Chapter 9

Written by: Gabrielle Burt

They had been stuck in the lift for an hour when Dr Batra’s phone rang.  Unhooking it from his belt, he excused himself and spoke softly into the device. ”Ravi Batra speaking.” 


Chetna tensed at his next words. 


“Code Blue. Confirm. Is the Crash Team there? Status?  Who? Say again? Well actually I’m stuck in the main lift.”  His voice gave nothing away.  “No. I’m with a Miss Iyers.”  


For a split second he looked at her, then quickly looked away.   Surely she’d imagined the emphasis on her name?  


“They’re still there?” He paused, “I see. You’re sure?  Thank you. Please get the engineers to this lift now!”   


The engineers had been quick, but the only exit was via the ceiling-hatch, onto the impossibly small roof space of the stalled lift.  High above, men with bright lights, dropped ladders and safety harnesses from gaping holes in the black wall. Securing their harnesses, they had climbed quickly towards the waiting, outstretched hands that pulled them safely from the void and into a corridor where emergency lighting flickered on and off.  


Wasting no time, Ravi steered her into a nearby room marked ‘Family Conference – Please knock’.  Closing the door, he directed her to one of the stiff green vinyl-covered chairs that lined the walls, then sat beside her. “My dear Chetna,” he began, “That call I just took…”  He stopped, picked up her hand and held it tight. “Unfortunately, I have bad news. Twenty minutes ago, Mikali suffered another major heart attack. Everyone worked so hard, but sadly the damage was too great and we were unable to resuscitate her.”  


Ravi was talking, but she didn’t hear his voice. Her watch said 4.15pm. Twenty minutes! She’d missed her by 20 measly minutes. Why couldn’t Ma have waited? She had been on her way. It was so unfair. Her mother had had a couple of minor heart attacks, but no previous history of heart trouble. Nothing serious anyway. And now she was gone. Dead. Chetna breathed deeply. “Please, I must see her.”


The private room was cool and colourless. The curtains closed. Chetna looked at the still form on the bed.  Tenderly she took one elegant, long-fingered hand, willing her mother for a sign; any sign that life still existed. A gentle rise and fall of her chest? A blink? A sigh? Anything to show Mikali Iyer lived.  


There was only stillness.


Fat tears rolled down her face as Ravi brushed his hand over her mother’s wide, unseeing eyes and closed them. Forever. His gesture gentle. And final.   


Their beautiful, courageous, bossy, loving Maji and Naani had left for the next stage of her existence.  Ashok, as was his right, would perform the Putrika for his beloved Naani.


For Mikali’s children, life would go on.   


Folding her into his arms, Ravi whispered, “’For death is certain to one who is born...thou shalt not grieve for what is unavoidable’.” Chetna felt something stir. She felt safe.


What a great chapter for this stage in the serial. You've covered a lot of ground in terms of Chetna's emotional development and still left something for the next writer to develop. Loved it.
Chetna's life is changing and we are sharing in that change. We want her to find happiness and peace and we think she is just about to get that and we applaud. We hope she does which is a testament to how well this chapter reads. We are there with her.
Thank you for your generous feedback. I'm looking forward to the finale. :)
Gabrielle, touching.
Oh, this gave me goose bumps, Gabrielle. Beautiful.
Thank you very much Tulika and Rosemary. :)