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Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra

Sonal Arora

Comedy


5.0  

Sonal Arora

Comedy


Umrao Jaan Of Pocket B-1

Umrao Jaan Of Pocket B-1

44 mins 19.8K 44 mins 19.8K

“If you want war, I will bring it to your home, bitch!”

“We live in same home.”

“Ah! You think you are very clever. Fine, I will bring it to your door mat.”

“Fair point made, Ma, fair point!”

Well, this is the civilized extract of the conversation that I am regularly, frequently and recurrently having with my birth mother for past six months or so. {The reason to elucidate the word ‘birth mother’ would be clear to you subsequently.}

The raison d'être behind all our fights is this one guy, Shubhendu Malik. He happens to be my boyfriend and now the cause to be a tug of war for both mature ladies of Maheshwari family, me, Sarika Maheshwari and ma, Mrs Leelawati Maheshwari.

The uncommon, striking, peculiar thing about our duel is not that my mother disapproves of my relationship with Shubhendu but on contrary she overly approves his presence into our shared lodging that is our sweet home but explicitly in her life.

My mother is neither a divorcee or a widow but a proud owner of full grown sixty years old Deva- Anand kind of romantic adult male. A man who has entire life taken care of her pre menopausal libidinous desire and created me twenty four years back and also her post menopausal hot flushes and volcanic tantrums. This man has always stood beside her like a rock and she too has loved him as her one and only her entire life, until recently when she had a fall from grace and in an overnight turned nymphomaniac, looking for her vent in other men, especially my man.

It all started six months back when we shifted to our new home, B-2/157. How on earth would I have known that time that this accomplishment of shifting ourselves to a bigger place and posh locality would turn tables on us? It would transform my goddess like mother into a harlot.

The mother I knew since I peeped into this world was an absolute headstrong sedate, a walking talking orthodox book of morals, code of conduct and decorum. ‘Hundred pins woman’ as the world would know her was very particular about her dressing ways. With that army of safety pins tucked all over her sari, not a single thread of fabric dared to move astray from her reign. An idealistic woman, who preferred being called by her husband’s name rather than her first name ‘Leela’ because she found it to be amative to be pronounced by the tongue of other men, a decorous housewife, whose entire shopping destination revolved around vegetable vendors, departmental store and weekly Friday markets and a dignified lady, who has always laughed with pursed lips and had condemn out blown laughter as sign of promiscuous character. She was nothing more than an exemplified epitome of perfect avatar of housewife walking straight out of the pious Hindu calendar, all dressed up in godly authenticity.

But today she is not even a speck of what she used to be once upon a time. It started mildly like a little experimentation with her looks, hairdo and wardrobe. I took it as post menopausal passing wind which would sooner or later breeze away, maybe every lady experience it at that cult period. I welcomed it and choose to ignore it. Now, that is what the wise would call it a big bang blunder from my side. I just missed the tipping point. Lo and behold since those months forth her promiscuousness ran full swing like a delayed spring.

The ‘hundred pin lady’ became pin less and would in many occasion let the drapes deliberately fall off revealing her pushed up bosom. Her subtle makeup started to paint in darker shades of sluttish red and her shopping preferences were upgraded to online facilities.

The lady who was once a die hard bargain queen, the one who took immense pleasure as a hard earned victory even saving a penny, plundered all her saving accounts on push up brassieres, body hugging lingerie that made her appear thinner, slimmer and sexier. Fifty thousand bucks are sky fall for a middle class family of ours, where even the good daughter of the family, that happens to be me, savours her desires only with the local brands. Whereas my mother still has the branded life style wish list, yet to be fulfilled, which she keeps tugged under her pillow every night when she sleeps.

In no time my mother earned the reputation and designation of being ‘Umrao Jaan’ of B-2 pocket. It was embarrassing as well as humiliating at the same time. Every road side Romeo had her name on his lips and sometimes tattooed it on his arm, forearm, chest or butt. The whistling and the vulgar comments, the love letters and the indecent proposals from boys half her age started to weed up at the alarming pace. Worst, my mother liked all this limelight and fan following and took the sick pride in her name being chanted by every Tom, Dick and Harry of B-2 pocket.

I could sense things going out of control. I knew she needed help. It wasn’t menopause, it was something else. The first door I knocked seeing her drowning ship of morality was of my beloved daddy. My mother’s behaviour shook me to the core but what my daddy had to say about it, took away the bare minimum earth left beneath my feet.

According to him, my mother’s preoccupation into other worldly things, what so ever they are, gave him ample independence to again enjoy his, once lost bachelor-hood. He was having the fabulous La Vegas time in the murky B-2 pocket of the city. He could watch television twenty four into seven, drink tea with three spoons of sugar; ‘n’ number of times in a day, eat whatever he wants to, freely scratch his nose and debug it for as long he wants to, most importantly could have the luxury to call his friends home to play cards and could wear same underwear week long without being guilt trip under the long lectures on hygiene and etcetera and etcetera. Like my mother his list was also endless.

For first time in my lifetime, after seeing the true colours of my parents, I felt like the only hyper mature person in the family. For the first time in the life time, I doubted them to be my parents, I felt adopted.

When daddy turned indifferent and my mother continued with her unbridled frivolity, the best defence mechanism that I could garner was to adapt to the adulterated adult ways of my family. That was my second mistake. I realised it too late, when her clowning around started to involve love of my life, my one and only, Shubhendu.

