There she was, standing on the lush green carpet of grass. The grass blades tickled her feet. She was sitting there, alone. Just her. The willow tree was giving her shade from the scorching sunlight. As time passed, she watched the sun set. She could feel one chapter of her life ending too. She was happy, as jovial as a child who had gotten his favorite toy. As proud as a warrior who had won a war. She had emerged wiser from the fight. She was enjoying those moments of peace.

As she stood there, she felt a little tap on her shoulders. She turned around and saw him. That caring look had always acted as a pillar, a support. He insisted to leave before it got too dark. She clutched his hand, brought him closer as both of them watched the enormous ball of fire go down the horizon. Both felt the peace and quiet that had been missing from their lives since the last year.

A year ago:

Aakarshaa and Raghav sat on the table facing each other. There was complete silence in the room. The spat from last night had taken toll on the early morning chitchat. They had made it a ritual to have breakfast together, no matter how much they had fought earlier.
The silence was broken only by the clank of spoons.
Aakarsha got up and went to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Raghav followed. He put his arms around her and said “I’m sorry.” She couldn’t stop herself from smiling. “I love you too.” She said. The fight was resolved. He started helping her with the dishes. As they went on with the chore, Aakarsha’s hand started shaking. She hadn’t been feeling well since the last month. She tried to talk, but the words started slurring. She fell on the floor.

“What happened?!” asked the doctor.
“She was shaking terribly, and then she fainted. She had been complaining of those headaches since last month.” told Raghav still stunned by the turn of events.

“Get an MRI done!!” The nurse was instructed.

“She will be fine, right? Please tell me that she’ll be okay.” Raghav was worried sick about her.

“We are running some tests. But first, I need to know more about the patient’s symptoms. Please accompany me to the cabin.

“Yes, doctor.” He followed the doctor to his cabin, unaware of the events that were going to unfold.

After both were seated, Raghav told the doctor about the uneasiness of his wife since the last 2- 3 weeks. He told him about the turn of events that had unfolded, causing them to end up there.

“Here, have a glass of water.” said the doctor. Raghav gulped it down. He was famished by now.

The nurses were ready with the reports of the MRI by then. They discovered that she had brain tumor, which had caused the symptoms. Some more tests were run which confirmed their discovery. The nurse went to the doctor and gave him the reports. This was what he had expected. Now, it was time to tell Raghav. He was out telling their parents about her condition.

“Your wife has got a tumor in her brain. We need to operate on her as soon as possible. I’ve scheduled the surgery for tomorrow at 7 a.m.” said the doctor. He wasn’t very fond of the ‘breaking-bad-news-to-the-relatives’ process. “The neurosurgeon will meet you today itself and inform you further about the surgery and the recovery process. His name is Dr. Sharma”

Raghav was devastated. He had never expected anything like that happening to them. It felt like he was thunderstruck. But, he pulled himself together. He was the only family that Aakarshaa had at that moment. He had to be strong. He then met Dr. Sharma, he told him about the possible things that could happen to her due to the surgery. She could face temporary numbness in the side of her body. She could also need several months of speech therapy, as certain functions of her brain could be affected while the surgery was performed.

After the surgery there was a biopsy that had to be done on the tumor to determine if it was cancerous.

“Is it bad??” she asked him, still weak from the sedatives.

“Honey, you are going to be just fine. Trust me.” He told her. “We’ll get this tumor out of your brain and we’ll get you treated. And then, you’ll head home with me. And then, I’m going to make dinner for you every day, till you get all better.”

“And what about the lunch, my superhero?” she said smiling. “You forgot about that.”

“Well… your superhero will manage that too.” He said caressing her. They shared a lighter moment in the vexatious period. “For now, you need to rest. So close your eyes and go to sleep. The surgery has been scheduled tomorrow morning at 7.”

The next day:

Raghav was strolling up and down the hallway. Aakarshaa had been in surgery for 1 hour now. He had informed her parents and his too, about the surgery. They were going to reach there soon. It wasn’t until 11 that the doctor came out of the operating room. The operation was a success. Raghav couldn’t be more happier.

“Don’t worry mom! I’ll be better soon. Your daughter isn’t that weak, you know. Besides, I’ve got Raghav.” She was talking to her mom who was utterly distressed. Her mother smiled at her. She had always told her daughter to be optimistic, and now it was her turn. She wanted every bit of it to be true. And it turned out, that it was.

She got out of the hospital just four days after the surgery. She had been recovering speedily with all the care and effort that her family and the hospital staff had put up. All seemed well for the moment.

Two weeks later:

Aakarsha and Raghav were sitting in the cabin of Dr. Sharma. The results of the biopsy had just come in.
“It turns out that the tumor was cancerous.” Informed Dr. Sharma. “I’ll have to wait for about 2- 3 weeks for the scars to heal. Then, we’ll start the radiation and chemotherapy. These will take about six weeks.”

They were devastated. As if the tumor wasn’t enough. Now she had to undergo the rigorous cycles of chemotherapy and radiation. The doctor was sitting there telling them about the side effects of the medication. He could see their condition and tried to boost their morale. He suggested reading the success stories of other patients.

She had to keep herself healthy with the right diet and exercise, for the body and mind both.

A month later:

“Please! I want to go to the hills after this.” She requested. “We have been putting off that trip since the last 2 years! I really want to go there!”
“Okay, milady you have my word. You recover as soon as possible and we’ll head towards the hills right away!” confirmed Raghav. “For now, I need you to go and rest. You look really tired.” She had come home after the third session of chemotherapy.

The sessions were exhausting. But she didn’t lose her optimism. She kept her mind right by reading the stories of other patients. Reminded herself again and again that she was going to come out of it.

She was a warrior for Raghav and, she proved him right.

“Its all so beautiful!” Said Aakarsha. It felt like she was dreaming. “Isn’t it?”

“Yes, honey but I need you to come back. Your mother’s really worried about you. Don’t you want to meet her again?”

“What are you talking about? We just got here. Why are you crying? Calm down.” she wasn’t able to understand the situation. It all felt really good. But something was wrong.

“I really need you to come back, honey. Please come back. After all this we’ll be going to the hills, remember? Please come back.”

“But we are here. What are you saying? Calm down. Why are you crying? Its okay.” Bewildered, she followed him.

“She opened her eyes!!!! she’s responding to the meds! She’ll be fine soon, right?” Raghav was jumping with joy. Aakarshaa was lying in bed in the hospital. Things had gone downhill while the last chemo session. She had slipped into coma.

All this while she had been hearing Raghav sitting by her side whispering all this into her ears. Wishing she would wake up. His warrior could not give up so soon.

“We would like to think so too.” said the doctor said, he didn’t want their moment of joy to end. “But she’ll have to be under observation. We cannot take any risks.”

Four months later:

“Come on! We’ll be late!! Hurry up!” said Aakarsha. She didn’t want to miss the sunset.

“I’m a bit tired. Why don’t you go there by yourself? I’ll join you later.” Raghav asked.

“Okay, but don’t be late. We don’t want to miss the sunset, honey.” She said. The journey to her recovery had worn him out too. He needed some rest.

“Yes, I’ll be there on time. And, don’t let too much sunshine kiss you.” He said.
“I’ll stand in the shade. Don’t worry I’ll be fine.” She said smiling.

As the sun was setting, Aakarshaa couldn’t be happier. With Raghav by her side, she was now ready for the new chapter of her life.

Edited By: Aniket Shrivastava


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