My niece is an active person. She teaches specially-abled children in Chennai since the past 30 years now. Very disciplined, creative and a great cook. I admire her and now admire her even more for a solid reason.
When i was camping at Pune, she broke the news in January, 2016 that she had breast cancer and was getting operated in March-April. Both her parents are no more. Felt sad that i was not there to be with her. I constantly kept in touch with her through WhatsApp messages, i would comfort her, pray for her speedy recovery. Remind her of her childhood days, share the speedy recovery story of a lady i knew, who had a similar operation and from day two used to go about her routine house work as if nothing was the matter. She kept telling me to pray for a painless post chemo therapy.
The very next day after her operation, i heard she was teaching her class of students through Skype as she din’t want their academic courses to get affected because of her ailment. Did most of her house work by herself and generally kept herself busy. Which is the best way to forget pain for many of us. I told her she’s an inspiration to many now.
Last week i got back to Chennai and wished to see her. We fixed to meet at the hospital today at noon to catch up and pass on some Lonavala chikkis i had kept aside for her. I was in anticipation of seeing her after a very long time. Nothing prepared me for what i saw. We could meet only for a few minutes at a traffic junction near Tidel Park on OMR road as she had finished her chemo therapy earlier and was on her way back home which is in the far off suburbs.
A call taxi came to a halt where i was supposed to wait for her. At first i did not recognize her. She opened the door and then i saw her. There she was, a white hand kerchief covering her head, her lovely bushy eyebrows almost gone, pale and tired after her chemo. I could feel a big lump rise in my throat and eyes clouding my vision. Was able to utter in Tamil, “Enna di konde…” roughly meaning, ‘What’s this my child?’ Hugged her lightly, kissed her hand while still sobbing. She was smiling and asking me to, “Be brave!” I passed on the chikkis, gently shut the car door and waved the taxi driver to move on. Could not bear it any longer. Walked on as the dam of tears kept bursting through out my way back home.
‘Be brave!’ will always ring in my ears in times of any future break downs! Prayers will continue for her speedy recovery.