MY LOVE STORIES WITH NURSES

Hospital has never been a place that people love to stay in or even want to hear the word in their ears. It is place which has always created panic in the hearts and minds of people. But just imagine about those terminally ill people who have no other options than to stay in the hospital or visit it regularly… I am one of them, ironically. But I had some beautiful memories associated with all those hospitals wherever I had stayed and I am going to share all that with you today…

In 1978, when I underwent my first surgery in CMC Vellore, I sparsely remember one incident which I love to explain. I was almost three years old then and there was another kid in the ward who used scared of me… Why??? 😛

A nurse gifted me a yellow paper mask which I used to wear and walk around the ward. And when I face that boy, he used too scream looking at me and cry. So my Mom and the beloved nurse used to take that lovely gift from me and then I used to start yelling at the top of my voice. This is how my love story with nurses started and I still cherish that love gift, that yellow paper mask in my memory.

I don’t remember the year exactly but between the year 1980-82, I had a small surgery for urinary tract infection in Kalunga Catholic Hospital. I was admitted there for two days only. But I fell in love with a kind hearted nurse who used to take me with her for rounds. She gave me chocolates and a toy as well… I don’t remember much. I was hardly 7 years old. I wept so much missing her when I came back home. You won’t believe she had come to our quarter one or two times as well afterwards. Probably, she fell in love too with the kiddo me. 😛

In the year 2001 on 20th of February I had my second surgery in Manipal Heart Foundation, Bangalore. This was the best ever experience I have in a hospital. I have some awesome memories associated with a couple of nurses during that stay in the hospital. I got discharged on 27th February 2001 from the hospital. But I made my home there in that ward, as we both Shyam (a patient) and me walked around with the nurses, meeting all the patients, sometimes encouraging them, sometimes translating from their language to English for the nurses. We had so much fun.

When I got discharged I asked my cousin to bring few packets of Cadbury Dairy Milk . There were 31 nurses in the tenth floor ward. I gave all of them one packet each. The head of the nurses, sister Patricia asked, “why did you spend so much ?”. My answer was “the service and care I received from you people is more expensive than what I spent for you, thanks a lot.” I waved my hands and came out of the hospital with my mom and cousin with a sense of victory given to me by God.

All the time if I expect love and care from the nurses then it’s definitely not possible. And when I fell severely sick in 2005, I was admitted in one of the hospitals at Kolkata. I literally had to shout at them to get their love and attention… while my health went on deteriorating.

Finally, I was taken to Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore where nurses were professional and know how to take care of people like me. I remember there was one young girl, who used to walk around taking care of patients including me as well. She was a fresher but her hands were steady like any other experienced nurses. She never used to look gloomy while taking care of us. But one day she was looking down. When she held my hand to check my pulses, BP etc., as routine check up… I asked her, “Hey, what happened to you… Looks like your boss is too irritating and shouting on you unnecessarily.” She smiled and said nodded in agreement to what I said.

And this cute little girl never stayed gloomy afterwards till I got discharged from the hospital. Her service and smile was her gift to me and in return I gave her that warmth even if I was just a patient like any other for her in that hospital.

When I suffered with Dengue in 2017 September, I was in a private room for better care and attention of those beautiful nurses in Kolkata. The doctor under whom I was admitted once asked the nurses, I don’t think you will be having any problems taking care of this jovial and handsome patient!?” They just smiled and kept quiet without replying anything.

If you would have marked, throughout this article I have highlighted the word – nurse(s) because from the very childhood they have been a part of my life and might be there in future as well. I was admitted in the hospital more times than the times I’ve mentioned here and I have a greater sense of love, respect and honour for the nurses. May God always bless them for what they do.

I hope you all enjoyed my love stories with those beautiful nurses… Keep reading and keep leaving your valuable feedback…

Stay blessed!!!

FIRST TIME I DREADED HOSPITAL

You must be thinking why did I give such a heading to this article. This is because of the simple reason that earlier when I was admitted to the hospital (twice) was for the best reason- birth of my two sons.  Before that when I was hospitalized, I was too young to remember, which I already mentioned in “Who Was That Guy”.

Visits to the hospital with my elder son, Arjun, wasn’t new to me as he has gone through staples, stitches, fracture, etc. Yeah! Quite an adventurous life he witnessed already before the age of 5. 

