The Last Wish: To Live and Let Live
– Mr Vivek Sharma, Mumbai
Probably for the first time in the past 12 years since I shifted my house, I was enjoying the greenery from my study table. The weather was salubrious. As I was settling down with a cup of hot tea, my sight fell upon my phone which was flashing ‘Dr K V Ganpathy Calling’.
I was enjoying my own company and was in no mood to answer the call; but I thought it must be something important as he usually messages me and does not call especially right in the morning, without any strong reason. Well, we had our chats and during the conversation there was mention of Krishna and Bala.
Our communication ended in a few minutes, but Krishna and Bala were all over my mind. They were such a beautiful and a brave-heart couple who you must know of. Most of us keep running away from ourselves, our issues, our griefs, our weaknesses, and Krishna and Bala were also like us; until one day Krishna was diagnosed with advanced Breast cancer. As one can imagine, things became difficult for the couple who were in their sixties with no children.
Every life has many aspects and multiple stories to tell. For now, I’ll focus on their emotional turmoil which was led by their mere thought of being or staying ALONE!
Krishna (she) was very happy with Bala (he). Bala always stood by her whenever she needed him. One day when Bala prepared tea and offered it to her, he saw Krishna with a pensive disposition; her eyes were dry, and her face reflected pain and agony due to something beyond cancer.
“Whatever life gives us, we have to take it, Krishna”, said Bala.
Krishna turned towards Bala and uttered: “I do agree Bala. Life has given me so much, including a caring husband and a life partner like you. I’m blessed, but at this point of my life where I’m about to die, I miss having children. Leaving you alone, pains me lot more”. She then cried as much as she could, in anticipation. Bala just sat beside her and held her hand.
During one of his regular visits to the nearby store to buy their groceries etc., Bala stumbled upon Mohan, the store owner’s son, who in his usual demeanor greeted Bala. Mohan was an Arts student, who was studying in one of the pioneer colleges in Mumbai. Mohan realized that his grocery store pal wasn’t well today. So, he stopped and asked, “What’s up uncle? You’re not keeping well today? Everything ok?”.
Bala couldn’t hold it in longer and shared Krishna’s situation with Mohan. “We’re also like your kids uncle, don’t worry, please share your flat number and I’ll come to your home possibly with more of my friends”, said Mohan. Bala felt a renewed sense of energy and hope in Mohan’s assurance. Bala thanked Mohan and left.
At 5 p.m. the next day the doorbell at Krishna’s place rang and as she walked to opened the door, she was surprised to see 3 teenagers at her doorstep. Though the faces looked a bit familiar, they never interacted before. The tallest of them said, “Hi Aunty, my name is Mohan and I study Arts, and these are my college friends, Roshan and Shelly. Uncle met me some time back and shared that you sing well. We have a competition coming up and thought of practicing with you if you don’t mind?”. Krishna could not hold her happiness and that was evident in her eyes too.
She welcomed them all in and they had a great evening singing some known, some unknown (old songs to the kids) songs. Bala was happy and offered snacks and coffee to them. That night was one of the best nights that Bala and Krishna had savored since the diagnosis of Krishna’s disease, an evening that was not filled with intrusive thoughts about the disease, visits to OPD, etc.
Expectedly, this became a routine for the kids and the senior couple for a good 4 months. This was probably the best months in Krishna’s and Bala’s entire married life.
The day Bala’s journey with Krishna ended, he felt lighter for giving her those lovely musical evenings that really helped her ‘live’, while he also emerged stronger to realize how vulnerability can help a person to grow in challenging times.
A few days later while he was occupied, the doorbell rang once again. When he opened it, it was a group of 6 teenagers lead by Mohan. They barged into his house demanding for snacks and coffee. The group had an agenda: To start an informal music class in Krishna’s memory. This class was to spread the message of the therapeutic effects of music.
This narration is based on a true incident which is nothing but a story of love and resilience. By sharing this I want to appeal to the youth that there is a Mohan in each of them who is waiting to be harnessed and empowered, and that one only needed to find the opportunity for it. Loneliness is a condition among the elderly and in patients with critical illnesses. Good company can be healing. Look around you for a Bala or a Krishna and then please take the effort to help them. You never know, you might not only be fulfilling someone’s ‘last wish’, but will also have the opportunity to make it their best.
About the Author:
Mr Vivek Sharma is a published author, a podcaster and a social entrepreneur who works in cancer and mental health domains.
Vivek’s book ‘God Is Not Fair?’ encompasses six real life stories which demonstrate how people hit rock bottom in their lives but have bounced back only to give back to the society at large.
His podcast named ‘God Is Not Fair?’, with over a million listeners, addresses mental health and is quite popular amongst the youth.