I just got this story from a friend – in one of those forwarded emails. I think – if I remember correctly – very similar to a story by H.H. Munro (aka Saki). If any of you remember the story this is from Saki’s collection – pls do leave it in the comments.. or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks.
Here is a brief on Saki:
Saki was born Hector Hugh Munro in Akyab, Burma (now Myanmar), the son of Charles Augustus Munro, an inspector-general in the Burma police. Munro’s mother, the former Mary Frances Mercer, died in 1872 – she was killed by a runaway cow in an English country lane. Munro was brought up in England with his brother and sister by aunts who frequently used the birch and whip. He was educated at Pencarwick School in Exmouth and Bedford Grammar School. From 1887 he traveled with his family in France, Germany and Switzerland. In 1891 his father settled in Devon, where he worked as a teacher. In 1893 Munro joined the Burma police. Three years later he was back in England and started his career as a journalist, writing for the Westminster Gazette.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”