To read the preceding part click here -> Part 1
He first saw her in the university library. She was sitting alone at a table with a few thick books around her, intently reading one and occasionally writing down notes. She was dressed in a simple beige-coloured blouse and denim jeans… it surprised him that he had not noticed her earlier. He had started to help out at the library since the start of the term after completing his degree in Library Science the previous academic year. She must have been coming to the library before that day but somehow managed to remain inconspicuous, to him at least.
But it was only three weeks later that he managed to work up the nerve to say something. He had been observing her the past weeks and noted that she mostly spent time in the library in the afternoons. Sometimes she would study with some friends but most of the time she was alone. None of the friends who have accompanied her so far, are men. That afternoon, she was again alone and was tidying up the table to go home. She brought a thick book to the checkout counter where he was on duty.
It is now or never, he thought.
As he scanned her library card and stamped the due date on the book, he noted the book’s title. `An Introduction To Fortran Programming’ by some overseas professor with a weird-sounding name. Whoever thought to call a 2-inch thick book `Introduction…’ must have got his bearings wrong.
As he handed the book back to her, he said, `That’s heavy stuff you're reading.’
She smiled and replied, `Yes, literally.’ He can’t help but smile back. The ice has been broken.
The polite greetings the following days became easy… but it was not until another three weeks that he found the guts to ask her out for a date. Well, you can’t really call it a date because it was just a drink at the cafeteria located opposite the library.
Their friendship blossomed and he continued courting her throughout the three years she took to complete her degree. They married the month after she graduated.
It was a happy first few years for the young couple. She easily got a job at a multi-national computer chip manufacturer while he had secured a permanent posting at the university’s library a few years earlier. There were no signs of the stork arriving yet but they were not unduly worried.
And then in their third year of marriage, the bad news came to the surface. She had been complaining of sore throat on a number of occasions which were treated by the standard prescription of antibiotics and lozenges. The illness came and went. But when her voice became hoarse and breathing became difficult, they decided to seek specialist advice. After a few tests, the diagnosis was heartbreaking.
She has thyroid cancer…