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How My Friend Taught Me The Greatest Life Lesson!

A year of sorrow, a year of pain, 

A year of loss, wish never come again,

The agony, the hurt is all that remains,

A year of death, wish it never comes again.

The last two years have been some of the most traumatizing years in the past century. What began as a pandemic in 2020, developed into not merely a medical but an existential crisis in every aspect of life in 2021.

The world watched in horror as hospitals were overwhelmed, the morgues were overburdened.  The second wave of COVID-19 destroyed many lives and livelihoods. We all witnessed the horrific scenes unfold in front of our eyes as people clamored to arrange medicines and oxygen for their infected kith and kin. The mad rush at hospitals for beds, and at cemeteries for space to put the loved ones to rest, was hugely traumatic.

And as if the trauma of covid-19 was not enough, Black Fungus aka Mucormycosis also shook our hope and added to our fears.

But as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. And that silver lining, in this case, was the individual stories of grit, determination, sacrifice, and survival against all the odds. I had the honour of witnessing one such individual story of determination and the will to fight even the death itself.

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A story of a one-woman battle to hold together all she loved

Everywhere you looked, you only saw pain, agony, and despair. I was safely cooped inside my home, afraid to go out. My day was mostly spent calling and enquiring about the well-being of my family members, friends, and acquaintances.

It was during this time that I made a call to my colleague and a close friend, Sonali. She greeted me like any other day but the moment I enquired about her family, her voice betrayed her attempts to sound normal. Her entire family had fallen sick. She told me how her daughter and in-laws were ok and isolated at home but her husband was in the hospital. She too was infected although asymptomatic but had opted to stay at the hospital to look after her husband. Sonali was putting herself at risk but her dedication towards her husband made my eyes moist.

It became a regular affair for me to call and check on her. Every time I did, I developed an even deeper respect for her listening to her ordeal. She ran from one medical store to another to arrange remdesivir and other important medications for her husband. She prayed for her husband’s recovery as she watched body bags after body bags being removed from the wards. She also made sure that her daughter and in-laws remained mentally and emotionally strong throughout all this. Finally, her prayers were answered as her husband was taken off the oxygen and was put on a path to recovery. She was relieved as the love of her life was finally discharged and they both came home healthy but that was just a small rest before the beginning of a long war.

A few days after her husband came home, he complained of nasal stuffiness, headache, facial swelling, and fever. The over the counter medicines did not help and they had to go back to the hospital for further checkups. She felt as if the entire world was pulled from under her feet when doctors dropped the bombshell of news. Her husband had contacted the black fungus also known as mucormycosis. A disease with a very high mortality rate, much much higher than Covid-19 itself was eating her husband up from the inside.

The doctors had explained to her how this disease is more fatal and if not fatal, it usually left the patient scarred or paralyzed. Her life had come back to where it was a few weeks ago. The only difference was that this time she was running from one medical store to another to arrange a short on supply antifungal medicine.

Little did she know that this time it was going to be a very long ordeal. The fungus was difficult to control as it proliferated from one part of the jaw to the other. The doctors were not ready to give a definitive answer. Every day she would just receive assurances and what seemed like words filled with false hope.

The fungus was becoming hard to control and finally, the doctors took the call to operate it out. She managed her husband’s care at the hospital equally efficiently as she managed her household and ensured that her daughter remained as strong as she was. Her husband was losing weight, strength, and blood, and merely looking at his operated face, filled her with a sense of desperation and hopelessness but at no point in this struggle did she allow anyone to look at her vulnerability. Even on a call with me, she never sounded nervous. She remained firm in her resolve to see her husband back to full health. If she ever felt nervous, she motivated herself every night to wake up stronger the next morning.

The follow-up reports after the first operation were not satisfactory and soon her husband was put under the knife yet again. From there on it became a cycle and each surgery was followed up by yet another. It became a sort of periodic routine to watch her husband being wheeled into the operation theatre. Their life savings were getting exhausted, their hopes were getting exhausted and she too was getting exhausted but she never gave up.

She was taking care of her husband while simultaneously giving emotional comfort to her daughter. At one end she was managing her husband’s medical bills while also making sure that her daughter was comfortable at her college. The daughter too kept inspiring her mother as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months.

The frail and weakened husband would have probably given up long back but she made sure that the fight within him lingered on forever. Her strength rubbed off onto his mindset. Her grit and determination became the antidote to his illness. In the last few months, she had become the pillar on which her house stood strong. She became the fulcrum that kept their existence in the right balance and never allowed the scales to tip over. She did not just wipe off the blood from her husband’s dressing, she also wiped off any kind of despair that would come near his presence.

The year was coming to an end when one beautiful morning, I received a bouquet of pictures from her on my WhatsApp. Her prayers, her struggles, and most importantly her determination had paid off. He was not only home but they were out celebrating his miraculous recovery at a beautiful farmhouse. The year which had traumatized her, scared her, scarred her was ending on a positive and happy note. I could feel nothing but immense respect for her as though all the dark and gloom that 2021 showed us all, her story shone bright enough to dispel it all and fill me with hope. Hope that tomorrow is going to be better. Hope that 2022 is going to be beautiful.

Of all the takeaways from the year 2021, if I had to choose one I will choose the story of my friend Sonali. She see through her constant display of silent determination taught me a valuable lesson. Never give up and success will bow down at your feet. She taught me unknowingly to stay positive no matter how difficult your situation is. As I step into a new year, I will always look back upon her courage and resilience to keep inspiring myself through this journey called life.

A year of grit, stories of valour,

Of human will, and resilient fights,

A year that began with darkness abound,

A year ends with hope and light.

Image Source: Andy Dean Photography, Canva Pro

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