This story contain no graphic scenes of sex
This story contain no graphic scenes of sex
ALL STANDARD DISCLAIMERS APPLY
The man was moaning softly... his eyes still shut, but the fingers clenching and unclenching... the toes curling.
Dr. Neeladri quickly read through the patient chart, checking his pulse, and as he released the wrist, the man flitted his eyes open... staring up at him.
"Hello," he smiled down at the man, "I'm doctor Neeladri."
The man made an attempt at a weak smile, and then winced, closing his eyes.
"Relax," Neeladri said softly, patting the man's arm, "you're hurt, so just lie still..."
"Where am I?" the man asked, blinking open his eyes once more, looking up at Neeladri.
"You're at the hospital," Neeladri answered.
"Hospital?" the man asked.
"Yes, you were hurt," Neeladri nodded, "do you remember last evening?"
The man lay still for a while, looking up at the ceiling and then turning his gaze back to the doctor shook his head.
"You were at the eatery..."
The man went on staring, totally blank, the large, dark eyes unfocussed.
"That's okay," Neeladri smiled, "how are you feeling now?"
"Um, my head hurts, doctor," the youth replied, slowly lifting his left arm and touching behind the left ear, grimacing.
Neeladri patted the arm once more, bending over and checking both his eyes, before straightening up and smiling, "What's your name?"
The man made another attempt at a smile, wincing once more, "I'm... ah, I'm..." and then went totally blank, the eyes glazing over as he looked up at Neeladri.
"Get doctor Reddy," Neeladri told the nurse with him, walking over to the other side of the bed and gently feeling behind the left ear, "It hurts here?"
The man moaned softly, trying to nod, "Ah, yes..."
"Any other problem, or pain?" the doctor asked, feeling the neck and shoulder.
"Um, no," the man answered, "just feel a little... um, I don't know... funny?"
"Okay," Neeladri gave a reassuring smile before asking, "now, where do you stay, we need to contact your family."
"I... I," the man stuttered, looking back at him, the eyes confused, beads of perspiration forming on his brow, "Doctor, I... I don't know... I can't remember!" the voice suddenly fearful.
"That's okay, relax," Neeladri tried to assuage him, smiling, "you just woke up, you'll get it all back in a while."
Dr. Reddy arrived at that moment and Neeladri turned to him, whispering, "Amnesia?!"
It was the fourth time in the past month that the police were meeting the hospital authorities and senior doctors regarding patient Number Four... and the first one that Neeladri was attending.
It was indeed an odd case, the man was completely 'anonymous' - there had been no personal details or identification recovered from his person. And though the doctors had found over four thousand rupees, in cash, in his jeans pocket - but no wallet - there had been no ID card, driver's license, credit card or ATM card...
Not even a key - house or car!
And most surprising - the man didn't have the ubiquitous mobile phone on his person... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
What puzzled them the most was the fact that even after a whole month there had been absolutely no enquiry about him; or a missing person reported in any of the city police stations!
"Even if he was a tourist, or a business traveller visiting the city on work," the Inspector said, baffled, "after the blasts there should have been some enquiry once he failed to contact his company or home. But surprisingly, no one has got in touch with the police or authorities. No one seems to be missing him... or, bothered about him!"
The police had contacted their counterparts in neighbouring states, and had even released the man's photo in all major local dailies - asking for information. But nothing came out of those efforts.
"And none of the city hotels have reported a missing guest, nor did they recognise the man's photo when we approached them!" he said with a shake of his head. The police were desperately clueless, hoping that the doctors could help.
Dr. Reddy, head of Neurology, shrugged, "Well, this is a clear case of retrograde amnesia, or extensive memory loss due to head injury. Of course, it can also be caused by severe emotional trauma, or brain damage. We don't know about his emotional state, but our tests have shown that there is no brain damage, or any other underlying causes. We are sure that his condition is the result of that night's shock and injury. We are also sure that this isn't a case of transient amnesia, which incidentally is a brief or fleeting loss of memory, since he's been here for a month now and shows no sign of recollection of events prior to the concussion..."
