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A GIRL CALLED STELLA
P. Lankesh
       " STELLA came, the nurse. Olive-complexioned and with clean tape- ring fingers, cheeks with a touch of fading youth and thick hair. She was Subbanna's favourite. He thought no end of her. If only she could be on duty both day and night! He thought that her body exuded a smell of motherhood. He would know as soon as she entered the room. Once he had dared to ask her. Will you come and nurse me if I were to shift to my son's place? I'll pay you for it and make sure you don't lack anything. Stella had said nothing. She had patience and could be stern too. She had given him his pills and medicine and left without answering. Even her indifference which he thought was divine had whetted his curiosity about her. Not having enough courage to ask her again, he had started talking about himself. Subbanna hailed from a village near Shimoga. Having sold his property there, he had settled down in Nellandur near Bangalore and owned two houses besides a farm.
       Stella had given her answer later. It'll cost you three hundred rupees a day. Don't take me amiss. That's the fee which our association has fixed. I can't accept anything less than that.
       Fear and pain. Subbanna started coughing. He knew he was going downhill, both morally and physically.
       His son and daughter-in-law visited him, as usual, promptly at eight O' clock. The son looked wasted, Subbanna's illness had taken its toll. The daughter-in-law too looked run down. They used to stay with him in the hospital before. Subbanna himself had felt bad about it and was in two minds for a while before he had sent them home.
       The doctor too came in just as Suresh and Savithri arrived. After having examined the patient and talked to Stella, he told Suresh that he would like to have a word with him.
       "Something private?" Suresh asked the doctor.
       "Nothing like that. Your father's alright but we have to change the treatment. The drugs are expensive and there's need for surgery besides. The dialysis will cost you at least two hundred rupees a day."
                                       

    

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