“Steph! Wake up, lazybones!”
“Just a little more, Mom. Let me doze just a litt…le mo…re.”
“Don’t you have a meeting today at 10:00?”
Jesus Christ! How can I forget! We have a meeting with our newly appointed chairman today! I must rush.
“Mom, where’s my peach lipstick?”
“Inside the drawer!”
“Yes! Got it!”
White shirt, check.
Lilac pencil skirt, check.
Mauve heels, check.
All set! Phew!
“Mom, I may return a bit late today. Please have your dinner, don’t wait for me. And make sure to lock the door after I leave.”
“At least have your breakfa….”
“Ah! This girl ne’er listens! Have a good day, Steph”
30 minutes more. I’ll reach sooner if I take this shortcut. Please God, let me be there on time!
Oops, haven’t I introduced myself? My bad! Well, my name is Stephanie. You can call me Steph. I’m 30 years old, single, independent, workaholic, currently living with my mom. My dad passed away in an accident 10 years ago. Being the only child, I had to shoulder the responsibility of my mom and the house single-handedly. I resorted to a part time job and the meagre earnings I received were hardly enough to sustain our needs. Being an avid learner, I prepared and appeared for medical entrance exam and passed it in flying colors. The next five years were a real hassle! Sleepless nights, late night study, exams, vivas, lab tests and what not! But all thanks to my relentless dedication, perseverance and hard work, not only did I complete the degree with a distinction, but also earned a gold medal for my exceptional performance. Later, I specialized in psychiatry and currently serving as HOD in the Department of Psychiatry, Brainsville Hospital.
“Ah! I made it just in time.”
Without wasting a second, I rushed towards the conference hall. Standing outside the door, I fixed my disheveled bangs, tucked in my shirt which was slightly billowed up and exhaled deeply before pushing the door open.
“May I come in?”
“There you are. Welcome Miss Stephanie. Please have a seat.”
I grabbed an empty chair from the last row and gulped a glass of water to rejuvenate my lost energy. The cool air exuding from those air-conditioned vents ameliorated my mood and kissed my lassitude away.
“Hello everyone. You all have been summoned here for two reasons” announced the director.
“Let us all welcome our new chairman, Mr. Arnold Braselby. He will be taking over the duties of the former chairman starting from today”
The room reverberated with the sounds of claps and plaudits.
“Well, for the second reason, I would like Mr. Braselby to come forward and explain”
“Glad to meet everyone. Please call me Arnold. Well, since we have the entire department of Psychiatry here, I wanted to discuss a very peculiar case of a subject named Raymond. I know you would have dealt with similar cases before and would be wondering what’s so peculiar about him. Well, Raymond has an obsession for the color purple”
Raymond. That name sounds so familiar. Not sure why!
My baffled eyes widened. For some reason, this case piqued my interest.
“Raymond has been in this state since the age of 20. He was like the normal lads of his age but had a dark childhood. Something happened on the night of his 20th birthday post which he entered a state of coma for 5 years. On regaining his senses, he didn’t have any clear memories left, only some fragments like the pieces of a puzzle. He keeps blabbering that he has forgotten something important and surrounds himself with anything that’s purple. He believes that will help him revive his memories but no luck till now. It seems the only connection of Raymond with his forgotten memory is something related to Purple.”
Such an interesting case! I would love to work on this!
“Many renowned psychiatrists from all around the world have tried their level best to decode this puzzle but this mystery remained unsolved. I want to give it a last shot and assign this case to one of you to take it forward. Who wants to take this up?”
“Me, Mr. Arnold. Stephanie. I would like to work on this”
An eerie silence pervaded the room. The room suddenly felt icy cold. I wondered what was wrong.
“Are you sure Steph? This is a complicated case plus you’re a girl. Will you be able to manage this case?” the director questioned.
“Well excuse me director. So, you wanna say that my exceptional performance and experience throughout these years, the distinction in degree and the gold medal that I have earned through sheer effort will be hurled as trash just because of my gender?”
The director couldn’t utter another word. Everyone in the room was befuddled by my words. But I didn’t have the slightest regret.
How dare they judge me based on my gender!
“I applaud your grit, Stephanie. I believe you’ll be able to solve this mystery. I assign the case to you” Mr. Arnold retorted proudly.
“Thank you, Mr. Arnold” I bowed in reverence.
To be frank, this seemed like a Brobdingnagian task to me but then who doesn’t love challenges?
Before digging further into the case, I decided to meet Raymond in person and hear the story from his perspective first.