Her overly cuddling him, pampering him and inappropriately touching him very often, was brought to my notice by Shubhendu but because of an altruistic love for my mother I turned blind eye to it. I thought them to be nothing more than the fragments of my tainted imagination. She can go around picking the men all over the city but she won’t do that to my man, after all he is her futuristic son-in-law. My blind faith in my mother kept Shubhendu’s revolt under check though it bubbled occasionally.

The last straw to my this faith-based love towards my mother shattered, when she took an quantum leap by boldly, openly as well as authoritatively proclaiming her proprietorship over my boyfriend by mapping his face by her signature red lipstick kisses including his lips. She candidly declared war against me.

That day Shubhendu came to me like a fallen autumn leaf, which has been ripped out of its grace and dignity. My tears diluted away his pain of victim-hood as he could see my real misery. My entire world was falling apart and all I could manage was tanking my eyes.

That was enough. That night I took the handkerchief and wiped off every lasting strain of salted water from my eyes and took a decision. If she wants a war, I will give it one to her. I am not going to let go Shubhendu without a decent fight. Now the only goal in my life would be to find reasons behind my middle class family fairytale going somersaulting. I will definitely crack this case open, find answers to it and fix it, even if it meant that I have to dig few graves all alone at middle of night, I will do that too.

Next day I was ranger ready. I had Google, Shubhendu and my grey cells, only left to trust in this world. The first clue to the enigma was that it all started when we shifted in this fateful house, so therefore, maybe, answers lies in its bricks. Maybe some dark history is buried deep in its chest that has returned to haunt us all.

Google had nothing much to speak about it neither the books in the local library. But that sixty plus librarian turned out to be a great help. Seeing our keen interest in digging the past or being irritated by our frequent pry to answer our useless piling up questionnaire for past three days, he pointed us to the grand old man of the locality who was capable to answer our queries. It was our stumbled epiphany.

In no time my ultra-tech boyfriend GPS us to the old man’s front yard. I was in a fix, what am I suppose to ask him, how am I going to break the ice to start that atypical kind of conversation? While I was busy finding my way out of these nebulous thoughts clouding my brain box, my super tactile boyfriend gained us an amicable entry into the household by striking acquaintance with the five year old kid of the family. The very next moment as I clearly remember, we were sitting in the chairs in front of the bed that lodged the frail body of that super-old man.

The thing that got me in awe was that how can anyone grow that old? It seemed as if he had a very translucent layer of skin painted over his degenerating skeleton. There was not a pin point space on his phizog that was left untouched by wrinkles. I don’t know whether he could see us or not but it was of sure that even at this ripe age his hearing was acute. He perceptibly reacted to the changes in the barometer that we brought with our entry in his room.

Before I could use the power of my tongue to register the purpose of our visit, the old man stole away the thunder from me and striked the ball out of the boundary at very first opportunity he got to display his mystique.

“I know you will come. You are here to know about her, about ‘Leela’.”

The last word got us real bouncy at our seats. It couldn’t get more creeper than it was already. The dead man speaking from his grave did have important piece of information about my beloved mother Leela.

The plethora on my face vanished and I turned gravely pale. I held Shubhendu’s hand tightly.

“What took you so long; I have been waiting for you for you for a while now.” He continued increasing the mercury.

“I guess traffic is bad at this hour.” My genius boyfriend answered the question.

I pated his hand displaying my disapproval to his zeal to excel in Q and A buzzer round. He needs to understand that there are few questions that should be deliberately left unanswered. How can we be so heartless, to devoid a man, whose age could only be determined by carbon dating, his lasting fame as a mystique story teller? If he wanted to build a TRP around his story, let him do that. We are here just to get a mystery solved.

“Foolish boy, I have been waiting for you for the past century.” Now, he was angry old man.

See, that what I want to convey it to Shubhendu through my staring glaring eyes. But men can never decipher a worthy woman’s gaze, it’s been a problem with men since stone age.

“I apologize on his behalf, Baba. Please continue what you were about to tell about Leela.” I begged him.

The old man took five deep breaths and every time I thought it was his last one. My heart skipped every second beat to his lost breath. But it turned out to be his ways to garner ultimate footage. Even in the death bed he cared about his reputation and finally he took my penny for his thoughts.

“She is back and now no one in this world can stop her.”

“Who is back Baba?” I was getting impatient.

After three deep breaths came out the lingering answer, “Madhur Leela is back!”

That’s not about my mother and I am least concerned about this Madhur Leela lady, who so ever she is. The old man just got confused. Well, it’s common symptom with his age but uncommon sign for our generation to believe in such disbeliefs. To prove my thought, Shubhendu was almost on his feet to leave. I was about to follow him that suddenly the frail framework of anatomy held my hand. With all the lasting strength he forced me to maintain my sitting stance.

“Her soul is back to take the revenge. She needed a vessel and I think she have found one. Madhur Leela is back to finish her unfinished business, to complete her left over ‘Leela’!”

Though Shubhendu want me to move but my gut told me to listen to him. Thereafter what he revealed brought my entire world to standstill. My mother was bewitched by a soul of a courtesan who has been dead for past one hundred and fifty years.

As the legend goes, Madhur Leela was the most beautiful woman that walked the earth that time. Her beauty intoxicated the sanity of every man who got an opportunity to see her once. Irrespective of their age, they were crazy for her, plundering their wealth over her and abandoning their wives and kids. These women who have been so ruthlessly been left by their men, tried talking to Madhur Leela to leave the town, so that they could have a decent family life. They all pleaded, cried and begged at her feet. But Madhur Leela so drowned in her arrogance and pride that she couldn’t see their pain. Instead she asked her servants to throw them out of her home premise.

