Friday, October 21, 2011

Life’s strange lessons

Few days back I got to learn about a colleague’s father’s illness. She had called up another colleague of ours to ask for a blood donor. When I enquired I got to know that he was suffering from a rare cancer. As she is in a different team and we have had limited interaction, I had no clue about her father's illness till then, which many of my other colleagues were well aware of.

After some contemplation, today I mustered up the courage to speak to her about him. Like any other person, I am really awkward about such conversation and usually clueless as to what to say. I mean, I want to say something comforting but I fear that it may sound superficial.

So today, while chatting with another colleague I spotted her roaming around by the bay. The colleague I was chatting with inquired as to who was staying at the hospital and why she wasn't taking leaves. She smiled and said, 'The company won't pay me to take so many leaves na. Besides my uncle is there with dad today so its fine.'

Out of politeness I asked her how he is doing, knowing very well what the answer would be. She said he was in the ICU and more or less the same. On an impulse I told her that if she needs someone to stay in the hospital I could do that. She stared at me for few seconds. I don't blame her because this was probably the first time I was having a proper conversation with her. Before this we had only exchanged a few polite 'Hi's' and discussed work. Never had a personal conversation.

As she stared at me for few seconds (out of amusement or surprise I don't know) I quickly added 'You know, there are times when in between shifts you need one person has gone home and the other is yet to reach and one or two hours in that.’ She thankfully got my point and said 'Yeah'.

I got to know that he had a rare cancer which had spread from his back to a part of his stomach. I cringed thinking about the pain he was going through. Think about it, when one is ill, the first thing one does is lie down on his back to rest and if you have a cancerous cyst growing there how difficult it would be to rest.

She also told me how it was initially a cyst which was operated on few years back and how it kept coming back. He had, after a while, opted for ayurvedic treatment and that probably lead to the delay in detection, she said. I knew that she and her younger brother lived in Delhi and worked, while her parents stayed in Bhopal. So, for them to shift to a different city just for the treatment would not have been easy. Being the elder one, my colleague would obviously be taking charge of things...and it surely wasn't easy for her.

I suggested her to take a second opinion if possible at this hospital I know which is considered the best for cancer treatment. She just said, ' It was detected in the fourth stage. And it’s rare so there is no cure as such. It can't be operated.' The chemo that he has been going through has effected his brain and has left part of his face paralyzed.

What shook me the most that when she was talking about something this serious, she remained calm throughout. There was no remorse or sadness or any kind of expression on her face for that matter. Maybe she knows how it’s going to end, maybe she was used to talking to people about her father's illness but it takes strength to talk about it without breaking into tears.

I have been going through a bit of crisis personally but after I spoke to her my problems seemed so trivial and so vain that I was almost embarrassed that I had been crying about such stupid issues all this while. I know that for each one of us our own problems are always the biggest but when one looks around, and notices what all people are going through, one should just be thankful that god has not been that unfair to them.

My colleague is probably going through hell but she is being extremely brave about the whole thing. She comes to work everyday doesn't whine about which shift she is on while some of us try to shirk work and adjust shift timing to fit in our plans with friends.

It’s amazing how life teaches you to be tough in the most difficult times when everyone expects you to break down. But perhaps, that's the beauty of life, its lessons come at odd times when you are least expecting it.

A big hug to her.


Mrinalini said...

i dont know what to say, except that its called a talisman for a reason, and you know it only when you come across it..

Raj said...

life and everything that come with it, take getting used to. thats all.

may god be with them.

Anonymous said...

you are right....not to trivilise our "challenges"but in the big scheme of things ours doesnt compare to her problems

The Sage said...

what else can she do? make no mistakes, she is brave, and i salute her for it... but sometimes bravery is not an option, it is the only way...


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