My husband’s childhood friend had come down on holidays from Australia. She called us and told us she was coming to see us. I too have known her since all these years and though we don’t get to see eachother often we’ve kept in touch. She is a very sweet, cheerful and endearing person and we’ve always enjoyed her company. Though I’ve not known for as long, still we’ve always felt connected with each other and she had always been very affectionate and warm.
Last time we met her and her family on the occasion of her sons’ “upanayanam” (sacred thread) ceremony around five years ago.
We had heard that she had to have a few surgeries few months back but that she was fine now. We were eagerly looking forward to meeting her after five years.
The first thing that caught my eye as she got out of the auto was the angry red scars on her fair throat. I was taken aback for a second. We settled down after the initial ‘Hi- how are you’s’ and then I asked her what had been bothering me for some time now. I asked her what surgeries she had had to have and why. There was just a moment’s pause and then she said with a smile: “I had cancer-”. She hastened to add- “but I’m perfectly fine now”.
And for me that moment was a strange limbo - inside my head, thoughts, questions, feelings were rushing about like crazy, and outside I remember trying to look as nonchalant, unruffled as ever – I don’t remember what all I said- I just sensed that she would prefer it if I did not make a fuss and so I complied.
She talked nineteen to the dozen-as she always did- but her voice had changed. She clicked photographs and we were all laughing away as we always did whenever we met. We caught up with the years.
Later in the evening she left – leaving us stuck in a strange place. A zone where her words kept reverberating in our ears. A zone where one wanted to go into the past desperately undo the prognosis. A zone where we were stuck with memories of scenes from our past together. A zone of a vague unrest and anxiety. A zone of deep Love and Prayer. It took us a few days to be able to shake off that vague unrest and come to terms with it.
I’ve decided to focus on the positive, to believe that she is completely cured, that the Future is Hopeful and Bright for her and her family. I want to remember her gaiety, her radiance, her smile, her laughter, her love and affection- and most of all I want to wipe those red angry scars from my memories and her neck….