"Unless, of course, for whatever reason, he's malingering..." interrupted the Superintendent, shocking Neeladri with his observation.
"Whatever," Dr. Reddy shrugged, "there could be one or more possible precipitating factors for his amnesia, and since there is no one to give us his past history, we can just conjecture..."
"But what we want to know is, when will he get better, um, start remembering things?" interrupted the Inspector.
"Most adults with acute amnesia resulting from trauma or injury improve spontaneously, over weeks to months, with smaller degree of improvements continuing for perhaps as long as two years," Dr. Reddy explained, "But patterns of recovery vary with individuals and their degree of injury, with reported cases where the patient never recovered!
"Ideally, what's required is taking him to his past - his home, his work place, friends and family - reintroduce him to familiar surroundings and situations, previously known skills. In cases like this that helps and the patient is able to relearn about his past life as he is told about it..." Reddy paused, clicking his tongue as he shook his head, "and here lies the problem with our nameless patient, there is no one to jog his memory, help him with that learning process which could restore his past to him..."
"Well," the Superintendent interjected once more, "exactly, and for that reason I've worked out an arrangement..."
And it was then that Neeladri heard, with horror, the Superintendent mention sending away the man to some 'Home' - a voluntary organisation operation for abandoned mentally ill patients - that had been kind enough to agree on taking him in, till he either regained his memory, or someone got in touch with the authorities...
The police finally left, still as clueless, but a bit more confused after the doctor's learned discourse. Agreeing with the Superintendent's plan on sending away Number Four to the 'Home'!
"How can you just let him go?!" Neeladri exclaimed, barging into the hospital superintendent's room during lunch hour the following day.
He had been constantly thinking about what the Superintendent had mentioned the day before, at the meeting. Appalled by the very thought that a healthy individual could be sent to an institution meant for the seriously ill. He had even discussed it with his superior, Dr. Ramchandra, sorely disappointed with the senior doctor's response... and he felt helpless, totally frustrated!
"Who?" the man asked in surprise, looking up at Neeladri.
"Patient Number Four."
"Neeladri," the superintendent replied, "this is a government general hospital, you know the conditions we work in... the limited number of beds, the shortage of funds, and we just can't keep a patient indefinitely. Besides, he is perfectly healthy, no injuries..." but Neeladri interrupted even before the man could finish, "For God's sake, he doesn't remember anything, not even his own name!"
The superintendent nodded, "Yes, but what can we do, he's already been here for a month now, and no one has come forward. The police have tried everything to trace him, his family, but nothing. We just can't have him here any longer, we need the bed, and we need the staff for the more critically sick people, the poor who come here every day in need of treatment!"
"But, sir," Neeladri protested, "you just can't throw him out!"
"Young man," the superintendent replied, surprisingly patient, "we are not throwing him out on the street, you heard that yesterday..."
"He's not mad, not a mental patient!" Neeladri cried out, indignant.
The superintendent shook his head, "No, he's not, but he needs special, supervised care till he regains his memory. These people can afford to give it to him, and they are willing to have him. Don't worry, he'll be fine," the man stated with a finality.
Neeladri stood silent for a while, hesitant, and then turned to go.
"Neeladri," the superintendent called after him, "you are a good doctor, hardworking... and you have that special gift. A doctor's job is to alleviate the pain and suffering of his patients; he must be compassionate, but also remain detached... you know, without getting too involved in individual cases, as otherwise it gets a lot more difficult for him to function in a professional manner..."
Neeladri nodded, mumbling a 'thank you, sir', before walking out of the room.
He was a junior doctor... but he was also much liked, and appreciated for his hard work and dedication. It was this knowledge that had given him the confidence, and courage, to charge into the Superintendent's room, something unimaginable in the highly hierarchical structure of a government organisation.
He had already spoken to his immediate boss, Dr. Ramchandra, and had also met the head of the neurology department, Dr. Reddy... they had both given him a patient hearing and then reminded him about the realities that he was already well aware of. He knew they were right, knew that Patient Number Four couldn't be kept at the hospital any longer - the place had its own constraints, compulsions, and set of rules. And yet, he refused to accept the facts... totally revolted by the very thought of sending a helpless youth over to a strange place.
