“Dad please hurry up I will be late for the exam. I think I will be totally blank when I reach my desk in the examination hall” I was literally screaming and my father pacifying me saying “nothing to worry my dear, why fear when I am here. You will do just fine, believe in yourself” and he left me at the entrance of the examination hall. At the desk to my horror I realised I forgot my hall ticket. “Daddy, Daddy please stop” I was shouting and sweating profusely and suddenly realised it was my dream. It’s been long since I appeared for any exam and it’s been four years since I lost my father to the dreadful cancer. But every second day I have such visions. Believe it or not I still feel he is around.
In the year 2011 (month of July) a heavily pregnant me was expecting my parents to arrive at my in-laws and grace my baby shower function with their blessings and take me home for the most important occasion of my life. Was I expecting too much? But it didn’t happen on the day which was scheduled earlier and due to some reasons it was postponed. That reason was only revealed to me quite later because of my condition at that time. My parents met with a serious accident. My mother had an external injury but my father’s condition was worse as one of his lung was punctured. A major operation ensued. And he never really recuperated from that. Since that day till he breathed his last he never slept peacefully without pain. I saw him struggling, swirling in pain just to catch a nap.
Few months into 2012 we saw him losing weight drastically. Started refusing food. I thought he is being fussy as always (being an excellent cook himself he never really liked what others cook too easily) and I even rebuked him because I was worried about his health. But after a long string of (painful) tests it was confirmed that he is suffering with “Throat Cancer”. We were shattered beyond words could explain.
But we were hoping that with so much advancement in the medical sciences we could easily combat this monster, at least we were made to believe . Next step search the best hospital that could provide care, medicines and eventually help my dad come out of this. We were given a hope to cling on every time we met the doctor.
Two skin grafting surgeries, many more sessions of chemotherapy, strong dosage of medicines, countless dressings of the grave wound around the neck that made sure everything he ate leaked through that wound – we did it all and my dad had to bear it all. Throughout this battle his only wish is to survive this struggle so that he could be with us again and play with his grandson.
What was our hope or rather expectation? I think that needs no mention. We expected the entire treatment to work because we hired the best. We expected relief from agony that my father was going through. Till date it sends shiver down the spine when I recall the fact that how my father went sleepless and foodless for almost two years and thus was reduced to a bag of bones. Towards the end his speech (voice) died, lost his grip on things (The walls of Supreme Court of India are still adorned with his handwriting, he was an ace calligrapher). Moment we thought it is bad it got only worse.
Amidst all this unbearable pain I got to know that his wound is drying up, no more pus flowing from it (I was not around him throughout, I was in Brussels). I was very happy and thanked God for finally granting our wishes, answering our prayers. Our expectations were rekindled. But little did we knew that he is preparing to bid adieu to all of us and especially to his agony. Again I got a call on third day asking me to book my tickets as it could be my last few moments with my father. Shocked and asked “few days back everything seemed to be alright, what happened suddenly?” Situation was explained and I booked my tickets immediately. I was moved, in fact shaken and could think of nothing else but one last chance to be with my father.
But on 7th January, 2014 early hours, an unexpected call with the expected news shattered me. My brother in choked voice told me “He is no more”. How unlucky I am who couldn’t bid a final goodbye to the man whom I adored, looked up to for support and unconditional love.
I still wonder was it wrong to expect the medicines to work? Is cancer still incurable? I cannot always question God for whatever has happened but somewhere down the heart I feel to a certain extent it was actually in my father’s favour as it set him free from all the misery and pain he was suffering.
And one thing that clearly got imprinted in my mind : Money isn’t everything. It can buy you medicines but life is priceless. Had money been powerful no rich would have ever died. We can only expect medicines to work and many a times its just hoping against hope. At the end of the day there’s a definite end to every body (sometimes abrupt) which is the only certainty of life i.e. Death.