“Excuse me, nurse. Can you tell me the ward where Raymond White is admitted into?”
“Sure, it’s ward no. 56”
A glance at the ward and I instantly knew it was Raymond’s. Purple bedsheets, purple curtains, purple alarm clock and a vase filled with lavenders and crocus blossoms. There stood a man, about my height, scruffy in appearance, wearing a baggy purple T-shirt and denims.
“May I come in, Raymond?”
He turned around and greeted me with a cherubic smile. My heart skipped a beat.
Whoa! what was that?
Relax heart! He’s just your patient.
“Sure doc!” His response brought me back to my senses.
“Call me Steph. I’ve been assigned your case. I wanna help you out. Can you please let me know anything that you can remember?”
“Yes, Steph. It was my 20th birthday. This person came into my room, and I promised something to the person, but I don’t remember the person’s name, face, gender or that promise. I feel like I’ve forgotten something important and need to recall that soon”
“Do you love purple?”
“I don’t know but this question sounds so familiar. You see, purple is what connects me to this person and soothes my discombobulated mind. I feel safe and warm amidst purple. Can you help me in retrieving my memories, Steph?”
Yes, I’ll. Please rest now and call me in case you remember anything”
I went through his case file that entire day.
Raymond White (30 years, Male)
Regression hypnotherapy, done.
Electroconvulsive therapy, done.
Findings – Nil
“Is that a new café?” I mumbled.
My drowsy eyes needed some stimulant. Without wasting a second, I headed towards the café straight away.
“One Espresso, please”
“Long time, no see, Steph!”
I turned around and saw a man in his twenties probably, short and stout with a potted belly greeting me with the warmest smile.
“Excuse me, but do I know you?”
“I’m a man of words. I keep my promises. Here, take this” saying this he handed me over a coruscant pill.
“Who are you? What’s this pill?”
“You’ll know soon enough. Aren’t you in the middle of solving a case? What if I told you that this pill will let you travel back in time to decode the mystery?”
Has this man lost it?
Time travel? In 21st century?
Does he take me for a nincompoop?
“I know you’ve multitudinous questions. Why don’t you go and figure it out yourself?”
“Ma’am, your espresso is ready”
Holding my cup as I turned around, that man was no longer there. He had vanished into thin air.
“Mom, I’m back home!”
I had my dinner and headed straight to my bedroom. I kept staring at the pill and a myriad of bewildering thoughts hovered over my mind.
What if that man was a drug mafia?
What if this pill had fatal side effects?
But then, what if the words he said were true?
If I can travel back in time, maybe I can meet this person Raymond is talking about and help him retrieve his memories!
Should I give it a shot?
I swallowed the pill.
*Tick-tock* *Tick-tock* *Tick*
Why can’t I hear my clock ticking?
Has time stopped for real?
Before I could realize, I started turning translucent and then evanesced.
Ah! My body feels so heavy.
Where am I?
Have I really landed into the past?
“Excuse me miss, are you okay?”
I opened my eyes and could see an old lady sprinkling water on my face.
“Yes, may I know the date and the year?” I blurted out the moment I regained consciousness.
“It’s 1st November 2011”
That means I’ve landed 10 years back in time!
Is this a dream?
My legs, wonky after the time travel, somehow managed to balance itself as the old lady offered me a helping hand.
“Can you walk?”
“Yes, I can. Thank you so much for your help.”
I wasn’t aware how long was I allowed to bask in the past. But one thing that I was sure was that I had to complete my mission before I travel back to the present.
So, let me think.
Raymond was 30 back then.
When was his birthday?
C’mon, remember, remember, the case file…
Ah, I remember now, it’s on 3rd November.
So, he will be turning 20 in the next two days.
This was my golden chance. Without wasting another second, I headed towards my destination. I had literally memorized Raymond’s info, thanks to the case file! So, locating his address wasn’t a hassle at all. After a weary journey of three hours, I finally landed in front of Raymond’s mansion.
Whoa! What an ostentatious manor!
No wonder, Raymond hailed from an opulent household but had lost both his parents at an early age. Some say it was an accident, others claim it to be a murder. Afterall, the grandest manors hide darkest secrets. He locked himself up in his room for years, coming out once in a blue moon till 3rd November 2011. On his 20th birthday, he was discovered in a comatose state by his old nanny.
“It’s your new nanny. Please let me in”
Of course, I’m not the nanny. But who cares? I’ve to solve this puzzle and find this person precious to Raymond.
