THE miracle of WAITING
My friend, Mr. Chandan waits for death. But, miracle happens in the end.
Of course, there are many beliefs about waiting. Some believe a miracle will happen by waiting. Some indulges carelessly, never worrying about what will befall. Some prepare themselves to be meek and understanding whatever be the outcome.
aiting is a game each player play with, variously. Let me say it so!
I was in need of help and needed to approach for my friend’s help as I did not have anyone else to turn to. Mr. Chandan is a wealthy man and a helpful man. He helped many people, had never failed to help me before. However, as is the established fact of life, he has certain negativities to equilibrate his great helpful nature. All through the years, I had known him to have an innate problem of ‘trying to know everything.’ Many people called him ‘Mr. Knowing All.’ Any sorts of argument would not end until everyone submitted to his opinion. Talk about the future: he has the conclusion. Talk about pain and suffering: he is the painful antidote. Talk about beliefs, he will churn you in his own path of belief. When he met youngsters, he would say, ‘You have to study! When I was at your age, I gave tuitions and study at the same time.’ But, secretly I knew too well the number of exams he could not clear, that all his wealth was inherited from his rich father.
There were times when I told him about my difficulties. But, he could not say out words which would comfort me. It is not in his nature. He is a born ‘know-all.’ He would say, ‘Why? Try to be a man! Try to forget things!’ I always consider him to be an idiot, only the smartest being in his own thinking. But all through I felt I was wrong. Just because I see him as a quarrelsome idiot does not mean that he is a bad person. The preciousness of a human is far too precious to be judged for one cannot read other people’s heart.
The summer rain drops churns on the roofs as I walked along the empty street. People took temporary shelter under the awning roofs, streets cattle stood under the shade of roadside trees, waiting for the rain to subside. I walked under my raincoat uninterrupted towards my friend’s plushy house. When I pressed the doorbell, the door was opened by a male servant, who immediately helped me in taking off my wet raincoat.
I asked, ‘Where is your master?’ He pointed toward a long corridor dimly lit at the end. I walked toward the direction and knocked at the already opened door. He slowly stood up and when he saw me, expressed welcoming gestures and said, ‘What the hell brings you here? You’re the least of person I expected to see in this moment!’
I replied philosophically, ‘The unexpected is what we need to expect all the time, Mr. Chandan!’
He said, ‘You’re damn right! The unexpected terrible surprise is what all these waiting will bring forth. And in my case, it’s cancer.’
I could not perceive his intended meaning. And so, I reconciled myself to believing that he meant nothing with those words. I emitted silent smiles as I sat and looked around. A half-cold food with a glass of wine by his side was left untouched. His hairs were tattered, uncombed. He was physically poorer. It was not delightful to see Mr. Chandan in such a sad state under his well fabricated house. Some instinct told me that this time round, I might not get the help I needed. And it was right. He was too much occupied by something else. He did not have time for me.
He looked up and said, ‘I lost my mind. I don’t have anything left in me.’
I said, ‘My friend! You are living in a mansion. You have a beautiful wife, a son, and anything you could think of. Yet, you said you have nothing left?’
He gave a stern look at me and requested me to close the door. He said, ‘I have totally lost my mind. Yet, I cannot tell my family. I can feel the pain as it approaches me. I know I am going to die a slow death. What will happen to my wife and my child?’ I had never seen him sobbing in peril like this before.
I said, ‘What happened? Why are you in such a peril?’
He said, ‘I’m going to die of cancer, soon.’
I said, ‘What? You’re suffering from cancer?’
He said, ‘Yes! That is it! That is what I’m waiting. Why do I have to wait? Why doesn’t it kill me now, at this very moment? I hate waiting. I hate waiting and having all the time for thinking. I hate living with the burden, waiting for the news that will kill me. I hate living and having nothing to do…..nothing hopeful!’
I asked again, ‘Are you really suffering from cancer?’
He said, ‘Not right now! But I will be….soon enough! I’m waiting for my biopsy report,’ and he waved his mobile phone and continued, ‘The report will be received with this gadget. I’m scared of its every beeping sound. Oh! How I hate this waiting.’
My curiosity built up. I asked, ‘I don’t understand. You’re not yet having cancer, but your mobile message will tell you that you are having cancer and you’re waiting for that?’
He said, ‘Exactly.’
I said, ‘In that case I assume it is the most lousy make-up prediction about the unknown future. Let’s suppose, Mr Chandan, the reports is negative?’
He shouted, ‘How dare you say that? There can be no supposition. What do you know about my condition? Do you think you have even a small glimpse of what it is like to be in my condition?’
I stick firmly to my words and said, ‘To tell you the truth, I don’t see much thing to worry about. I just blankly hope that you will be fine.’
He gnawed his teeth, ‘Don’t dare give me advice. Healthy people should not give advice to the sick. You don’t know shit about what I have been through. It’s been a week I cannot eat nor sleep. I don’t have any energy to do anything. I completely lost hope.’
Any words for comforts were useless. And we sat there, gripped by the sorrow of waiting, waiting for the fatal disease---cancer---that may or may not come forth.
I broke the silence, ‘I see nothing to worry about. You’re just caught up by the sorrow of waiting, the sorrow of expecting something terrible.’
He said, ‘I’m not to be blamed. Doctors! Doctors! They’re all convicts. See what they have done to me. They give me cancer. They are killing me.’
I asked, ‘How’s that possible?’
