2 years ago around the same time, things seemed a lot different. It was the first day of orientation and new house officers had finally gotten their long awaited job postings in respective hospitals all over the country under provisional licence contracts. They had to leave their homes, their parents, their spouses, their girlfriends, as well as their kids. They left early in anticipation of traffic. Some in cars, some by train and some already came the night before after long flights. 5 young house officers in brand new pressed and glistening white coats, walked into the Assistant Director’s Office of Hospital Sepang and waited to report for the first day of duty. They exchanged pleasantries, names, contact details and even social media information. In mere 5 minutes, they had become instant friends.
‘The Assistant Director will see you all now,’ said the nice lady at the desk resting her palm on the speaking end of the receiver. ‘Datuk Dr Jayagopal s/o Dorai’ it read in bold capital letters. They lot of them got up excited, but couldn’t decide which one of them would go in first, so they kept paving the way for each other with little hand gestures but nobody seemed to want to take the lead. ‘Today, please,’ remarked the perhaps not-that-nice lady as she went back to her phone.
The door from behind them busted open all a sudden. A petite looking young woman hobbled before just falling to the ground as it did. It startled the entire office. Everyone approached her to help even the ladies at all the way at the back.
‘Sorry, sorry, sorry,’ she cried and quickly limped her way into Datuk Jaya’s door. The others were awe stricken. ‘Did she just?’ said Ram. ‘I believe she did,’ cut Jenny.
‘Come,come!’ a deep yet friendly voice echoed from within the assistant director’s office.
Ram, Daniel, Damia, Jenny, Tzen and the newly welcomed, Sheila. The first 3 days of orientation was arguably the best time since their med school days.
They had explored the city, found places to eat and gram their food, helped each other set their rooms in the hospital quarters. None of them were local except for Damia who was already a young mother of a gorgeous 1 year old girl. It was literally all her social media was about. Jenny and Sheila took one apartment for themselves and the other three boys took their own just one floor below. All three nights they had dinner together and on the last day they watched a Michael Bay film in the local shopping mall. The gang was heavily critical about the movie all the to way to exit.
‘Picture time,’ screeched Damia when she finally got hold of the perfect spot. It was a beautiful water feature, of glistening streams going down a valley of sorts and a faux Sakura Tree branching right above it. Along with that a multitude of strategically placed light-bulbs just to add a more celebratory feel to it. ‘Aww, I always wanted to go to Japan,’ cried Sheila. Jenny took center stage and started prepping her look using her own phone. ‘Are you taking photos for a photo?’ sneered Daniel. ‘Well it’s hard to be good looking, not something you would understand,’ she retorted and drew a disingenuous smile. ‘What?’ Ram appeared perplexed.
Damia carefully positioned the tripod stand exactly the way she wanted, just enough to have all of them in frame, along with everything else.
‘Make sure I don’t look fat in under this tree,’ cried Sheila.
‘You look great Sheila,’ Damia yelled adjusting her focusing lens.
‘YES!’ all resounded abruptly in unison. It was evident that Sheila’s weight was brought up frequently, only by her and her alone. Damia set her timer and quickly trotted to position. ‘OK, POSE!’ she yelled. The 6 of them did various awkward and silly gestures. Ram went crazy with his legs, so much so he tripped and fell backward into the water. The camera shot that exact moment. They all had a great laugh over it and will so more for time to come. “Oh wait, now i get it, she meant you’re not good looking bro,’ Ram spouted excess water from his mouth, while his dripping wet hair covered half his face. It took a while for the rest of them to follow. Jenny burst into a contagious laughter and Sheila was pleased with her photo finishes.
‘So,’ asked Dr Satya, now seated across a nervous agitated house officer. ‘You can take off your coat,’ he said. Daniel complied and loosened his tie.
‘Yes, the tie as well,’ he continued. Daniel stripped it right off. He reached for the glass of ice cold water placed right before him and gulped the whole thing down while sweat exited his pores and trickled down his chin. He placed a half emptied glass back to the exact position on the table.
‘So, how are you keeping up with all this?’
‘I’m good,’ replied Daniel, ‘work is good.’
‘Not about work Daniel,’ Dr Satya cleared his throat, he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head in the cold AC breeze blowing behind his back. Daniel’s eyes scanned the room. It was a small space, claustrophobic with only 2 doors; one of it an exit, another lead into a wider office space he gatthered. He heard muddled voices and soft rustlings from the other side. The lights above him shone bright and were only getting brighter. His fingers started to noticeably shake and he kept them close to the table to calm them down.
‘All is good,’ he replied.
‘Can’t be that good. A friend of yours just recently left us. And you must understand why I feel the need to talk to you about it,’
Daniel took a few breaths to stop the shaking. He didn’t want to relive those moments but his mind kept going back. Split second flashes of the poor girl standing on that ledge, saying her last words to him before facing up and taking the leap. The lights weren’t as bright anymore and he found it slightly easier to focus once the thought had finally settled in. ‘You know nobody has said that yet,’
‘Said what? ‘that she died’?’
‘Have you said it, you know, to your self?’
Daniel shook his head.
‘You have thought of though, haven’t you? I suppose it isn’t right to bombard you with questions and that’s why I immediately stopped the detectives from doing so,’
Daniel made a soft ‘hmph’. Dr Satya continued to speak, ‘you were there Daniel, and it’s most unfortunate that you had to witness such a horrific accident,’
Daniel peered hard at the cold glass of water on the table, white a soft mist surrounded it, the flashes kept coming back. Daniel felt entranced by his vision, zooming in the tiny droplets surrounding his glass. Deep down his subconscious needed the escape, and the water provided the illusion of a never-ending pool, an ocean to slip away into, and keep swimming till nothing was as sight to call or cast blame.
‘Daniel?’ a slight touch on his fingers brought him back to reality. ‘What are you thinking right now?’
Daniel felt as though time had long past only to realize it had only been seconds. He tried to recall Dr Satya’s previous words.
‘It was not an accident,’ he exclaimed.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Well, sometimes our eyes have a way of us telling us different truths,’
‘It was not an accident,’ Daniel interjected defensively jerking his body forward. Dr Satya didn’t flinch.
‘Alright, alright!,’ the psychiatrist was forced to retract, ‘in your own words then, please tell me everything you can remember about what happened that night.’