“How much time do we have?” Aditya asked the doctor in a whisper. His insides were shivering and his frightened heart was in his mouth. There was absolutely no hope of any good news, he only willed that the bad one should be bearable. Dr. Tripathi took a deep sigh before informing Aditya. “At the most…..six months.” It was like someone had just pierced a knife in him and shattered his heart into a thousand pieces. Clutching the report in his hands, he quietly stood up, left the doctor’s cabin and was on his way home.
His brain stopped working and one single thought seized him in a whirlpool of destroyed emotions. Twenty years of paramount relationship with Anuradha….. and now only six months?!? Anu’s blood cancer had changed the face of all the feelings and life itself. From the time he sat in the car to when he reached home, twenty years of their joyous and amazing life flashed through his mind’s eye.
Aditya had only one aim in life, to open his own hotel and keep his parents happy. Anuradha was his mother’s choice. Homely, beautiful, matured and organized. Alongside she was also compassionate and cheerful. A dream package! After marriage Aditya’s life was enveloped in a hurricane of happiness. Now kids had grown up and were college going.
As soon as he walked in the house, he felt like ripping the report to pieces. But will that reverse the reality? Wordlessly, crestfallen, he went and leaned by the kitchen door. Anu was busy preparing to set the table. She had become thinner. But other than that, looking at her, nobody would guess that she was suffering from cancer or that she had only six months of life left with her. His own thoughts shriveled Aditya and he quivered like a dry leaf. How do you keep your tears from flowing under these dreary circumstances?
Anu sensed his presence and glanced at Aditya. Coming close, she looked at him and asked softly,”Six, four or less than that?”Unshed tears finally escaped his eyes and he lowered them to the floor.”Anu please….”Eating up the distance between them, she wrapped him in her arms and rubbed his back.”Adi, you have to be my strength and not weakness.”He embraced her in a tight hug and started crying.”I’m not that strong Anu.”
* * * * *
Aditya was dazed to see Anu’s courage and liveliness. She was happy-go-lucky and stayed as cheerful as a lark, as if nothing had happened. Although her days were numbered, she was carefree and Aditya’s blood was running cold. How will he live without her? Kids, this house, without Anu everything will topple down in a rubble. Life will become a mess. Deep, amidst a tempest of sorrowful thoughts, his eyes were closed and tears were streaming down his face.
He didn’t realise when Anu came and sat next to him. Taking both his hands in hers, she said very lovingly, “Adi, no one is immortal. Sooner or later we all have to go.” “Yes Anu, but not like this! Children and I, we aren’t ready for this heartbreaking misery.” “And you’ll never be either.”
Kissing his hands, she smiled and said gently, “Six months. If you come to think of it, is not a very short time. Will you fulfill a wish of mine?” Putting his arms around her, he pulled her close. “Anything sweetheart, just name it. “She turned and said eagerly, “Then come on, let’s make these six months, the best six months we’ve ever had. We’ll gather enough memories to last you a lifetime. “She cupped his face in her hands and voiced out her deepest desire, “And Adi, until last I not only want to see love in your eyes, but I also want to see the zeal in you to live life to its fullest. And you have to promise me this, for the sake of our children.”
* * * * *
Anu always wanted to see Kashmir. After taking her doctor’s advice and with all the required precautions, the entire family flew to Kashmir. Every time she became tired or was feeling under the weather, Aditya and the kids would panic. But she would just shrug and pacify them, “Relax, the expiry date is still far away.”
Anu loved reading poems. Kids helped her out, they recorded her videos and uploaded them on YouTube. Likes came pouring in and it brightened her fragile face. She bantered and sang jovially ,”मेरी आवाज़ ही पहचान हैं….. गर याद रहे।” His heart wept, but seeing Anu, Aditya couldn’t stifle his smile.
Now Anu couldn’t work much or move around the house. For some or the other excuse, Aditya and children always stayed at home, close to her. The last night when they were in each other’s arms, Anu said something. Something which Aditya will remember all his life. “You know Adi, a great philosopher once said, there must be life in your days and not days in your life.”