My oldest memories are of when I was four to five years old. It goes something like this... Imagine a four and a half year old girl taking bath early in the morning and then after getting ready, placing dupatta over her head the way she had seen her mother do it. Managing dupatta with one hand and holy water in the other, she headed towards the puja room and after lighting the incense sticks recites Gayatri Mantra which she had learnt by heart at such a tender age. After completing her puja, she would bow down and pray for her parents' well being, after which would say, “God, please give me a young brother.”
Yes, I wanted a younger brother. Today if I ask myself, why I wanted a brother so badly, I really don’t have an answer to it but this was my only wish back then. I pleaded, prayed, begged... did everything a child could think of. Another instance so fresh in my memory is when my landlord's daughters placed an eye lash over my palm and asked me to make a wish, I couldn’t think of anything but an younger brother. I went to temple, mosque, church and demanded just him.
When I was five and a half, my mother went to Allahabad for better medication and I stayed with my father for a week but didn’t complain even once because somewhere I knew the reason behind her visit even at that small age. Finally when my mother was pregnant, my parents tried making me understand several times that I might get a sister in place of a brother. Back then it was impossible for me to understand why my parents were trying so hard to make me ready for the other situation as well and they knew this as well but still tried their best so that I won’t be heartbroken at once. And I being stubborn would get angry at them saying... “Why would God give me a sister when I've asked him for a younger brother?”.
25th October 2002 We were residing in a small city named Basti as my father was posted there but that day he had gone to Allahabad for a department meeting. He had strictly advised my mother to rest as she was seven months pregnant but she being a cleanliness freak was cleaning the house with the help of my cousins for Diwali and also because it was my birthday on 1st of November and Papa had planned it to be a grand one.
I was continuously irritating my mother for a small purse and this time she promised me to search for it once she returns from the bathroom. The next moment I heard my mother shout in pain, phone calls being made hurriedly, an ambulance arriving and taking my mother to the nearby city Gorakhpur's hospital. While all this happened, I sat in a corner all mum but constantly apologizing to my mother in my heart for pestering her so badly for a petty purse.
My father after receiving the call, immediately rushed towards Gorakhpur from Allahabad. The officers who accompanied him later told my mother that they couldn’t keep count of the number of cigarettes that my father puffed throughout the journey. Dad tells it was one of the longest journeys of his life. One moment he would think of my mom and the other about me. Losing a life partner is as deadly as we can think of but then dad was more worried about me because if God forbid anything happened to my mother, what would the rest of my life would be like was his constant worry.
Phone calls were not so frequent then so the next day I got to know that my mother’s condition is stable but she’ll continue to be admitted for an indefinite period of time. I continued to live with my cousin and aunt. Soon it was my birthday which was planned to be a grand one but till date it remains to be my only birthday which I’ve celebrated without my parents. Though my best friend, my maternal uncle who visited me on every birthday of mine like a ritual, was with me and I went to school wearing the dress he had bought for me but I won’t be lying if I say I was crying inside while distributing sweets among my friends.
I was dying to see my parents and finally after two more days I got the chance. I travelled to Gorakhpur in the car along with dad’s department person. I badly wanted to ask him, are my parents okay? But I refrained.
I finally reached hospital and entered mummy’s room. Having anticipated the situation, my father had asked my mother not to cry as it would take a toll on her health and would even affect me. Yes, my mother controlled and didn’t cry on seeing me. Instead my father did. May be it had been too much for him. I immediately rushed to him and gave him a tight hug. After being away from them for a week, the only question I asked was if I could stay with them? And I did. Papa and I spent the day at hospital and then he would send me to a close family friend's house who resided in the same city.
I vividly remember standing at the hospital's balcony on Diwali's night, viewing the fire crackers and wondering why aren’t we at home. Also, I whispered a small prayer... “God please make my Mumma healthy”.
The next day itself I saw my dad extremely tensed. It was because doctors had told that the delivery had to be conducted the same day itself and also that it wasn’t going to be the normal one but caesarean. They also made it clear to me father that the process is going to be extremely risky and if situation worsens then only one could be saved, either my mother or the baby.
My father made no delay in pleading doctors to save his wife. That day I stayed at uncle's place because dad had instructed so. Obviously, I was oblivious to the whole situation and the next morning while brushing my teeth, uncle's daughter came up to me and said... “You know what, you’ve been blessed with a brother”.
That day, that moment is deeply carved into my memory. To this day, I think God himself gave me the best news of my life.
The next thing I asked Didi was abouth the time and she said last night around 10 pm. All I remember after this is visiting the hospital and being taken to a room where new born babies were kept inside glasses. My heart longed to take my brother into my arms and play with him but I wasn’t allowed to do so as he was extremely weak, couldn’t even breath properly and was suffering from pneumonia as well.
After a week we all returned to our place but still my brother was kept inside a packed room for six months straight as his condition was too critical. Even today, I don’t know why my brother is a premature baby and was born in his seventh month itself. I’ve never asked my parents about this and I never will because frankly speaking it doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is that today I've my younger brother with me whom I fight like hell and later on get thrashed from Mom like anything.
God fulfilled my wish and I can never thank him enough.
I wish good health to all my readers and pray they never lose the hope because it is no less than a medicine or a treatment.
Story Written By: Surabhi