“I wish it were a dream, doctor!” said a nervous father to Dr. Jagdish Kapoor, the famous neurologist. “And then I would wake up to find him sleeping beside me”.
Dr. Jagdish Kapoor silently studied the blank stare of the man sitting opposite to him in his chamber. The man was lost in thought. He thought of his only son Anuj who would undergo a critical operation the next day which would either give him a new life or surrender him to the evil clutches of death…..
Removal of two brain cysts involved incredible risks!
Six years after Abhay Agarwal’s wife, Sunita had passed away; the poor man was yet again caught in the cruel web of fate. How was he to know that 13-year old Anuj had been living with the two cysts in his brain for almost ten months now?
On Thursday night, while packing his schoolbag, Anuj felt a sudden sharp pain on the right hand side of his head. The piercing pain made him collapse on the floor of his bedroom and objects started getting blurred before his eyes, and then it was all dark.…
He woke up to find to find himself on the hospital bed while his tearful father sat next to him. A doctor was checking Anuj’s pulse.
Anuj’s neuro-diagnosis revealed that the cysts had developed in the temporal lobe of his brain. Furthermore, Dr. Kapoor had said that more than ninety-five percent of the brain cysts turned out to be malignant if not detected in proper time and chances of the patient falling into a coma were highly probable, and here was Anuj, surviving blissfully with the two cysts in his brain for the last nine months and 21 days!
The report also revealed that Anuj’s intra-cranial pressure was pretty high and according to Dr. Kapoor, this could cause further damage to the brain.
While signing the bond, Mr. Agarwal, feeling a lump in his throat, asked the doctor, “Will he have to undergo the operation tomorrow itself, doctor? Tomorrow is Anuj’s birthday.”
Dr. Kapoor reached out across the table to firmly hold the man’s trembling hands. He replied, “Look Mr. Agarwal, this is a serious case and Anuj’s condition is getting worse every single day. This sounds harsh but I can’t help it. We can’t let the cysts cause further damage to the brain. On our part, we’ll try our best, I promise. Let God decide the rest. Have faith in His wonders and He will not let you down. I have faith in Him”.
Wiping a stream of uncontrollable tears with his handkerchief, Mr. Agarwal shifted his gaze and stared at the small heart-shaped table clock on the doctor’s table that had just struck six in the evening. “Fourteen more hours to go and Anuj would be in the operation theatre, fighting for dear life”, he thought.
The nearby Shiv temple, visible from the doctor’s window, shone with lights decorating it. The resounding bells and conch shells from the temple indicated the evening prayer. Scores of people entered and came out of the age old temple. Anuj loved the big olive tree that stood beside the temple entrance. Every Sunday, Mr. Agarwal would drive to the temple with Anuj. During winters, Anuj would bring a small bag and fill it up with olives. He loved olives. He used to prepare bowlfuls of lip-smacking chutney out of them.
After the sudden and unexpected death of Sunita, a grief-stricken Mr. Agarwal had sought refuge in his son’s happiness. Taking up a mother’s place, was a mammoth task. But the man had been successful in being both a father and a mother to the child. And now that he and Anuj had built a strong cocoon of love, understanding and empathy, fate took a violent turn.
Standing up to leave the doctor’s chamber, Mr. Agarwal asked in a broken voice, “Will my son live, doctor?” Dr. Kapoor simply nodded with a forced smile, trying to look confident. Looking older than forty-five, Mr. Agarwal went out of the doctor’s chamber and closed the door behind him.
Strangely enough, he did not go to see his son who was already hospitalized and waiting to be held in his father’s embrace perhaps for the last time. He simply directed his footsteps out of the hospital gate. Brushing away leaves that had fallen on the roof of the Ford Ikon, he entered into the car and drove away. While driving, he kept mumbling to himself. Having reached home, he parked his car and without halting to answer a volley of questions thrown by the maid, straightaway rushed to his room and locked himself up. He pulled the curtains and switched on the light. Mr. Agarwal wanted to think, recollect old memories of Anuj’s childhood. He brought out some photographs of Anuj from the cupboard and flipped through them, occasionally caressing little Anuj in his individual photos. “My son!” he sighed. Sadly, he put away the photographs and prayed silently.
Somewhere in the corner of his aching heart, he had suppressed a million tears, emotional outbursts, misgivings and fears that predominate over other feelings when circumstances as such are forced upon the normal human being. Dr. Kapoor’s words kept ringing in his ears, “Anuj’s condition is getting worse every single day.”
Every word was like a thousand daggers stabbing at his heart, making it bleed incessantly. He wanted to scream his lungs out; he wanted to sob in agony but thought better of it. He refused to touch a morsel of food. Locked up in his room, all he could gather in his disturbed mind was memories of happy times…..
As the clock struck midnight, he silently wished, “Happy Birthday, my son. This is the first time you aren’t beside me on your birthday.” He prayed again, but this time, with renewed energy and a flicker of hope amidst the clouds of despair, uncertainty and sorrow.
He lay down but sleep was miles away from him. Throughout the night, he kept tossing and turning on his bed, counting every minute that was slipping away………..
The next morning, he drove to the hospital at around eight. Nimble and trembling footsteps were directed towards the operation theatre. The operation was about to begin at eight sharp and he knew that he was late. The doors of the operation theatre were closing like a story coming to its end. He screamed, “Wait! I want to see Anuj, please wait! Please……!”
His screams became fainter and fainter till they died away like a sforzandie. Gradually, it turned dark. Someone was shaking him vigorously. “Dad! Wake up, there you are! Dreaming again!” were perhaps the sweetest words he had ever heard. They were like a drizzle on a desert that had forgotten the taste of water for years……….