I stood stupefied in shock when Daddy called up and said Mother is in coma. Lots of hush hush going on around the house and i knew nothing of it, probably because of Lionel who was 3 months old then, wailing incessantly all the time. All i knew was Mummy was ill and she needed immediate medical treatment. I was told by my Dad and Uncles that Mother had a tumour in her stomach because of the long standing ulcer she had and so she would be operated. Just the day before Dad had called from Chennai to say she was doing well after the surgery and he had talked to her, convalescing. This call came as a bolt from the blue. The train journey from Trichy to Chennai never seemed so long. Crouching in the Unreserved compartment all alone with a wailing infant, all i could feel was numbness. Prabhu Uncle was the first person who met me at the hospital gate. I still remember what he told me- " Please don't cry seeing her, your Father is waiting to see you. We all have given him loads of hope, please don't shatter it by crying in front of him". That second, something in my life changed forever- hope...that was what i had to offer to anyone. Apollo's ICU is a maze where life and death play hide and seek. The moment i set my eyes on her, i felt tears rolling from my eyes silently. She had two plaits, hair combed neatly, green hospital grubs, tubes all over her body, eyes closed with small strips of plaster. I had never seen her sleep so peacefully, like an Angel- that was her name.
Holding her hands silently i talked whispered softly to her- " You will be alright Mummy. I cannot live without you". No response. There came a duty doctor and after long silence, he said the dreaded words- " she is like vegetable now, totally brain dead." He continued offering hope, saying almost all medical terminologies that meant she will probably be alive till her last only through a ventilator. Nothing registered except the dull beep of the ventilator. I walked out in stoic silence with my baby, Daddy looked up at me. There was a blank look on his face, he was probably looking somewhere beyond me. I brought a compulsive smile and said- " she will be alright Dad, don't worry". All my Uncles and Aunts and my siblings stood together now, praying, waiting for doctors to simply say 'a miracle has happened'.
Daddy refused to come home, praying for hours together in the tiny chapel adjoining the waiting hall of the hospital. He spent 45 days in Apollo and another 9 days in Soorya Hospital, till Mummy breathed her last. Mummy was diagnosed with Cancer Stage 4 and we were hoping against all odds that she would be alright soon, seeing the patients who were indeed recovering after surgery. Dr Surendran did a splendid job, the surgery was a success, but why she fell into a coma is still an unanswered question for all of us. He had shown Dad the patients who had recovered, trying to instill hope in him. He had succeeded in that too, Dad believed Mother would wake up one day and talk to him. I have not met him so far, all details about him have been hearsay and i wish some day i would thank him for offering something to Dad- "Hope". The hope that his wife would be better soon made Dad tick on.
We still don't know what her last thoughts were, i would have been happy if i had the chance to hear her last words. But God has surprises galore for us. I never knew what she felt, how she wanted us to move on and how to take care of her husband of 25 years. Hope was something i was clinging onto, even after her demise. It was not an easy task to settle down two young siblings and take care of a grieving Dad, along with my two bundles of joy- Lionel and Leina. Mother was always chirpy and cheerful, there would be always laughter surrounding her and i envied her for all the happiness she radiated with. She was a super computer, remembering everyone's birthdays and wedding anniversaries. She even wished the ENT surgeon who did Dad's ear surgery years back, every month on 1st over phone. She gave me the most wonderful gift of my life- " Hope". Pulling on the family along with my Hope Fairy, we managed to get through the hard times. The elder is now married and well settled, the younger an Australian citizen now and Dad retired from his service just yesterday. I know Mother would be smiling from Above at me, i believe she guides our family, she is our Leading Kindly Light in the Darkness.
Dad gives a few cash awards for best students every year from the school where Mother taught. It is to motivate the children to aim high, to give them hope to perform well. Hope is the legacy that Mother left behind for me, which i will take forward and distribute to everyone in need of it. In all my troubled times, i remember what she had wrote on my bedroom walls, quoting Robert Frost-
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But i have promises to keep,
And miles to go before i sleep.
And miles to go before i sleep."
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