Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Life Story that needs to Live on

On August 8th, 2021 I lost my mom to Ovarian Cancer. It was a long battle of about 4 years in which she underwent series of chemotherapy sessions, so much so that now I have lost the count (probably 40+). In the last 1 month of her life when she was hospitalized, I would almost spend 16-18 hours of the day with her, and as doctors gave up on her and as she neared her end, I realized how unfair Life has been on her. It was at that moment that I decided that I would pen her life journey here, her story needs to live on.

Growing up, although very much interested in studies, she did not have the opportunity to complete her schooling and had to quit school in 6th standard for failing to pay the 1 Rupee School Fees. The fact that she could not complete her own education may have motivated her heavily to have us educated to the best of her ability. My dad wanted us to study in good schools and so brought us to Mumbai in the early 1990s. However, to sustain ourselves in the city of dreams he decided to leave for middle-east while leaving us under the care of my Mom's younger brother, who was himself trying to find his feet. Despite living in a completely new city, with no knowledge of either Hindi or the local Language, my mom carried on bravely and raised us well for the next few years as we would switch from one rented home to another every now and then.

Happy times!! 6 months before she was diagnosed with Cancer, Mom (in Orange) enjoying her life in her hometown 
In 1997, my father had managed to save enough to buy our own home in Thane and was planning to come back too. For my Mom, it seemed like our one problem of switching homes had come to an end. However, disaster struck not long after, in Nov 1998, we lost our home after a series of buildings neighboring to ours collapsed due to faulty construction or foundation. One of those buildings had collapsed on ours which meant our building had to be demolished too. And just like that, we were back again in search of rented homes. Being just 7 years of age myself, little did I realize the magnitude of what had happened probably because my mom stood strong and did not break down at our situation.

After 3 more years of staying in rented homes, my dad had once again managed to save just enough to buy a new home in a chawl. While everyone around us including my dad was apprehensive of living in a chawl, my Mom wasn't. She had a simple philosophy - There was a school nearby, a hospital for an emergency, no problems with a water supply and more importantly we will have a home to live in and stop worrying about rents and moving from home to home, don't care what family friends or relatives would say about living in a chawl" In 2002, we moved to our new home in chawl in Airoli, 19 years later we are still living there and perhaps happy with where we live.

By 2017, I had graduated from Engineering and had taken up a steady job, and it had seemed that her days of struggles are coming to an end. My dad was thinking of taking retirement and coming back for good. However, it seemed like God wasn't done with her as in November of that year, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. Not long ago, she had lost her youngest sister to cancer, so even when we were thinking of not telling her about her cancer she had probably figured it out herself. She showed enough fighting spirit and willingness to fight it out. An Operation and six rounds of chemo later, the reports came out good and she was declared cancer-free, However, the doctors had warned that cancer shouldn't relapse within 2 years. 

Some Good days

Unfortunately for her, she relapsed just within a year. After another bout of chemotherapy, she was cleared for the 2nd time in 2019 but once again, days before nationwide covid lockdown she relapsed for the 2nd time. It was downhill ever since, although we tried everything the results never improved, and at some point, she had accepted her fate. More than her impending death she was more concerned about us and what would happen to us without her.

During her last days in the hospital, I would spend 14-16 hours a day beside her. As the doctors confirmed the inevitable, all I hoped and prayed for from god was to not make her struggle in pain. For once, I guess he listened to my prayers. Her last few days went ok, she didn't look in pain, or at least she didn't show the pain, and the evening of August 7th, she closed her eyes never to open again. She breathed her last on the morning of August 8th.

Few days before her death on her hospital bed, she had mentioned to me that she was very proud of us and that it is one of the few good things in her life. I played it down at that time but that is the only thing I remember the most. I am not sure how to end this post, been stalling this for weeks now, just didn't have the courage to write about those moments. 

I hope she is in a better place now and that is all I want for her.

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