Photo : Daily Mail
I was sitting on a bench under a tree waiting opposite the building where my daughter was having her classes.This has become a ritual by now, maybe I’ll call it our Saturday Chaos. Every Saturday my daughter and I take a long ride to our designated school where she attends her contact classes for the five subjects she has chosen while I wait on the bench under the tree. If we are extremely lucky then everything goes as planned and the whole ordeal gets over by little under 4 hours and we are back on our way home.
My daughter rejoices in the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling offers her except for the dozen or so Saturday classes she needs to attend. These Saturday classes are meant to help these kids with their internal assignments, to get them prepared for their practicals and to clear their doubts. Unfortunately the regular schools who support this program have no clue as to how to handle it and we bear the brunt of their ignorance, lack of interest and sloppiness one Saturday after another.
This particular Saturday was disastrous. The announced dates for the practical examinations were saying that we had only 10 days left to prepare which shocked everyone as we were led to believe until then that we had close to two months to do so. I knew from our experience till then that if we don’t actively chase around and ambush the right people, press the right trigger then nothing would get done. For our luck, that Saturday not only happened to be a working day for regular school but they were celebrating Teacher’s Day. That meant that my access to everyone and everything including my daughter would be severely restricted. I had no option but to wait and watch.
I sat as usual on the bench under the tree, among few other students and parents, completely beaten by the situation I was in. I sat there for a while, lost in my thoughts when I felt someone tap my shoulder. I looked up and heard a voice ask tentatively:
I jumped up and turned around.
Me : Reshma?
Reshma : What are you doing here?
Me : My daughter is homeschooled and this school is her contact center. And you?
Reshma : I am teaching music here.
Me (while wondering as to what this ambitious software engineer is doing teaching music in this school): Wow! What a combination- Maths and Music!
Reshma (hesitantly) : You do know what happened with me, yeah?
My mind gets busy trying to guess what would have possibly gone wrong : divorce, cancer survivor…….
Me (warily) : No
A puzzled expression crosses her face.
Reshma : I lost my first one.
My mind scrambling to make sense of this statement- losing what?? What first one??
Reshma : My daughter.
Me : Oh
I sat back down on the bench and she sat beside me under the tree.
She joked about how my mother herself doesn’t know about my whereabouts. I laughed along with her and we talked about mundane stuff like where we were staying then……
…my mind had almost come to the conclusion that she would have lost her 12 year daughter to some gruesome accident.
Me: If you don’t mind, can you tell me what happened to her?
Reshma : Brain tumour.
Her husband was a neurosurgeon and it was him who first suspected that his daughter might have something more serious than indigestion. Her daughter was diagnosed with brain tumour. The next big task was finding an expert who was ready to undertake such a risky operation. Her husband managed to rally a team of doctors who were willing to tackle that very difficult task.
Reshma : God! That was a terrifying time. The probability of the operation failing was pretty high with her either losing her memory, or getting paralysed, or going into coma. Thank god! The operation was a mighty successful one, so much so that she became her normal self again.
“She was fine for more than a year and then she slowly started losing her coordination. She would trip while walking. She would stand in front of the wash basin with her brush in her hand looking confused and would ask me, “Amma, what should I do?””
I fought hard not to break into a sob right in front of her. I was determined not to ruin her peace. She was so composed and calm. She felt relieved that the ordeal of seeing her daughter slowly disintegrate was over. She said with such compassion and grace as to how she took care of her baby girl in her last days…
…right at that point I was interrupted by our program coordinator regarding the practical schedule. I was soon sucked into the world of our usual Chaos of arranging and organizing dates with different teachers. Till today I am surprised at how efficiently and coherently I handled those tasks at hand.
I didn’t cry till I started narrating the incident to my daughter and husband. For the next few days, the only thing that I kept asking myself was “how did she do it?”. I selfishly was just thinking about me and my daughter and how lucky I was. Then the Saturdays seemed no longer chaotic but a blessing.
Today I marvel at the coincidence of that meeting. Or was it a coincidence? Was I made to sit there under that tree with my friend to witness the immense strength of humankind, the grace and beauty of understanding death? The trust in life that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, I WILL BE OK!