And then it was grey. . .

Hundred Hours of Horror, A Future Full of Fear.

Arnaz, to me, was a coy and timid Malaysian friend who lived down the corridor. My interactions with him were restricted to occasional greetings in the Diner, a few earnest efforts to teach him and his close friends our names and our tongue, and may be a few words on the strumming of an instrument over which we shared a common passion. To make a claim that I was overtly attached to this friend of mine from the other side of the Indian Ocean would be a step away from reality. Nonetheless, he was one of the 250 of us, growing as men of medicine under the boughs of KMC; he was one of the century odd students who had been living here, thousands of miles away from home.

Rabeea was, thanks to my embarrassing indifference towards others, a name that I only heard when this classmate of mine was rushed to KMC Attavar on a fine Saturday lunch hour in a speeding ambulance with an excruciating knee pain. All I remember of her is a face which would, once in a blue moon, approach me in the hour after DH and ask me to appreciate something like the coronary sinus which wasn’t clear in the specimen on her table. Our little academic conversations generally ended with an accepting “This is all we’ve been taught” from my side and a smiling “Thank you so much” from hers. No, I wasn’t even close to knowing Rabeea to a level that I could come with a condolence note of my own and mourn her absence.

My bad. My bad I didn’t get to know them. My bad that not even efforts were made.

The last week of October saw the pan-Indian population decked in the lights and brightness of Deepawali. But in KMC, the bells tolled, people mourned and the dirge was heard. The campus of life and colour was bleached of its hues by the successive untimely demises of Arnaz and Rabeea. Arnaz had succumbed to multiple organ failure after putting up a brave fight in the KMC Attavar ICU. His death was mourned by the staff, students and his friends from all over Manipal University in a condolence meet held in Bejai. Just when the wounds of shock delivered by Death had started to heal, came the shattering tidings of Rabeea’s departure from this earthly lump, with just a hundred hours indenting hers from Arnaz’s. Rabeea lost to a complication arising from her condition of haemoglobinopathy and breathed her last in her hometown in Kerala. In the dark, dismal and dreary weather prevailing on the fateful day, 248 students of KMC Mangalore condoled the death of Rabeea Sherin. Loomila Joe, a close friend of hers, moistened the strongest of hearts with her recollections of her deceased friend and the place where she has now gone to. The eternal land of Paradise, she said. Later that day, a group of fifty from the batch went over to Rabeea’s hometown in Kerala, undertaking the immense task of condoling the parents who had just been bereaved of their dear daughter, conveying the sympathies of the other two hundred who couldn’t join along.

Somebody said, “We were 250 strong, now we are 2 people weak.” It was almost as if a matchstick had fallen out from a tight bundle, slackening the rubber band, loosening the binding force. Everything, for a brief period appeared temporary and transient. We didn’t know what tomorrow had in store. People who were under the weather lost their mental strength and broke down, unsure of their own fate. Many suffered from insomnia and complete loss of appetite for food and life. The colour drained from our cheeks and everything appeared gray.

Arnaz and Rabeea. Rest in Peace. May you find bliss in the Garden of Eden.

You are immortal in our hearts


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