Humiliated and abandoned, these women united over the one common goal, to take vendetta. They plotted to kill her and they were successful too. They first cleverly poisoned her and then burned down her house to ashes. Through the blazing flames and counting on those desperate smothered breaths, Madhur Leela screamed, “I will never forgive you all. I will be back to take away your husband’s forever.” And then that most beautiful courtesan died the most painful death.

The place where our house B-2/157 stands today was once upon the time the abode of Madhur Leela.

Listening to what that old man said and the way he vouched it with authenticity, my heart went into V-fib and the gush of unstoppable flood poured down from my eyes. My mother is not my mother anymore, she has become Madhur Leela and now, she only seeks revenge. And she has chosen her first prey and he is Shubhendu.

“It’s all rubbish! Mere superstition. Are you going to believe all this, Sarika?” Shubhendu held my free hand. He could feel my failing pulse.

But suddenly something unexpected happened. They rickety hand that held my hand during the entire story telling session fell down lifeless. There was blood oozing out of his nostrils. Blood was a real deal, he was not faking it, it didn’t seem as his yet another TRP trick.

I was alarmed and I shouted, “Shubhendu, look at him..... I think he is dead.”

Before we could pronounce the time of death, the five year old great grandson of the old man, who was present at the door entire time we were there, rushed to his bed side. He immediately took out an injection from the drawer next to the bed and in the next splitting second he thrust the injection in old man’s chest. There came the gasping sound from the dead man and he happened to be alive again. I was startled and shaken to the core.

Like the great grand papa, the kid was talented and eloquent too. Looking at Shubhendu he said, “Its adrenaline. It will purchase us few moments to do the needful.”

But Shubhendu stood there confused with no idea how to react. Reading his quizzical expression, the melodramatic thespian tapped his forehead and continued, “Do I have to tell you everything? Can’t you for once in your life behave as a mature adult? You have to take him to the hospital, since no elder in my family is home at this moment.” Then he turned towards me and said, “Are you sure you want to be married to this guy?”

Shubhendu frowned.

Under the guidelines of his new master, Shubhendu did do all the needful. I was supposed to accompany them to the hospital but Shubhendu advice me against it. Today have been too much of a shocker to take for my weak meek heart and he doesn’t want it to be burdened more by old man’s health issues. I was back at home. My life couldn’t be getting more screwed and twisted than it already was. What a mess that God has chosen for me, first a promiscuous mother to deal with and now a nefarious vindictive soul.

It was no time to dilute away in self pity. I had to mandatorily utilize every passing second before that Madhur Leela invalidates my innocent mother completely.

For next three days and two nights I did the PhD level research to zero down the people who had the expertise in dealing with such kinds of supernatural phenomenon. I made myself a personal list of Ghostbusters. Shubhendu was not in compliance with my earnest effort as he kept shrugging it as the mere superstition of the feeble mind.

“Shubhendu, it’s not always like this that we could explain every phenomenon that happens in this world. There are things that exist beyond our human understanding and we can’t question their presence. Eyes can’t see what mind doesn’t know, honey, all we need is a faith.”

“It’s your fear speaking. We are denizens of twenty first century. It sounds stupid as well as crazy of what you are unto.”

“Didn’t you see that man risked his life to tell us the brutal truth?”

“He is already one hundred and eight years old with one of his leg hanging in the grave. What do you expect from him, to glow pink.”

“Can you explain why death tried to knock him out at that particular time and moment when he was telling us about that tainted soul? How could you forget that blood oozing out of his nose, you too witnessed it. Why can’t you do the maths here, it was Madhur Leela playing tricks on him, punishing him to reveal her true identity to us.”

“Cirrhosis, the man has almost his entire liver fried up to the life time of debauchery. It was nothing more than the repercussion of the sins of his youth.....”

I was done with his logic and mind games. I was irritated for he couldn’t understand my view point. I lost the thin thread of my patience and screamed at him, “She is my mother and I would do everything under my power, till my last breath, till the last drop of blood that flowed in my veins, till the last beat of my heart, I will try to save her. So let me do it. I am walking hell here, if you can’t appreciate my pain here, you can leave.”

I was in tears. And he knew in his heart this was my dead end to indulge in any debate, how validate it be. Nothing would change my heart now.

He took my hands in his hands and then he hugged me. I could feel his warmth. My tears moistened and stained his shirt but he still kept me near to his heart. His heart beat was my only solace in those trying times.

He indeed was my ‘preux chevalier’ and I can’t afford to lose him to the curse of Madhur Leela. I have to fight for him too and these were the feeling of my heart that I could never formulate it in vocabulary to explain him.

Even though he didn’t approve of my actions but he still stood there with me being my pillar of strength.

Lo and behold started the parade of the godly brigade in my house, who vouched to posses super human powers to deal with problems, like ours. Some came with the peacock feathers, some with the holy water, some had the modern sci-fi gadgets at their disposal, some with chains and wires but no one was able to bell the cat. For one entire week these guys with quality, ability, credentials and testimony displayed in bold letters in their websites, tried every arrow in their quiver, every card in their deck and every trick off their sleeves to entice that vengeful soul out of my mother but brutally failed.

She was still on the verge of going topless publically!