But this time it was different. He got high fever which refused to go even after giving Paracetamol. His pediatrician suggested to get his blood tests done as Dengue fever was on outbreak. However, his body showed no symptoms of of Dengue except high fever, so my husband and I were keeping calm and positive. The blood test reports however proved us wrong. His platelets were 1.2 lakhs and Dengue NS1 Antigen came out positive. The pediatrician suggested us to admit him to the hospital straight away so that his platelets could be monitored. 

Arjun dreads going to the doctor, even though he hardly cried on getting immunization shots. Breaking down this news to him was very difficult. As we started packing up the basic stuff for going to the hospital, I couldn’t control my tears and started crying. Just the thought of watching my son getting admitted scared me. Gathering myself, I got determined to stay strong so that my son could stay that way. 

As we got into the car, we told Arjun that we were going to a different doctor and as we entered the hospital, he started questioning hysterically- “ Why are we here? Is the doctor here? But, shouldn’t he be in the clinic? Am I getting another blood test? “

We calmly told him that he had got Dengue, which was a serious illness if not taken care of. So, for better care, we were at the hospital, assuring his mumma being next to him all the time. 

We were taken to the emergency ward where some blood test samples were to be taken. As we waited, we saw a serious case where the patient was being put on a ventilator. My heart sank as I was hearing the sounds and talks of the nurses, doctors and the attendants. I immediately wanted to leave that area. 

Soon, Arjun was taken to ICU. Electrodes were pasted on his chest for monitoring heart and a Cannula was to be injected in his veins, before which, the nurses asked me to wait outside to which Arjun immediately shouted- “No, mumma will stay with me.” I smiled and told the nurses to go ahead with the insertion, while I held my son tightly. 

The blood samples were needed every morning and evening. Every time the blood was taken out, Arjun would hold me tight and hide his face, while l just watched the vials of blood being filled. 

Since the time he was admitted, there was only one question in my son’s head- “When will we go home? “ And with that question, he lost his smile. His favourite books, games or even mobile videos failed to lift up his mood. 

Every two hours his blood pressure and temperature was observed, thankfully both remained in limits. 

The doctor strictly told my son to drink lots and lots of water if he wanted to get discharged soon, which Arjun religiously followed. 

For the next two days, we stayed in the hospital and the third day my son smiled because he was getting discharged as his platelets showed improvement. 

Getting back to home was nothing less than a celebration. Those two days proved to be very long for both of us. While my son was full of joy as he entered the house, I thanked God for embracing him. 

THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WHERE WE WANT THINGS TO BE NEGATIVE…

During my childhood, the hospital was almost like my second home. I never had fear for hospitals, nor I am scared of visiting one. I have good memories associated with hospitals. As an 8-year-old girl, I used to go alone to take my vaccination. Of course, my parents used to be waiting outside the room, as I always insisted on going through the process of injections alone. For almost 3 years in a row, when I was 12, I had typhoid. Trust me when I say this, I always had the most severe attacks of typhoid. Even a spoonful of water intake resulted in vomiting. So, I had 3 weeks of hospitalization once, and I still remember how I used to enjoy my stay there. My parents were working full time in an organization that also owned hospitals for employees. They have to go to work ( I understand that), and I had so much fun with the hospital staff. Hours of time on IV fluids restricted to bed, refusing to eat the deadly idly (that is south Indian comfort food), reading my school books to pass the time in the night – Ah, lot of memories.

Recently my visits to the hospital have become very frequent. I am on diagnosis for symptoms that are pointing towards a weak heart. It all started 3 years ago, during a trek, when I experienced a very high heart rate. Not that I was climbing too fast, but I had discomfort breathing. As always, I thought I may have been too tired, or as my body is not adapted to exercise for some time then, maybe it wasn’t able to cope up climbing the height. This happened two more times, and that’s the much-needed alarm to schedule an appointment. Echocardiograms and blood tests showed PAH (Pulmonary Artery Hypertension), and that is something that won’t show up on the Blood Pressure readings. It is almost a year, I am going through several tests that really have not given conclusive results. I have lapses of dizziness, shortness of breath, and pain – so, there are symptoms. Doctors say I have a weak heart ( I wonder how ??) and should be careful. There are no blocks as such, but I am on the higher side of the risk factors of my heart giving up. Does that scare me? Of course. Who wants to die early? But, the bright side of it is I am aware of the shortcomings of my heart. All the diagnosis is only possible because there are hospitals.

