I was studying about the physiology of periods and I read about irregular periods. I had irregular periods. My book said, it is a hormonal disorder. But there was one line that caught my attention. Endometrial hyperplasia can cause cancer!
I read thee line again and again. The words were becoming clear to me.
‘Oh my goodness, I could be having cancer and I never knew’.
I quickly walked to the library. When no one was looking, I took a OBG text book from the shelf and started to read. I didn’t understand most of the terms in the book. But I did understand one thing. Irregular periods is a sign of cancer!
I always wanted to die, but now I wasn’t so sure. I felt suffocated, thinking about being locked up in a casket. How would I be able to breath? Then I realized Oh silly me, if you are dead, you wouldn’t be breathing!
I have never been to a funeral of my family members. Mine would be the first, everyone in my family will be attending. I could see, Appa, Amma and my sisters crying and walking behind the hearse. I have only seen the push cart type hearse in Kottayam. It had a poem written in Malayalam by the side in big block letters.
innu njan naley nee( today it is my turn, tomorrow it would be you).
I tried to remember the poem by G Sankara Kurup
innu njan naley nee
innu njan naley nee
innum pradidwanikkunnithen ormayil…..
karaskarathin kuru palil ittal
kalantharey kaippu kshamikkathullu
(sorry guys,, I read this poem when I was 13 years old.. I don’t remember all the words now.. sorry for killing such a beautiful poem)
I couldn’t remember the verses, All I could see was the tear stained faces of my mother and my father. I remembered, when I was about 5 years old, my father getting ready to attend the funeral of his best friend’s son who died in a boat accident. I remembered what he told my mother that day
“Burying your own child is the worst Karma one can ever get. I hope to God that he will never punish us by taking our children’s lives before he takes ours. Parents are supposed build cribs for their children, not coffins”
My mother went to where my father was standing and leaned on Appa’s chest and he hugged her. Although that moment was really precious, when my parents openly hugged each other in front of us, children, I also understood their pain and their fear.
I didn’t want my parents to suffer. I didn’t want to bring tears to their eyes. I wanted to live. I wanted to live for my family.
First things first. I needed to see a doctor. My college had the most reputable doctors in Bangalore. I planned to see the gynaecology head of the department first thing in the morning.
I closed the books and kept it back on the shelf. With a heavy heart I walked back to my hostel. What is I am really dying? Should I write a will? I don’t really own much things. So I felt there was no point in writing a will.
The only question was where would I be buried? Will my family bury me in Kottayam or Chengannur? I didn’t want to be buried in Kottayam. Once Amma move to Bangalore, who would visit my grave?
What about Chengannur? No it wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t want to be buried in Chengannur, because they will take my body to Chengannur house. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want Ammachi to cry. Burying your favourite grand daughter would be the worst karma any grandmother could get. My Ammachi didn’t deserve that.
I will have to ask my parents to bury me in Bangalore. Once I am dead and gone, would any one remember me? Would anyone visit my grave on Ching ming?
Knowing my family, I knew they would have plenty of excuses for not visiting my grave.
Then I spoke to myself
‘You are really stupid Nina, once you are dead, what is the point in worrying about someone coming and cleaning your tomb stone?’ How would it make any difference to you? You are dead, over and out.
I didn’t have any appetite to eat my dinner. So I went back to my room. Aparna was just about to leave for the mess to eat dinner
“Are you ok Nina?” Aparna asked
“You look pale” She spoke again
paleness is another sign of cancer! I must be really dying, I thought
“No I am fine Aparna. I have a head ache. I think I will lay down and sleep”
“Do you want me to bring dinner for you from the mess?”
“Nah, I am fine”
I couldn’t really sleep. There were too many thoughts going through my head. I finally figured, I just can’t afford to die right now. I must live.
First thing in the morning I got ready and waited. I knew my seniors would do the morning rounds with professors at around 7.45Am. They would be back at the clinic around 8.45Am.
I walked to the hospital around 8Am. Most seniors were still doing the rounds. The OPD room empty and I waited outside. Time stood still. Just when you want the time to fly, it refused to move. I looked around. There were lots of patients waiting in front of each OPD. I could see the awe in their eyes. I was wearing my lab coat and they must have thought that I am doctor! By right I should be enjoying the attention that I was getting. But I was in no mood. In a couple of hours I would know my expiry date.
I felt so lonely standing there in the midst of all those patients and nurses. I wished Amma was here. I missed my mother’s presence. Why am I always alone like this?
I heard someone talking and I saw few of the doctors coming down the steps.
I was so relieved to see the Dr. Shekar (Gynae HOD) walking towards me. Most of the seniors were talking to him and discussing as he walked towards the OPD.
“yes” Dr Shekar looked at me and asked as he was about to enter the OPD
I was just about to ask for an appointment when I heard someone speaking in Malayalam. I turned to look and was stunned to see Jomon in the crowd.
“Good morning Sir.” I nodded and ignored the HOD. There was no way I was going to let Jomon examine me.
