Friday, October 17, 2008

Pink hope

Asha aunty, being my mom’s best friend within a radius of an entire city (and a bit beyond that too) she usually visits our house for a quick gossip session which sometimes gets me tuned in too, not for the stories, but the way she narrates them without altering a single line across her countenance. Misgivings can harden a person inside out. She is pragmatic and never understands why my mom gushes over how lovely the gerberas are while arranging them in a vase to beautify the house.
Her resilience shines through despite losing her husband untimely to a car accident 5 years back. She is a physiotherapist by profession and raises 2 extremely talented children by herself. When my drastic career decision had mom in a convulsive state, it was Asha aunty who was so supportive and literally pacified mom, cajoling her to extend her support too. She would save the Education Times pages that carried articles which might be of some help to me.

One day mom came home looking misty and said Asha aunty has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The shock of it elicited a foolish laugh for the first few dizzying moments until I was leaped violently into gravity. The inequity of fate can only be an ugly mockery.

What followed were events of mental and bodily decrepitude. She had to undergo double mastectomy and chemotherapy cycles. She has lost all her hair after just one cycle of chemotherapy. She has severe gastritis and nausea meaning that her appetite has shrunk enormously. Chemotherapy can’t tell the healthy cells from the cancer cells so she has a constant feeling of her body being set on fire (I won’t even try to delve into the agony of her mind)

Now how do you empathize with someone who’s anguish you, try as much as you will, can’t even begin to fathom? And as for sympathies, they balk at the dead ends of pity. You sit there carefully avoiding the gaunt manifestation of a dilapidating life, the sore veins of her hands pricked numerous times and the ill placed wig. They say the eyes say it all. She says, puckering her ulcerated lips, “kya karna hai itna jeeke, I will live while I can”. And that, there, as sheer as a gossamer of an undeterred soul, sums up the instinct of a survivor. You don’t need anyone else (their support or words) to validate your own hope. The eyes gleam with the reflection of that unfaltered hope. Unfaltered asha.

Epilogue : 27th October is the world breast cancer day. Please visit for more information on breast cancer - the detection, the shock, the stages, the survival, the myths and how you can help. If you are above 35yrs or have a family history of breast cancer, ask your gynecologist about a mammography. Wear a pink ribbon to show that you are aware and that you care.

And on a selfish note, please also pray for Asha aunty.

1 comment:

rUpiE said...


I guess you have arrived in true sense... as a doctor, seeing that agony is such an emotional manner, deserves an applause.

I bow to you and your profession !!