Okay, so that’s about diagnosis what about emergencies? Few months back, I had very severe pain in the abdomen while I was at work. Post lunch I started having sharp pain in the right side, which was only increasing exponentially. By the time I reached home, I felt so weak, helpless and my whole body started sweating. I was out of energy when the cab arrived. The cab driver was very supportive to leave me till the emergency section. The pain was so excruciating that I could not even lay on the bed in one position. I suspected it might be appendicitis, but the pain was too much to bear. After several rounds of pain killers and my screams in the emergency room, the pain subsided 7 hours later. Until then the doctors could not perform CT because I am unable to stay still. An hour later, I underwent CT and ultrasound, which depicted a stone in the kidney. When I was going through this trauma, I had no idea whom to talk to. The nurses were very caring and supportive. Maybe, I should write a dedicated article describing how scared I was. I was in so much fear until I knew what the problem was. The only relief was I am in the hospital and for anything that happens there are doctors around. So, for emergencies also, we are helpless but to visit a hospital. 

The very word ‘hospital’ scares a lot of people, but I feel that is the place that gives us solace. Hospital is not always for bad. How many mothers go for birthing to live those happy moments holding their newborn. How many families feel relieved when they get to know their loved ones are completely healthy when they suspected something wasn’t right. How many people with chronic illnesses are getting better only with the help of hospitals? We are scared because of what’s happening in our bodies. We are scared when we are unaware of what it is. We are scared to learn something that may not be right, but hospitals are the go-to places to recover. I have massive respect towards doctors, lab technicians, the nurses, and, most importantly,  researchers who are in the constant quest to understand human anatomy. Without them, the hospital would have been a really scary place to be.

SHE WOKE UP AND ASKED FOR “SOUPS”

The word, “hospital” itself scares everyone to the core. But at some point of our life, we all come face to face with this word, at least once in our life time. So did we…

In March of 1992, my husband and I heard the most terrifying news. Our precious 2 year old daughter had a tumor growing behind her right eye. A biopsy had to be done as soon as possible.

The day of the surgery, we arrived early in the morning and were assigned a room. I had packed a bag for both myself and my little girl. There was no way I was leaving her alone. As I changed her into that little hospital gown, I prayed: “Dear Lord, please watch over my little girl as they operate on her. Guide the hands of all who will be involved.”

As we waited, one by one, all those who would be a part of the surgery came in and talked to my husband and I. The surgical nurse and the anesthesiologist came in last, greeted us and then focused on our daughter Amber. We walked to the waiting area, my husband carrying her. The nurse went to make sure everything was ready. Finally, the anesthesiologist said it was time and held out his arms to our daughter. She smiled and went with him with no fuss.

Now the waiting began. Friends and family joined us during our vigil. I don’t remember exactly how long the surgery was but I do remember the nurse came out at least 4 times to keep us updated on how she was doing. She was so very kind and patient, answering any questions we had. Other nurses came around asking if we needed anything. 

Finally the nurse came out one last time to let us know that Amber was being taken to recovery. As we sat there in that quiet room, waiting for her to wake up, I was surprised to see the anesthesiologist walk in just to “check on her.” 

Within the hour, Amber woke up and asked for “soups”. And that time we realized we were now out of the soup. 

I will never forget the kindness and patience that the staff showed us on that nightmarish day. They kept our spirits up and made sure that we were as comfortable as possible. 

Incidents like this, always remind us of the God, who fits everything and everyone around us as our helps when we needed the most.

I am sure you all will have many such interesting and touchy incidents or experiences concerning hospitals in your life. My co-writers will be sharing their stories in subsequent days and if you have such hospital related stories, you can also share them all in the comment sections to encourage and motivate others.  