“Are you done with the piled up buffoonery by these babbling bands of baboons or you want to run in for Guinness Book of World Record? Am I permitted to suggest something practical?” Finally Shubhendu spoke his mind again. His sarcasm had the hidden concern for me.

Since, after all my earnest efforts, my mother duplicated the season’s high vulgarity quotient and my bank balance sheet flashed the recession dip, I had no choice but to roll of my tents and listen to the man.

He wanted me to take the medical advice for my mother’s condition.

Don’t I know that, that should have been the first door that I should have knocked for my mother’s condition? But then I had this ambush fear of her being diagnosed with schizophrenia or some split personality syndrome. An unexplained apprehension of her being taken away from me and being thrown in an asylum or care house gave me fresh bouts of heart palpitation. I can’t delt with that kind of severance from her. Whatever she is, how so ever she behaves and whatever she does, she is still my mother and still my responsibility and I want to take care of her in sickness and health.

Only he could read my unsaid words, only he could understand my befuddlement and hence he said, “Don’t worry Sarika. Do you remember a fortnight before I rushed that old man to the hospital? There was this doctor who had taken entire hospital by storm. She was the talk of the town. They were saying that she turned a vampire into human being by some orally administered drugs. They were also saying that she is a miracle worker and have scientific explanation to all these eldritch occurrences. I wanted to meet her then and there but it so happened that she was the head of the treating doctor’s team to our old man and was busy inserting tubes into his anatomy. I wanted to recommend you to take an appointment with her but you seemed busy with your other preoccupations..... Sarika, maybe popping few pills could bring back your mother to you. Maybe her condition is not at all occult as you fear it to be. Maybe MJ is indeed our stumbled epiphany....... Honey, Sweetie, Sugar, at the end of the day it’s finally your call and whatever you decide, you will find me stranding supporting you.”

Oh God! Whenever he uses that patent triad of synonyms to designate me, I never disagree to agree with him.

MJ aka Dr Mahi Jasmera, happened to be a popular name in the hospital. Her reputation to do wonders preceded her actual presence when we went to meet her.

She was indeed a lethal combination of beauty and brains. She was young, sharp and focused. Talking to her and spending time with her, my sixth sense said that I won’t be regretting this meeting later.

“Doc, you just treated a vampire.” I was curious.

“One, he wasn’t a vampire, two, he had a genetic abnormality called Porphyria which is treatable.”

“You heard our case in details. Maybe such Latin name is attached to my mother’s diagnoses too.”

“Maybe, I am not ruling out the possibility, but it would be very premature for me to say it before even meeting the patient and running few scans on her. tell me Ms Maheshwari is that all you want to tell me about your mother?”

“Yes ma’am, that’s the best of my knowledge.”

“Are you sure you are not missing any peculiar detail you noticed about her related to her condition....”

“I don’t think so.... wait a minute, there something else too. Last month, she ordered online half the dozen of stiletto heels but she has worn none, although there were many occasions but she preferred wearing flats.”

“And this should concern me because......”

“It’s a very peculiar thing doc. She has been plundering money on her life style goodies and she likes going vogue adorning them. Now, that she has it and not wearing it, sounds little off beat her.”

“Maybe that’s a personal choice she is making.”

“Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, you know it better, you are a doctor. You asked for something unusual, I told you one.”

“Okay, fine, bring her in. Let me see, what I could do help you guys.”

Though we nodded affirmative to our doctor’s request but me and Shubhendu both knew, it’s going to be a difficult road ahead. How on the earth would I be able to convince my mother to see a doctor for her condition when she is under the spell of being ‘born sexy’.

“I have an idea to bring the rat out of its bill, in fact I have two but you are not going to like them at all,” Shubhendu said while we sat that evening discussing further course of action.

What he had in his mind was absolutely inappropriate and unethical. But even after banging my head in the wall for the entire evening, I still had nothing on the table except those two progenies of Shubhendu. Finally, at the end of the day I was forced to pick less hurtful one. The sacrifice was mandatory and the entire dark night I prepared myself for it.

Next morning when Shubhendu came in to finally flag the execution of the plan, I could see the nervous anxieties on his face. He too had not slept last night. But what other options do we have. What has to be done has to be done.

As he stood there, a yard away from my mother’s room saying his last prayer almost ready to enter her Sanctum Santorum, I hugged him and wished him luck, displaying the fake facade of artificial bravery to give him strength for his mission. He was ready too, he didn’t stall at all. He knew that we were working under the clock as we had an appointment with MJ at 10 am and before that we have to complete the task in hand. I could feel the tick- tick going in his consciousness.

I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that the time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath... “Ten, nine, eight, seven.....”

The door was shut again. They two are alone behind that shut door, the furious predator and the potential prey. I think I made a difficult choice here but I suppose it is less harmful than using the chloroform laden handkerchief on my mother to knock her out of her wits and then abducting her to the hospital. Its better, that she uses the locomotive power of her feet to the rendezvous. All of this can only be made possible if Shubhendu was able to convince her that he was ready to dump me and look forward to have a future with her. But before taking that life altering decision he got to get her scanned head to toe by the professional medical experts. If she still had that flame of vigour and virility burning inside her, he was open to accept her proposal. He was using himself as the bait to bring her out to the hospital.

But the loophole here is that, the boys like Shubhendu, who have no formative training in acting, none at all, are not cut to deliver such con shots. What if he breaks out and busts our plan? On a second thought, how difficult it would be to convince an opportunist horny dame?

