The handshake crushed her. Not just her hands, her whole soul. What could have been a hug remained just at the handshake.The familial touch was missing. The goosebump-inducing touch was now a cold, firm handshake.
'Hug me now, I'm right before you', she was silently crying. But he simply looked past her and walked away.
She lowered her eyes and turned away her face, only to hear the beloved voice call out in the exact same way her name used to be called - "Shona".
She turned immediately, eyes red and tear-rimmed. But no, the hallway was empty. What was happening? Who shook her hand? She tried to remember. It was him. It was definitely him! Or was it?
Dr Mittal opened the door to his chamber, which was one of the doors in the hallway that read 'Senior Psychiatrist'. He called out, 'Sonali, please come in, we'll begin your session. I hope you're feeling better after taking medication for a week.'
'Does the medicine which you prescribed have any side effects, doc?' she enquired, feeling unsure of her entire being now.
'Ah! It's a very strong medicine. It sometimes accompanies a slight headache and sometimes even hallucination in rare cases. That's why I had written very low dosages for you. I think the medicine has worked for you. You look much better today Sonali', Dr Mittal remarked.
'Now let's move to our session. Is there anything specific you'd like to ask or discuss?'
'I met him today, doc', Sonali replied, still looking down as if guilty.
'Where?' Dr Mittal asked calmly.
'Just outside, in the hallway, while I was waiting for my appointment with you.'
'Did you talk to him?'
'I couldn't. I just froze. He just shook my hand and left.' Her eyes welled up. 'I can't take this anymore, doc, no more. I want him so bad. I want us to be together again' she broke into intermittent sobs. 'Enough!' she said and hastily wiped her tears. 'He's mad at me, I'll apologise. He can't deny me. He just can't. I'm his weakness.' A faint smile appeared between her sobs.
'He can't be with you', Dr Mittal said even more calmly.
'Why not?' she asked indignantly. 'What have I done so bad that he would leave me for good? I'll make up to him.'
'He's dead. You're hallucinating, dear. He was bashed to death saving you when the goons attacked. Don't you remember?' Dr Mittal pleaded with her.
'Why aren't you believing me? I just shook hands with him!' she said in a whisper thinking to herself, 'Am I hallucinating now or was I hallucinating then?' and ran out of the doctor's chamber, to catch up to Rohit before he vanished again.