She sat, holding her urine sample in her lap.
It was nothing. Just a stomach ache that kept coming back. But the doctor had insisted on a number on scans and tests. Just to be sure.
She looked around her. It was eleven in the morning. And all the benches in front of the little window were full. Behind that window you could see flashes of white, as the nurses bustled around cool and detached, drawing blood, labelling your urine, cracking open the syringe.
The hall had large overhead fans that groaned at their own weight. The room was hot and humid. She could feel a string of sweat beads on her upper lip. She was tempted to lick it with her tongue. Just to taste her sweat.
But she didn’t. She hated waiting rooms. They seemed swollen and sluggish with illness. She wondered how many bacteria must be flying around that hall. She even thought of holding her breath for a while, but then she didn’t know how long before they called her name.
The bottle of urine felt warm in her hand. She tried to hold it such that it wouldn’t be possible to see how full it was. She shifted in her seat, holding the bottle just a little away from her.
And that’s when she saw him.
A worn out T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a mop of hair. He lay fast asleep on the sofa inside the room. His arm was thrown on his face, shielding his eyes from the bright tube lights that stayed lit twenty four hours in the ICU waiting room.
She wondered who was inside. His mother or his father?
She looked at the sneakers, still laced up. The T-shirt that looked like it had been worn for a couple of days straight.
Just then he woke up with a start.
She looked away hastily. It felt wrong to stare at someone who was so – so asleep.
She stared down at the urine sample in her hand. Brown bottle with a white lid. And then, looked up again.
He was sitting on the sagging sofa, looking down, his arms on his side. He ran a hand through his hair. And looked up.
Their eyes met.
Hers were curious. And apologetic.
His were tired, with deep shadows around them.
They stared at each other.
“ It’s my father. He has cancer. I don’t know if he’s going to live through it.”
“I knew it was one of your parents. You looked so sad when you slept. “
“It’s my fifth day here. They say he’s sinking”.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m not good at it.”
And the girl, clutching her urine sample, suddenly stood up. The lady next to her frowned. Patient number 13 was still inside, this girl was 34.
But the girl was already across the hall. She entered the ICU waiting room, hesitated for a second at the doorway, and then crossed over in quick strides and hugged him.
He crying in his rumpled four day T shirt. She crying with her brown bottle of urine.