Those were the longest never ending ten minutes of my life. I have reverse counted till minus five hundred and still he was not out of that portal. I doubted whether he was alive or not. Oh God! I shouldn’t have let him go alone to meet the Medusa.

I was pacing to and fro relentlessly and recklessly in front of that closed door. With every passing second my heart beat raced to the record high. Shubhendu had volunteered himself to open that box of Pandora. What if, my mother had turned completely evil and was devouring over his tender flesh and tossing her bones out behind those hell gates? The very thought of it brought me the fresh bout of cardiac palpitation.

If in next five seconds that door did not open, I planned to knock it down to the very ground it stands. I have to save Shubhendu. I went fifteen steps away from that door to gain velocity and ferocity in my run up. The five seconds deadline was over and I started running. But just a jiffy before my point of contact, the door flung open and there came out Shubhendu. It was too late for me to apply break even though I tried to stop but according to the law of physics, inertia completed my residual action.

I banged into Shubhendu hurting his rib cage. He grimaced in pain but since his return from the hell, I think he had garnered lot of pain tolerance; hence he immediately got back to business rather than wasting time to pamper his bruises.

My hero was out flagging the enemy’s check post and with the most awaited verbal agreement and yet after spending a ten minutes in inferno, he didn’t had, not even one lipstick mark on his face. I was relieved, but my happiness was short lived.

He had a hickey on his lips and that’s why he was shying away from me, trying to hide away his bleeding lips. The woman, who once I called my mother, had darted the board in the centre. That’s the new level of grossness, a smooch between my mother and my fiancé. But since it was my approved and stamped idea and I knew the risks of conducting it beforehand, I lost all the right to complain or pin it on Shubhendu. Like me he was a victim here too.

All I managed with my leftover sanity was to bring the cotton to wipe away the sprouting blood on his lips and a Disprine mouth wash from the medicine cabinet to rinse his mouth which was recently tongued by my mother. I spared him the palpating anxieties of divulging intricate details that happened between them behind those close doors.

Finally our sacrifice paid us, as the following day my mother got investigated and scanned under the supervision of MJ. Even while going through that day long gruesome procedures under those hospital machinery, my mother was in ultimate bliss, basking in the glories of her new found love and me, on other hand, curled up in shame and cried my eyes out in the shower.

Three days after that hickey incident, her reports were out and MJ called us.

“I am so sorry!” MJ said sitting in her chambers of secret at the hospital.

“You found nothing wrong within her?” Normal lab reports were my waking nightmare.

“Oh! No. We have a diagnosis but it’s not the good one. She has a tumour.”

“What, it’s just a tumour! Oh! Thank you God.” I was relieved as if loads of burden have been has been suddenly taken off my shoulders. She wasn’t possessed by any evil spirit of Madhur Leela and neither had permanently deranged circuits in her brain that made her act like ‘Randy little spaniel’. It was just a tumour that was making her go bananas at each and every testosterone crossing her path. Beneath all those layers of added promiscuity my mother was as pure as river Ganges.

My relief quotient didn’t go well with the audience. This wasn’t the way people reacted when there nears and dears ones are diagnosed with heinous tumours or cancers.

My doctor was appalled and so was Shubhendu. But once the gravity of situation precipitated into me, the horror started to paint on to my phizog too.

“It’s just a tumour and you can get it out, right?” now I was on the path of displaying right sentiments expected out of the situation.

“Yes, but...” My doctor paused for six seconds. The guessing time was killing me, even though I am aware of the fact that such mild pauses are Doctor’s patent way of breaking in a bad news.

Once those six seconds lapsed she continued, “So the thing about Carcinoid Tumours, the tumour you mother have been diagnosed with, is that they are very slow growing tiny tumours that can occur in any organ of the body. In ninety percent of cases they are asymptomatic and are accidentally diagnosed during the surgery, conducted for some other reasons. But in rest ten percent of cases they throw cocktail of symptoms like your mother’s case. Well, such cases are high risked cases in which the cancer shows the tendency to metastasis, I mean spread to different parts of the body.”

“Oh God! Did I made my mother’s cancer incurable by ignoring her symptoms?” I was almost in tears.

“We are not sure whether your mother’s tumour has yet metastasized. As I said these a very lazy tumours, very slow in their endeavours, so we still have lots of hope in your mother’s case. Don’t blame yourself, how would have you known about all this.”

“You want to say doc, that my futuristic mother-in-law’s nymphomania was the initial symptomatic representation of her being impregnated with this tumour? But how could a cancer make you go all that promiscuous?” My man was curious with few unanswered questions. Even I would like to hear how the cancer made her go nuts.

“Carcinoid tumours are neuro endocrine tumours meaning the tumours which secrete excess of different hormones into the blood, most importantly 5 Hydroxytryptamine/ 5HT or more commonly known as serotonin. In normal human beings the normal level of serotonin in their blood serum contributes for the feelings of well being and happiness. But in your mother’s case, her system was drowned into this well being hormone screwing up all her basic functioning. It’s not that her body gave up at the first sprout of increased serotonin. Initially her body tried to fight it back. Her liver tried to metabolize excess serotonin by oxidising 5HT to lesser harmful by-product 5 Hydroxyindole acetic acid or 5HIAA that could easily be excreted by the kidnies into the urine without disturbing the apple cart. But soon the body achieved a threshold point where the production of serotonin became light years ahead of its dumping system and it started to collect in blood serum producing all her symptoms. Her blood serum report as well as the urine analysis confirms our diagnoses as both shows remarkable levels of 5HT and 5HIAA respectively.”

