By Herrmann Kaur
MARCH 9, 2010: Even today, this date strikes a lightning on me as I recall the events that occurred, the single phone call that changed my life, shattered my dreams and made me question the very existence of GOD. WHY? WHY DID IT HAPPEN? WHY ME?
Being an irrational, ill-tempered girl of seventeen; with no care of the world, ‘the phone call’ I received that day was from my mother, who was admitted in Maharaja Agrasen Hospital. Within two minutes of conversation I was standing at a threshold where I could foresee the gloomy days that lay ahead.
METASTATIC ADNOCARCINOMA OF THE LIVER: I did not even know the meaning of this medical term until that day. My mother had been diagnosed with liver cancer with only three to six months left for her to live as per the doctors.
Three to six months was the time allotted to her? What was a person supposed to do during this time? What was I supposed to do? Was this the only time left for our mother-daughter relationship? I still remember her consoling voice as I screamed with anger, cried the bitter tears of helplessness; trying to rewind everything, to stop the ever fast clock.
Every part of me yelled DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL. I started questioning myself – How could this happen? Where did we go wrong? Why my mother? Even in the darkest hours, these questions haunted me, pricked my very conscience…until dawn when I finally transformed myself and tried to accept my sudden “twist of fate”.
Every night after that day, the nightmares of seeing my mother’s lifeless corpse, of her dying in my arms, of her screaming with the bloody pain woke me up with an uncertainty of the future. “All the past memories came haunting me with fresh tears of pain taunting me, I closed my eyes to hide the fear as I knew the reality I couldn’t bear”.
The feeling of ‘helplessness’, of not being able to master the circumstances is the worst one can ever experience. Her chemotherapy started with little scope as the source of her cancer was unknown. My mother was a very strong woman and a true brave-heart. One day, she asked me to accompany her to the hospital where her second cycle of chemotherapy was to begin. Oh God! I can never forget that broad smile, the twinkly sparkle in her eyes, and the beautiful glow on her face. I knew what she was thinking: that this was the treatment that would save her life. Little did she know that with each passing day, she was nearing her end? All she ever wanted was to live for her little daughter but alas! All our efforts to save her were of no use. The big syringes, needles didn’t matter to her, even though they were awfully painful, she took each prick in her body with a fighting spirit. That day, I finally broke down in front of her as I knew no treatment could bring back my Maa, no doctor could save her with a survival rate of one percent. My hope had left me long time ago.
The real test lay in the coming days. I always had to hide myself from my conscience as it forced me think of the past. At times, I lost my temper, screamed at everyone, lost all the faith in God, questioned the turn of events but I knew I could not do anything about it. Everyday, I had to prepare myself for the blow that could be delivered any day as her health deteriorated with each passing hour. As an educated woman, I guess my mother knew everything from the start; that she was on the last stage but was on a denial mode like everyone else. “Days came and went by with no relief coming her side, she knew her end was near but still wanted to fight for her dear.”
22 JULY 2010: 6:46 AM: Another phone call destroyed my world. This time it was from my father who called to inform me about my mother’s sad departure from the world, which had given her the joys and sorrows of her life. All those months of preparing myself seemed like a decade away. I could not take this blow, I wasn’t a fighter like my darling mother, I wasn’t a matured woman but a helpless child. My first reaction to this news was a big smile until one of my relatives held my hand and looked into my eyes wherein the tears of pain, anguish, sorrow and hurt finally made their way home. I screamed like a possessed girl, the anger bloated out of me like an angry God ready to destroy the very existence of mankind. The lifeless corpse laid in front me; I tried my best to wake her up but failed every time.
The days after Maa’s death were the toughest. I used to cry in the bathroom, used to pull my hair so that the pain could go away, even shouted and showed my anger and disgust to anyone who looked at me with pitiful eyes. It felt as if I was on a roller coaster ride, which never stopped, no matter how hard I tried to. The world, the people around me seemed to move at a fast pace with me standing in the middle, terrified! I even called on my mother’s cell phone number a couple of times, hoping that miraculously she might answer it. I just wanted to hug her, to kiss her, to hold her, to say goodbye just one last time…. just ONCE. Was this too much to ask for?
This event changed my life. I wasn’t the same girl anymore but a strong-willed woman my mother would have been proud of. Overnight, I snapped out of my grievance and grasped the qualities of my Maa. But her death was a big setback and a very important lesson for me. “We can never control the things that happen to us but we can control the way we react to them.” Life is never easy nor was it supposed to be. Even today, I wish I could just find a reason behind death but every time I try to think about it, I stand clueless.
My mother always used to say, “There’s a reason behind everything, sometimes reasons beyond our understanding.” At times, I still wish I knew what the reason was. I hadn’t just lost my mother that day but my very best friend whom I could depend upon whenever my life turned upside down. Even today, I talk to her and I know that wherever she is, she is listening to me and showering her blessings. Whenever I break down, I can feel her comforting me and asking me to get back up and fight for what I rightfully believe in.
The message I want to send across through my story is that sometimes we have to be our own hero, we can’t just wait for someone to rescue us but at times, we have rescue our own self, We are always given a choice; a choice to either fight back or fall prey to the merciless circumstances. In my case, I chose to fight. As Mariah Carey said in her song, “hero”;
There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away
And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you.
Herrmann Kaur is a final year student of Delhi University, doing her graduation in English honours. She loves reading books and finds solace in literature. She is very passionate about writing and hopes to become a journalist in the near future. “Gone with the wind” by Margaret Mitchell and “And the mountains echoed” by Khaled Hosseini remain her favorite novels. Her maternal uncle inspires her to write more often as it acts as a temporary refuge from the daily hustle and bustle of life. You can reach her at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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