Lolita is listening intently to the story Marissa is unfolding in front of the class. She had this feeling of claustrophobia building up within her. Each word seemed to get hazier and blurry. She did not seem to recall what Marissa had ended with.

It was like a slow, traumatic silent movie. Her lips were moving but Lolita could not hear what she was saying. She had reached another world; when Marissa started a story about a girl who got pregnant out of wed-lock.

Lolita was brought up by her grandmother who used to tell her stories about hypnotism, a third world of souls and spirits, the good deeds and bad deeds, the devil, hell and summoning of spirits to the human world. Her parents had been divorced and either had little time for a daughter born out of a broken marriage.

They did not feel the need to stay together just for the sake of an innocent child, with little white fingers, fragile nails, no teeth, sparse hair  on the head – who had by far no knowledge of her impending blank future, with those involved in her formation taking absolutely no responsibility for her survival.

On her grandmothers’ insistence she was not put up for adoption and thus was now living in Seattle. She was now 27, had completed her graduation and was now working with an educational institution as an educator and mentor.
Here she had met Marissa and struck a sudden rapport with her.

They had become fast friends and dined together. On one such occasion Marissa introduced Lolita to Dough. He was Marissa’s brother. Dough and Lolita had started seeing each other frequently. Lunches and walks became frequent. One day dinner followed.

Lolita had been since that night feared the consequences of their relationship. She had been having dizziness spells and a choking sensation as she exhaled deep breaths which did not help much in easing her tension. Off late the tension had been taking a toll on her health.

It had been four months since she spoke to Dough. Four months to the nights that had changed her life and that will perhaps take her to the window sill.
Her doctor had confirmed the reports. She would soon be a mother. She had always imagined about the perfect household where her husband would be playing with their child while she would be humming in the kitchen.

That’s’ right it was her husband. The ring mattered. But now she had or say would have the baby but no husband or ring. She thought about telling Dough but thought it would be useless as he had a career to make and after being jilted once she did not wanted to take a chance.

What was happening to her, she could not understand. A moment ago she was listening to Marissa telling the story about girl…wed lock… and now she was in her apartment. How was that possible? She could not recall how the time had elapsed. What she had done over the past few hours, or weeks perhaps. She checked the calendar on her cell.

Marissa!! Yeah she had to meet Marissa in the central park. She left the simmering coffee on the stove and hopped in a cab outside. Marissa was nowhere to be found. She called her up. “Marissa weren’t we supposed to meet, I have been waiting for an hour now.” Sorry, who’s this?” “Its’ Lolita”!!..”Oh! goodness gracious, How have you been? It’s so good to hear from you after so many days. We were supposed to meet? Yeah we were but four months back.

But you never turned up. You never returned my calls. You never turned in Dough’s calls. He’s been so worried”. “Marissa, can you tell me where my house is? I can’t recall…I can’t recall who Dough is? Do we know him? And we spoke only yesterday what are you talking about?”

Marissa stood stunned as what she had heard registered. Dough saw the change in expressions. He had been eavesdropping. He had been worried since Dr. Andrew mentioned that there were a few health problems Lolita was having.

He perhaps had mentioned she might even have a seizure or suffer from amnesia. He took the phone. Lolita was asking who Dough was. It hardly took him seconds and he was racing down the lane towards central park with Marissa.

Lolita felt she had just been awakened from her sleep. Where was she? What was she doing in the central park? She had a train and was supposed to go to the station. She did not want anybody to know where she was going nor the reason behind it. Dr. Andrew had warned her that travelling was not in favour of her health particularly at this stage of her pregnancy and could complicate things.

She started walking. A hand on her shoulder stopped her. She turned around and saw Dough and Marissa. Doughs’ eyes were blood shot. He had been crying. His cheeks were stained and eyes moist.

It was an hour later that Dr. Andrew told dough that Lolita was suffering from Alzheimer’s. He informed Dough that with the advance of pregnancy her condition would worsen. What she had today was just a lapse in memory. But later it would be severe.

She would lapse entirely and recovery would be impossible. He told him that he had warned her not to go ahead with the pregnancy; she could be a mother again, later sometime. But she had been stubborn and now there was no other option.

Dough was not listening. For days and weeks he had not been able to comprehend why Lolita had disappeared. He had so wanted to meet her and confess his love. He had so wanted to tell her that it was no one night stand and he wanted to be engaged to her. But she had not allowed him. He now knew the reason.

He ran into the care unit. He peeped through the glass expecting to see her. But she wasn’t.

Dough lost his strength. His feet gave away and he collapsed by the bed with Lolitas’ letter in hand. She had gone back to where it had all started. She was sorry that she had kept from him the news that he would be a father soon. She had been terrified that he would never accept her as his wife.

They had never planned this. She could not force him into marriage. The past four months she had suffered the contempt of her own close friends and family for just supporting the cause of single mother.

She was taunted and said that those who break traditions are not be helped. They have to suffer. Those girls should be banished from society. Before committing sins as grave as these why didn’t girls end their lives. She had been aghast and horrified. What would happen if these people were to find out about her?

She wrote in her letter that she had loved Dough had thus cherished the gift that she nurtured inside her. But she was going far away where people would not question her. Where her child…their child would grow up without the questioning eyes.

Dough could read no more. He understood what their orthodox religion said about these sorts of relationships. He understood the torment that Lolita must have been through.

It was around three months later that Dough found out where Lolita was. He had been searching incredulously for her. He wouldn’t let her go through all this alone. But he feared…Alzheimer, would that have engulfed Lolita by now. He just prayed.

Dough reached St. Georges hospital. Lolita was as white as the sheet. She was weak and had all pipes coming in and out of her body. He looked at the cute little life bundled by her side. His heart leapt with joy.

He so wanted to hug her but she was all doped up and the doctor had warned with advice of caution and utmost care. Alzheimer had progressed rapidly. And  doctors would not be sure what the premature delivery would do to her.

She awakened to find Dough by her bed; ring in his hand. She smiled. He slipped the ring.

They were back at home. Doctors had given Lolita about three months at the most. They had been surprised that Lolita remembered Dough.

Dough spent days caring to every need of Lolita and their beautiful kid. Lolitas’ health had deteriorated to a great extent. Many a times he had to search through the rubble that was her brain to find that knowing smile of recognition. She sat by the window sill, in her wheel chair, for hours now.

It now started happening that the love which was the last string of hope that attached both of them started unwinding. Dough held his end no matter what. He was determined; they would get through. But as days passed, her memories faded. Many a times she did not recognize Dough. That was what pained him a lot. But he knew she tried to get to him.

A month had passed. Lolita who until now had been struggling with daily activities gave up it all. She had no control over her voluntary muscle activities. Dough would exercise her limbs gingerly. Over and over as directed by the doctor to prevent atrophy. It pained him to see her fading in time. He was prepared when she collapsed and rushed to the ICU. The doctors said she had passed away. Dough felt a deep hollowness inside. He looked at his son in his arms. He smiled as tears dropped. She had given him the most wonderful gift.

Cherry Agarwal