I lay there gasping for breath. It could be the end, I thought and I still had so much to do. I was thinking quick but the body or the breathing wasn’t cooperating. Regardless, I had to write this letter telling my mom not to cry if I don’t make it. Ram’s food chomping didn’t annoy anymore, neither did my melasma laden face, that I just launched a book, or I had 1000 emails sitting in my work inbox. I wondered if Jeffrey and Sara can do a memorable eulogy, but they never met. Funny how I put them together because one is a former boss, mentor and the other is a childhood friend who lives in Chicago. Both have this sense of humor that I thought would bring it all in great. But then my current boss, Christi who I made plans with to tackle these tasks and my team that I left exposed were wavering like a pendulum in my already cluttered mind. What must they be thinking for leaving them exposed and uninformed. I had woven this dependency matrix for Ram and was worried if he would survive without the fresh laundry, edible food I made or the small things I did to fill the gaps in his daily life. Yet, a recent argument with a dear friend was nagging me but I couldn’t talk if I had to save myself. My beautiful girlfriends who I’d bring the moon down for were not around and I didn’t know how to tell them how much they mean to me. For the first time, I didn’t know how to navigate, I felt helpless and for sure didn’t know how much time I had left.
I am a serious planner but hadn’t planned for it. I was looking forward to our renewed tradition of wearing new clothes for the festivities. Not all truly new clothes, but one specifically I hadn’t worn in 14 years. The wheezing started soon after I inhaled 2 puffs of Diwali smoke. I used to inhale mountains of pollution in India. That Thursday, evening I wore a blue ink Saree, a color that I don’t have that my dearest Chetana got for me with so much love that it felt like that color filled my skies. The pooja was fulfilling and I felt I was not that awful workaholic after all. The Friday following was uncomfortable but the day was gruelling with redefining financial management as my boss and I always do. Later, we had the traditional get together and I was going to wear another new Saree that my beautiful gemologist Roopa sent from India, never met her in person but the stuff she does for me makes my heart melt. In that pink silk with golden threads I felt like a Nizam queen, no less. We had a great time that evening like we always do, took great pictures with my intoxicating beauties. In the process, my talking was becoming less and less because I was spending more energy trying to breathe. The super woman syndrome was kicking in but with volatility I couldn’t control.
As usual, the WebMD monstrosity came along and I was drinking Nyquil, Dayquil and other suppressants like nectar and even announced to my boss that I had flu. The breathing was deteriorating by Saturday but I was eager to wear this 14 year old ‘Ghagra’ and was super proud how creative I got turning it into two different outfits for the different occasions lined up that evening. By then, the fever and chills were like ebb and flow and the talking came to a full stop. The only focus was on the breathing which I am not sure I did that well. I successfully turned the outfit into the following ensemble and was hell bent on enjoying the last event of the evening within the community. 20 minutes into dinner and picture taking, I ran out of every ounce of oomph. Crashed straight into bed and didn’t wake up until Monday morning.
Still no ability to talk but confidently logged into work, informed the boss and colleagues I needed to work from home. 3 hours into the day, the body gave up too. The last message into work was curt and unlike my style. I am not sure why I dragged along so much without going to the doctor. I tested my limits for no reason. Where did the health is wealth principle that my father engrained in me go?!? I felt utterly shameless too at this point. My ever-checking well wisher friend sent messages if I put the broom to work to ward off the ‘dishti’. She always thinks that I am a victim of evil eyes. In her mind, I am this cynosure of all eyes. It’s not true…it is just her affection for me.
The Tuesday doctor appointment that Ram forced upon me, dawned on my sensibilities as soon as she said, “if you don’t fix this, you will have trouble having a child”. My heart fell into my gut and dying plans were not on the agenda anymore. It was now about swallowing the strong medications and bringing my dear life back into me. The pulmonologist and my most patient obgyn are all lined up next few weeks or months to ‘fix it’. These doctors are miracle workers because only they’d know how to ‘fix’ something so random as an asthmatic episode caused by 2 puffs of firecrackers smoke leading to acute bronchitis! Nevertheless, from a suspended state of body and mind, I now look forward to going back to normal and ‘harassing’ each and everyone that I usually do, perhaps even more!