शेक्सपियर की एक प्रसिद्द पंक्ति है “नाम में क्या रखा है” .. लेकिन हमारे भारत में कहते है हमें जो नाम दिया जाता है .. हम उसी नाम के प्रयायवाची बन जाते हैं .. इस का सबसे अच्छा उदाहरण है हम सब की दिल ओ जान से प्यारी अरुणा जी. संस्कृत में अरुणा नाम का मतलब होता है “प्रातः कालीन लालिमा का रंग” .. हिन्दू पुराण में अरुण देव सूर्य भगवान् के सारथी का नाम है .. भोर समय पूरे आकाश में ये लाल रंग ही सूर्योदय होने का संकेत देता है .. मनुष्य के पास तो फिर भी अन्य साधन है लेकिन प्रकृति का अलार्म क्लॉक तो ये अरुन्य रंग ही है .. पक्षी, जानवर, फूल पत्ती .. सब को उषा का ये रंग ही बताता है कि उठ जाओ, सुबह होने वाली है ..
बस उसी तरह अरुणा जी हम सब के लिए हैं.. अपनी मनमोहक मुस्कान, उजली उजली शख्सियत और बच्चों के जैसे मन वाली अरुणा जी .. हम सभी के लिए उम्मीद और उमंग की प्रयायावाची है .. जैसे एक घनी काली रात के बाद सूरज आने से पहले अरुणिमा को देख कर ही मन में उन्माद हो उठता है की बस अब तो अँधेरा छंट ही जाएगा .. वैसे ही हमारे लिए अरुणा जी आशा भरोसा और आस्था का प्रतीक है ..
आज वर्ल्ड कैंसर डे के दिन, आईये हम अरुणा जी की कहानी सुनते उनके ही मुंह ज़बानी और उनकी जिज्जिविषा और जिंदादिली को तह ऐ दिल सलाम करते हैं..
जिस तरह उन्होंने मानसिक, आर्थिक और शारीरिक कठिन्नायों के बाद भी अपने सारे कर्त्तव्य अकेले अपने दम पर उठाएं है, उस से हम यक़ीनन कह सकते है की ज़िन्दगी भी उनके आगे नतमस्तक हैं..
Here is my story ..
I was raised by my parents in a very secure and safe atmosphere of various Air Force camps. I was always accompanied by my parents if I had to go outside the camp. We used to go to school always by a coach or bus which picked us from home and dropped at the school.
I did my college from Jabalpur where I stayed in the college campus with my Aunt (Bua) who was a Professor in the same college and was allotted a quarter in the campus. I did not have to travel outside the campus to attend the college.
The point I am trying to make here is that I had led a very sheltered life before I got a job. The Universe then decided that enough is enough and the time had come to teach me some lessons. I got a job in Central Government in Delhi. I had to travel by DTC buses. I still remember when for the first time I came home alone by DTC bus there tears in my father’s eyes. It was great achievement for me.
The Universe was secretly smiling as I was slowly getting adjusted to my new job and my travels by DTC buses. I got married and had to stay in DDA colony with my husband. I was learning the ways to manage the house and the job with the help of my husband. I had no experience of cooking on regular basis except for rotis which I was expert at making. I learnt cooking from my husband who was an expert in cooking. My friends also helped a lot.
The Universe was getting ready to pose the next challenge and I was blessed with a beautiful daughter. Now I had to manage my house, raise a child and attend office. My parents were helping me with raising my daughter but the rest I had to do all by myself.
The Universe decided that I was getting adjusted to the new challenges and it was ready with another next level challenge. My husband was posted to Surat and initially it was decided that I will move to Surat. However, it was decided that I had to stay alone in Delhi in 1984 when my daughter was barely a year old. In those days, it was very very difficult to stay alone in Delhi, I know it still is. But the sheltered life that I had lived it was more difficult and comparatively
I was very new to the ways of living in a metropolitan city like Delhi, as I had lived only in small town/cities and within the safety/security of Air Force camps. Universe was trying to teach me and prepare me for the days/years to come. I was a fast learner and learned to live and take care of my daughter with my husband visiting only once a month. On 31st October 1984 when Smt. Indira Gandhi was assassinated I was living in area where my immediate neighbor (a dear friend now) was a Sikh and the colony and surrounding areas were dominated by Sikhs. My colony was severely impacted by the riots then and I had to shield by neighbor and her son till her relatives came to the rescue. I had to stay with my other chartered bus friend for a week. Those days were terrible but Universe had taught me a very valuable lesson. Friends are forever.
