Sangita G. Naik
May 16, 2011
I am hardly 35. I remember how bubbly I would be. I was the one girl who caught attention of almost everybody where ever I went. Some liked me for my charm, some for my seriousness, reserved type, some who were very close to me found me to be vibrant, vivacious, cool, bubbly, some others found me to be friendly, out spoken, some confident, smart, some others would call me Bold and Beautiful, close ones called me naughty, colleagues found me active and alert. And the guy who fell head over heels with me would always wonder and ask “Hey, what are you exactly? I get confused”.
I would blush saying, I? I am a clusp. Ha, I am a clusp of Taurus and Gemini. And do you know something? Gemini alone has two faces! Just wonder how about the whole threesome?
Poor Karan, he was mad for me, just mad. There were a hell lot who were mad for me but Karan’s madness was worth appreciating .I took him to be a good friend as he was my younger brother’s best friend. He was a year younger to me .But had an appealing personality. He too had fan following but never damn cared about anybody.
Every time he proposed “I love you,” I would brush his remarks aside saying, “But I love Gandhi.” He would get irritated and vanish for the day .I had one mantra in life, “Say No to Illusions”. There were better things for me to do .I loved reading a lot about Mahatma Gandhi. I would end up reading books and articles on Gandhi. My only dream was to do research in Gandhian studies and write a lot on my Mahatma.
My brother would tease me for I was modern and stylish where as Gandhi was simple. He would mock at me saying “if you really like him, you should follow him in every sense.” The debate would come to an end, the moment it would take a start, as my answer would be abrupt “That is the point, there cannot be another Mahatma, My Mahatma is an Enigma.”
I strongly believed that one can like him, love him, try to understand him, follow him , read , learn and know about him, but would definitely fail to become like My Mahatma.“ He is different” I would conclude.
I completed my graduation and went for my Masters Degree. I earned while I learned. I was a school teacher, a respectable job. My friends were of all together with very different opinion. They felt I suited for corporate world. Karan again came and proposed me. This time he was damn serious. I repeated my philosophical dialogues. He threw the water bottle aside with a bang. He lost his cool .He caught me by my arms and shouted, “Are you a fool? Don’t you want to get married and settle down? Since ten years we have been together in a group, are you made of a rock? Don’t you have a heart? Can not you understand other’s feelings? Come out of your philosophy I say! Do something different, marry me idiot,” he broke down. That was the last time I saw Karan
I stuck to my morals. Certain things were a big “No” for me. I never gave in easily. I for one would never fall prey for fantasies .But life had something else in store for me. I met with an accident which was terrible, left me crippled for life. My fifth lumbar beside my spine got compressed. I was completely lame below my neck .Surgeons told surgery would not serve the purpose. “She will be paralysed for life”. I was put on ventilator, medicines and my whole body was tied with belts and straps so as to relieve me of pain and cramps as far as possible.
After a couple of days my body was shifted to a super deluxe room where I recognised my family, my friends and well wishers. I pitied them all. They all looked shocked with almost eyeballs protruding out at me .It was as if there was a horror show going on. I was fed up lying there for days.
“Papa, Could you get me Hitler?” I asked.
For the first time I felt like reading Adolf Hitler and I read the biggest volume ever, lying still as I was under observation for 45 days .Hitler kept me engaged. I fell in love with him. He was a fighter with a killer instinct, I felt. I was finally discharged .My body was carried home. The whole complex where I resided came to see me.
I knew I would stand on my toes but doctors said other wise, all the six experts relying upon their syllabus studied. I relied on my inner strong instinct. Peon of the school where I worked had come to see me. He was an illiterate. His work was to stand at the school gate and help the staff and guests park their vehicles .He came close to my bed and asked:
“Madam, do you have faith in Haad Vaidya?
I said “Now, what is it Munim?”
He took pain to make me understand that these people are just like hakims. They are well versed with herbs and roots and their medicinal values. This particular Haad Vaidya is a specialist in Neurotic problems .Anything that is related to fracture, bones and accidents, he is the best person to go to, he said.
