It was December 26, 2014. The day when Tsunami hit the world. Little did we know that a massive Tsunami would hit our lives too.
It all started with a dry cough. Mom coughed every time she talked for five minutes at a stretch. There was no infection or mucus down her throat. So, when Mom and Dad finally decided after two months, to consult a doctor I was relieved. I was getting back from my tuition classes that night and when asked about the diagnosis, they simply said further tests were required and the physician had referred them to another hospital.
Next day, my sister and I were back from school and I received a call from Dad.
“Shalu, Mamma is diagnosed with a minor tumor. Nothing to worry, Molu (dear). The doctor said that it can be easily removed. So, we are planning to admit her in hospital today itself for surgery early in the morning tomorrow. I will call you back soon.” Dad hung up.
It was her birthday next day- December 25. A family friend took both of us little girls, to the hospital early in the morning. I still remember her laugh and smile. She was in her cheerful best. I do not know if she was trying to put up a brave face. May be she was.
She was out from surgery and Dad was back home as they didn’t permit anyone to stay with the patient. We were informed that the surgery had gone well. Being in Grade 12 and with the Board exams around the corner, my Dad used to be my alarm clock. He used to wake me up at 5 every morning so that I study. Out of nowhere, he received a call from the hospital. I saw him darting across the room to reach Mom at the earliest. He told me that there was no one in the hospital and that the Mom needs some medicines. I ironed his shirt and he got ready only to leave home in a flurry.
I helped my little sister with breakfast and in another four hours we went to school. After the morning assembly, I reached the classroom. The teacher entered and announced the class to stand and pray in silence. I thought it was because of the Tsunami that hit in the morning. But no, it was for my Mom.
I felt the world around me spin, the earth beneath shake. I just didn’t know what was wrong.
All my friends knew what my Mom was going through. That she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, that when the doctors opened her up for surgery they were alarmed at the size of the Cancer that had spread across her heart, lungs and diaphragm. They couldn’t remove even a quarter of these bad cells that were eating her life. Soon after they closed her up, they knew she wouldn’t survive and this morning she showed signs of withdrawal that they had to summon Dad immediately.
She took his hands and said, “Take care of our daughters. I love you”, and she gave up.
She heard her heart beat slowing down to 30…and then to zero. In that trans state between heaven and earth, she saw the smiling face of my Dad and his hand touching her face. She saw Lord Vishnu raising his hand to bless her. She felt a current pass through her and her heart again started beating from zero, back to normal. She was back to Life! She had gone into cardiac arrest and the doctors had given her a defibrillation or an electric shock. But she was in life support system for almost a week. The cancer was still there and her current condition was only because she went through surgery.
The worst was yet to come. The treatment plan included chemotherapy followed by eight sets of radiations. She was shattered. She couldn’t stop crying. She remembered her close friend’s son committing suicide not able to bear the the pain of this poisonous treatment. She lost pounds and reached to a devastating 26kgs. She lost her hair and became bald. Her skin was loose and she looked old. She couldn’t bring herself to face anyone around, not even look in the mirror. She gave up countless times. The excruciating pain, and the hairless head made her scream. But my Dad was patient and calm. He never gave up and always believed in the good, in the best. He force-fed her with different kinds of fruit juices, soups and food every half an hour- the entire diet being prepared by my Dad. He didn’t bother the cussing and swearing. Then I knew what love is. And I swear, I don’t think anyone would have gone through this situation with such grace.
It has been ten years now! She never thought she will get back to her work, or see me get a job or even married. She fought through, just because of my Dad. It’s difficult to live a life in fear forever, not knowing if a mere cold or cough is because of the cancer returning back. She is weak but strong in many ways.
Mom, you are the first one to look into my eyes and say, “You are beautiful”; the first one to shed tears whenever I had a fall..
You are the first one to say, “I’m proud of you”, the first one to smile and wave hands when I went to school..
You are the first one to teach me what’s right and wrong, the first one to help me hold a spatula, the first one to be strict but fair and firm and a best friend.
You are the first to introduce me to “Boney M’- a treat to the eyes when you shook your leg at “Ma Baker”, the first one to teach me that it’s okay to let go sometimes..
Mom, you are the one I think of when I hear the word “love”, and these would not be enough to thank you for all the sacrifices, hardships, courage, laughter and honesty you’ve undergone, Mom you are the BEST!!!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Mom and I on my Wedding Day