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XIV

Scene – I

Major Saraansh reporting Sir!” he said in a crisp voice. “Ah! There you are. Congratulations Major” replied Brigadier Varun with a radiant face. “You did it, my boy,” he patted Major Saraansh. “Thank you, sir. Credit goes to the boys, they fought very bravely,” replied Major Saraansh delightfully. “Well Major, why don’t you take a few days off?” asked Brigadier. There was an abrupt silence from Major Saraansh. He didn’t want to answer it. But he suddenly remembered his father’s phone call. “Sir you haven’t taken any leave over the years. Would you mind joining me? I’m sure my parents will be glad to see you.” Major Saraansh said in a casual tone. Brigadier Varun gave a pensive look, but he agreed eventually.

Scene – II

What are you looking at my dear?” asked Mohan lovingly. “You look so Wizened and shrunken like a fading rose,” Sudha replied in a muffled voice. “I’m fit as a fiddle my love,” Mohan said in a funny tone. Sudha didn’t reply but she quietly kept the photo aside. They had clicked it last summer. “Will they come? I still doubt it! What do you think?” Sudha asked in a peculiar tone. Mohan didn’t reply. He got up to leave. Sudha held back his hand. “Mohan! I have never seen you this reserved! Mohan please talk to me. I can’t handle this silence. Whom do I talk to? There is no one except for you.” Sudha broke down to loud sobs. Mohan sat down holding her hand. “What can I say? Now I don’t have to think of new stories for innocent curious souls. Now I don’t have run after chirpy little begins. Now I don’t have to cuddle a crying toddler. Now I don’t have to save awfully mischievous brats from your wrath! Now I,…I… have absolutely no work! I feel doomed. All that I can offer now is silence! What can I say Sudha?” His breath stuttered as he tried to take a deep breath.

Scene – III

Hello, can I speak to Mr. Prateek?

I’m sorry he is busy at the moment,” said the voice at the other end.

Hello,.. hello… please, it’s urgent I need to talk to him. It’s about his mother.


Okay let me try,” said a reluctant voice.


Excuse me, sir, “there is a call for you.

Not now!” Prateek replied rudely.

Sir he has some information about your mother.” Prateek snatched the receiver immediately. “Hello who is it?” he asked in a crisp voice.

Your mother just survived a heart attack. All your siblings are coming, you…”

Who are you and how come you know my mother? Why should I trust you?” Prateek thundered over the phone. “Well, all your siblings are coming. It’s her last wish to meet all her children. Instead of inquiring over phone come and see for yourself.” Raman hung up smiling to himself. He knew he has belled the cat. It was his endeavour and gift for the beloved old couple.

Prateek was resting in his vanity after the shoot was over. He was waiting for his car. “What if it is true? Heart-attack! My goodness! Should I go?” He sat there lost in thoughts.

Happy Birthday to you. Happyyyy Biirrtthhhddaayy ttoooo yooooouuuuu.

Yeeeee!! Cheers!

Thank you so much, guys!

Hey mom, thank you so much, I’ll talk to you later.

Hi bhaiya, thannkkk you, where is my gift?”

Heeyyyy, thank you, my little sis! Mmuuaahhh!!” The sweet birthday melody coming from somewhere outside his vanity was distinctly audible to Prateek. It was his co-actor Khushboo’s birthday. The mellifluous celebration quietly tiptoed into Prateek’s ears. “Lucky people!” He sighed. His eyes drip with tears. Salty drops fell from his chin, drenching his shirt. It was Prateek’s Birthday as well! He was startled by the sudden honking of his car and got up to leave. But he straight away headed towards the airport.

Scene – IV

Honey! You must be hungry let’s have lunch,” Mohan said in a casual tone.

Without us!” said a bubbly voice. They turned leisurely and standing before them was a beautiful young girl. She wore a peach coloured dress with a white belt. Her hair was long and wavy. They could easily make out it was Dhara! She ran towards the old couple and hugged them tightly. Mohan and Sudha hugged her back. But Dhara could make out Mohan’s eyes were frantically searching for someone else. “Yes Pallu didi is here,” said Dhara delightfully.

