Previous- My open wounds
At work; I had earned a decent incentive. I had spent my salary buying gifts for everyone at home. Crockery, Grocery and a few suit lengths for aunty P, alongwith a wrist watch for uncle and a few saris for her. Sari shopping was yet another wonderful evening. Hemant had started arguing- the moment we had stepped out of the house. I had left him standing at the PVR alone and had gone to shop at Nalli.
Lady P’s report had taken smile off everyone’s face. Everyone moved around with a long face. I had called up Hemant at his office and had asked him to come home, had called up at my office requesting for leave. I was granted for 2 weeks off- God Bless my TL. I was instructed not to call Shelly. And I did, exactly that. Her mother too had passed away suffering of the same illness. She was bound to know the dos and the don’ts. She had known a few doctors too, in Rajeev Gandhi Cancer Institute. I had requested her not to spill the word. She had posed, as if she had called up out of the blue. Whatever had to be done: in terms of dragging P aunty to the hospital and prepare her for the Operation, was all collectively done.
Infact, I had stepped a little back. She was somewhat hesitant in talking about it with me. I could feel that how a daughter, and a daughter-in-law, were two different animals. I had let Shelly step in. Shelly had introduced me to the Doctors, who had attended to her mother during her illness. They had confirmed the report’s content and she was admitted for the Operation. Running around to the hospital and preparing communal lunch, had once again become the rule of the day. Food was carried from home, to the hospital in Rohini for everyone- visitors included. Recalling how I had slogged preparing 5 course meals for the visitors when Uncle was operated twice; I had requested her not to re- start that session once she was discharged after the operation. That was my utter mistake to have said anything to “escape kitchen work”. I have now become a complete paranoid after being with her, for all the days through her sickness and post treatment sessions.
The Hospital had wanted us to deposit Rs.40000/- for the Operation by 10 in the morning. Uncle didn’t have enough money in his account; neither did he talk to us about that. He had been shifting around the house uncomfortably but had made no mention to any of us, about that. I and Hemant had lied that we had wanted some fresh air (in the month of May) and had gone out walking at 11.45pm at night! None of the ATMs allowed taking out more than 10k then. So we had waited past 12 midnight to be able to swipe my card again. I had been walking up and down from PVR Citibank ATM to J- block market HDFC ATM to complete that amount. A couple of extra thousands were also withdrawn- just in case.
The next morning, the two of us had reached at 9.30 at the hospital and had deposited the requisite amount. Uncle had been missing. I am not blaming him for being ignorant; all I am trying to say is what had he been thinking about? Wasn’t he supposed to talk it out atleast with Hemant- if not me? Supposedly, if the money could not have been arranged; wasn’t the Doctors supposed to be informed? Nevermind. The Doctor, who was to operate her at 10.30am, had gone missing too. He was a senior Doctor tending his last day at Work. I had lost my patience and had barged in his room wanting to know if she was to be operated at all. She had been fasting since morning and hat sat crying because of the multiple needle pricks for FNAC. She had been brave in her own way.
After an hour and half of her operation that had started at 5.30pm, the Doctor had called upon me and assured me that she was out of danger. On my insistence, he had carried that lump too, for me to look at. That was a bloody mass of notoriously overgrown cells and tissues. I was the only one who was allowed to see her in the ICU. I had recalled that how I was the only one, to have been allowed to enter the ICU, when Uncle was operated upon twice. Maybe, I had appeared more composed and less baffled than anyone else. My mom’s operation memories had come flying back to me. She was brave enough to come out alive out of 3 major Operations. She had then shared that how Doctors too needed assurance, remaining inwardly nervous about patients’ life. Aunty P had groaned for water and had complained that she was unable to bear the pain. The doctors had assured me that that was normal; and need not worry anymore.
Excepting that I was unable to relax. The next Chemo- therapy and Radio- therapy sessions had sat scratching my brain cells tad too badly. She was as it is depressed that she had to take off her ear- pins and bangles. The glass bangle that she had on her wrist, since our visit to Chhattarpur Mandir had not come off; and hence, was broken by the medical attendants. I still have mine with me. 2 days later, she was discharged. She had still wanted Shelly to stay back. Feeling her dismay over; I had taken her out of the home and taken off to SN. Both Shelly who was 3 years elder to me and her daughter, who was barely 3 had sat crying in full public view in the market. They had wanted to go home. I had landed myself in a really messed up situation. Firstly, I couldn’t handle how people had looked at us and secondly, how could I have told her aunty (Lady P had instructed Shelly to address her as aunty and not as masi; she was bitter about her own masi– still?) that Shelly had been wanting to leave? She had wept saying that she had had enough with her mother and didn’t wish to deal any further with that illness. She was right in her own way.
So Lady P was unable to forgive her own masi, for something that had nothing to do with Shelly. Yet, she had never wanted herself to be addressed as “masi”. Strangely enough, she was the same woman who had wanted me to forgive my father and uncle. She had also insisted that I forget my mother too; since, she was the one then. OH, PUH-LEEEASE.
Lady P could not lift her arm; since she was operated under the right arm and hence, couldn’t wear suits. Hemant had bought a few wrap arounds and front- open tops. Uncle had ridiculed her no end. Soon, she had to discontinue wearing the “Lehanga- koti”. She used to cry while changing and looked at me helplessly. As it was, I had no sense of dressing up; that way, I would have probably worn nothing then. Uncle had several times advised me- not to dress up like Heroines did in movies!! I never listened. She was also forbidden to wear any metal accessory and or cosmetics. I was amazed at the Destiny’s twist. How she had derided me; since, I never decked up at all times. There, she was forced to lead a life; without any cosmetic application- sindoor included.
“Guests” had been overpouring. Of course- that’s what they were. Visitors to the patient don’t dine at their place- causing inconvenience to all. Instead of been able to attend to the ailing lady, both Shelly and I had been busy, preparing extensive meals. After a couple of days, Shelly’s husband had comeover and had taken Shelly home. He was high and not sober. Aunty P’s explanation was that since he had “kept Shelly happy”, it was fine. Double standards specialists.. Why couldn’t have they then objected to that? Those big words of sanctity and morality had fallen flat: when on couple of occasions, her own brother had sat smoking and Shelly’s husband and her brother had come drunk after excusing themselves, under some pretence for sometime. They couldn’t control their own relatives and kids; for all the right reasons though. Why had that suddenly become “okay”? Now, let me ask, how acceptable was that to get drunk around young woman in the family? Didn’t the morality now go for a …? What relatives they had been! They couldn’t give up their weakness, for even a single day- and had behaved like a Loafer. What homely and healthy habitat my marital home was.