Thursday, 18 April 2013

My Rendezvous with God



The hoot of the owl somehow seemed eerie to me. I contemplated whether to stay in bed or to get out and soothe my parched throat. I decided on the latter...I wish I hadn't..
As I made my way across the corridor, I noticed that the dark corridor was partially lit from the light coming from the open door of my brothers room. I couldn't help it, I was a six year old girl and my curiosity got the better of me...I peeked in...what followed was one of the most chilling experiences of my entire life...
My brother was perched on the sill of our 13th floor apartment . Somehow seeing him there, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. When I spoke my voice was a high pitched quiver “Please get off Bhaiya, you know mother doesn't like you to be up there. Its dangerous, you may fall down.”
He turned to look at me, his face was bathed in the white moonlight and he had a strange glint in his eyes. The voice in which he spoke was not his , “She does hate it,doesn't she...” And then he jumped. Gravity had done its job...




8 Years Later


As childhoods go, mine wasn't really something to boast about. A father who is never home and a mother who has to take anti depression pills every night don't really make for a very happy home. And the photograph of a dead brother who was everything that you aren't doesn't really help either. I was fourteen and going on to 15, the exact age in which my had taken his last fall...
He was the topper of his class , I top each year from the bottom ; He was the captain of the basketball team, I cant look at a ball without being hit by it; He was the most popular kid in the class, my only friend is my diary ; he was chirpy and always smiling, I probably don't speak more than 10 words a day; he was the apple of my mothers eye, I cant remember the last time I was hugged by my mother...was I wrong to think that my parents would have preferred me rather than my brother to be on that ledge?
The only thing that kept me from jumping off another ledge was that I considered suicide to be cowardly and I didn't want to end my life, however pointless it may be in a cowardly manner...



I unlocked the door to our bungalow and was reminded again, like I everyday was – of how empty it felt. My mother was in the house but I always used the key, because sometimes it was almost two hours before she heard me and I was left standing outside. The only noise in the house was coming from a dripping faucet in the kitchen I ignored it and made my self a sandwich. I felt no need what so ever to call out to my mother that I was home...she wouldn't hear me..and even if she did she wont call back..she hadn't called back to me in the last eight years....



I went up to my room and as usual locked myself in. I went to the window and stared at the falling autumn leaves as they blazed a bright scarlet descending on their last fall...My thoughts turned to my brother as I followed the leaves... Of all the years I'd missed out with him... I didn't even remember him now except for the memory I had of him of his last night... I didn't remember when I drifted off to sleep...


I woke up the next day with the cough that I had had in the past few weeks seeming worse than ever. I felt lightweight as i dragged my feet across the cold marble floor. I coughed again and my chest hurt. I'd never felt more tired and all I wanted to do was flop back into bed..but a day alone at home was a more depressing thought than a day at school. I stumbled into the bathroom but I did not recognize the reflection that stared back at me. I had huge halos of dark circles around my eyes and I had lost so much weight in the past few weeks that none of clothes fit me anymore...I had another bout of coughs and this time surprisingly I saw some blood on the sink..shrugging it off, I washed myself...every movement hurt.. I combed my tangled hair and clambered down the stairs...
Surprisingly when I went down my father was there eating his breakfast and poring over the morning paper. Usually when he had his breakfast with me we just wished each other and that was the end of the conversation. Today however when he saw me doubling over, wheezing in pain at the foot of the stairs , he did the first fatherly act that he had done in years – he got up , came to me , gently held my hand and led me to the sofa. “You have a burning fever”, he said, his eyes showing concern but all I could mumble was that I hadn't noticed it. I closed my eyes and when I woke up next,the sun was shining brightly and I was lying in my room with a hot water bottle. As if on cue, my father entered the room and behind him...my mother. They both came and sat next to me. None of us uttered a word, me not daring to look up in case I saw the same stony eyes that I had been seeing in my mother's face for the past eight years.
But when she finally spoke her voice was a quiver..I looked in surprise to see the eyes that had not shed a drop all through my brother's cremation filled with tears.
And I feel foolish saying this, but we cried..all of us cried..We cried for my lost brother, what we could have been and all the time we lost as a family....
And finally I felt that I could lead my life as a normal teenager...But that is life isn't it..screws you up just when you thought everything was perfect....

