The wheel of life #fiction

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Waiting in the lobby of the hospital, I tried to control the butterflies in my stomach. It was my second visit since last week to the gynecologist. The pregnancy was not confirmed even though I had missed my periods.” It could be a false alarm,” my doctor had warned and asked me to return after a week.  Even as my mind was infested with conflicting thoughts, I was unconsciously absorbing the scene that was unfolding around me, typical of a hospital.

The pediatric ward was just across me; happy, concerned parents carrying their bundles of joy bobbed about the ward waiting for the doctor to put a stamp of “all’s well” on their precious ones. Will I join this motley crowd soon? I wondered. It was certainly a testing time for me literally and figuratively for I was on the wrong side of thirty and a good five years into my happy marriage. The two pink lines however remained a bit elusive in our life.

And, then there was another section, further down the lobby, a little away from where I sat. It was the oncology and radiation department. It was where I first saw Mrs. Joshi. Her short, balding hair and thin frame suggested that she was probably on treatment. She caught me looking at her and gave me a small but warm smile. I looked away quickly embarrassed to have been caught staring at someone like that. She, on the other hand, seemed used to the various looks she garnered.

The gynec confirmed the false pregnancy. The good news, however, was the absence of any major complication in our reports, aside from being overweight (me) and a higher blood pressure (the husband). We were asked to exercise, relax, be stress-free and come for regular check-ups and let nature take its course. I had to undergo some routine tests which meant a visit every couple of weeks to the gynecologist.

I ran into Mrs. Joshi many times during my subsequent visits and we became more than acquaintances who bonded over the smell of disinfectant and medicines; we connected over the realities of life. Mrs. Joshi, a spirited woman in her 50s, with bright brown eyes that crinkled with wisdom and child-like enthusiasm every time she laughed, had been diagnosed with breast cancer last year and was battling it out ever since. She always had a nice word to say to me, a funny anecdote to share or at times regale me with stories of her loving family. Never once during our exchanges did I feel any sort of resentment or self-pity in her demeanor.

“Why do you worry so much? 33 years is not old. Enjoy life at every stage; soon you might crave for the child-free days! It doesn’t matter what others have to say.” She’d soothe me gently as a mother would when I confided in her my fear of remaining childless, my anxiety to face my extended family and society, of answering their insensitive questions.

“Aunty, does it pain too much? How is that you manage to remain so happy and positive?” the question that had played on my mind came on my lips one day.

Mrs. Joshi smiled. “Beta, the physical pain is superficial. This disease has been an eye-opener for me. It taught me, of many things, that life must be experienced every living moment because life does not wait for anyone to catch up with it. It simply goes on and if we miss to keep pace, dwelling on what could’ve been or what could happen, we simply miss life.”

My meetings with Mrs. Joshi grew sparse as I grew fitter and required lower dosages of treatment. I wondered about her health and hoped to meet her that day as I went in for my routine check-up and also to confirm the results of yet another missed period. I was in for a rude shock when, instead, I ran into Mr. Joshi who confirmed my worst fears. Mrs. Joshi had lost the battle to cancer only that morning.

How much I'd wanted to share my good news with the inspiring lady! The irony of the situation hit me hard as I clutched the reports of a confirmed pregnancy that day and returned home in a daze. She had taught me an important lesson that the wheel of life does not wait for anyone! It simply turns and turns, never stops or stands still. It’s up to us to either enjoy the roller-coaster ride or keep waiting for the perfect view. 
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P.s. This entry was submitted for the July muse of the month contest at Women's Web. The prompt-The wheel turns and turns and turnsit never stops and stands still.”  (from Anita Desai’s A Village By The Sea).

P.s.s. It did not get selected, so it's on my own ever forgiving space, albeit with a lot of changes to the original entry submitted :-)

10 comments:

  1. A lesson learnt in the Oddest of places...
    Loved this one :)

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    1. Life teaches you lessons in a odd manner, isn't it? thanks, Red :-)

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  2. Ah, Uma such a tragic and soul stirring Post !! In the world, one soul is ready to enter and the other has left. The wheel of life keeps moving.

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    1. True, Ushaji..and thanks a lot :-)

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  3. Catching up on my reading after a long time Uma. Love the new look! And you've been doing some amazing writing.. keep up the great work :)!

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    1. Hey Aparna, so glad to have you here again. Thanks a ton, you are always encouraging :-)

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  4. Love that we could guess what happened on both counts. Tragic but wonderful.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for reading and your appreciation, Pawan!

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