Chapter Twenty Three: Catching Up

For the whole of the following week, Niveda took the medicines Rasheed had prescribed. She looked tired all the time, and though the medicines were supposed to make her feel better, they didn’t help much. When she returned from what others assumed her sick leave, Niveda had a lot of work to cover. They were at the end of their second year, and the lecturers pressured them to work harder. Amidst all this, Niveda had to catch up with her lost work and concentrate on the current projects at the same time.

Niveda was working overtime. None of them had realized that missing a few days would lead to such a heavy workload. Praveena helped Niveda catch up. Every evening, both of them would sit in their room, working and chatting. Praveena enjoyed those few days. She thought Niveda was recovering well. She stressed herself, but at least she managed her work without the drugs.

Every time Anil met Praveena, he spoke only of Niveda, and of her treatment. He warned Praveena never to leave Niveda alone.

“Watch out for her, will you?” he kept saying, sounding a little worried.

“Why are you so worried?” Praveena was curious, “she’s going to be alright,” her confidence grew with every day.

“Perhaps not,” he relied, ominous. When Praveena responded with a quizzical expression, he continued, “She’s vulnerable now, coping without the drugs is hard enough, not to mention the assignments and the curious looks. She could easily lose herself.” Praveena had never seen him so serious. She nodded. She took his word for it; he had been there, and he knew Niveda well.

Another uneventful week went by, and on a Sunday morning, James phoned Praveena.

“Hello,” she yawned, her eyes opened in slits.

“Hi Praveena, it’s James.” came James’ muffled voice taking Praveena by surprise. “Hi, Sir—” she sat up in bed hoping it might help her sound a little more awake. Not knowing what to say she asked, “what’s up, Sir?” She became queasy at the awkwardness of the situation.

“Rasheed’s here, he wants to meet Niveda. Could you come along?”

“Sure, we’ll be there, Sir.” she disconnected the call.

“What was that all about?” Niveda was staring at her, nonplussed. She had woken up to the sound of Praveena’s phone, and now propped up on her elbow.

“Rasheed.” Praveena stood up, adjusting her hair and walking to the dressing table. Seeing Niveda laying dumbfounded, “get ready!” she added in surprise.

“Praveena,” Niveda sounded a little unsure. Praveena turned to her confused, “do I have to do this?” Niveda beseeched.

Praveena stood in the middle of the room with hands on her hips looking stern, “We have to do this.” She said decidedly. “Now, where is my comb?” she wondered aloud turning back to the dressing table.

Niveda smiled at her, and got ready.

Twenty minutes later, they met James in his room. Anil joined them a little later. “Good, let’s get started.” Since it was Sunday, the corridors were all deserted. Niveda had her session of therapy in the same classroom as before.

When James spoke to the trio, about an hour later, he looked grim. “Guys,” he said folding his arms across his chest, “this is going to be more difficult than we imagined.” he paused and took a deep breath. He then turned to Niveda, “Rasheed thinks your progress is slower than it should be. Are you straining yourself too much?”

Niveda shook her head, looking worried.

“Yes, you are,” Praveena spoke up. Looking at James she continued, “we stay up late catching up on her assignments”.

James was quiet for a while before saying, “I’ll talk to the other teachers,” When the trio looked shocked, he said, “I’ll tell them I’ve given you a special, time consuming assignment.” Catching the look of glee on Praveena’s and Anil’s faces he added smiling, “The assignment is only for Niveda.”

James and Niveda smiled at Anil and Praveena’s crestfallen looks.

“But then,” James turned seriously to Niveda, “I want you to has as much fun as you can; enjoy the small things. Read a book, eat well, sleep early, and take your medicines regularly. You’ll feel better in no time.

“Yes, Sir.” Niveda affirmed. It was a nice feeling, to imagine what James said. She was excited to experience her life like that; in a way she had never done before. But she was still unsure if she could manage without the drugs. It had been the life in her, she was scared to give it up. She never spoke of her doubts with anyone though. She felt guilty of not confiding in Praveena and Anil. She knew she ought to discuss with them. They might perhaps have a simpler solution, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She had learnt to keep herself private.

James was still talking, “Rasheed’s increased your dosage, Niveda. Remember that, and stay strong.”

James was motivating her to help her give up the addiction. Praveena had learned from Anil that encouragement did a lot to help someone get out of the habit. She kept that in mind, and every time she got a chance, she used it to boost Niveda’s will power.

Praveena was confident, Niveda would recover for sure. The treatment would work well, and the three of them would be friends forever. Even as a girl, Praveena had loved fantasizing, but she knew this was more than that. There was something more than a mere friendship between the three; it was a family that none of them had had.

‘Aren’t you sleepy?’ her inner voice questioned her, stifling a yawn. It was late, and Praveena had to stay awake at class the next day. She turned over, and closed her eyes.

National Blog Posting Month – Day 26


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