The Gift

When he started drinking socially in 2012, she disagreed.
When he started shouting at her for “unsolicited advice,” she kept quiet.
When he started drinking after office hours, she voiced her concerns.
When he started shouting at her in front of the children, she kept quiet.
When he started drinking every day in the morning, too, she shouted at him.
When he started beating her up in the room before bedtime, she kept quiet.
When he started drinking to the level that he vomited blood, she pleaded with him.
When he got better and started drinking again, she asked for help.
When he started beating her up in front of her children, she went silent.
When he started beating her up for no reason, she kept quiet.
When the beatings were prolonged, she made a deal that it had to be behind closed doors, to save her children from trauma.
In the morning, even when soreness got the better of her, she still walked her children to school because he slept in his own vomit someplace else.
His friends duly returned him, sometimes in a blacked-out state.

End of 2018, when I asked him to choose between a loving wife, beautiful children, and bottles of alcohol, in front of every family member who was in my outpatient department, he chose bottles.
End of 2018, my repeated plea for de-addiction went unheard, unconsented.

At the beginning of 2019, he was dragged to a de-addiction center, where he threatened and abused the doctors and nursing staff within two days of his stay, and they let him go because he was violent.

In 2019, when he drank and vomited blood at home in front of his children, he was dragged to the hospital by her.
When I admitted him to the ICU, she asked me for painkillers, and I told her they were dangerous for alcohol-cirrhosis patients.
She kept quiet and then told me it was for her, to calm the bruises he gave her for dragging him to the hospital.
In three days’ time after the severe bleeding, he went into a hepatic coma.
On the fourth day, he developed severe infections that led to multiple organ failure.

On the same day, the family decided he was a burden, both physically, mentally, and financially.
But she pleaded with me to get him better. She would try to beg and borrow, for all her gold and her assets from her home were now used for his treatment over the years.

When the money ran out, her family support broke away, and she was lonely.
She started praying at the hospital chapel because there was nothing she could offer.
She kept quiet.
When I told her each day, that, one by one, an organ was failing, she kept quiet.
When finally, she died on the ventilator after her father consented to a do-not-resuscitate order, she remained silent.

When they took his body away, she remained silent.

Years later, when she met me in my OPD, she got me a box of chocolates.
She thanked me for fighting alongside her.
She thanked me for giving her hope when we both knew we were lying to each other about his survival.
She thanked me because, at times, I remained silent and listened to her.
I do not accept gifts from my patients.
But there are some instances when I do, and remain silent.

Remember what some mothers do and go through.
I am cursed to see this almost everyday.
Today is Mother’s Day, 14th May 2023

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