What was it?
In his career as a doctor, albeit brief, he had seen enough suffering, had seen people die every day - the young and the old. Had seen the anguish and trauma of the relatives - he was a doctor, damn it. Then what was it in this young man that made him behave in the most unprofessional manner?
Was it mere human compassion for a vulnerable young man who was alone and had lost his memory? Or, was it something else, something that he desired and had lost...
Or was it merely the fascinating allurement of that first night?
He had spent lengthy hours with the youth, every single day of the month... asking and suggesting... talking and questioning. Had discovered him to be smart and extraordinarily intelligent; curious and seemingly aware of things around him. Reading the newspaper daily, and discussing issues - well-informed and totally lucid.
But whenever it came to his past, he went curiously deadpan, the eyes glazing over... and he could remember nothing, recollect nothing... utterly blank!
"What's wrong with you, Neeladri?" Dr. Ramchandra asked as soon as the junior doctor entered his chamber. "You had been to see the Superintendent, even after our discussion yesterday?"
"Sorry, sir," he mumbled in a low voice, "but I just can't imagine a healthy, perfectly normal person being put into a mental asylum..."
The doctor laughed, "First, it's not a 'mental asylum', and second, he's not being 'put-away'. They will look after him till the police can either locate his family, or he gets back his memory."
"I've been talking to him every single day, sir, spending time with him," Neeladri began, "and he's intelligent, perfectly lucid, yes still a bit disorientated. But he's aware of his situation, and is very worried... confused and frightened. What he needs is a little time, and a little bit of attention..." Neeladri shrugged, "and sending him away to a place where..."
But the doctor interjected, "And we are unable to provide him with that special 'attention', or the 'time', at this hospital. As a doctor you know that in such cases, it might take a couple of days, or even years for a person to recover. For God's sake, Neeladri, we are not throwing him out on the streets, we are placing him in a safe and secure place, a place where he'll be looked after till he regains his memory. Besides, all of this costs money, and this organisation is willing to take care of him, and also work with the police to try and trace his family."
"The authorities had assured that all victims will be taken care of, at state expense," Neeladri responded. "And what about the compensation announced by the government, why can't that money be used for his care?"
"The government did take care of Number Four for a month now, he is fine and absolutely healthy, but there are many others out there, who need the care desperately, and we have to provide that care to them, we just can't keep someone who doesn't need any further medication or medical intervention, and deny it to the more needy. As for the compensation, well, the money is paid out to the victim's bank account, and our Number Four doesn't even remember his name, so how can the government pay him, cash? That's not done!"
"Doctor, sir," Neeladri suddenly asked, "can I take him home?" and as Dr. Ramchandra looked up in surprise, quickly added, "What he needs is a normal, non-hospital atmosphere, and being at the mental insti... um, the Home, could probably... "
"He's not a cute puppy you found on the road," Dr. Ramchandra interrupted, "do you know what that would entail? Besides, you're at the hospital the whole day."
Neeladri nodded, "Well, he doesn't need any medical attention, just a little supervised care, and I have a very dependable housekeeper and a good cook, plus there's the gardener, he'll be safe. Besides, as Dr. Reddy said, he needs to be taken back to his past... at the Home, he'll be cooped up in a room, but I can drive him around each Sunday, maybe he'll recognise the streets, some area of the city... some landmark," pausing briefly, before adding, "And I can bring him over to the hospital once a week for a check-up..." the eyes earnest, almost pleading.
"Do you realise that this is also a police case?"
"They can contact him at my place, and I'm always available, here or at home," Neeladri replied, "and as soon as they can locate his family, they can come over..." he paused for a while before adding, "and no, I'm not claiming anything from the government for taking care of him. I don't want the compensation amount!"
Dr. Ramchandra laughed, shaking his head, "Well, I'll talk to the Superintendent and the Inspector in charge of this case and let you know."
"Thank you, sir," Neeladri smiled, getting up and leaving the room.
to be continued...
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