I had to get my cough checked out though. In the evening we went to the hospital and visited the general physician who then referred us to a specialist, Dr. Kapadia. My parents were concerned but when we went to meet him, all their concerns disappeared into thin air. Dr. Kapadia was a fat jovial man , around his mid 50's. He had a loud cheerful booming voice that made you smile no matter how depressed you were. His pepper spray hair continuously kept on falling into his eyes which were filled with laughter. He did a routine check up on me and told us to get a few tests done. A few days later we were back in Dr. Kapadia's bright sunny yellow room.But there was nothing sunny or bright about Dr. Kapadia's mood. He sat in his chair with a very serious expression. The eyes that usually shone with humor were grim . He spoke with a sigh We think its small cell lung carcinoma”.Even though I liked him a lot, I thought to myself “Dr. Kapadia had a strange knack for making the simplest of coughs seem like the most serious of things...”How wrong I'd been..

What does that mean?”my father asked, wanting to get to the point and then clear out quickly – we had a movie scheduled for the evening.
Sir, it means that your daughter could have lung cancer. Unfortunately all the symptoms say so.”I felt my mother stiffen and my fathers eyes seemed to bulge out. “You are joking aren't you, doctor?'he asked him; almost pleaded with him.In just a matter of seconds, the tension in the air had become palpable...I still could not figure out what was going on... I looked from the doctor to my gaping parents,not realizing the depth of the situation..it was just a cough after all wasn't it??
I suggest that you hospitalize her immediately so that we can run some tests on her.”Dr. Kapadia continued. “I hope you realize this is a very grave situation. She may have a stage 2 tumor.”
All my parents could muster was a weak consent. I looked at them in surprise..they looked absolutely devastated.
Before I knew it, I was lying on a stretcher and then plonked down on a bed...I still couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a simple cough could cause such trouble...It was later when I had googled 'cancer' up that I realized that the chances that I was going to walk out of my hospital room alive were almost nil...


If I hadn't reconciled with my parents then my reaction to cancer would probably have been exactly like the ones that I had had after the death of my brother – a nonchalant one. After all I would have had no ties to the mortal world – no friends , no parents , nobody would have despaired over my death... in fact I'd almost have been happy to go..
But this time I didn't .Something in me wanted me to fight...my stubbornness had taken away 8 years of precious time that I could have had with my mother and I was not going to die before I had got a chance of spending some more years with her...She wasn't going to get rid of me that fast....


