As she read the paper, I saw her face getting clouded. In that moment, I knew.
Tears ran rampage over my face. Her eyes welled up too. My mind fogged. This couldn’t be happening! GOD was beginning to seem like an illusion.
6th October 2014 – The baby’s nanny was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. It was contagious. My daughter’s ‘Yashodha Ma’ needed an eight week recovery period. This meant tweaking my life to accommodate her absence. Bigger challenge: keeping her in isolation. Hopefully, we would limp through.
8th October 2014 – My husband’s blood tests showed alarmingly high SGPT levels. Damn the contaminated water!! Now the arrow pointed towards me and the kids. I prayed for our safety. I wasn’t prepared for so much tweaking in my life! The doctor won’t allow the nanny to travel to her village. I couldn’t allow the kids near the father. With two patients to be nursed and two kids to be watched over, I needed help! A single frantic call to my mother-in-law was made. It didn’t matter that she was out of town. She was at my door-step before the day ended. My husband moved in with his mother, and the rest of us with mine. I need her with the kids and nursing the nanny back to health.
12th October 2014 – I was feeling faint since the past two days. I knew I had fever. I wouldn’t talk about it. The mere mention and my mom would have a man poking for my blood! I had to take my son for his swimming lessons. I prayed fervently to GOD and squashed my gut feeling. I couldn’t get sick. My kids needed me. Suddenly the ground beneath me reeled. The contents of my stomach landed on the floor. Everything blacked out.
13th October 2014 and beyond
The treacherous claws of hepatitis C had tightened its grip on my family. I was its final victim. My mental and physical health was both collapsing. Quarantine for me too! No time to talk. No time to prepare. No time to counsel. Separation was the life’s brutal blow. I had to abandon my kids. I hadn’t imagined worse in my life.
I couldn’t see my husband. I pined for him. I could hear my kids. And I ached to hold them. We exchanged flying kisses from behind an imaginary ‘lakshman rekha’ chalked out outside my bedroom door. Between sobs and weeps, my three and a half year old tried to comprehend what was happening. My four month old baby simply didn’t have the ability to comprehend. While my older one slept crying for me, my younger one slept crying for my breast. Hep C snatched from me the beauty of this experience. I sank emotionally and mentally. I worried during the day and wept during the nights. Why? What? How? Who?
I hoped for a miracle. Soon enough I realized that I didn’t need a miracle.
There was them. Those two women. My mother and my husband’s mother.
They were always ready to listen, to rise and to love. To care for their own children. And the children who were from their own children. To care for the nanny and to console her children. To ferry us to doctors, to bathe us and feed us. To play with the kids and tuck them into bed at night. To let me believe that I had not abandoned my children. To make me accept that it was OK to not breastfeed my baby. These were the strong women who didn’t play victims of the circumstances or let me morph myself as a victim of life’s harshness. They didn’t point fingers. They didn’t succumb to their own fatigue. They didn’t seek pity for these tough times at their age. They were brave women. And they dealt. And they taught me to deal.
They taught me about more wrinkles but fewer doubts.
They taught me about looser skin but firmer confidence.
They taught me about older minds but younger spirits.
They taught me about strength - woman to woman.