If you don’t value your existence, no one else will. Love comes freely without begging for it. Let’s call someone a father when he actually behaves like one”, thought Zaira. “What are you thinking?” , asked her mother. “Thanking God”, she replied.
Zaira felt better as she woke up. She was annoyed with the continuous treatment from more than a month.
In November 2013 she was diagnosed with typhoid, which wasn’t much severe then but the treatment by a BUMS doctor landed Zaira into much trouble. She grew weaker and weaker. It seemed that she was much better when typhoid was detected than after a week of treatment. One morning, while returning from hospital she felt dizzy, her mother Masooma held Zaira by shoulders to prevent her from falling on the road. Zaira was trying to keep her eyes open but her efforts were going in vain. Masooma’s hands started shaking as she looked at Zaira’s face. Somehow they reached home. Zaira’s father, Nayab returned from a friend’s house after lunch went to change his clothes in the store. He had already unbuttoned his shirt when Zaira and Masooma reached home. Masooma asked Nayab to go and buy a glass of juice. “You should have told me that before I had changed my clothes”, said Nayab in anger. “You have just unbuttoned your shirt”, replied Masooma. After an argument Nayab left to buy juice. Zaira felt drowsy and asked Masooma to let her sleep. Masooma didn’t allow her out of fear of losing her daughter in sleep.
“It’s risky to sleep when you have low blood pressure; yours is almost sinking… Look at me… Keep your eyes open… Have mercy on me”, said her mother.
“I am trying to keep my eyes open mummy, but seems something is weighing my eyelids down… isn’t there a way to end all this?… It’s been three weeks and there isn’t an inch of improvement in my health… Am I gonna die?” asked Zaira.
Masooma turned teary eyed and hugged her daughter tight,as if she was trying to save her daughter with the shield of her arms. In the meantime, Nayab returned with a packet of juice. Zaira drank nly half of it. Masooma didn’t push her to finish. Zaira again asked her mother, if she could sleep. Masooma again stopped her. When Masooma felt that it was not risky anymore, she allowed Zaira to sleep.
It was a charitable hospital where Zaira’s treatment was going on. Someone suggested that it was cheap and best. Her mother took her there not because they were financially weak. Zaira’s father wasn’t ready to spent much of his hard earned money on his daughter. Zaira’s medicines at the hospital didn’t cost more than rupees fifty for a week. But Zaira’s health was deteriorating each day. Out of concern her aunt suggested a different doctor to consult, who was much more qualified than the one at the charitable hospital. It was the same day when Masooma bought some different medicines which costed around rupees 200. Masooma asked Nayab to take Zaira to the doctor that her sister suggested. As per his nature was his reply- “Are you mad? You just bought different medicine today; does money grows on trees?” Masooma’s effort didn’t work. Neither she could fight nor she could watch her daughter dying. She felt helpless for not being financially independent at that moment most.
Next morning, after a long time, Zaira got out of bed and combed her hair, washed her face and applied moisturiser. She felt good that day. Masooma noticed this change and smiled. She thanked God. After breakfast she gave Zaira one tablet from that pack of new medicine. Zaira rested till lunch time. After lunch Masooma gave Zaira another dose of that medicine. Inspite of healing, that medicine reacted. Zaira’s eyes again started closing. She felt that her head is weighing twice its normal weight. She started throwing up. One after another; two tubs were filled with her vomit. And then something happened that changed her life completely. Everything turned black to her eyes. No, she wasn’t dead. She was on the verge of turning blind.
Her cousin ,who lived in the same house, quickly returned from his shop and took Zaira to hospital. The doctor didn’t say anything infront of Zaira . He asked her cousin to take her out of his cabin when he was done examining her. Zaira sensed that she was going to die and she couldn’t see the outside world in her last hours. Her head weighed so heavy which paused her imagination.
She was sitting in the car, listening to the horns and the voices of every passerby. She felt like someone has blindfolded her; she could hear, touch and feel everything but couldn’t see anything.
“What a last day! I can’t even inform my friends that I am dying. Don’t know if the man I love would pick my call this time and believe me that it’s not a lie. Would any of my friends get to know? Would they cry for me? Would they bring flowers to my grave?”, Zaira thought while her cousin sat on the driver seat, waiting for her parents to come out of the doctor’s clinic.
Her parents came out. Sat inside the car and asked her cousin to take them to another hospital. Nayab sounded normal. Masooma was teary eyed. Zaira couldn’t see, but felt those tears in her mother’s hug. They reached another hospital. Zaira was hospitalized. Nurses took blood for testing. Cannula was inserted in the vein of her wrist, and dextrose was getting into her body drop by drop. It was making her sight better. After each bottle of dextrose, she felt that her eye sight was returning. It was like the sun rays that pierce through the clouds after heavy rainfall.
That night was too heavy to pass for both Masooma and Zaira. Nayab found someone to chat with, in the same emergency ward where Zaira was hospitalized. Zaira and Masooma lay on same bed because they wanted to be together if it was going to be Zaira’s last day. Around 1 am, comforted by medicines, Zaira slept. Masooma took a nap too while Nayab passed the whole night chatting with another patient’s caretaker. It was 31st December 2013.
On 1st January 2014, Zaira woke up. Her brother Ahad came all the way from Delhi to Lucknow to see her. He brought a book for her . It was because she loved books and he loved her. Zaira’s cell phone was brought to the hospital. Her brother informed her friends about her health by updating a whatsApp status. That status led to innumerable messages from friends and cousins but not the man she was waiting to hear from. When their common friends forced him then he gave a call on the third day. They talked after two years. Zaira didn’t cry on hearing his voice. The incident that took her eye sight for a one whole day, opened her eye as well. It was a new life that God gifted her. She couldn’t waste it anymore.
Her mother and brother stayed with her in the hospital. Ahad would stay up all night, while Masooma took care of Zaira during the day. Nayab visited her every morning but never stayed with her other than the night of medicine reaction.
“If you don’t value your existence, no one else will. Love comes freely without begging for it. Let’s call someone a father when he actually behaves like one”, thought Zaira. “What are you thinking?” , asked her mother. “Just thanking God”, replied Zaira.
Syeda Hidayat Fatima is a graduate in English Literature. Reading and
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