I watched MY SISTER’S KEEPER recently and it triggered more than one emotion in me .Not only was it a tearjerker, but also reminded me of my own family’s losing battle to cancer. I lived the trials and tribulations of the protagonist and her family in the face of death .Death has never been associated with anything remotely beautiful but cancer makes living ugly too.
Aai, my mother, was a picture of strength in life and in the face of death too. She was diagnosed with Astrocytoma, popularly known as brain cancer, and given six months to live. She survived cancer for 9 full years, hereby becoming an inspiration for others. Yes, cancer cannot be conquered only survived. Even in those trying and painful years she kept her sense of humour intact. She worked for most of those nine years as an executive housekeeper in a hotel, which was no small feat. It was no small feat considering she had to wear not only the wig to camouflage the ugliness of a bald pate, a result of vigorous radiation sessions, but also a smile as if nothing was wrong .I remember patients been sent to her by Inlaks Budhrani Cancer hospital in Pune for counseling .In my college years a few friends who knew about this asked me how I was so normal? How could I not be? When she, who was the most affected lead life as if nothing was wrong.
I will be lying if I say that there were no weak moments. But my father made sure that we were all together in those trying times.
Though we knew that death lurked its ugly face round the corner, no time is right to lose a parent and a family member.
I remember the innumerable visits to the hospital and her bruised body with all those piercings. Her body was bruised but not her spirit; not for a moment. I remember that the doctor feared once that she might have developed a heart complication, but she brushed it off saying that her heart belonged to my father and it wasn’t possible, and truly it did not happen. Being the firstborn, I have witnessed everything in my parents life, misery as well as good times To me, my parents remained a picture of love forming their own world, which despite being their child I could only observe as an outsider. They did not forbid me from entering it but there was no place for anyone else. My father remained a doting husband till her dying day.
I have my grudges too. More than once I have asked why me? I deserved her to stay by my side fussing over me when Kiara was born .I needed her to listen to my ramblings about what’s going on in my life. I wanted to tell her that now I realize that motherhood is a tough job and what a terrible child I was, and I wonder how she raised me .I see all around me, my friends, rattling off the most mundane things to their mothers and I feel cheated. I deserved to have a shoulder to crib about my husband without being judged. I deserve to have my mothers loving hands caress me and make me feel like a child once again .But nothing of that sort can happen….not in this life.
My father an ex army officer has had to take many tough decisions in his life and career ,but nothing comes close to his decision to let her go ,by allowing to take her off the ventilator.
I will never understand why my mother had to go at the age of 53 and why we had to live with it. There is no reason for it I guess. Death is death and nobody understands it .One just accepts it.
I wanted Aai to stay forever, but that did not happen .I realize that was not the point .The point was that I had a mother and she was fantastic.
One day I am sure I will see her again, urging me to eat my greens and fussing over me, but until then our relationship continues…..