Raymond opened the door.
Ah! The exact replica of the Raymond of 2021, just a little less wrinkled and a bit more debonair. I like this Raymond better!
“Stop staring, uncouth lady. You’re gonna poke a hole in my eyes with those laser beam stares!”
I take back my words! What’s with this crotchety temperament? I so wanna smack this suave face right now!
Control! Control! Focus on your mission, Steph!
“I apologize for my discourteousness. My name is Steph and I’m your new nanny. Glad to meet you”
“Please drop the formalities and get to work. Clean my room first”
Is he going through a rebellious phase?
Zero mannerisms, complete moron!
Nevertheless, this was a golden chance to scrutinize his room and gather some data which might help me in solving my case. I changed my mind the moment I opened the door.
Books strewn everywhere, bedsheets that hadn’t been washed since ages, mites and bugs mating and reproducing since time immemorial, filthy cobwebs and a pungent smell of cigarettes and putrescent leftovers. In short, a PIGSTY!
Yuck! How can a sane human stay here!
The rest of the day was spent in cleaning that room. Weary after the hectic work and time travel, I drifted off.
*The next day*
“You’re not that bad, Steph! The room was spotlessly clean. I’m impressed.”
“Can I ask you a favor then, Raymond?
“Sure, go ahead”
“Escort me to the town. I wanna explore this place”
“Not a big deal. Would you prefer to ride in a Rolls Royce or Mercedes?”
Just look at this braggart! Rich brats and their grandiloquent lifestyle! I so hate it!
“Anything is fine”
After lot of scrutiny, he chose his Mercedes and off we drove to the city. I still had one more day left so decided to enjoy today at least.
“Hey, what’s that Purple Valley, Raymond?” I enquired pointing towards the green signboard.
“Why don’t you see for yourself?”
We reached the Purple Valley. I was spellbound seeing vast acres of land filled with fragrant purplish hues of lilacs, tulips, crocus and lavender blossoms.
“Do you love purple Raymond?”
“Huh! Do you take me for a girl! I hate purple. I prefer black”
A person who hates purple becomes obsessed with that color after 10 years! How ironic!
“Ne’er mind. I’m gonna take a walk amidst those aromatic blossoms for some time. Would you mind accompanying me?”
“Nah! I prefer waiting in my car. You can go ahead. Take your time”
I alighted from the car and rushed towards the fields. The coquettish wind caressed my cheeks and I started chasing those mesmerizing butterflies gleefully hopping from one blossom to another. I stretched both my hands and inhaled the invigorating air carrying the fragrance of lavender and lilacs. It soothed my mind and I felt at ease.
“Gosh! It’s 05:00 PM already! Raymond would be infuriated for sure!”
I headed back towards the car.
“Raymond, I’m back. Sorry for being late.”
“It’s fine. Hop on, let’s head back to home” Raymond replied smilingly.
Weird! Where has his tantrum gone? Who cares anyway! It’s good that I don’t have to listen to his stinking words!
“Steph, I’ll treat you to dinner today. This is the best restaurant of this town. Come, let’s go inside”
What has gotten inside him? Has he gone nuts?
“Sure! Please reserve a seat. Let me wander around, meanwhile”
For some reason, I was allured to a dilapidated tent having a signboard “Prognosticator’s Abode”. I was about to enter when I heard a dispute between a father and a son.
“Dad, why don’t you trust me? I can do it”
“It’s not your cup of tea, son. Just give up!”
“I won’t dad!”
A furious lad, in his early teens, dashed out of the tent, teary-eyed. I followed him on a whim.
“Hey boy, wait!”
He turned around, wiping his tears in his ragged shirt.
Ah! That face! I remember now. Isn’t he the same man who handed me the time pill?
“Do you have any business with me, lady?”
I embraced him and fondled his head.
“Cry your heart out dear. It lightens your burden”
After sobbing for some time in my arms, he gradually opened up to me.
“Lady, I have a dream to create a time pill which will allow people to travel back and forth in time. But my dad thinks that it’s futile and asking me to give up on my dream. What should I do, lady?”
Ah! How can this young lad give up on his dreams? It’s because of that pill that I’ve travelled back in time. But I can’t reveal that to him, can I?
“Call me Steph, dear! You know what, my dad died at a very young age, and I was asked by my relatives to give up on my dreams of becoming a psychiatrist and focus on my mom and marriage. But I didn’t pay any heed to their words and followed my heart instead. And guess what, I’ve achieved my dream and managed to keep my mom happy as well. If I can do it, they why can’t you?”
