This is my entry for the Mahindra XUV500 Incredible StoriesContest at IndiBlogger. The topic for the contest demands an ‘incredible’ story to be told; an ‘incredible’ experience that I have had. Well, it’s been almost a month since the contest started and even after my constant insistence that I won’t delay my entry, here I am writing my ‘incredible story’ on the very last day of the contest.
‘Incredible’? The dictionary meaning of the word is ‘beyond belief or understanding’. I have been thinking about this term since the past few days a lot. Does ‘incredible’ really have to be some ‘life-changing’ experience that I have had or does it have to something related to travel or any journey? Can it not be any simple incident or for that matter, some extreme situation that I have been in? The answer goes beyond my comprehension and so here I am with a story that not many people are aware of and which I haven’t ever talked about in my so many rambling blog entries over the past four years. ‘Not talked’ probably because I never had the idea how to go about it. But since the time I have been thinking about something ‘incredible’, nothing else has come to my mind. Here’s an attempt:
It was the 29th of May. The year is 2008. I was staying at Bhubaneswar with my grandparents and cousins and eagerly waiting for my 10th board results to be out. I moved here ten days ago when my parents had taken my younger sister, Akankshya, to CMC Vellore for diagnosis and treatment of some problem she was having since the past few months.
My results came out. It was Akankshya who called from the hospital and told me my score. I got to know that I had stood second in my class. It was an amazing day for me. The same day also happened to be the day when Akankshya’s diagnosis results were to be out. The doctors did announce the results to my parents. I was not told about it till the next day probably because nobody wanted to destroy the smile and happiness on my face that my exam results had brought in. Akankshya had been diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, the medical term for a condition which she described to me over phone in simple terms, the way the doctors had explained it to the 14-year old: “Mere blood mein infection hai.” (My blood is infected)
Although the term ‘blood cancer’ was used in family discussions and everywhere else, it was common understanding that Akankshya shouldn’t get to know about it. She was not told anything more than a ‘simple blood infection’. Now when I think about it, I guess probably this was the reason why I didn’t write anything about her condition on my blog in those months. I didn’t want to give her even the tiniest affirmation to the questions she ‘might’ be having in her mind.
Over the course of time, I have got to know what exactly was happening in those days with Akankshya within the walls of CMC. Mostly it has been my mother, the strongest lady I have ever seen, who has told me everything sometime or the other. Akankshya was in the ICU for a long time and might have entered into coma. My parents were there with her, all the time witnessing how the condition of their daughter was deteriorating with each passing day as more and more drugs entered her body due to the chemotherapy.
This was also the time when I had to move to a new school, to meet new people, to a new city altogether. It wasn’t easy for me, a complete introvert by nature, to accept so many new things at one go. Hostel life brought in many problems right from the beginning. It took me a real long time to adjust to my new environment. After almost 5 months, during the diwali holidays I went to Vellore. It had been a real long time away from my family. When I saw Akankshya, I was left speechless. She stood on the top of the stairs and was smiling looking at me. Had I not known that it was her, I doubt if I would have been able to even recognise her. It was difficult for me to believe that she was the same girl I had said goodbye to at Bhubaneswar airport back in May. She had lost so much weight!! More than that she had been depressed when she lost her most lovable part of the body- her long hair! I spent just a week at Vellore and then was back at Delhi. That one week is unforgettable. I knew that I didn’t want to be back at this place again. Ever. The air at CMC was always so much full of sympathy and negativity. Probably that is how all hospitals are, but for me, this was the first visit to a hospital this huge. On the contrary, my sister is in love with this place and its people.
After 7 months in Vellore, my parents and sister (with occasional visits from my other family members) returned home. The treatment was not over yet. The journey to complete cure would take almost another 2 years of chemotherapy.
|Akankshya at CMC Vellore. I think this photo|
is dated somewhere around 20th May 2008,
her first days at the hospital
Today, Akankshya is fine. I haven’t seen any other person who has had such a strong will power. She was in class 9 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She has just appeared for her 12th boards and (probably) aims to become a chemotherapist at CMC, the place which gave her a second life. She has fought bravely. She loved talking about her disease as if it was some fun kind of thing, which we always found weird. Is this actually her innocence and ignorance or is this her intelligent behaviour so as to make the people around her feel better? We might never know...
This is my ‘incredible’ story: The story of my sister who bravely fought the cruellest battle life could bestow upon her at such a young age and won it.
This is for the first time I have been so open about this topic and talked about it at this large scale. I have always been at the listening end of all conversations relating to this in my family plausibly because somewhere I believed that this was just another phase and it would pass soon and I would be doing what I loved to do: fighting with Akankshya. And yes, I was right! I love fighting with her even now. And Akankshya, if you are reading this, which I am sure you will, then beware of the upcoming days when you would be with me for such a long stretch after so long. Tera kya hoga Akankshya? Hehe… :D
PS: Akankshya has her own blog and has often written about her experiences with leukemia. If you have come this far, then I would urge you to head over to her blog and go through her first-hand anecdotes. A quote from one of her entries:
“Once my mom said that why did God choose her daughter to have this (the disease), to which I replied “Papa is working and he is getting the money for my treatment, you are my attendant and take care of me in hospital and Bhaiya just passed 10th and getting sick may ruin his life where as I am not working, I am not big enough to be anyone’s attendant and I’m in just in class 9th and studies are not so much necessary right now, So if it had to come to our family then, I was the perfect one to be have it” And my mom smiled slightly at my answer.”
Click here to visit her blog.
PS2: I am not sure if the purpose of this blog entry has been attained. I am not sure if I wrote what the topic of the contest demanded. But I am happy that after so many years for the first time I have been able to express what I have felt about this incredible person that I call my sister. Hats off to you Akankshya! Chal khuus ho ja, teri taarif kar raha hun and tere blog ko free mein promotion bhi mil gaya! [:P]