“Like a drug dweller she was experiencing the ecstasy of serotonin. But if serotonin is the hormone of happiness than why she became promiscuous?” A very valid point, pointed out by my man.

“Every individual have their own poison, their own respective definition of happiness. Maybe her subconscious had a stock of piled up wild fantasies which leaked out on the very first opportunity, when the doors were accidently left opened.”

Oh Boy! Medical science had really made a quantum leap when a humble blood and urine reports are potent enough to reveal my mother’s Victoria secret!

But rather than feeling shameful, guilt was overpowering my system, “Only if I could have taken her behaviour little more seriously and rather than investing time in other monkey business, brought her in earlier, the prognosis of the case would have been much better.”

“Not necessarily. We can’t carbon date these tumours to find their age. Maybe it’s been the part and parcel of her anatomy for a while and chooses to show itself six months back. But if it comes as some sort of respite to you, you helped us to crack this case open.”

“Me?” If not respite but it does comes as a surprise.

“As I said earlier, Carcinoid tumours are small tumours and they can grow in any part of the body. So running the PET scan on entire anatomy would have taken days and would have wasted the valuable time. But it was your keen observation that acted as lantern and walked us through the dark forest. The reason behind your mother not going vogue with her high heels was that as soon as she wore those six inchers she experienced sharp shooting pain at Mc Burnie’s point, here....” MJ pointed, little above and lateral to the right lower abdomen.

“.... anatomically here lies the appendix. So maybe the tumour was on her appendix. Running on this hypothesis, we scanned her gut first. Bingo! We found the little monster hiding there.”

It wasn’t the time to bask in the glory of adorning the hat of Sherlock Holmes but it did put a faint smile on my lips.

But still Shubhendu was on with his question bank, “What do you plan as further course of treatment?”

“We need to excise the tumour out and do explorative laprotomy in her mid gut...... I mean we have to open up her abdomen to find whether or not cancer has rooted over there. Once we find it clear, we will pack her up, give a clean chit and send her home with the oral medication.”

“And she would be normal again; I mean her promiscuity will go away with her tumour?” That too was an important question that Shubhendu missed.

“Yes, probably.... But that’s the long shot. First you have to bring her in for the surgery.”

“When?” Shubhendu asked.

“As soon as possible.” She answered.

We were back again to square one, how to bell the cat again and bring her to the hospital. What were the possibilities now? Baiting Shubhendu again was absolutely out of the option. I don’t think I could or would survive another lip lock between him and my mother and neither; I could or would leave both of them near each other alone. So without waiting for Shubhendu’s another round of brilliance to kick in, I declared the only idea left on the table as a winner. I picked the chloroform handkerchief and this time, I will be the one behind the wheels.

It was evening. Daddy has gone out with his friends for a walk. He would not return for hour or two. My mother will be alone at home that time. That will be our window period to execute our plan. Shubhendu was ready with the wheel chair in the living room. Every minute detail was discussed millions of time between us. I don’t want any stone left unturned, blunders were out of question.

I took a deep breath and walked to her room. Thankfully the door was left ajar. I tip toed inside the room and locked the door behind me. I don’t want Shubhendu to witness me in the bad daughter incarnation.

I scanned inside the room but it seemed empty. She was nowhere to be found. Where could she be, I haven’t seen her leaving the house?

Suddenly I heard water flushing in the bathroom, I became alert. Two seconds later I found my mother coming out of the bathroom. As a reflex I immediately hid behind the curtains. My mother had something in her hand that engrossed her undivided attention. She wasn’t even suspicious of my presence in the room, even though I fidgety tumbled over various things on my way to ambush behind the curtains. I wasn’t a trained professional with tactile skills but seeing my mother so deeply into her thoughts gave me a golden opportunity to deliver the final part of my plan, to use my Brahm-astra, the chloroform handkerchief.

Taking the advantage of her ignorance to the surrounding I slipped behind her. The follow up was just a piece of cake. Two seconds later, she dropped like an autumn leave in my arms. The thing that had her all waking consciousness dropped on the floor. Slowly, gradually and manually I put my mother on to the bed. She looked so peaceful as if in a deep slumber. But the guilt of using such modus operandi on my mother was churning my stomach and two tears rolled down my eyes on my cheeks. In my defence, whatever I did was in best of her interest. I would never do anything, not even in my dreams, to ever harm her.

I was about to signal Shubhendu to come in but the curiosity of checking out the thing that had my mother’s focus drive me in opposite direction. I bend double to pick it up from the floor.

Oh! My God! Oh! My God! Oh! My God!

It was a thunderstorm and lightening directly pierced my heart. My mother was taking the pregnancy test. It was abhorrent as well as disgusting. My mother was peeing on the stick to check out whether or not she has been knocked out.

When the horses of human imagination run unbridled, it only ends up imagining the worse. The second question that knocked on my door was that with whom she executed this shameful act? Couple of days back she was alone with Shubhendu for let say about ten minutes. Was it him then? On a second thought I ruled it out too, ten minutes doesn’t seem like enough time that would have desperately driven her to pee on the stick. Even when my heart pronounced him innocent but my logical brain kept pointing fingers at him and making him guilty as charged. Only he can clear the accusation that I was stirring my soul back and forth but the loophole is that I have exempted him the misery of remembering those heinous ten minutes that he spend with my mother, alone. They were supposed to be deleted out of his system as if they never ever existed.

