I wrote this piece for a creative writing competition. Hope you all enjoy!
Topic: – And I couldn’t take my eyes off…
No human life is without pain and suffering, everyone, no matter how rich they are, how happy they are, how satisfied they are, have at one point or the other, experienced sorrow. Life is a mix of highs and lows but sometimes it feels like the lows overpower the highs. I have felt this more often than not and have either blamed god or my bad luck for it. Today a realization dawned upon me, we don’t nearly thank god or our good luck when things do go our way, as much as we blame them when they don’t.
Needless to say, I too am no exception to this rule. When I was in class eleven or twelve, I don’t remember now, my grandmother was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. It was as if the roof had shattered over our heads. I was devastated. I blamed God, luck, myself and anything and everything I could think of. My mother, who is nothing short of a superhero, singlehandedly saved my grandmother (her mother) by taking her to regular chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions and adhering to the timely delivery of medicines to my ailing grandmother. My mother’s routine was impeccable, almost like a robot working tirelessly towards achieving that one single goal.
I loved my grandmother, or ‘Didu’ as I would affectionately call her. She would be my savior when my mother would come fiercely to beat me because of the shenanigans I did as a child. She would tell me stories which inspired me to take up writing as a hobby. She has a double M.A in Sanskrit and was my tutor during the years I had Sanskrit as a language in my school. I remember scoring the highest (49 marks out of 50) and that made her the proudest teacher in the whole wide world!
My grandfather worked in the central government and my grandmother was entitled to a lot of health benefits but as with everything else in life, there was a flipside to it. It meant my mother had to visit three to four government health centers, two to three times a month, in addition to taking my grandmother for regular check-ups. These visits were for submitting perceptions, paper works and completing other formalities that are generally associated with government offices. The amount of effort and perseverance that my mother showed during this time was incredible, to say the least. I doubt anyone would have the mental and physical strength to continue with the rigorous process for not one or two My grandmother constantly regretted putting her daughter through such an ordeal and my mother constantly reprimanded her for thinking that way.
During this time, I had completed my twelfth examinations and was already enrolled in an engineering college. Day after day, I would hear my mother come home, exhausted. Finally, hours added to become days and days went on to become months, and the day of the operation was upon us. Thanks to my mother’s robotic adherence to the timely deliverance of medicines, the operation was a success. The moment I heard about the good news, I packed my bags and set out of college to see my beloved grandmother.
Nervous apprehension made itself visible through the ever-growing beads of sweat accumulating on my forehead. My knees felt too weak to carry my heavy self as I raced up the stairs, the elevator was no match for me today and moreover, I did not need it. I waited for a couple of moments outside the room where my ‘Didu’ was staying and with god’s name, entered. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her, my ‘Didu’ was frail, shriveled up like a raisin, too weak to let herself up, but she was smiling! There she was, the victor, the winner My mother was adjusting the wig on her head (chemotherapy and radiation therapy rendered her bald); I smiled and almost choked myself up. I hugged my grandmother and my mother; it was because of her sacrifice that my ‘Didu’ was breathing.
But as I said, the circle of highs and lows; years later, I was working in a software company in Hyderabad when I felt something was not right. My mother has been a constant source of support throughout my life. She helped me get through various tough patches and never stopped motivating me. She almost forces me to do productive things every day which even though I hate, I know is for my betterment.
My mother calls me every day but off late, I sensed something wrong with her voice. In addition, now most of my calls were received by my father and not Maa. One day, I asked the question whether something was wrong with ‘Maa’. Yes, something ‘was’ wrong with her. Years of tending towards my grandmother made her neglect her health, to grave consequences. Her gall-bladder had started going gangrenous, or in simpler words had started decomposing. This made the decomposing mass a foreign object within her body and as a result, her body started rejecting it. To add on to further complications, wrong treatment made her develop patches of pneumonia inside her lungs. Fortunately, because of one of our close relatives, my mother had an emergency operation at the nick of time and I was informed that it went relatively well.
I was not so lucky this time, because of the pressures at work, I could not visit her immediately but as soon as I got a chance, I took off. I recalled my nervousness during the time I first saw ‘Didu’ after the operation and thanked God for doing the right things at the right time. When I went home, I saw my mother lying on the bed and I couldn’t take my eyes off her, my superhero, my mother. My ‘Didu’ was sitting beside her, smiling, welcoming me back home.