This is a true story….fit to be called a story because it sounds like fiction….but all incidents are absolutely true.
About forty years ago we had a family of four women as neighbors. There was the widow mother and her three daughters who were about 22, 19 and 17 years old. All went to a Government college where their mother ran the canteen. The mother’s income was the sole source of earning. They had a modest standard of living with a neat and well kept house. Needs were limited in those days and they managed well. The girls were very cultured and the neighborhood spoke highly of them. The eldest, Ruchi, was sick…very, very sick. She had a ‘hole in the heart’, as we kids were told, which was practically untreatable those days. She couldn’t attend college regularly as she was perpetually ill and very weak. The gutsy mother,though, never gave up. She spoke about her to all and sundry in the hope of hope for Ruchi. There was treatment possible in the US she was told. But she in her wildest dream could never afford that…. But as they say Ruchi was there to stay…. Her mother met a genuine soul in the Child Welfare Department of the Government who promised to pursue Ruchi’s case. One fine day when Ruchi was sick and her mother was at home on leave to take care of her, there was a knock at the door and on opening she saw a couple of unknown faces. They were from the Govt and required details about Ruchi. There was a silver lining the mother could see…..
After about a month or so, a packet arrived in their post which had an air ticket in the name of Ruchi and other details about the hospital, treatment etc. Ruchi’s case was being sponsored by the Government of India which was paying the fare and the American Govt was bearing the cost of her heart operation. She had to leave for New York for treatment in a fortnight! It was too good to be true but it was…. Someone up there had plans! Suddenly the mother was intimidated – intimidated with what lay ahead…. How could she send her sick daughter all alone for treatment to a place beyond the seven seas (and she could not afford the ticket for herself!), but she HAD to and she did that. Ruchi’s sisters were very happy for her – she was the special one they believed. The mother took an advance from the canteen where she worked and started preparing for Ruchi’s departure. The girl who had visited only a few places in her country was preparing to go abroad! The due date arrived very fast and as the mother went to drop her to the airport she stopped en route at a temple to pray for her daughter – she just asked God to be with her as she couldn’t manage to go herself.
After bidding adieu to Ruchi, the mother came back home. Ruchi’s tired but smiling face was still in front of her eyes. She was not crying, not sad…..but hopeful of having her back hail and hearty in three months – the months which ironically were both a long and short duration for her.
Gutsy Ruchi reached America and alighted from the plane on her own two feet (the hospital staff was all ready with a stretcher for her!) and she was directly taken to the hospital. Tests and treatment began in right earnest and the date for the operation finalized. Those were the days when phones were a rarity – and mobile phones unheard of. She managed to write a letter to her mother and requested the hospital staff to post it for her (it may have reached in about a month or so!). That letter was the sole link the daughter and mother had in those three months!
The ten hour long operation was successful and Ruchi was advised a bed rest of a month and a final check up after another month after which she could travel back to her country. During the rest period she was asked to stay with an American family as the hospitals were closing down for Christmas and not allowed to smoke or drink during the period (Ruchi received the biggest shock of her life on this precaution – terms like smoking and drinking for an Indian girl of her background were as alien to her as this land where she got a new lease of life!). Cheerfully she spent her days with her foster family and enjoyed the Christmas. After the final check ups at the hospital it was time for her to leave for India. The staff was happy to be bidding good bye to a mentally and physically strong, healthy and happy young lady.
After a long flight Ruchi came back and saw her mother and sisters waiting for her at the airport. Her mother had the biggest, teary smile on her face – it was the face of the most happy and proud mother. She and her daughter had shown immense faith and the courage and had proved that if one fights a good fight one is bound to be victorious.