Sunday, November 6, 2011

chapter 2: the dusk lamp- hit by a hurricane

Read part 1 here

Aarartika and Saurabh returned to the house leaving Rishab behind in the hospital.

"Bhaiyya can we eat outside, I don’t know if I’ll be able to cook tonight."

“Sure my dear", said Saurabh sensing her distress "what would you like to eat?" 

They walked into an eatery near her house but she hardly ate anything and waited for Saurabh to finish his meal.

 "Bhaiyya, I am so scared .Should we tell Mataji and Pitaji", she asked, referring to her in-laws.

"Not yet Aaratrika, lets wait till we get the reports, they might become anxious ,who knows whether they will have the courage to bear the news or not." 

That night, Aartarika could not get a wink of sleep.

"Bear the news? What did bhaiyya mean by that ?Did he know something that she did not?"

 She chanted the Hanuman Chalisa and asked Hanumanji for strength.

The next morning they were having tea, when they got a call from the hospital, asking them to come over and collect Rishab`s report. They rushed to the hospital without even finishing their breakfast, all the while uttering a silent prayer. When she saw Rishab at the hospital, he looked as if he had suddenly lost a lot of weight overnight.His eyes looked sunken and he looked too weak for comfort. Dr.Ravi Chatuvedi walked in ,his face not giving a clue as to what he would say next.

"Mr.Saurabh,I am sorry to say ,the tumor is malignant. Not only that, it is metastasizing. The pace at which it is growing  is faster than I expected and..."

 " Doctor, Can you please explain in common terms?" ,Aaratrika interrupted ,"I do not understand medical terminology"

 "Sure madam, let me explain. Tumors are of two types, they may be benign or malignant. Benign tumors may grow but do not spread to other parts of the body and their treatment is comparatively easier. On the other hand, Malignant tumors spread to other parts of the body. Malignant means that the affected cells in the body are cancerous. The tumors which are malignant can attack the tissues lying the surrounding region and spread in the body. When I say metastasizing, I mean that it is also spreading to various other locations. The malignant tumors grow faster than the benign tumors and cause major health concerns.” he continued, "Mr. Rishab is already in stage 3 of the disease and is rapidly moving to stage 4, as the cancer is spreading to other organs. I suggest that we have to perform a surgery. Patients with cancers that cannot be cured or completely removed by surgery, usually,  we start with a combination therapy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy." "It is also my duty to tell you that Mr.Rishab will be experiencing some side effects of the treatment, like loss of appetite, loss of sleep, pain, vomiting, hair loss....and the prognosis...that is the outcome of the treatment may also not be as desired..."

 Aaratrika looked as if she had just been hit by a hurricane. She looked at Rishab and caught the pain in his eyes. Saurabh looked too distraught to say anything except,

" saab, please do what you consider best for my brother,give him the best of treatment...please make him well again."

 The doctor nodded and left and the both of them sat next to Rishab`s bed and the three of them held hands, closed their eyes and sat silently for what seemed like eternity,  no one speaking a word. It seemed like each one of them was trying to pass their strength to the other two and also trying to take away the others grief. Their peace was disturbed by a nurse who came in to call Saurabh to the doctor’s chamber. Saurabh left the couple alone and went to see the doctor.

 "I did not ever think we were fated to be together for such a little time, my love.." 

Aaratrika put her hand on Rishab`s mouth, tears rolling down her cheeks,

"...don’t ever say such things ,Rishab ,you will be fine, I promise."

But somewhere deep down, she realized he could be right, after what the doctor had told them , she wondered if Rishab had a chance.

‘Would he survive this fight against cancer ?No, not him alone ,she would be his pillar of support, they would fight it together. And one day he would come out of all this successfully. All this would seem like a bad dream then. ‘

Saurabh walked in and announced that Dr.Ravi wanted to start the treatment right away and so Rishab could not be sent home. Then he called their parents in Rampur,

"Pitaji , pranam,....,no I am in Mumbai.....yes with Rishab and Aaratrika, ,nothing to worry,......,can you and Ma come down to Mumbai for some days?, its nothing really,....ok Pitaji, I’ll courier you your tickets tomorrow , ,don’t worry ,I’ll come and pick you up......ya they are fine., they are not here, they are out shopping,...ya sure ,I’ll ask them to call back...pranam."

"Its better to tell them when they are here" ,he said ."Rishab  ,don’t worry ,everything  will be fine"

"Bhaiyya ,thanks for being here with us."

" Don’t be silly ,Rishab, get some sleep."

Saurabh had been a great moral support to her and Rishab in those trying times. She closed her eyes, as if doing so would erase all that grief. But coming to this temple today, even if by chance, had brought all those memories back.


"Aaratrika, you are dozing off again, are you? It looks like this rain is never going to stop .I am hungry, aren’t you?"

Aaratrika looked up at Avinash and nodded," get me something to eat .I am very hungry too"

"Ok let me see what I can get. You be here and don’t move till I come."

"Ok, I’ll be here .She looked at the idol of the elephant god and exchanged some unspoken words with him.


Just like she did that day when Rishab was being wheeled into the operating theater. She stood before the black granite idol of Ganapati Bappa in the hospital lobby, and strangely felt the lord was communicating with her

Be strong my child, don’t lose hope, whatever may happen, you must go on....She came out of her trance.. whatever may happen?......why would the lord say that?

 She didn’t realize that it was almost night time when she saw Dr.Ravi emerging from the OT.

"Mr.Saurabh,the patient has tolerated the surgery well, but we have to monitor him because there is a huge possibility of wound infection or the tumor recurring or any other complications arising out of it.”

 Saurabh knew what the doctor was talking about as he had been briefed before the consent for surgery was taken. He silently prayed Rishab would not have a stroke, paralysis, or heart attack as the doctor had said that these were the risks of the surgery. Rishab was in the hospital for a week more and in the meantime his parents arrived from Rampur. There was a lot of drama and tears and Aaratrika felt more burdened than ever. In a fit of emotion, her mother-in-law began accusing her of not taking proper care of her son. Luckily , Saurabh intervened before the matter could go out of hand and spared Aaratrika further humiliation.

"Ignore it Aaratrika, Ma is shattered, as you can see, she doesn’t mean what she’s saying."

 And then, "Ma come here and sit down, let me explain Rishab`s condition to you." 

Read part 3 here

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