As Palak stepped in, Mohan hid behind a wall. “Pallluuuu…” Sudha called out loud. Palak handed the baby to Dhara and hugged her mother. She was shaken seeing her maa weak and fragile. “Where is Alex? I,… I want to see my grandchild,” Sudha said in a single breath. Palak handed over the baby to Sudha. “Maa she is Pari,” Palak said softly. “She looks like an angel, Pallu…” She paused and looked intently at Palak and enquired, “Is everything alright between you and Alex?” Sudha asked inquiringly. “Maa, everything is fine between us… It’s just that we have shifted to India recently and he is settling his business in the new set up so he could not… He is very excited to meet you both and will be joining us soon!” Palak replied in an assuring tone. “That’s alright beta…” Sudha was relieved. Mohan too gave a similar reaction at the other end but he looked away when Palak looked at him. “Papa… Are you still angry with me?” Palak walked towards him and hugged him from behind and wept. And it was not so easy for Mohan to be hard anymore. His heart for his favourite child melted. He turned back to look at her. “Paa I am extremely sorry…” Palak said again and rested her head on his shoulder and hugged him as they both wept bringing smiles to both Sudha and Dhara’s faces.

Paa and Maa, you know…” Palak said smiling… “There’s a story behind Pari... One evening while returning from office I found her in a garbage bin near my apartment. I couldn’t help myself and picked her up. And Alex also was happy and agreed. because I have problems with my pregnancy… we were in utter sadness thinking God has closed my womb for hurting you both… But He didn’t… Pari is a blessing in our lives… since then she is a part of our life” Palak replied and they all had a very pleasant feeling about all.

Scene – V 

Two days have gone by in the presence of the little Pari. On the third day morning, there was a sharp loud knock at the door. Palak opened the door and before her stood an army officer. She came closer and clearly saw “Major Saraansh Lal” written on the badge to his left. “Maaa, Paaaa…” Palak shrieked. Mohan rushed towards the main gate. He saw a confident soldier in his uniform and a handsome young lad in his arms. “Paaaa, he is Saraansh,” said Palak with trembling lips. Mohan and Saraansh greeted each other with teary eyes. “Who is he?” asked Palak curiously. “May I come in, please?” Saraansh asked in a sharp tone. “Yes please,” Palak made way for them.

Mohan helped Saraansh as they laid the young man on the sofa. “Who is he?” Mohan questioned. Saraansh handed him a paper. It was an airport gateway pass with the name “Prateek Lal” written in it. “Prateek bhaiya!” Dhara gasped. It was a jaw-dropping moment for all except Saraansh.

Who is it, Mohan?” Sudha inquired. Everyone stared at Saraansh and he went inside to meet Sudha. “Maa it’s me,” said Saraansh softly. Sudha instantly recognized from the tone that it was her Saraansh, although he was almost unrecognizable in army uniform. They both hugged each other and broke down to loud sobs. “Maa, Prateek has also come,” Saraansh managed to speak in a choking voice. Saraansh helped Sudha to the adjacent room. Sudha sat beside him and caressed him with trembling hands. “How did you meet him? What has happened to him?” Sudha asked in one breath. “Maa, Prateek dashed with me unmindfully and was hit by a car as he turned to leave. Nothing serious no severe injury he will come back to senses soon,” Saraansh reassured.

After an hour, Prateek regained his senses. As he opened his eyes, he was greeted by this whole family. Prateek gathered himself, he didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t make eye contact with anyone. “How are you feeling, my beta?” Sudha asked Prateek in a soft tone. He just nodded.

Mohan got up from his seat and walked towards Sudha. “Well now that you have seen all of them. We shouldn’t disturb them. They are very busy people. I think they will leave in some time, let’s go inside,” Mohan said in a sarcastic tone.

Mohan please, it’s not their fault, the situation was complicated, we were also at fault, I mean it was a mess, but now we ca,…

Fault!!” Mohan abruptly stopped Sudha. “Yes, Sudha! we are at fault for spending every single penny on them to fulfil their demands! We are at fault for spending sleepless nights when they were sick! We are at fault for holding their feeble tiny hands. We are at fault for giving them the best of all that we ever had! We are at fault for loving them more than anything else! And because of this, we were sentenced with tears and loneliness. True! we are only at fault. They think they are brave and capable enough to run away from home whenever they like. How dare they? Who gave them this right? If we can nurture for babies when either they could move or express themselves, we can very well take care of ourselves. Moreover, I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who never left my side. I don’t need anything else. I’ve had enough.

