Thursday, November 10, 2011

chapter 3: the dusk lamp- memoirs of the days of happiness

Read part 1 part 2 here

Dr. Ravi wanted to continue with chemotherapy and radiation as surgery was not enough and so he told Rishab he was leaving the sutures on for some more time and not removing it before discharging him. He told Saurabh,

"For the first three months, Rishab should avoid bending, twisting, or lifting. he may do general conditioning exercises, such as walking or cycling on a stationary bike, or swimming. He should limit lifting to no more than five pounds to allow time for the bones to heal." 

They went home together after what seemed like a lifetime in the hospital. The hospital bills were enormous and in the absence of a medical insurance, Saurabh had paid it off with his savings. Reality struck them when they took stock of the situation and realised that Rishab would not be able to work for quite a long time now. After a prolonged discussion they decided to sell their penthouse and buy a smaller apartment near to the hospital .It was an emotional moment when they looked at their home one the last time and thought of the wonderful moments they had shared together.

Rishab had named their home, 'The Love Nest.' It was a cozy 3 bedroom penthouse, on the top floor of an eight storied apartment. There were 10 such blocks, all blocks having penthouses on the top floor. The view of Mumbai from above was astounding, especially at night. Rishab loved spending time with Aaratrika in the beautiful terrace garden which she had converted into a mini garden plush with a lawn and several bonsais, not to forget the umpteen varieties of roses and chrysanthemums. Both of them shared a common love for greenery and Rishab admired Aaratrika for the loving tenderness with which she looked after her "children" as she called them. She had always wanted children of their own, but Rishab thought it was too early to have any.

"It’s not even a year since we got married, what’s the big hurry? Let’s enjoy our freedom, once we have children, you will devote all your time to them"  "Oh Rishab, I promise, you’ll always be the first love of my life, don’t be so selfish!" Love, let`s get settled first, I have a huge loan on this apartment, you are just 22, I am just 26,we are too young to take the responsibility of a child now. Things will happen when the time is right." 

One night Rishab was completing his project report, when he suddenly had a shooting pain in the neck and back, followed by numbness of the arms and legs. "Aaratrika", he called out in pain,

" I can’t move, come help me"

" See, this is what happens when you are working all the time. Don’t push yourself so hard, Take some rest." 

She helped him get into bed and went to fetch some spray for the pain.

"Ok, madam, point taken, let’s go out tomorrow night, we’ll spend a long weekend in Khandala. Hey, kya bolti tu..."

and broke into the song,"

....arre hey kya mei bolu..." she giggled back.

They spent the night making grand plans for their weekend getaway. Of course the plan had to be shelved the next day, as Rishab`s boss put him in charge of a prestigious project and Rishab had to brief his team that weekend, so that the project could be started "asap" as the boss had reminded.

Many such moments came, where plans made for vacations never materialized. Either Rishab`s appraisal was due, or, his promotion was due, or there was a last minute request from the client to hasten the project or the boss had made Rishab in charge of the office(in his absence!)Or his parents had come over to stay, or the endless other things that came in between. Somehow, they had to be content making plans rather than the actual enjoyment of it! It was not difficult to pacify Aaratrika, because she always understood his problems. He made it up with a trip to the shopping paradises that made her so happy in a childish way. A bag load of goodies, a hearty dinner and that was enough to soften her heart. He loved this child-like quality in her, free from all egos and so understanding.

It was Rishab`s birthday and he had just opened his eyes. The entire room was decorated with flowers, beautiful blue orchids, that he loved the most. Overhead he saw a huge balloon, and at that very moment Aaratrika burst it to send thousands of little red paper hearts showering on him.

"Aaahhhh...."he screamed."

You are such a dramatist, Rishab" ,she giggled.

 But he continued screaming, and it took a while for her to realize that he was in acute pain. She bent over to help him and he felt warm. He had some fever too.

"Let’s go to the doctor, Rishab."

No my love, I’ll be alright, just get me those painkillers, its nothing, maybe its the workload".

He looked ok after almost an hour.

"Darling, the decorations were awesome, when did you do all this?"

 "Last night after you slept, how are you feeling now?"

 "fine...hey what’s that?"  

It’s a gift for you, open it...but first come here, cut this cake"

Fresh cream pineapple, yummy, "and he cut his birthday cake.

"Happy birthday sweetheart" and she kissed him tenderly.

He opened the box to find a gold chain with a heart shaped pendant and a miniature picture taken at their wedding stuck to it.

 "It’s beautiful, thank you”, and bent over to give her a kiss.

The pain came shooting back and he couldn’t move again and was promptly sent back to rest by Aaratika. Over a period of time, the pain kept worsening on exertion, he felt weaker, and sometimes the pain would be accompanied by bouts of nausea and vomiting. Back pain was worse in the mornings. It was during one of those shopping trips that Rishab had collapsed and had to be admitted to the hospital. But when he finally saw a doctor it was too late. That was where the agony had all begun. And now as they were leaving their "love nest" it was even more painful. Memories of Aaratrika entering the house for the first time, her sweet smile and unadulterated giggles at almost everything he said, Aaratrika running down the steps at his one call, the time spent together in their garden which she had tended to with so much love and devotion, looking at her waving him goodbye in the mornings when he left to work, there was so much their home had been witness to, and now leaving it ,he could take away nothing more than beautiful memories.

The surgery, the loss of job and house, and the mental agony of it all started taking a toll on Rishab`s health and he started experiencing shooting pain within 6 weeks of the surgery. The chemotherapy, radiation and medications were of little help. It was agonising to watch him in pain everyday. With each passing day, he looked weaker, the rich ,luxurious hair was slowly giving way to a bald pate, he could not sleep and did not want to eat. Aaratrika tried her best to look cheerful and to cook something good to cater to his palate everyday. She took him to satsangs of their guruji  and that helped a great deal in overcoming the pain. This continued for two years, but the physical condition kept worsening.

Read concluding part here


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At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person..deep gratitude for those who have lighted the flame within me!! your comments will be appreciated..

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