Exactly a month ago, on 17th March mother walked out of home for routine check up with symptoms no more than of common cold. This morning she went into ventilator.
They say putting a stage 4 cancer patient, with no hopes for treatment, on ventilator is a bad idea. It would only increase pain and suffering. In the previous hospital every night the head of ICU would call and try to convince us not to give consent for ventilator. Once such critical patient goes into ventilator they never come back, said the doctor. But we gave consent because mother doesn’t believe in giving up, she would never say never. She is one of the most optimistic persons. After admitting her in this present hospital ICU again we faced same question. This time mom was awake, panting severely, trying desperately to catch every breath, struggling to stay alive. I was standing in front of her having second thoughts about ventilator. She told me repeatedly to let the doctor do whatever they want. Ami nije nije niswas neoar kashto ar sojjho korte parchi na (I am not able to take the pain of breathing on my own). I said mom they will put a tube through your mouth, you won’t be able to talk. She said, let them. I will live.
It’s easy for families to take a decision against life support for those patients who are suffering for months and years, who are in coma, their organs failing, not communicating. But for someone who few hours ago gave us instructions on what to be cooked at home and who should stay in the hospital tonight, not putting her on life support when she is struggling for breath is like not giving a hand to pull up a person hanging from a cliff. You cannot do that.
Miracles happen they say. Maybe miracle happen after you have reached the back and beyond of the rock bottom and that’s why it’s called a ‘miracle’. Mom didn’t give up hope, we shouldn’t either. Maybe a miracle is waiting for her.
At 3.30 pm mother died. She had a cardiac failure, the doctors tried doing CPR but her body didn’t respond.
On 13th April mother wrote on her diary:
Challenge I would definitely take. I have to jump into this deadly river, I have to take chemo to outlive this fatal disease. I know hopes are grim. Yet there are still some days left, to play with the little grand daughter, to spend a few days of sweet talking with the man with whom I spend 42 years fighting and bickering. My daughters are grown up but still they have a mother, why should they lose their mother so early?
Sushmita, Sudeshna, Sanghamitra, Gargi all from Uttarayan group came to meet me and they sang so beautifully for me. Datta will come and bring more happiness. Such beautiful evening, Aha! Still have days to listen to such melodies, to look at such beautiful sky and air. Yes I want to live a little bit more. Want to have a little bit more time. Healthy time.
(She wrote this in Bengali. Attached is the image)
The last time I met mom in ICU first thing she said was, “ekdom bhalo achi” (I am totally fine). Earlier in the ICU she wrote in her diary (yes she was writing in the ICU), “tora sudhu sudhu chinta korli, amar toh kichu hoyni (you are worried needlessly nothing has happened to me). In the last one month she never expressed pain, discomfort, no wailing, crying or complaints, something I was afraid of. I was afraid of her suffering and our suffering. Rather she was so happy with BLK Hospital and kept saying, I am being treated like a queen, “Rajakiya treatment.”
I, and I alone am solely responsible for my mother’s untimely death. I caused her so much heartache for so long it gave her cancer. I have to say it. I have to live with it. There is no escaping from this reality.
The cremation will take place in Lodi Road crematorium. Time 12 pm.
After cremation we went to Haridwar to immerse her remains in the Holy Ganges. I drove over 250 kms at a stretch on the day my mother, the way I knew her, was burnt to ashes. It is easy to say that is just a body, there is no life in it, but when you see your mother going into that electric furnace…you are not in yourself anymore. I have never seen my father crying like that.
20th april 12.20 am
Mother, today we went to Haridwar to submerge your last remains in the Holy Ganges. Dad took a dip in Ganga and was looking peaceful, the sun was rising it was a beautiful scene but I didn’t take a photo because who will I show it to? There was a lot of water in the Ganges and it was clean. I thought have to share this with mom. And then it occurred. I don’t want to experience anything new and beautiful mother, because I won’t be able to share it with you. I don’t want to see any new place, taste new food, meet new people. I don’t want to hear a new song or see a new movie. I don’t want to achieve anything anymore, I don’t want any award, because who will I share the excitement with?
There is no life after death. Life is everything, life is precious. Dying is not Mukti from anything, living is important. Ma couldn’t live long enough to do the things she wanted to do. This is nothing great, this is a cruel misfortune for her, for me and my remaining family. She wanted to play with her grand daughter. She wanted to travel with my father. She wanted to write more, read more, see more and live more. All the things we say about being relieved from pain and suffering is just things we say to console ourselves. Ma should have lived.