The churning inside my stomach increased. It was now more fear driven rather than being guilt only. Suddenly all the reverse gates of my guts opened up and the bile and other stomach juices felt the need to have a vent out. I immediately rushed to the commode and emptied the contents of my gut into it.

It took me five more minutes to collect and contain myself. After being at such a critical point in my life it was not definitely the time to feel weak at knees. Like enlightenment, I could see the higher purpose of my existence and I remember the teachings of my Spiritual master, “Enduring difficulty for meaningful purpose is a sublime pleasure”. Hence I could clearly see the road ahead even with my misty eyes. What has to be done; has to be done.

I threw away the pregnancy kit in the dustbin and opened the door to let Shubhendu in. He was standing just right next to the door. He had utilized the time chewing up all the nails of his hands. As soon as he laid eyes on me, he immediately hugged me tightly, “What took you so long? I was hell worried about you.”

“Nothing.” I couldn’t make myself to see him in his eyes. The seeds of suspicion had sowed deep into my system and first time in our courtship period, I stood there questioning the love, loyalty and devotion of my man.

“Are you fine?” he could sense the certain biometric changes in me.

“Yes I am. We need to hurry before the effects of chloroform start to waver away and she becomes conscious again.” I tried deflection.

She was immediately rushed to the hospital by us. MJ was priorly informed of our arrival and hence she was waiting for us. But what she was not priorly intimidated was our means to the ways, which not only took her by surprise but appalled her too. I tried to explain her that since my mother won’t have trusted us over the cancer diagnosis and won’t have given her blessings to go ahead with the surgery; it became, but necessary to take this step. Precisely she could understand our predicament but she still had her own precincts.

“You see, it’s still unethical. We can’t start the treatment without patient’s consent.”

“But doc, you can see, we had no other choice.”

“You could have asked for medical intervention in such cases... We would have talked to the patient and made her understand the pros and cons of her choices. There were other ways too.”

“Sorry doc, but we weren’t thinking straight. But I think we still deserve to cash the benefit of doubt.” Shubhendu tried to settle the matter.

“I am going to give you benefit of doubt, here. I am getting an operation theatre booked for your mother in next three hours. My staff would be prepping in your mother for surgery in an hour. Before that I want the consent form duly signed by your father on my table.”

“Can’t I sign those forms.” I volunteered.

I received a half cooked stern reply from her, “I am at the end of my rope delivering you favours. Now don’t outstretch it so much that you break it.”

I know that for sure that there was no scope of conviction to be conceived and convinced, anymore. The time was running out, tick tock... tick tock...., I had less than an hour to get daddy overboard our ship before it leaves the harbour.

I asked Shubhendu to stay at the hospital with my thankfully unconscious mother while I rushed back home. By god’s grace he was home. He was sitting there pricking his nose and watching the news in the television. That’s my father new regime since my mother lost her sanity to that tumour. My father keeps watching thousands of re-telecast of same news over and over again on different news channels.

I startled him, “Daddy we have to go to the hospital, now..... Ma is sick.....”

But before I could complete my sentence divulging my mother’s latest health track record, he jumped out of the chair as if he saw a ghost, “But the morning sample showed test results to be negative.”

“Excuse me!” I had no idea what was he talking about.

“Oh God! Did the evening sample stirred two purple lines? It’s not my age to be a ‘papa’ again and raise another child. I told your mother we should use protection but now-a-days she has grown so impatient.” He started to fret and started to make sense to me too.

“Oh!...... Oh!.......”

The first ‘Oh’ from my side was that of a relief. Shubhendu proved to be straight away innocent and so was my mother. Whatever she did, she did it with her religiously wedded husband and that’s acceptable. The subsequent ‘Oh’ was that of the high grade disgust, after all what kind of kid wants a detailed description of their parent’s sex life.

“Oh! Daddy, will you stop vexing, the results are still negative. You are not going to be a new papa in any time in future. And we are going to the hospital because Ma has been diagnosed with a tumour at her appendix. Her treating doctor has booked a surgery to get it out of her. You need to come with me and sign the consent form.”

“Oh! My God! Why didn’t you tell me this before? Is she going to be fine?” The concerned lines flashed deep furrows on his forehead. Though his entire life he has lived in the illusion of being the victim husband but deep inside he still loved her and that could be elicited on his face.

“Doctor says she will be fine after the surgery. She is going to be normal again....”

“You mean the old normal?”

“Yes daddy isn’t it going to be great. We are going to be the perfect family again.” I thought it to be the good news but for him it was hell breaking loose.

“Damn it!”

“Excuse me!”

“For just once in my lifetime, I thought myself to be a legend, the man who changed his wife into his fantasy girl and was having those moments which he couldn’t have it with her in his prime. But it wasn’t my charismatic personality but that god forbidden tumour yanking her chains. How delusional of me, I flattered myself that I could change the history and re-write it to be an epic. What was I thinking? We men will always and forever be enslaved by our wives whimsical ways of life, that’s out god written fate and no one could ever change that fact, literally no one.”

“Daddy if you are done with self pity, please wake-up from your reel world to the real world. Can we make a move here? We are already racing a clock....”

“Of course, nothing is more important than her life. But my dear, I think you owe me big time. I am trading my hot sexy dream girl in exchange of your old boring, ‘sister to Hitler’ kind of mother. It requires real balls for a man to do that.” He could still find humour into the situation, well, that’s my father and I don’t know whether or not I should be proud of him.

“I am very thankful of you beloved ‘papa’ and I really appreciate it from core of my heart. Now if you are done with the melodrama, can we make a move?”

