The following short story was published in Youth e-magazine Salisonline.com under STORY SLAM. You can read it and share your comments in the magazine website. Thanks.
She sat in the corridor lobby. Nervous, anxious and tired. The clock on the wall above did nothing to ease her. It was just five minutes past that she had taken her seat in the lobby yet it seemed like ages. The years back flashed past her eyes like a rewinding tape. The scenario was more or less the same. Only difference was this time the OPD registration form had her name on the patient list. It was not that she had not anticipated it but it would happen so soon was something she had never dream of.
Just few weeks back she had celebrated her fortieth birthday. Her life was promising as ever. Her career graph was escalating and her promotion was round the corner. The coming New Year meant a new beginning for her. First as the unit head of her own branch in the uptown and second her three bedroom duplex bungalow in the sub urban, that was anxiously waiting for the arrival of its new owner. Seriously life wasn’t easy for her but she had paved her way smoothly to where she stood today, a winner.
But her life had come to a standstill when her biggest fears came alive. While taking shower she noticed a swelling in her left armpit. It didn’t look that bad but it had her bells ringing. She had come across such situations earlier too. Years back Mom had a small lump in her breast which was diagnosed as cancer. Although mom was operated and the tumor was removed yet she could not survive the treatment. Years later Dad was diagnosed with a tumor in the larynx. Luckily he survived the treatment yet the after effects were too much for the old man. He was not the same man anymore and in few years his condition deteriorated and he was bed ridden. And finally after a dreadful year he breathed his last.
Since then she had lived with the fear of getting diagnosed with the disease some day. It had been several years since. She was a doting mother and a loving wife now yet the fear remained within her. And that day in the bathroom her worst dream came true and her world turned upside down. Life had come to a standstill. She didn’t know how to react. Should she cry or should she be strong enough to face it. Cry? No! For she had long since known something like this would happen to her so, she had to be strong. But wasn’t it too early than she had anticipated it to happen? She was just forty for God’s Sake. Her child, her family, her dreams. She was too young for it. Her soul screamed yet no one heard.
She disclosed her little secret to her husband after two days. Probably it had taken her ounce of strength to share it with him. His reaction was not unknown to her. He was one of those men who were more dependent on their wife for emotional support and strength. Over the years she was well aware of his outburst on slightest provocation and here we were discussing the dreaded “C”. But he left her surprised.
It seemed like he was more prepared for it than her. Without wasting a minute he had listed out the things to do. As if he had been planning it for years and now the time had arrived to put his preparation to test. She could not stop her tears as they rolled down her eyes. He hugged her and let her wet his tee. He had proved her wrong and stood like a rock to sail her through the storm. Could her stars be luckier, she thought.
Her appointment with her gynecologist was pathetic. The lady seemed to know only about how to deliver babies and anything more was like something out of syllabus for her. God they make these kinds of Doctors now a day. No doubt there is a nursing home mushrooming at every corner of the neighborhood and the doctors no better than salesman pitching their caliber to the walk-in patients for generating revenue. A sign of doubt on the patient’s face will fetch a list of tie-up diagnostic centers from the doctor’s side with a clean mention, ”They are the best for the purpose.”
She had been too experienced for these kind of pitches and was disgusted to have wasted her precious time there. But her problem was not solved and she needed confirmation on her status immediately. That night was the longest night for both of them. There were so many things that they had dreamt of doing together and life had cut short their time. Both of them decided to make note of things that needed immediate care.
First was to get a home help who could take charge of the household work and look after the children in their absence. Someone reliable from the family would be a better choice as saving money was more important now. Secondly, once the treatment starts both will be busy for months and at that time they need good inflow of cash. So far they were both bringing in money at the end of the month that enabled them a decent lifestyle. But now the case is different. She wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to go back to work any time soon and how long could her husband afford leave. Suddenly, the entire balance of life had gone aghast.
Sleep was inevitable for both of them as they lay in bed at night thinking of the hard days ahead. The mere thought of the word “C” had tumbled their entire life. It was a big question where would she take the treatment. With today’s interaction with the gynecologist she hardly thought about her treatment in the city. That means the treatment would also include outstation charges. Also the question was how capable she would be after the treatment. She had seen the survivors and she knew she cannot compare herself with Manisha Koirala or Liza Ray. Coming from a middle class family she had her limitations. So the question was who to fall upon. There was nobody in the family and friends who could be called upon. Just them. Alone, helpless and confused.
The very next day she showed some courage and landed up in the cancer ward of the hospital thinking “If this is where I have to come later so be it NOW.” Very bravely she spoke with the doctor who keenly observed her case history. So far all her reports were normal but that were couple of months prior to her findings. So fresh test was necessary that would confirm her current status. The doctor examined her and advised for some tests. She went through the tests and waited her report outside the lobby in the corridor.
Waiting in the lobby outside the report room was hardest part of her life. She sat her legs crossed, arms across her breast and head down, raising it now and shooting a peek at the clock above. Tic- tock tic-tock the clock went and so did her heart beat. With every second her emotions was scaling a new thought.
YES or NO
YES or NO
YES or NO
She remembered the look of her radiologist while undergoing her test.
No! The lady didn’t indicate anything alarming. On the contrary her expressions were too flat. Maybe they are trained for that kind of expression.” She thought aloud.
Her thought wandered few months back. Maybe her body had given some indication that all was not well. Her frequent sore throat, her lower abdominal pain, her back ache.
Was her body trying to tell her something? Why didn’t she listen or rather didn’t take it seriously at all? Was she really sick all these months? But she didn’t have any symptoms that she had Google searched for. But how can she be so sure? She already has a family history. Wasn’t it enough to keep her alert? She shouldn’t have taken everything so easy. Life doesn’t give a second chance. At least she could not bet on that.
She sped a long look at the lady in the report room. The lady was busy assembling reports and announcing name of the patients. Finally the lady called her name and she got up to collect her report. Her heart pounding as if it would come out. Her fingers stopped working as she took the envelope in her hand. She had no strength left anymore. For three days she had put up a brave fight but not anymore. With trembling hands she handed the envelope to her husband and he quickly flipped through the pages.
He hugged her and whispered, “You have just kissed the death! You come clear.“
She hugged him tight and a tear dropped down her eye.