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Holiday Microfiction: “An Unexpected Holiday Gift” by Rakib Khan

Happy December everyone! It’s been a long year, but we finally made it to the end of 2020!

To celebrate the holiday season the staff at Fantasy-Faction have prepared a little treat! Every Monday and Friday for the rest of the month, we will feature a piece of microfiction from one of our contributors.

Today, we have Rakib Khan and “An Unexpected Holiday Gift”.

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An Unexpected Holiday Gift by mr.shabazz (small)

“An Unexpected Holiday Gift”

by Rakib Khan

“Sir, will you help me?”

I was on preoperative night duty and very busy doing file-work, I looked up a bit reluctantly. It was a terminally ill patient from the free male ward. My annoyance lessened. The man was small, with disheveled hair and about two weeks’ worth of stubble on his emaciated face. He was standing somewhat awkwardly due to the pain he was in, but his eyes were remarkably sharp.

“Sir, will you please help me dial this number?” He was holding a cheap, old, mobile handset in one hand and a crumpled piece of paper with a number in the other. He was illiterate, as is often the case with elderly patients in the government hospital where I was training for my post-graduate degree.

Despite being behind on my work schedule, I took the mobile from him, and dialed the number. But instead of a ringtone, there was a recorded message. The sim card had no balance.

“You are out of balance, uncle,” I told the poor guy, giving him back his phone.

The man looked genuinely disheartened and was about to leave, but I called him back.

“Give me the number again, I will try with my phone.” I dialed on my smartphone and gave him the mobile as it started ringing on the other end. He gratefully took my phone and went to the outside room. I could hear him talking loudly and excitedly in his local accent.

He talked for only a few minutes, then returned with my phone. “Thanks sir, it’s my grandchild’s birthday today, so I just wanted to hear her voice, she was a bit sick with cold but seemed very happy today.” The man smiled, showing his dirty yellow teeth.

The man went out, then returned almost immediately. I looked up, annoyed again.

“Do you have any kids, sir?”

The question cheered me up, “A one-year-old daughter, she is quite a handful.”

“Don’t be like me, sir, give your family time while you have it. Otherwise, you will regret a lot towards the end.” He walked away, leaving me wondering if he was as simple as he’d first seemed.

Thus, began a somewhat unusual relationship between me and the old man that went on for a few months. He often came to my room when I was alone and borrowed my phone or talked about his family.

* * *

Three Months Later

It is quite hard to sleep in a government hospital, even on an off night. But I had been straight awake for thirty-six hours on a hectic schedule, and had fallen asleep soundly, leaving my mobile beside my pillow.

I was jolted awake by a small voice.

“Sir, oh sir, sir….” It was the cancer patient who kept borrowing my phone. “Sir, don’t sleep with the door open. Specially with such an expensive mobile lying on the open. There are lots of thieves in this hospital.”

I was a bit angry having been woken from such a deep sleep. “You don’t have worry about my stuff, uncle. Worry about your own self.”

The man seemed a bit embarrassed by my outburst and replied rather sheepishly, “I can’t sleep much for the pain, sir, so I just walk around the ward. I won’t bother you anymore, sir.”

I was ashamed of my behavior, and something else was bothering me about the situation, but before I could say anything he left and I fell back to sleep almost immediately.

The next morning, I was freshening up before my morning workload, when the peculiarity hit me like a splash of cold water. The old man had been dead for more than a month!

I mentioned the incident to a few of my colleagues but all of them dismissed the occurrence as being a hallucination or dream caused by tiredness. Eventually, I came to agree with them.

* * *

Four Months Later

I forgot the unusual incident and the old man. But his concern about my unsafe sleeping habits did come back to punish me in a rather ironic way. It was after yet another night duty, I found my Android set and wallet were missing, both of which I had once again left unguarded beside my pillow with the door open.

I was disturbed even more because I was supposed to go home on holiday two days later, after six months of working, and had money saved up to buy something nice for my baby girl.

I spent the whole day searching for my stuff. My phone was switched off and that made it almost certain it was stolen.

Disheartened, I bought a cheap mobile set.

Nothing much happened until two days later, on my last shift before vacation. I had evening shift duty that day, and had a ticket bought for the night coach for my long travel home. I returned to the duty room after my evening round of the wards to wait for the arrival of the doctor who would relieve me, and found something spectacular.

My lost Android set and my wallet were waiting for me, neatly placed on the desk beside the bed. I picked the stuff up with trembling hands, the phone was switched off, but everything else was as I lost them.

I switched the phone on and was about to call my wife to inform her of the miraculous event, when I was stopped by the sound of a new message popping up. With my fingers almost numb I opened the message. “Sir, I never actually did thank you for the times you let me use your phone to check on my family. Consider this a thank you for your kindness. But please remember, don’t be like me; give your family time while you have it. Happy holidays, sir.”

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Thanks to Rakib for sharing this story with us! And thanks to you, reader, for reading it! 🙂

Stay tuned for more microfiction and some other fun surprises later in the month!

Fantasy-Faction is 10! To celebrate we are running a charity drive to help more people discover the joys of reading. If you are interested in helping out, please check out the full article here!

Heart Book with Lights by Theo Crazzolara (with words sm)
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