For 5 and ½ years I stayed alone with my daughter. She was admitted to a very good school and was progressing nicely. My husband got transferred back after a long struggle. The Universe decided that I need some rest so for nearly 8-9 years there were no new lessons except for a beautiful lesson of bringing up a boy. I was blessed with a son in 1993 and life was beautiful till 1998. The Universe was ready to see whether the lesson of living alone that it had taught me in 1984 still held good. My husband fell sick in November 1998 and after staying in ICU for nearly 19 days passed away on 7th Dec 1998.
The Universe had planned a long test for me. I carried on. Shifted to government allotted quarters. A totally new place for my kids to get adjusted after the devastating tragedy. I had learned the lesson of living alone very well and I am still learning. My mother and my brother & his wife and my friends were and are my pillars.
We had learned to live smile and enjoy in our own way. My daughter finished her education and had a career now. My son was studying in the 12th and knew very well that he only had education and his intelligence to lead a life of his choice and was putting every effort in his studies. The Universe had a very cruel challenge for me and my kids. In February 2011, three days prior to my son’s twelfth Board Exams I was detected with Stage III Ovarian Cancer. I had to face this ordeal with a smile so that I could be role model for my kids not to give up. Also, I had to live to see my daughter getting married and my son fulfilling his dreams. For that I have to accept that the Universe has given me the spirit.
Being in bed for six months in 2011, I had lot of time to think about my life and my kids. As sleep eluded me I became a TV addict. I started watching serials, non-stop, for hours on end. Fortunately, after the initial high the addiction subsided I gradually realized that these serials were not my cup of tea. Rather than watching the unrealistic saga that the k-serials were churning, I decided to watch rom-coms on English and Hindi channels. Apart from watching TV I prayed a lot. My prayers were always a one-point agenda—keep me free from cancer and keep me healthy.
During recuperation, after surgery, I got interested in Twitter and found so many wonderful friends all over the world. Twitter friends like Anuradha have always been there whenever I felt low, depressed and giving up. I have been blessed with wonderful friends in real life as well as virtual life. I joined office after staying away for six months. A warm welcome by my boss and my colleagues greeted me. I had always enjoyed working and coming to office and now I enjoyed the exercise even more. For as long as I can remember my office was always a refuge for me. It always provided me with the energy that I needed to face life. This time too my office gave me the necessary support I needed to bounce back.
In October 2012 the doctors told me that the cancer had relapsed and this time it had spread through out my body. All my prayers seemed to have been in vain. I was on the verge of giving up. This is the time when I read the poem “Phir Musafir hue hain raaste” by Anuradha Sharma on her blog. Reading the poem I understood the patter of my life and realized giving up is not an option for me. The relapse also made me realize that no amount of prayer is going to prevent whatever life has to offer. I have to face whatever comes my way. It is better that I do it smilingly so that my children also learn to face life with a broad smile and roaring laughter. Over the years, I have developed new hobbies like gardening, knitting, embroidery, drawing, art and craft. Writing is a recent venture. I indulge in all these activities to keep my mind occupied so that I don’t find enough time to think about my cancer.
One thing I have realized is that enjoying whatever life throws at me, be it chemo therapies or the excruciating pain, makes the journey easy. Being sad or miserable does not relieve the pain and life also seems burdened with hardships. Laughing makes my world beautiful and ensures that people who surround me return my smiles rather than giving me the look of pity or sympathy. So my daughter and I prepare for chemotherapy as if I am going for a picnic. She packs my favourite snacks, her favourite biscuits, enough reading material for her to pass her time and my phone battery is fully-
charged the night before so that I can Twitter for as long as I wish. I take this enjoying business too far. Or so my daughter says when I tell her that I enjoy the food served at the hospital. My children and I have evolved over the last four years of our cancer journey. We now joke about cancer and laugh so loudly that we have been scolded more than once by the hospital staff and have been warned of maintaining silence.
It is difficult to decipher or explain, but for the past four years I have seen only positive things happening in my life and around me. Suddenly everything is bright and beautiful. Not that there has been an absence of challenges or downfalls. However, when I look back only the good times seem to fill the last five years.
Though I have lost my only sibling my brother to Cancer last year, I still believe Cancer is not the end.
This is my story. I just don’t know what Universe has/is taught/trying to teach me except that my life is filled with wonderful friends who will always be there for me.
Someone should make a film on her .. which will get standing ovation across the mediums .. Here is a song to celebrate her.. the woman we all know as ARUNA P KHOT.
Kyun jindagee se ho shikava gila Yeh hasatee hai rotee hai, jo bhee hai jaisee hai Jo bhee yeh deti hai woh hai teraa Kar salaam.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YzwbyOHgy4&list=RD8YzwbyOHgy4#t=8