“Eclectic, interesting…will fill you with hope and resolve!” – Pick up our new short story collection, Women.Mutiny
We all only have one life. And we all have better things to do rather than sulking at what cant be changed. Yes, there’s misery. But there’s beauty too.
It was not a normal day at the hospital. I was working a double shift. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc, the news of cancellation of my granted leave reaches me making my mood sour.
Well, it was coming! I tried to pacify myself while concentrating hard on my work. After all, I am associated with a profession that has emergency duties and this is exactly that kind of situation that demands our best shot. Being a nurse is never easy, I thought. That too when I am posted in the obstetric ward where we have emergencies throughout the year.
The last few days had particularly been difficult on all of us as most worked twelve hours at a stretch with an unknown fear gripping our soul. As we kept up with the toll, a common question swept through everyone, ‘What’s next?’
I was engrossed in the shift report as we were nearing the end of another strenuous twelve hours, when I heard Mithila’s voice.
“You will be going by the hospital bus, right? I’ll come along.”
Looking up from the report, I saw her standing with a beautiful, calm smile on her face. I nodded, “Okay.”
Mithila had got her posting in our ward very recently. And within this short span of time she had become everyone’s favourite. There are some people who tend to spread positivity and love with every act they do, every word they speak.
Mithila Bose surely belonged to that rare league of gems. Being an introvert, I did not know her well, though we had met before during the handovers. Today was the first day we were working together.
As our relievers arrived, we stepped out of the building and walked towards the parking lot where our bus was waiting.
“You have been unusually quiet throughout the day, somewhat irritated too. Is there something bothering you?”
I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that her voice startled me, I had definitely forgotten her presence! Yes, there were things that bothered me right now.
With this nationwide lockdown, I was worried about our livelihood, the mundane chores, and a heavy workload on our professional front. Besides, a previously planned family trip to Himachal was cancelled owing to the current situation. My granted leave also got cancelled. I surely was not in a happy place.
“You can share your problem with me, if that’s not a problem. I won’t be of any help, but the emotional load will be lifted off of you,” Mithila spoke again.
I suddenly felt the urge of bursting it out. So, I vented my feelings, tears streaming down my face, not caring about the place where we were. That’s when I realised, I had been been holding them back for a long time.
”You know, I sometimes feel life never turns out the way we wish it to be.” I felt relieved, certainly.
“Yes, that’s true. Most of the time it knocks us down. But we still need to be happy.” Mithila spoke in a distracted voice. I rolled my eyes sensing a long lecture coming up… that was the last thing I needed right now.
“You know, I also felt like you a year before. But now, everything has changed, and I find a new meaning in everything,” She continued in the same distracted voice.
“And what does that mean?” I asked.
“Care for a long story, eh? That will demand a little more of your patience,” She flashed her brilliant smile again making me laugh for the first time in the day.
“You know, I was every bit like you, a girl with a clear vision of her career and life. But I was not aware that I will be in for a rude shock that will force me to change the path of the life I envisioned.
“Everything was perfectly well as I approached my final year in nursing. I was on a high as I came out top of my class in the last exam. Only the final exam to be cleared and I would land my dream job in a hospital and carry on with my passion for travelling. Everything seemed so well carved.” Mithila continued.
“It was not until I started experiencing a sharp pain shooting across my lower abdomen each month before my menstrual cycle followed by a heavy bleeding. I kept ignoring it, popping antispasmodic pills, but the duration and flow of bleeding increased each month. All hell broke loose when the bleeding continued for ninety days at a stretch. My parents were worried sick and I was immediately taken to the gynaecologist.”
“Then?” I asked her, holding my breath.
“The verdict was PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease)” Mithila sighed.
“Then followed a series of tests, education about lifestyle modification and what not. I got better after two months when one day my mother told me that it was high time they started looking for a match.”
“What? How marriage is even related to this?” My words sounded louder than I intended.
Mithila laughed, “Because my parents thought that my chances of conceiving were bleak. I was astonished just like you, I knew that it is more of a lifestyle disease and can be cured with proper diet, medications, exercise and lifestyle modifications.
“Marriage was the last thing on earth I wished for as it was nowhere in my thoughts. Not even in my wildest dreams. But my pleadings fell on deaf ears as the concept of a self-partnered woman still remains an alien concept to my parents in 2020. My treatment continued and prospective groom hunt was on, simultaneously.” she continued.
“I was married off as soon as my exams were over. And I had to accept my fate, dreams nipped in the bud. No tantrums, suicide threats, refusing meals helped me in this case,” she said as I looked at her to see her eyes glistening in tears.
“Look Mithila. I am really sorry. Really, I didn’t know…”
“You don’t have to be sorry,” She stopped me halfway. “It is I who started. I am so relieved to tell someone. Someone like you. I don’t know why.”
“What do you want to do now? Get rid of that marriage?”I asked.
“Right now I can’t. I am pregnant. Four months it is,” Mithila smiled again.
Seeing the shocked look on my face, she continued, “My husband and in-laws are well aware of my condition and are empathetic too. It is I who decided to have a baby. After all, I was married off for this sole reason, right? To procreate.
“As for my husband, he is a good man, though it is too early to pass on the judgement and my in-laws are nice people, too. It is I who can’t reciprocate their love or don’t feel that way. After all, they came into my life as a part of the institution I have never imagined for myself.”
She cut me across as I opened my mouth to say something.
“There’s more. I had my anomaly scan this week and it said that the foetus suffers from the Arnold-Chiari malformation. When I visited my obstetrician, she advised an abortion. It is scheduled next week.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Its okay, you see? If I continue with the pregnancy, the baby would be born anomalous. And then, seeing him or her struggle each day for survival, I don’t think I could tolerate it. Better wait for a good day. May be I would be in love with my partner one day and then a planned, wonderful pregnancy may come.
“Life has given me trouble more than I could ask for really, but its beauty still mesmerises me. Neither am I giving up on my dreams. I’ll make them happen. Because I only have one life. We all only have one life. And we all have better things to do rather than sulking at what cant be changed.”
“So, here lies the synopsis. I, Mithila Bose, a 25 years old woman forced into a matrimonial bond with a man 10 years older to me. And I am survivor of PCOD carrying a congenitally anomalous baby with abortion date scheduled next week yet I am still in love with life and believe vehemently that all will be okay. I guess your stop is approaching.”
I was lost in her story so much that I didn’t know how that one hour flew by. As I rose up to collect my belongings, I felt the soft touch of Mithila’s hand on mine.
“Don’t ever lose hope, Pritha. There’s misery. But there’s more beauty than it,” she said.
I smiled and looked at her beaming face. Determination and strength painted there by the beauty called life.
Note: Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Disorder is a condition characterised by multiple cysts in the ovaries. This leads to certain symptoms like irregular menstrual cycle with heavy or scanty bleeding, more hair growth on the body due to hormonal imbalance. As most of the aetiologies still remain unknown, it can be controlled by following a balanced diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Note: Arnold-Chiari malformation is a congenital anomaly seen in foetus which comprises of structural defects in brain and spinal cord. It happens during foetal development. If untreated, it may give rise to serious complications in latter life.
Picture credits: Pexels
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