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Taking A Backseat Is Needed At Times !

My Mother…

It was the 2nd of June 2016. At around 7:30 in the evening I was about to board the local train from Parel for home. My phone rang, and it was my little sister (you may consider her to be my elder sister/brother in every respect though). In a teary voice she asked me the most difficult question ever. It was if we should put her (mother) on the ventilator. I went blank for a few seconds, numb may be. Since the doctors had already signaled that her condition would only go downhill thereon we chose to set her free. Yes she passed away that same evening, after taking her last palliative chemo.
My wife has a knack of asking me a hell lot of weird questions, whose answers can actually have completely contradictory interpretations. You know how these things are. One of her favorite question is: “If you ever got a chance to change one thing from your past what would that be? I always played safe by being politically correct.
But today on the eve of my mother’s 5th death anniversary, I think I finally have the true answer, I know what I would like to change, if ever I get a chance.
My mother was diagnosed with liver cancer in early March or so, in the same year. I requested my parents to come over to my place so that she can be treated at one of the best cancer hospitals in the country, The Tata Cancer hospital, Mumbai.
After a bag full of tests they guided us to the chemotherapy department. Before the doctors, I met a person who said all sort of things about chemo, pros and cons. Dos and don’ts. I was like ok fine , let me meet the doctor first.
After quite a long wait (which was very normal at this hospital) we got the chance to meet the doctor. He went through the reports , looked at me and asked “should I talk to you in front of her?”. I said yes. The doctor looked at her and asked her to wait outside the room. The white coat clad and stetho wrapped doctor said, she can’t take chemo and she has only three months in hand. Palliative treatment is the only thing she can take. I was devastated though came out looking as normal as I could to face her. We took the cab for home. Every time I took her to the doctor, I used to sit in the front seat. That day on our way back she softly asked me, “I won’t live for long right?”. Thank god I was seated on the front seat .I managed to hide my tears rolling down my cheeks and gave a lame reply.
For the next couple of weeks she was at my place. I used to take her for palliative chemo at the Dr. Advani’s place. Only one of her three chemo, she took in Mumbai and the remaining in Bengaluru.
Today, when I ask myself about what I would like to change from the past. The answer is, I would like to sit at the back seat in the cab beside my mother, holding her hands tight during all those journeys. I do not know as to why like an escapist I never sat in the back seat. This is one regret that really haunts me.

Photo & Text by : ARIJIT SEN

Edited by : RAJASHREE SEN

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