from the floor and helped her to reach the bed.
“Get some water.” I said Miya.
“What happened?” I asked again.
She was panting and struggling to maintain her breath. “Get me the inhaler. It’s in the cupboard”
I found the inhaler, but it was empty and we didn’t had a spare one.
“Shall we go to hospital?” I asked her.
“I cannot breathe.” She replied.
I picked up my phone and dialed doctor Janaki, whom we consult regularly for her asthma. The call wasn’t answered and I tried her landline.
“Hello.” Someone picked up the call.
“Is doctor Janaki there?” I asked.
“She along with her husband had gone for a three days vacation in lieu of the strike called in India.” The call was disconnected immediately after conveying the message.
It was Friday and to make use of the three consecutive holidays, most of our neighbors were gone to their natives.
“Neena, keep calm. I will try for a medical shop. Miya, be here with mom. I will be right back.”
I took the empty inhaler and ran down the stairs to reach my car. Only upon reaching it, I realized that one of its tyres was punctured. I didn’t take care of it the last day due to the strike called on Friday. With no options left, I rushed to the road searching for a vehicle. There wasn’t any, and children were playing on the road. By shaking my head, I ran towards Karyavattam. One medical shop was found near the next junction but it was closed. I kept running to Karyavattam and reached Pangappara where my friend, Laszar runs a medical shop. He stays near to the shop and I managed one inhaler from there. Protesters were seen on the streets burning tyres and throwing stones at all the shops which were opened. I struggled with my fitness, but still I ran faster and reached home.
While I was sitting relieved, Neena came out of the room.
“What are you doing? Why don’t you lie there for some more time?” I raised my voice a bit.
“I will sit with you.” She said and sat next to me.
“Mom, are you okay?” Miya’s mild voice hit our ears.
She nodded her head and lay on to my shoulder.
“You watch TV.” I said Miya.
Neena’s eyes were opened, but I wasn’t sure if she was watching television. News ticker on the television showed the number of buses set on fire and the loss incurred to government due to damage in public properties.
After a while, Miya asked me,”Dad, who calls these strikes?”
“Political parties, most of the time.” I replied.
“Why do they call strikes?” She questioned.
“Whom do they want to protest against?”
“Why don’t they block them, instead of blocking us?” Her little brain triggered questions one after the other.
“They have forces by their side and hence they cannot be blocked.” I replied, thinking there wouldn’t be any further questions.
“Isn’t there a different way to protest?” She asked again.
“I don’t know.” I said without looking at her face.
She kept quiet for a while and asked again. “Dad, won’t they allow even the aeroplanes to fly?”
“Miya, will you keep quiet for a while?” I lost my temper as I ran out of words.
“Mom, this dad knows nothing.” She said aloud and went back to the television set.
I didn’t had replies to her honest doubts, in fact many of us don’t have. A Malayalam movie named Nirnayam was played on the television which almost tells the story of a girl who lost her life without getting medication on time.
I looked at Neena and thought “What would have happened, if I couldn’t have brought the inhaler on time?”
“Are you okay?” I asked her after a while and in return she held my left palm so tight. After taking a deep breath, I looked at the mobile which I held in my right hand. The blog I posted a few hours before have been read by around 10,000 people then. Business, ain’t it?