thought that if he wasn‟t careful he might break her too. He kept his hands at side,
desperately trying to think of something reassuring to say.
“I‟m sorry, mom.” h
e said, and his voice was suddenlyunsteady as well. “But I‟m all
right now. I really am.” He could not keep the tears from welling up in his own eyes. He
could never have imagined that he would ever hear her sound so scared. The full horror of his
accident hit him at the moment as he gazed up at his mother crying over him.
“Yes, you are.”
she said, wiping away his tears and kissing his forehead again. “You
had a nasty accident, but now you aregoing to get better. I‟m sorry, Neel.I don‟t want to
upset you anymore.I‟ve just been so worried that I started crying. But really, the doctors tell
me you are going to recover completely. It was just a dislocated shoulder, after all.”
Neel stared at her, and felt a sudden urge to tell her everything. About the serum,
Doctor Fahim, about his recovery, and what had been happening to him ever since waking
up. But then he remembered what Doctor Fahim had told him about keeping quiet about the
serum just yet, and he imagined his mother‟s reaction if she found out just how serious the
accident had really been. He kept quiet.
His mother had leaned back and was drying her eyes in her handkerchief. When she
looked at him again, her worried expression had been replaced by a glare. “How could you be
so careless, Neel? How many times have I told you to be careful on the road? Don‟t you
know the people around here drive like maniacs? Thank god that girl‟s car was stopped! Do
you have any idea what would have happened if you‟d hit a moving car?”
“I‟m really sorry,mom.” Neel repeatedmeekly. “I was in a hurry. I guess I lost control.
It won‟t happen again.”
“That‟s right, first
you almost lose your arm and worry me half to death, and then say it
won‟t happen again.” His mother sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. His mother had a
small frame, and usually gave the impression of being thinner than she really was. Ever since
Neel‟s childhood there had always been a slightly ragged edge to her, yet today she seemed
even more worn out than usual. When she looked down at him again, she looked calmer.
“The only good that can come of this is if you learn from your mistake, and never let it
happen again.” Neel nodded vigorously, and she bent down and smoothed his pillow,
drawing his sheets more snugly overhim. “Now you just concentrate on getting better.
You‟re coming home tomorrow. Get some rest.”
She made sure he was completely comfortable. As she bent down to smoothen the hair
back over his forehead he saw that her eyes were very red, and dark circles had formed under
her eyesas though she hadn‟t slept in a while. He felt a sharp stab of guilt at lying to her.
Again he felt the urge to tell her, and again he restrained himself. His emotions were so
mixed right now that it was difficult to even think about the accident, and he knew it would
take him a long time to sort out his own feelings on the subject. Explanations would have to
“I‟m so grateful to that girl Divya.”
his mother said quietly. “You know, she came with
you in the ambulance, and found out your name and school from the copies in your bag. Then
she got my number from them and called me. Goodness knows what would have happened if
she had just driven off after you crashed into her car, like so many of those drivers would
“Yes, that was nice of her.” Neel said
. He stared at the door in front and continued
slowly.“She didn‟t have to help me but she still did what she could. The world needs more
people like that.”
His mother smiled. “Don‟t worry about that now. Get some more rest.” She gave him a
final hug before kissing his forehead. “Sleep well, baby.” she said softly as she rose to leave.
Sleep, however, was impossible.
Alone with his thoughts,