All the four children were speechless. They had never seen this side of Mohan. They were struggling with their tears. Mohan turned to leave. “Paa,..” All four children called out to him at the same time. “We are sorry!” “Please Mohan!,” Sudha urged him. “What please Sudha? They are forgetting today we are old; tomorrow they will also be old. The question that we are asking they will also ask one day. Maybe then they might understand what it feels to be deserted! What it feels to be greeted by old cold walls of the house every moment,” Mohan poured his heart out.

We should have been more conscious Mohan. They have also felt dejected by our words and actions sometimes. They were young and immature Mohan. Let bygones be bygones. We have got a second chance as a family. Why should we waste it? Please forgive them, Mohan, release that burden. In the autumn of our lives, we are once again surrounded by our children. Let’s not shy away from this fortunate moment Mohan,” before Sudha could finish, all the four children hugged her and wept bitterly. Each one was apologizing in his/her own way. Sudha kissed each one of them; she held them in one hand and stretched the other towards Mohan. Mohan didn’t deny, he too came and hugged all his children tight, they hugged him back.

Scene – VI

Young man,” a sharp tone startled Raman. He turned to see it was Brigadier Varun and his wife; his parents. “Dad, I,…I was jus,…” Raman fumbled.

We’ve missed you son. I have heard everything from Saraansh. Whatever had happened was not your mistake. Let’s go home!” Raman hugged his parents tight. They kissed him back.

Concluding Scene 

Later that day, Sudha and Mohan were having tea in their balcony. “Thank you for the loving family Mohan,” Sudha said resting her head on his shoulders. “Ah! There you are. That is what I call ‘sunbeams at sunset,’ my love.” They smiled at each other. Seeing them smile, all the four children smiled at each other as the old couple happily sipped their coffee.


THE BEGINNING

Moral of the Story:
The whole dramatisation of this story is absolutely fictional and quite filmy. But behind it, we, “The Candles Online Family” have a message to convey to the whole world and that is – as children we should never bring dark shadow in the lives of our old parents instead we should always be the Sunbeams at their Sunset periods.    

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XIII

He was always a tough act to follow. Everyone knew me as younger bro of the superhero. He could move mountains and fly in the air. I had no special qualities. I had no value of my own. People wanted to make me their friend only get close to him. No one loved me… Even Ma and Pa… He was the apple of their eye. I was there only as the audience to applaud when he scored. The sidekick, the extra man. I just hated him… I really HATED him” shouted Prateek, he crumbled down on to his knees and cried piteously. There was pin drop silence all around everyone was stunned. Suddenly the director came to his senses and cried “Cut”. Everyone applauded. The shot was taken but Prateek was still crying. Khushboo patted on his back. And Prateek realized where he was. He got up and moved to his vanity van. 

What a shot Sirji. It was so real. Even the director forgot to call out Cut. This movie is going to be a super duper hit” the assistant director was going gaga over his acting. Khushboo was also sitting in there looking intently at Prateek’s face there was a riot of emotions on his face which he was trying to suppress. She could gauge that the scene had hit a raw nerve within. And made a mental note of talking to him later about it. 

Prateek had always been a difficult person to talk to. He had a dark brooding air about him. Even though he was only a few films old in this industry he was considered a very promising actor. Especially for the serious kind of roles. Khushboo wondered if anyone knew anything about his personal life.

Oblivious to all the hullabaloo around him Prateek got up to leave. His thoughts went back to the fateful day when their happy family turned upside down. Saransh was just one and a half years elder to him. All his life Prateek had tried to come out of the shadow of the perfect elder bro Saransh. Where ever he went Saaransh had been there before. They went to the same school. All his teachers remembered him as the younger brother of Saransh and unknowingly kept comparing him to his elder brother. Saransh was better at studies, he played tennis better. He was more popular with friends. Heck, he even danced better than Prateek. “I was good at nothing and he was good at everything.” This feeling of unworthiness was brewing inside Prateek and made him extra competitive with Saransh.

On that fateful day, Saransh was so happy. Looking at him smiling and so eager to get the pat on the back from mom and dad. A fierce anger began to rise inside Prateek. He wanted to wipe off that smug look from his face. He wanted to hurt him. And he did.