The young lad’s face cheered up after hearing my words.
“Thank you, Steph for boosting my confidence! I won’t give up and I promise to meet you in future and hand over this pill, in case I’m able to create one.”
“You’ve already kept your promise, dear” I mumbled and kissed him on his forehead. We bade farewell and I entered the restaurant.
We had our fill and headed back home.
Today is Raymond’s birthday.
I still had no clue about the identity of the person who changed Raymond’s life forever. But I didn’t give up.
“Steph, I’ll be heading out for some time. I’ll be back by 07:00 PM”
“Sure Raymond. Leave the house to me”
As Raymond headed out, I sneaked into his room and started searching for a clue. Suddenly, a diary fell from his bookshelf and landed on my hand.
“Ouch! That hurt!”
I picked it up from the floor. That was Raymond’s personal journal.
Yes! Now that’s a jackpot.
I know it’s bad manners to peek into someone’s personal diary. But do I have any option left?
I started reading the contents and what unfurled subsequently astounded me.
Nov 1st, 2011: I met a weird girl, Steph today. She was dressed in a white shirt and lilac skirt. What a bizarre combo! She claimed to be my nanny. I ordered her to clean my room which was of course a total mess! Forget about cleaning, not a single nanny stayed back after seeing my yucky room. But Steph hovered her magic wand (superfast hands) and transformed it to a paradise. I feel guilty for my behavior.
Nov 2nd, 2011: Steph asked me to escort her to the town. How can I refuse? Afterall, I’m the one at fault here. She kept asking weird questions, like if I liked purple. Geez! Doesn’t she have any common sense? How can boys like purple? Isn’t that a girl’s color? She seemed curious about Purple Valley so I drove her there. She rushed towards the field, giggling, chasing those butterflies and enjoying the pleasant aroma of the purplish blossoms. How childish! But wait a min! Why is my heart throbbing? Is this love or infatuation? For some reason, I’ve started loving the color purple. Steph, she dispelled the murky void in my heart with hues of purple just like that stream of snow melting by the breath of spring! We had dinner at “The Purplefly” restaurant. Isn’t my birthday tomorrow? What if I surprise Steph by proposing her with a ring? Will she accept me? Will she reject me? Let’s not worry about that. Wait for my confession, Steph!
The world around me started swirling. My shuddery legs gave way. Thud! The diary fell from my shaky hands.
It was me.
I was “that someone” that Raymond had been referring to.
“I’m back, Steph! Hey, what are you doing in my room?”
I couldn’t utter a single word. It was as if my whole body had frozen.
“Steph! Are you okay? Why is your body turning transparent? I’ve something to confess”
Ah! It seems my time is up. I must travel back to the present now.
“Raymond, promise me that you’ll ne’er forget me. We’ll meet again in Brainsville Hospital after 10 years. Promise me you’ll confess to me then!”
“I promise Steph, but please don’t go. Please don’t leave me alone”
I watched Raymond yelling, sobbing and falling unconscious as my existence slowly faded into oblivion.
I woke up in a hospital bed. My eyes started spinning around. I could see my mom sitting beside me with folded hands absorbed in prayer, nurses running back and forth, carrying trays of medicines and cotton and a beeping monitor.
“Mom, what’s wrong? Why am I here?”
My mom screamed in joy on hearing my voice and hugged me tightly, bestowing incessant kisses and whispering, teary-eyed “Finally, you’re back honey! I was so scared that I won’t be able to see you again!”
“How long was I out?”
“Three days. You were lying unconscious inside your cabin. The doctor said you went into coma. I was so scared of losing you!”
Ah! So that’s what happened!
“Doctor, where’s Raymond? I wanna meet him now” I yelled.
“Raymond has recovered his memories, Steph. He’s waiting for you in his ward”
I rushed towards his ward, sobbing incessantly.
“Steph, here you’re! I remember everything, Steph! It was YOU. You remember how you asked me ten years back if I loved purple? I’ll answer that now. Yes, I love purple because that’s what connected me to you, that’s what made me realize the meaning of love and that’s the reason you’re standing right by my side.”
I couldn’t control my feelings anymore and hugged him with all my might.
Taking out a purple ring from his pocket, Raymond knelt down and said “I remember our promise, Steph. Will you marry me?”
We sealed our love with a kiss in that purplish ward filled with the pleasant aroma of lilacs, crocus and lavender.
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