Eight years ago, life was almost picture prefect. I was heading one of India’s leading Pvt Sector Bank branches in Mysore, Tanmoy and I had been married for 5 months after knowing each other for 12 yrs and he had shifted to Mysore by taking a sabbatical from his medical profession to pursue MD.
That year, I had visited Berhampore to celebrate Durga Pujo after ages. Two days at my parents house and two days at my marital home was how we had workedout the schedule and pujo couldn’t have a better arrangement. Ma looked quite fragile but that was justified since she was recovering from weakness due to a low hemoglobin count. A change of place was the need of the hour. So we decided to surprise my parents by booking their tickets to Mysore for Dec’11.
The day we left Berhampore in October, she had been crying nonstop. But she was prone to getting sentimental every time I went back to college or work after a vacation. Little did I know that her tear stained face trying to act brave for the sake of her daughter was the last time that I would see her. On the night of 11th Nov 2011, she was admitted to a private hospital in Berhampore with complains of pain in the abdomen. She was kept in the ICU as Baba and my marital family ran around trying to figure out what might have happened.
Sitting thousands of kilometers away, Tanmoy, who probably was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation, kept coordinating with the doctors while I was trying to get a car to take us to Bangalore airport the next morning and book the earliest flight to Kolkata. That night, we understood the meaning of ‘fear’ of losing a near one.
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
I was five years old when I went on my first trip to Darjeeling with my parents. Higher studies and corporate stints made me a resident of cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Mysore. This was also the period when I traveled with my gang of girls to places like Chennai, Pondicherry, and Ooty and groups of friends to Pune, Khandala, Lonavala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Ahmedabad, Agra, and Goa. Once I discovered that I was essentially a nomad at heart, my solo trips took me to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Coorg, Madikeri, and Chickmagalur.
When T and I got married in 2011, it was a delight to discover that we shared the same enthusiasm for travel. Munnar was the first place that we visited as a married couple. Unfortunately, I lost my mother in the same year and life came to a stand-still. In 2012, an impromptu road trip from Trivandrum to Varkala and Kanyakumari helped me get a grip on my life again. Together we managed to visit Thekkady, Periyar, Alleppey, Athirapally, Cochin, Wayanad, Goa, Coimbatore, and Kodaikanal. If writing helped me cope up with my mother’s loss, traveling gave me the reason to live.
Three years back after my son was born, the trips became more planned and less on an impulse. From Goa and Mumbai in Central India, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Digha in the East, Delhi and Noida in the North to Guwahati, Shillong, and Cherrapunji in the North East, the three of us have explored both the tranquility of nature, humdrum of the city, sea and mountains alike.
It has been quite an incredible experience to capture the best moments from January, February and March, April, May, June and July, August and September. In today’s post, I write about the most cherished memories from October – a month filled with festivals and November – a month I wish I could delete from the calendar every year.
October holds a special place in my heart because of my fond memories of Durga Puja. While I have never been very keen on celebrating this festival after losing my mother, last year I made a conscious choice to let my toddler understand the significance and joy associated with this festival by helping him be a part of it. And this year, the unofficial childhood club formed by my husband and his friends began its first-year journey of conducting Durga Puja. A group of people with a strong sense of belonging to the took everyone by surprise as the festival turned out to be a grand success with everyone soaking in the emotions of joy and bliss.
It’s a great feeling to get back into this recap mode sharing throwback memories from 2018. After January, February and March, April and May, we move on to the middle of the year as I cherish memories from June and shudder at the thought of July this year.
June marked my entry into fiction writing as I participated in the Write Tribe Festival of Words for the first time. I discovered my love for writing short stories and flash fiction and my blogging journey took off in a new direction.
I stood near the door of the ICU gathering my thoughts. I knew that I would be bombarded by questions the moment I walked out. I understood how anxious they had been for the last one week. It was not easy for any family to see their child in a state of coma with little hope for revival immediately after giving birth to a baby.
They had been hesitant to consult me until it became evident that the pregnant girls’ condition was worsening. Her blood pressure refused to come down even as the due date drew nearer. Her body had started swelling up because of fluid accumulation leading to edema. I wonder why her gynecologist didn’t realize the criticality of the situation and insist on a premature delivery!
I took control of the situation despite knowing that I was mostly fighting a lost battle. Getting a team together in a Government hospital of a Tier-2 city wasn’t an easy job. No gynecologist was ready to take her case initially because of the risks involved. So I had no option but to encash on my personal equations within the fraternity to ensure that she gets the best facilities despite limited means.
A week back, her c-section had led to a successful delivery. The families danced with joy as the bundle of happiness arrived in the form of a baby girl. I left the hospital around 2am knowing that God had helped me win a race against life. Both the mother and baby had been doing fine.
But my happiness was short-lived. At 6am in the morning, when my phone screen buzzed with a call from the hospital’s land-line number, I knew there was bad news. My fears were justified as I was told how the new mother had concussions followed by a heart attack. She had slipped into the comatose state. I rushed to see her in the hospital ICU. Except for her eyelids, no part of her body responded.
For the last one week, she had been on life support system. I saw the families crumbling in front of my eyes, trying to fathom the uncertain future that lay ahead. It pained me the most to think of the plight of the newborn. Every time I saw the baby, I was reminded of my own two-year-old.
Amay inhaled the fresh air with a feeling of nostalgia. Looking at the hills through the window, his eyes brimmed with tears. He was back home. He remembered his childhood spent amidst luxuries in a plush Government bungalow. But his father had died of lung cancer when Amay was barely five.
His mother had been employed by the same organization on sympathetic grounds but they had to vacate the bungalow. With the meager salary, they could only afford this small house on rent. Amay had grown to love the slopes, hills, and fields in the surrounding. He kept excelling in academics and his school supported him through scholarship.
Seven years back, he had made it to one of the top medical colleges. Despite some earnings through private tuitions, financial constraints would have shattered his dreams hadn’t his mother taken up odd jobs to support him.
Dr. Amay Mhatre had returned as a doctor in this town hospital. He recollected the stunned looks of the interviewing panel when he had asked for a posting here instead of a metro city. But Amay knew that his mother felt a sense of belonging here and for him, her happiness was the biggest priority.
This is the 5th post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the other piece of fiction based on the same photo prompt here and the first three posts here.
For this challenge, I am using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. This is my second picture prompt.