Rest as they say is history. After Saransh disappeared his parents were so distraught and spent all their waking hours searching for him, worrying about him. Palak took over the complete responsibility of the household. Dhara was still a child and Prateek was ignored by everyone. He knew that everyone blamed him for what had happened even though they didn’t say much. After a year of staying in this oppressive atmosphere, he took the first available opportunity out and came to Mumbai with a friend.

Yes, he was full of anger then. The guilt came later. After living on his own he realised the value of his family. He missed there love and concern. After his fair share of struggle, he got little recognition as an actor. For the first time he felt that he was good at something, he too had talent… And when he won a small award for his role in a short film he wanted to share his happiness with someone. Show his small trophy. Oh, how he yearned for a pat on his back by Ma. It was then he realised what Saransh wanted that day. Just a smile and a pat on his back. He was just wanting to share his happiness with his family. Prateek realised then how he had single-handedly destroyed his happy family.

Prateek wanted to say sorry to Saransh and make things better again but he could never muster the courage to face his parents or Saransh again. “What will I Say? How will I apologise for the huge blunder I have committed. My words won’t be enough to heal the hurt I have caused. It’s better that I stay away from them. Hope they just forget about me.

Next day morning when Raman came to Dr Lal’s home, he was pleasantly surprised. Dr Lal had a smile on his face. And Mrs Lal was talking excitedly. There was a festive air in the home that morning. As soon as he entered Sudha told him everything. Raman was happy and relieved. Palak and Dhara were coming home. Finally…

There was no news from Major Saransh’s unit. He called almost every day. “God! Please keep him safe. This family has found happiness after a very long time.” Raman’s thought wandered to his own parents. “Will they ever be so happy to see me?

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XII

I know that you hate Prateek for what he did and felt towards Saaransh. I have been angry with him too. But Mohan, please realize that it was us who were wrong. All throughout his childhood, poor Prateek lived in an insecurity that we loved Saaransh much more than any of them. He always thought that we favoured Saaransh. Imagine living in a hell like that. It is not easy for a child to deal with this level of sibling rivalry. It is not healthy. It must be gnawing him from inside every moment of each day. He was always trying so hard to impress us but always fell short of trophies when compared to Saaransh. Mohan, we as parents should have seen that and we should have helped him deal with this insecurity. I know you think that he failed us as a son, but I truly believe that we failed him as parents!” said Sudha crying bitterly now.

Stop blaming yourself, Sudha. It wasn’t our fault. Kids fight when they are young. It is normal. How could we ever know that there is this level of hatred growing inside his heart for his own brother?” Mohan was clutching Sudha’s hand tightly now.

Can’t we again search for Prateek and where he is? I am craving for Prateek. I know Saaransh will not come. I know, he was always a stubborn child. If he decided to leave us so that we could be happy with the rest of our children – he will not come back. He is a man of his words. I wish he knew how this family broke down after he left us.” Sudha was talking more to herself now.

Can’t we look for my boy, Mohan!” shouted Sudha.

Calm down dear… Calm down… We will… we will search for him again…” Mohan had no option but to just agree with her at that moment to calm her down. He was thinking when would be the right time to tell her that he just spoke to Saaransh three hours ago. How would he tell her that her son is at the border fighting the enemies? Would it make her feel proud? Or maybe she would get all the more anxious now thinking that he is a war-like situation at the border.

Can’t we talk to Palak? Where she can be? Can’t you forgive her and accept her back? Maybe Dhara, our youngest one can find out where her Didi is now…” She said in a pleading tone. 

Mohan’s heart broke looking at her desperation to talk to one of them. To be near them. ‘What sort of a life is this where at this age we have to beg our children to come and see us? How can these kids be so cruel? What Sudha said about us being more responsible towards Prateek – is that true? Could I do something differently to shape Prateek as a better person? I really don’t know. But… Palak…?‘ Mohan came back to his senses and called out her name, Sudha!” as he gently caressed her hairs off her face. He has another mystery hidden in his chest which he thinks to reveal for her happiness.

Sudha shook him with her both hands impatiently, “What? Where did you get lost?”

Dhara called a few minutes ago…” He replied.

What’s the big deal about it? She always calls every week when she gets time from her studies? Is she doing fine? Did you tell her about my heart attack? She had her exams. I had told you not to tell her anything, Mohan!” Sudha looked intently at her husband.