But madam, “He is illiterate; he cannot understand your x-rays and scan. He will touch you and cure you” Before I could tell something, “Now that doctors said you are handicapped for life, why not try Haadvaidya? You need only two things, one is trust, have faith in his medicine and the other strength to bear the pain, as this is a crude method.” “He will not charge you anything, there is a temple opposite his residence, and he will ask you to give a visit to the temple after his medication”.
I agreed. They carried my body to an ambulance which we hired and took me to Haadvaidya. There were lots of people waiting for their turn to be tested by Haadvaidya. Finding me in a stretcher, people asked the man sitting at Vaidya’s door to let me in first. It really was a crude method. Vaidya asked me to sit down which was next to impossible .He walked up to me and took me by my arms and deliberately made me sit. The terrible pain in my back made me scream with pain and lose consciousness. Family members panicked. I did not know what happened next. The time I gained consciousness, I was flat on my stomach lying on the floor. Somebody stood on my back .I felt the dark swirls in my eyes and again fell unconscious. Next thing I found was I was tied by a white cloth across my right arm which came covering the whole body part below my neck to the left side of my waist line. I could smell the paste of leaves and roots and that of some balm. Vaidya, the old man roared, “Next visit on Thursday, three more visits and you will start flying, see that next time you come here you will drive the vehicle.” My tears spoke volumes.
People outside could not believe their eyes. I came out walking. I got a new lease for life. Days, months and years rolled by. I stood tall with confidence. It was as if I was in a fairy land. All the local newspapers carried my story of will and determination. I was invited as chief guest for programmes on International Women’s Day and Republic day by various institutions. I was a star by night and I enjoyed every bit of it.
I was given in marriage by my parents to a gentleman and was blessed with a child .I was blessed with everything .Good husband, promising son, a nice job, house of my own, almost every thing.
One day, while in school, I felt restless and very tired. I was sweating a lot too. I was feeling tired since a couple of days, which I had brought to the notice of my husband too. Every now and then I would get temperature and severe head ache. Decided to see our family doctor. Casual tests were done and medicines given for no good response from my body.
I was asked to meet some other doctor in the heart of the city. The earth underneath me collapsed on hearing the result of my blood test. “How could this be? We were faithful to each other. Both of us belonged to respectable and cultured family. Both were well educated. We spoke to our family doctor. He made me aware of the fact that I carried it either through contaminated hypodermic needles either during my treatment for accident or during my delivery phase.”
I was HIV+.
My world came to my end. I started dying from within every day. Family, friends, relatives, well wishers withered away. We sent our child to a boarding school. He was 8 years of age. My husband stood by me like a rock. He was the only person who supported me. I wanted him to remarry somebody of his choice but my words never reached his ears.
Day by day, there was growing frustration in me. Neighbours shunned their doors on me. Shop keepers were indifferent to me. Society showed its true colours to me. I was totally broken and shattered. “How could the world be so indifferent to AIDS victims? We do not want them to share anything with us, but please do not be indifferent to us! We need caring hands,” I wept silently. Day by day things became worse. I was burning from within.
Timely medicines kept me going. Husband asked me to live life full size. “Enjoy, read some good books, write something, watch some good movies, this is your life, do something different”he said.
“Do something different?” this is exactly what Karan said, the very last time we met. The words kept repeatedly ringing to my ears. I went to a far off place and gave myself to the lady in the parlour. From a nice hair cut to pedicure, she did it all for the day .Late in the evening I went and fetched some catchy attractive clothes. I realised. My husband was happy for me He took me to a lavish restaurant in another town. I realized one thing that my well maintained body frame and attractive face attracted some eyes even to this day.
A man walked in and shook hands with my husband. My husband introduced me to him .He was the managing director of the huge company where my husband previously worked; He was all eyes for me. He ordered ice creams for us and gave us both each his card.
He ended up contacting me. I too met him on lunch. He drove me to a wonderful lodge in the outskirts of the city. I dressed myself neatly and left a card for him which read:
..........................WELCOME TO AIDS.............