He said, ‘Four years ago, I got a tiny blister inside my mouth. I met a doctor who said that it was nothing and it would go away with simple medication. I took the medication, but the blister remains. I met the same doctor again. He gave me the same medication and advised me to chew with the other side of my mouth. Nothing happened. A year passed and then another. And then something happened. Instead of wanting to find the cure, the blister and I started to share some mutual affection. It had turned out to be a good companion. Whenever I felt lonely or something, I would touch it with my tongue and I would be reminded that I was still alive. I was kind of addicted to the low, soothing pain it gives. But then, it started to swell bigger.’
I started to take him seriously. I asked, ‘So….that’s the origin of all these sorrowful waiting…’
He said, ‘I went to a different doctor two weeks ago. The doctors used his special clinical light and examine the swelling blister for a good 15 seconds. I was shivering, and I know from the way he examined me something was very bad. I began to know that the earlier two doctors were hiding the truth. I had the proof that I have been infected with a very bad ulcer. When he was done examining me I said to him that the tiny blister had been malignant tumour, after all!. The doctor, to my disgust said that it was nothing, just a tiny papilloma and would get alright by excision.’
And then I laughed and said, ‘And so, that’s it! It’s not a tumour…after all….,’ with a bounty relief.
He waved his index finger at me, over and over and said, ‘My friend, you don’t want to understand. You don’t want to know the gravity of the problem. But I understand you. Your kind will never know what this sick man undergoes. But then I urge you to listen! At least.’
I said, ‘As you wish!’
He said, ‘I shouted at the doctor! I screamed at the top of my lungs narrating all the occurrences with the earlier two doctors, telling him they are all convicts. I tell him to tell the truth, that I don’t want myself to fight my disease with the power of ‘not knowing.’ You know that right….Steve! When doctors want money they hide the actual facts and let the patient struggle with hope. And you should know….Steve, hope in medical terms means money. I don’t want myself to be in that boat of fraudulent conduct. If I’m to die, I want the fact. And if I can hope, I’ll know it.’
I said, ‘You’re very right!,’ and although I wanted to add the word, ‘Why? Try to be a man! Try to forget things!,’ But I did not. He is such a best friend and fighting for his own incorrigible way.
He continued, ‘We did the excision after many attempts. It was painful. The terrible things I knew were right, even from the way the surgeon cut it out. But I couldn’t talk. The anesthesia numbed my tongue. I was rested in the operation bed for 3 whole hours. When I could talk, the first thing I asked was the lump. The surgeon showed me. And I said I wanted to take home as some sort of remembrance. He said that he would definitely give him. Inward, I was happy to be relieved of something almost permanent to my being, such a company, such a reminder, such an unforgettable blister and such a terrible tumour. And I wanted to keep as a memory, to stare and to teach my life what life’s all about; that waiting is just waiting for the permanent truth, death. But of course, in different ways.’
I was silenced by my friend’s deep thoughts.
He said, ‘When I walked out of the operation room, I saw my doctor calling me. I sat on the chair opposite to him and he said that the tiny lump needed to be tested for biopsy. I was right then, filled with darkness. Everything was just blank and hopeless. In hysteria, I asked the doctor why he elongated the process, why he didn’t tell me the whole truth in the first place. He said that any tissue that is taken out of the body needed to be tested and is a prevailing law these days. I did not have anything to say more. I did not want to say more. I paid Rs. 3000 for the excision and Rs. 1000 for the biopsy test. I felt I purchase my death ticket for Rs. 4000. He said that the biopsy report will be known after seven days and that I needed not met him again, it would be sent to me through my mobile number.’
I looked at my friend, speechless.
He said, ‘I’m to get the result any time now. Steve! I envy you. Indeed, I’m jealous of you to have such a healthy body, free from any rubbish diseases. But for me, it’s over. It’s all just some days or months of waiting….waiting for the final predicament. Every day for the past week I kept thinking, thinking about why I marry my wife just to make her a widow and my son, an orphan. I regret why I was such a selfish being, why I had not helped the needy much more. And most of all why I have to suffer from cancer, why me, amongst all the people in the world.’
I had not much to say more. I gasp and said, ‘I’ll pray to my God for your sake.’
I went back home with a heavy heart. I locked up in my room and pray the whole evening. The next day I didn’t hear from my friend. I expected he would inform me about the result. Two, three days passed, he was still silent.
One day, I walked along the market and unexpectedly saw Mr. Chandan, holding his son dearly, running towards me. He said, ‘Steve! I’ll tell you what…I’m a new Chandan. I now find the real meaning of life.’ His wife, too, came towards us. They were very happy. Chandan said, ‘It was not a tumour, just a congested fibrocollagenous tissue. And Steve….one thing! Why did you visit me that day? Did you need anything?’
I said, ‘Yes! I needed some loan from you!’
He said, ‘I’m so sorry. How much do you need? Can we settle it now itself?’
I said, ‘But now I don’t need it any more. The plot of land I promised my wife had been given to another person. I was a little too late.’
He said, ‘Oh! That’s too silly. Another plot of land will come. And then you will have it. My friend….Keep waiting for that miracle.’ I believed that was the sweetest, most encouraging words of advice I ever had in all the years from my friend Chandan.
Today, as I write down about what Chandan had been through, many questions come into my mind. Why did he say that he was a new Chandan? Was it because of the taste of the misery of dying while being alive? Or was it because of the killing of something so inborn in him by his agonizing waiting? Or was it the realization of the fragilities of life? Or was it because of the question of why we live rather than asking why we have to die?
As I am not in his shoes, and never will be, I will not know the real reasons. So, I leave the answers for him.