Please don't get me wrong.This post is in no way affliated to Dan Brown, The Da Vinci code or any other grail enthusiasts/fanatics.Its about a woman called Mary, whom I have known personally over the last two years.I cannot say I know her very well or we have bonded.But I do have little knowledge about the fragments of her sad life
I have a cousin called Disha.She has a progressive or rather a regressive neurological disorder.As we grow up, we become more independent, gain knowledge and express what we feel.It was the exact opposite with Disha.As she grew up, she lost the ability to walk, talk and even sit up straight.She is now eleven years old, has undergone many painful tests without a whimper and still her condition has not been diagnosed correctly.She was a bright, cute and healthy kid until she was three. And it all changed, slowly yet painfully.She has excessive salivation and she has to be changed atleast three times a day.She cannot tell when she wants to go to the toilet.So she ends up soiling her pants.She cannot eat by herself, so she has to be fed.She can only be fed fluids and semi-solid food because she doesn't know how to chew.The plump, naughty Disha I knew is now trapped in a chair, stares into space, points at invisible things, has strong convulsions or 'attacks' where she ends up stiff and scared like a frightened animal.Even as I write it now, my eyes moisten.I hardly see her, maybe once or twice a month.Her mother(my aunt) has to see her in that state every, single day; the apple of her eye, her first-born child being a vegetable, praying for a miracle, hoping for a magic cure and ending up feeling sorry for herself and her daughter.My family thought it was best for my aunt to resume working, so that she will have something to look forward to and not end up feeling low all the time.So she decided to go back to work and employed a nurse to take care of Disha in her absence.That nurse is Mary.
I met Mary for the first time at my house.I saw this quiet, shy, demure woman, all smiles.She treats Disha like her own child.I have never seen in her eyes, even a momentary hint of hesitation in cleaning up Disha.She is everything my aunt ever wanted in a nurse.She even takes care of Shashank(Disha's younger brother) who is this naughty, sweet kid.She takes his lunch to school, picks him up everyday and grins everytime he calls her 'Mary aunty'.
I found out from my aunt that Mary's husband was an alcoholic, an auto-rickshaw driver who hardly brought enough money home.He died a few years ago under mysterious circumstances(my aunt thinks he probably had AIDS).Mary was left to support her two children and her alcoholic father.She took up nursing and came into my aunt's life as a blessing.Some days ago,I found out she hadn't come to take care of Disha.She had missed several times the last few weeks and my aunt, worried, asked her what was wrong.Mary complained of fever and a severe cough from a long time.My aunt insisted that she visit a good doctor and get a few tests done.It turns out she has tuberculosis.And a cyst on her heart.I have never seen my aunt cry so grievously before.She kept saying over and over again,"Why her?"
This is Mary.She is the emotional support for my aunt and her family.She is like a member of our family.She is so fragile and delicate that you'll never know the battles waging beneath her beautiful, ebony skin.She has financial problems, emotional problems and now health problems too.But never have I seen her grimace or get angry.She is always smiling and helping and spreading the joy.She is on medication now.I just hope she gets better soon.
This Women's day(I don't believe in a special day for women because it goes against all the equality principles we talk about.Do men need a special day for thanking us for giving them birth, feeding them their first meal, nurturing them, taking care of them and supporting them?No!They should bloody do it for the rest of their lives!), I thought to myself:We talk about women entrepreneurs, sportswomen, actresses (oops!Female actors!) and the other womenfolk I do not feel connected to in any way.Just give a thought about this woman I told you about.An unsung hero.A warrior in every sense.This Women's day, for a moment, forget about Indra Nooyi's Pepsico or Barkha Dutt's anchoring skills.For a minute, forget about Priety Zinta, Shakira and Sunita Williams.For a minute, just a single moment, say a little prayer for Mary.I know for a fact that if you pray for something whole-heartedly, it works.Irrespective of your class, religion or sex, whoever is reading this, say a heartfelt prayer for this woman. Celebrate her spirit and her will to move on.A woman's request to all you people. Pray for Mary.