By the grace of almighty, next few hours ran smoothly. Mother was out of the surgery after six hours. Doctors said the entire procedure was piece of cake and everything went according to the textbook. By the grace of Lord, they didn’t find any signs of cancer being spread to the surroundings.

Like a one big happy family or I say my kind of dream family, me, daddy and Shubhendu, all spent the night at the hospital being the wall of support for each other. In morning I send daddy home to freshen up a bit.

At nine in the morning they called me in the Intensive Care, where my mother was recovering well with good vital signs being displayed on her monitor. She has gained consciousness and I was allowed to meet her for few minutes.

My heart was racing as the ‘Formula One’ car and my mind clouded with anticipatory ‘If’s and Buts’ anxieties. I crossed my fingers and kept repeating in my mind that worst was over.

Slowly I walked to her bed. She opened her eyes and gazed at me. I froze to the very ground I was standing, my pulse going super high and my carotids draining all the blood of my body to my head. Next second with her cannula laden hand she gestured me to come near her. She wanted to say something to me, probably wanted to apologize for her indecent behaviour for past eight months. I did what she asked me to and when I was just breathing space away from her, she laboured her words out of that breathing mask covering half her face, “There are lots of male doctors and nurses in the ICU please see that I am covered properly.”

Oh! God, I have been dying to listen to those words. They were the ambrosia for my parched soul. No amount of apology from her side would have healed my injured self esteem better than them; they were straight away music for my ears. Tears of joy started to gush out of my eyes and I desperately ran out to break the news to Shubhendu. Finally my patience paid and I was getting myself a hallmark eureka moment.

“She is back, Shubhendu.... my mother is back again.....” I hugged him and he hugged me back. I could see it in his eyes, he enjoyed my happiness.

There was one more person on this planet that I need to show my grandeur, MJ. I asked Shubhendu to stay put, maybe, if my mother needed something. Trespassing of him into my mother’s vicinity was not my fretting concern anymore.

I rushed towards MJ’s chamber. In my ecstasy, I forgot my manners and just banged inside the room without even waiting for her permission and straight away went to hug her. “Thank you.... Thank you. You are god for me. You cured her.... and gave me back my mother. Yes, doctor... my mother is back...”

She was taken a back a little by my cockpit of emotions but she accepted it graciously. She is the real gem of a person. But sooner the awareness of us being watched by an audience seeped inside me and I immediately left her realising my blunder, “I am sorry, I couldn’t control.... I disturbed you in middle of your class.”

She was teaching the group of interns in her chamber.

“It’s alright, I totally get it.”

But before I could turn and leave her with her students, my eyes brushed past the white board that had the word ‘CIRRHOSIS’ written in black. Suddenly the curiosity to know the fate of that grand old man made me retrieve my steps towards her again.

“Sorry to disturb you again, can I ask you about one of your patient who I happened to strike acquaintance with lately though I don’t know his name. It’s just out of concern; I am asking you about him. He is a very old man, maybe oldest of all your patients. He was admitted fortnight before for the cirrhosis of the liver under your treatment. Shubhendu brought him to you in the emergency. How’s he?” I couldn’t go direct and ask her whether he was dead because I was pretty sure he must been by now.

“It’s not ringing the bell, whom are you talking about.”

“Oh! He is very very old; he is one hundred and eight years old.”

She seemed still confused, of course she sees thousands of patients in the month and it is practically impossible to remember each one with their individual details.

“Never mind.” I was about to turn towards the exit that one of her intern spoke.

“I think chief, she is asking about that ‘Madhur Leela’ guy.”

As soon as I heard those words, I was petrified. I thought I would never hear them again in my life. I immediately turned again. The past started to flash in front of my eyes and now, my curiosity was tide high.

“Oh! The ‘Madhur Leela’ guy, he is doing pretty fine. He was discharged yesterday. I don’t know how many fine days are left in his account with only one third of liver working for his sustainment.”

“Oh! Thank you doctor but just one more quick question, what’s all about this ‘Madhur Leela’ thing attached to his name, I have heard it earlier too?”

“You don’t know about it, that’s strange. So it happened that in his middle age he wrote a fiction novel and invented this character of a beautiful courtesan Madhur Leela. He thought his book to be the work of literary excellence but got the shock of his life when fifteen publishers refuse to put it in print. The news didn’t went well with him and he drank his sorrow with alcohol for rest of his life, frying away two third of his liver. It’s a surprise that with his medical condition he has survived all these years. You know what’s the interesting fact about this case is that whenever he starts chanting ‘Madhur Leela’ is back’ over and over again, we know for sure we are on for another attack from his side, his liver enzymes shoot up roof high in matter of hours. ‘Madhur Leela’ happens to be like our secret signal for us to press code red.”

That was one hell of the information and I don’t know how to react to it. I just thanked, smiled and excuse myself out. Thankfully Shubhendu missed this meeting with the doctor or else I would have to experience life time of tyrannies from him.

Even before I could make myself walk the grounds again after this new shocker, my mobile beeped with a message flashing on its screen. Damn it! Why can’t my life stop being messier?

My bank accounts were dipping the season’s low and since the bank’s policy didn’t approve of such low graders to be the part and parcel of their esteem institution, they were threatening to shut down my account, freezing away all the odd dimes and pennies that lay astray into it. It was a warning message for me to do something or bear the consequences later on.

“Oh! Shubhendu, I think we have to go to the bank, now!”


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