I picked up a call of my friend, smiling and thinking to myself of our impending meeting, when her heart shattering cries shook me and I gasped as I asked, ‘what is it, what happened, kanna?’. ‘Tell me, should I come and meet you, did you meet with an accident…..’
‘They said, I have cancer’, she sobbed uncontrollably. I listened helplessly to her outbursts of deep sorrow between tears streaming out into the telephone.
Standing at either side of the call, we stood transfixed in a moment of great sorrow, before I gathered courage to point out the need for a second opinion and how it is important to stay strong and positive.
She calmed down and went indeed to visit a doctor and came home to tell me of her relief of how it was nothing. But she added, ‘those three hours was different. In the cab, I watched everyone and thought of how I was different from all of them, being so utterly sick. Everything seemed to vanish from beneath my feet, I gathered my thoughts and immediately planned for the rest of my life’….she rambled on. As we hugged and as we let out a sigh of relief and laughed at our folly, we still were shaken by what could have been!
I could not but remember of the time when I travelled to NIMHANS with my only young brother and my father and how the doctor in his incisive scathing honesty, told Balraj of his deadly progressive disease and of how everything changed in front of our eyes. The boy who walked up to the doctor’s table, could not keep another step suddenly as we carried ourselves back home with a heavy heart and a great pretension of nothing is amiss, while still ingesting the harsh truth.
That single turn of event destroyed whatever self confidence we had as a family, relatives turned away, friends were far and few, the fear of utter break down constantly threatened each one of us, and I cried every time, I turned my face away from my brother, till one day, my mother castigated me for my poverty of strength!
In my brother’s great suffering and his positive spirit, we, my parents and myself were so lost that somehow, I felt that any injustice to my person was acceptable, afterall, ‘what better could happen to one such!’ and allowed much that need not have happened to happen!
Well, all this reminds me now is of the need to sit down and listen to each other, each time, every time, perhaps a soulful listening can wipe away a few tears!