“Why are you here?” One of the senior girl asked me
“Nah nothing, I am just waiting for Anitha. She went to get some medicine from the pharmacy”
I quickly walked out, before Jomon had a chance to talk to me. I knew I have to find a doctor outside my hospital. I had no intention of becoming a guinea pig for my seniors.
How will I find a gynaecologist? I can always ask Shylaja for assistance. But then I will have to answer all her queries. I looked at my watch. It was almost 9 Am. I had two choices, I can go and attend my class or go to the canteen and have a nice cup of tea. I looked at the car park to see if Princy has come in the morning. His car wasn’t there and I walked to the canteen confidently.
As soon as I walked in I heard someone calling my name
I looked around. Arjun and few of my classmates were standing near the window and smoking
“You too bunked the classes?” Arjun asked
“hmm” I nodded my head ” Arjun, I finished reading all the books you got for me last week, Are you going home this evening?”
“so fast? How can you read so many books so fast?”
“Don’t know. I guess I read fast”
Arjun threw the cigarette butt outside and came and sat in front of me
“Nina, how do you do this? You skip all the classes and you still get better marks than any of us”
“Don’t know” I shrugged my shoulder. I didn’t think he would understand that although I skip most of the classes, I do study when I am in the hostel.
“What do you want to drink?” he asked
Arjun lifted his right hand and called the operator
“Boss, 1 by 2 tea please”*
conjuced marwadi!! (stingy fellow). I thought. He can’t even spend 2 Rs for a tea. He wants to buy a single tea and divide it in to two!
“Do you want eat some sweets?” he asked
He is already so stingy buying tea, so I didn’t want him to buy me sweets
“No” I shook my head
“have some sweets. This is my treat” I watched Arjun getting up from the chair and walking towards the groups of students standing near the window and smoking. He came back with a box of sweets
“My sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl last week. I am officially an uncle now” He passed the sweet box to me.
I looked inside the box. It only had few crumbs of kaju katlii(cashew sweet) inside. I picked a small piece and ate.
“Which hospital did your sister go?”
“Oh there is a maternity hospital near my home”
“yes the best”
“Can you give me the address?”
“I need to see a doctor”
“Aiyyah, it is all personal! How can you ask a girl, why she wants to see a doctor?”
“Do you know how many sisters I have?”
I shook my head and said “No”
“Five! panch, aithu” he was grinning. “If there is one thing I know after living with the five of them is the personal things. Before they get their periods, they cry, after they get their periods they are devils, Oh women.. Why God almighty had to create women?”
“So there would be procreation!!” I responded
“He should have made us like oysters”
“Don’t you know?”
I shook my head again
“Oysters can change their sex according to the water temperature”
he nodded his head.
“Nina, I am going home this evening, if you need to see a doctor, I will take you”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. it isn’t a big deal. “
“What time are you leaving?
“Around 5 pm”
“Would the doctor see me at that time?”
“Nah, you will be able to see her in the morning. My sister knows her personally. So I can ask her to make an appointment for you”
“But Where will I stay?”
“You can stay at my house. You will like my sisters”
“nah, that isn’t right. I can’t do that”
“Oh Nina, don’t worry. My parents are very liberal. In fact Rajalakshmi stayed at my house last time for a week”
“Who,the one from Sri Lanka?”
“Yeah. After the exams she was supposed to go home. She didn’t get the ticket from Madras to Colombo, so she stayed at my house till she got the ticket”
“Are you sure your parents won’t mind?”
“do you want my house number? You can talk to my sisters!”
“nah. it is ok”
There was only one hassle. I had to get permission to leave the hostel. Normally I should get a letter from the Princy and give it to the warden. Princy wasn’t in the campus.
“I will see you at five pm” I spoke to Arjun and walked out. I knew what I would do
I walked to the warden’s office and knocked the door
“Good morning madam” I greeted her cheerfully
“Yes” She was staring at me. (We had a mutual hatred for each other).
“Today is my uncle’s daughter’s birthday. I completely forgot about it. I have to attend the party this evening”
“Go and get the letter from the princy”
“I did madam. But he isn’t in the office. his peon said that he wouldn’t be coming to the college today”
“that isn’t my problem. Rules are rules. You have to follow them”
“I know. I am sorry I forgot to get the permission in advance. It is alright madam. When my uncle calls the Princy and ask him why I wasn’t allowed to go, you can explain to him” I turned to walk.. hoping against hope that she would fall for my trick.
“Wait” She called out
“What time are you leaving?”
“Party is at 6, so I only have to leave around 5”
“What time will you be back?”
“I don’t know madam. should I come back in the night itself or Do you think I should come back in the morning? I can always ask my uncle’s security to drop me off as soon as the party is over. I guess I should be back around 10.30”
“No, you can’t do that. I am not allowed to open the hostel gate after 9 pm.”
“In that case, I will spend the night at my uncle’s house and come back to the hostel first thing in the morning”
“ok”. She signed the permission slip that I have to give at the security office near the main gate.
In the evening I was packing my bag when Aparna walked in
“Where are you going?”
“to the town”
“I have some work to do”
“Did you get the permission?”
“What time will you be back?”
Aparna was looking at me, hoping I would divulge some information. She didn’t need to know anything and I wasn’t going to tell her.