Dhara already knew about it much before I could tell her… She had called in my number which was with Raman… Now, leave that part… She is fine… What I want to tell you is, she told me that she was in constant touch with Palak and Alex for quite some time… And she revealed it to me today… She gave Palak’s number as well… When Dhara went for her higher studies to Pune, she met Palak and Alex there once in a mall… They are settled in Mumbai now… Moreover, Dhara is with them today actually in Mumbai…” Mohan could not hold that piece of information back anymore but spilt it all.

Sudha’s face glowed and she smiled in joy listening to that. “Palak…? Can I talk to my Pallu?” She gripped tightly at Mohan’s hands with excitement.

Mohan nodded and dialled the number with a smile in his face as well and when it started to ring he handed the phone to Sudha.

It was a heart-wrenching moment when Palak decided to marry a boy she loved against their wishes. Alex is from a different country and different culture. She eloped with him and left her parents with just a letter. Palak tried calling later and tried to get back to her parents, but Mohan was so heartbroken by her decision that he decided to never talk to her again.

Mohan was deep in his thoughts as he went back to the hurtful pages of their past but he came back to their present when Sudha’s voice interrupted him.

Hello, hello – Can I talk to Palak?” said Sudha excitedly as some male voice had answered the phone. Must be her husband Alex. 

Palak is busy preparing for the ceremony. May I know who is speaking, Ma’am?” said the male voice again politely.

It is me Sudha – her mother!” said Sudha already thinking over the word “ceremony” Oh ok, let me just pass the word to Palak. Just hold on.” It was Alex but he could not let her know about his identity as he was aware of the whole thing. He left the receiver. There was quite a lot of music and background noise which Sudha could able to hear from this end. What was happening? Was this man the one Palak left them for? Did she just speak to her husband? Sudha kept thinking as she heard someone speaking…

Mom – is that you?” It was Palak.

Yes, it is me.” Sudha choked and heard Palak sobbing bitterly.

There was a pause for some time as both the mother and daughter were weeping vehemently. Mohan was apprehensive about Sudha’s health. He pressed her hands in his and rested her head on his chest to comfort her.

Palak gathered herself thinking about her mother’s health as well and spoke again. “Mom, how are you mom? How I wished to get a call from you all these years? Are you still angry with, mom? I heard you had an attack…” said Palak in a single breath.

No beta. I am not angry anymore. I just want to meet you. I want to hold my Pallu once again tight to my bosom. I want to hear her wise words once more… Can you come back with Alex and see me, please?” said Sudha as she continued to weep bitterly.

Mom, Mom… Please don’t cry… You are not well… Dhara told me everything… And we will be coming soon at once…” Palak tried to calm her mother down.

Yes, I am fine. Please come and meet me. I do not know how long I will be alive. I just want to meet all of you once before that.” Said Sudha.

Mom, stop it… Nothing will happen… I will come straight away. If I take the early morning flight – I will be there by tomorrow early afternoon. Mom, I am coming.” Palak assured her Mom.

In the background, she could hear a baby’s crying voice. “Pallu, who’s crying in the background?” Sudha asked curiously to which Palak revealed that it was her baby. Sudha was ecstatic and looking at Mohan she said, “Mohan, our Pallu got a baby… she is a mother now…” Mohan was joyous too.

Pallu, don’t you want to talk to your Papa…?” Sudha asked her and she agreed but before Sudha could hand over the receiver to Mohan he went away from that room saying he can’t just now…

“Pallu, you can talk to him when you come here… He is on his cell phone…talking to his patient now…” Sudha had to lie to her daughter which Palak could easily make out. But both of them were overjoyed to talk to each other after many years.

Sudha disconnected the call as her face now was so bright with joy. She could not control her smile and her tears at the same time. She felt like dancing. Her Pallu is coming home with her family tomorrow. She now wanted to decorate the whole house, cook all their favourite dishes and do everything possible to make it up for the lost time.

Will this family re-unite again? Thought Sudha. “Oh God, please fulfil my last one request – let this family have at least one dinner together in this house. Then I can die peacefully. There is nothing else that I would ever ask for” said Sudha in her prayers silently.