Eight weeks later


In the beginning when I'd started my fight.. my mother told me continuously to believe in God..I didn't say anything to her but I mentally scoffed at her..was this 'God' there to hold my brother to catch him when he fell? Was he there when my mother went insane? Was he there to keep me from cutting myself just to see the blood? No, 'God' had not come to me when I wanted him the most , and he wasn't about to come to me when I needed him again...
Was 'God' going to come to me and miraculously erase the tumor?He wasn't..that job was to be done by Dr. Kapadia..I wasn't about to put my belief on someone I hadn't seen when I had Dr. Kapadia by my side...
After eight weeks of continuous battle , my resolve was starting to get weaker ....as well as my health. My bald head did nothing to renew my resolve and the countless chemo therapies had drained me out, both mentally and physically. Dr. Kapadia had been a steady rock in all my turmoil standing beside my and my parents as our world rocked all around us..threatening to throw us off balance any second.. He would always enter my room with a genuine smile plastered all over his humorous face. He talked of the weather and told me of all the cricket matches India won or lost.Frankly he was the only ray of sunshine in my life...apart from one person..my mother. She had shrugged off her depression and had stayed with me each day that I was admitted. She was the person who handed me a towel after I vomited my guts out. We shared jokes and she told me all the stories of my childhood – something that was a prohibited topic in my house before. My mother had finally opened up to me about my brother and we could talk about him freely now. The reason why he took that plunge was still not clear to any of us but my mother who was closest to him told me that he had started behaving very strangely in his last few days...He had become cranky and was always wearing a frown... She told me of all the times we both had broken the neighbors window frames while playing cricket and how he had always taken the blame on himself even when it was me who threw the ball. She told about how he and my mother spent an entire labourous afternoon, teaching me how to ride a bike. She told me of all the times when my brother deliberately slowed down in a race to let me win. Somehow I felt that I knew my brother better now than in the six years that I had spent with him... My mother in a matter of eight weeks had become my best friend...But cancer has strange ways..it doesn't just attack you physically..it torments you mentally as well...There were many days when I lay drained out on my bed with pain coursing though every vein in my body that I wanted nothing more to die...to be relieved of the pain that I had to live through...Slowly but surely cancer had got in my head and was breaking my resolve to take another breath..The end was near and I couldn't be happier... That is when I overheard Dr. Kapadia talking to my parents outside my room in whispers so that I would not hear.
The conversation went something like this : “.......very little chance.......chemotherapy not progressing well enough ......surgery.....last option....doesn't work.......nothing can be done......”
I almost laughed out loud...all I felt was relief.....I smiled to my self...I was ready to go..I knew my mother and father really well now and earlier, that was the only thing tying me to the mortal world...and I felt as if I was going to walk into the welcoming arms of my brother that had waited for me for so long...The surgery was the last straw and what I 'd figured from Dr. Kapadia's tone, that wasn't a very bright ray of sunshine either..I smiled into my pillow as I realized I had done the most important thing to do before I died...I had let go.....
The next day my parents came into my room just as I was finishing my breakfast, both smiling. I noticed that my mother's eyes were red. They sat beside me and my father said , “They are going to perform a minor surgery today dear, so you'll need to take a few injections.” I had to commend them on their courage...the daughter they had got back just a few months ago was about to be taken away from them but yet they had put on a smiling face..
My father continued in a reassured tone, “Oh its just some minor things, don't worry you wont remember a thing!” My mother said nothing but held my hand softly.
A few minutes later , Dr. Kapadia entered the room, smiling as brightly as ever and addressed me cheerfully, “So ready for the operation are we?”he said pushing his pepper sprayed curly hair out of his eyes.He seemed his usual jovial self and I smiled upon seeing him. He started taking to my parents and I forget the scientific names but all I remember is that they were going to administer local anesthesia and the operation would be around 4 hours long. My parents nodded to everything he said..what could they do after all.They were just silent spectators in the war that Dr. Kapadia and I waged against the tumor in my left lung... and the one we were going to loose in a dignified manner.. A few nurses came in as the doctor and my parents talked . My mother leaned in and gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead. The last thing I remember is me gripping my mothers hand tightly as the nurse inserted a long syringe in my arm before the world went black....

I had never really believed in God before... but when I saw Dr. Kapadia's smiling face after the surgery,telling me that all was well and I was going to live long ,I saw God in him.My eyes moistened and as my parents rushed to embrace me, I saw Dr. Kapadia, my Savior– my God gently slip out of the room. I was going to have the rest of my life before me..and I had no one to thank but my God – Dr. Kapadia for it. That is what God is supposed to do right? Come to you in your darkest hour, show you that ray of light you were pining for and then gently slip away...People believe in God to be their saviors , and our doctors are the ones who save us..they are our Gods...



I don't know why people spend the enirity of their lives in search of God. God is not found in holy pilgrimages or Churches or Mosques... God is found in every grain of sand we step on , God is found in every breath of air we take , God is found in all of us – God is faith And Faith is what holds us together in the darkest of times; faith is what gives us courage to face life every single day. Faith is belief and without belief, there is no reason for existing.
That,my friends was my rendezvous with God.
















2 comments:

  1. I should be ideally working at this point. But could not leave this post partially read. Don't want to get into the routine 'well-written' drill. I will only say it brought a tear to my eyes; reminded me of the people i love; reminded me that life is so short and love is so important. Very good. Writing should move, stir and make us think. You managed that in this.

    I always wanted to write a story on cancer. Will take some inspiration from yours. Let me also be a little critical, you need to rework the ending a bit. Had i written this story, I would have ended it as 'I had never really believed in God before... but when I saw Dr. Kapadia's smiling face after the surgery,telling me that all was well and I was going to live long ,I saw God in him.My eyes moistened and as my parents rushed to embrace me, I saw Dr. Kapadia, my Savior– my God gently slip out of the room.'That way the story would have retained its crispness.

    What do you think?

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    Replies
    1. yeah!! i didnt see that before.. ill get on to it

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