My 3 day long allergy ordeal
Date- December 14, 2009 (Monday)
Time- 6.35 am
I woke up finally at the shrieking sound of the dolphin alarm clock and wondered how many times had I reset it to snooze amidst my dreams. I felt guilty for not being able to wake up on time despite going to bed by 9. Normally I don’t go to sleep so early. But that Sunday my head had been aching acutely since afternoon.
It was a cold morning or maybe I felt so. Not much time was left to get ready as Kalani Sir starts the class at sharp 7. I decided to skip bathing and quickly brushed my teeth. There was a burning sensation when I sprinkled water over my face. I was feeling giddy, my eyes and throat paining. I looked into the mirror and was shocked for a moment to see a red swollen face. Taking it casually and assuming it to be due to the excessively long 10 hrs sleep, I stepped out of my room searching for my scarf and jacket. I descended the floor and woke up mamma who was still asleep. She quickly filled my water bottle and offered a glass of milk which I politely refused on the pretext of getting late. Only when I was about to cover my face with scarf did she notice the swelling on my face. “ Must be some ordinary insect bite. Don’t worry, theek ho jayega”, said she.
I somehow managed to reach the class by 7.10 and as usual was imposed a fine. I entered as swiftly as I could so that nobody could notice me. At first nobody seemed to notice me but soon I was flooded with questions like – What happened on your face? You alright? Etc etc. I watched my face on the reflective screen of my cell-phone. Oh my! It had worsened. During the entire 1 hr class, I kept silent. Though I had done the homework and had some really good points and queries to discuss, I just wouldn’t open my mouth…coz if I did , everyone would turn to me and that was something least desired at that particular point of time. I looked at the vibrant faces around me- so clear, so cheerful, discussing their queries and speaking aloud even the wrong answers with full confidence while I sat dumbfounded, lacking the confidence to speak aloud my right answer. I faked smiles at jokes though my heart was weeping silently. Will I ever regain my confidence? My morning had already been spoilt. I tried hard to concentrate and rushed to my dermatologist as soon as the class got over only to find that his clinic timings had been changed from 8-12 to 12-4 pm. I returned back home.
The redness had reached my neck and hands too. Papa was reading newspaper when I got back and was horrified to see me. He quickly changed his night clothes to get me some tablets to be taken until I got the doctor’s prescription. My close friends who genuinely cared called me up. Their support added to my receding strength. Mamma regretted taking it casually in the morning. She has this cute and funny habit of first throwing light on the negative aspects of any situation and then coming to the positive and optimistic ones. “ What if it doesn’t get cured? If it leaves permanent marks? U remember Anu aunti in my kitty? Her daughter had contracted something similar and the marks never faded. She’s still unmarried at the age of 29.”-mamma said without realizing that her remarks were hurting me. Grey clouds surrounded me as I imagined myself being rejected by dozens of guys who would come to see me with their parents. Will anyone ever dare to marry me?- The thought petrified me. But career being priority right now, that was a distant thing. My self-confidence was something I was more bothered about in the present. Tears filled my eyes as I stood before the mirror. Maa was trying to console me with her positive stories..telling me repetitively that nothing had changed.. that I was invariably their same bubbly cute daughter (she even goes to the height of comparing me with Genelia.. I know..I know, in no way do I resemble her. Yeh toh maa ka pyar hai!), that this allergy would soon get cured and by the time it gets cured, nothing would change. The people who love me would still love me. The people who hate me would still hate me. That it wouldn’t make a difference to my world.
I reached Doctor’s clinic at sharp 12. Saturday and Sunday being off, Monday is always a rush day. I tried to convince the compounder that mine was an emergency case. I had to see the doctor urgently as the allergy was spreading. But he wouldn’t listen to me, accusing me of not taking a prior appointment a week before. “Am I a tarot card reader who can know what is on the cards the subsequent week? The allergy came like an unannounced guest. How could I take a prior appointment?” But he lent me a deaf ear. I told him I had good terms with the doctor. He still didn’t listen. As a last resort, I called up the doctor and explained him the situation. He quickly called my name and the compounder gave me a grim expression.
Even before the doctor could examine me, I boggled him with innumerous questions. “ Will it get completely cured? Won’t it leave marks? How much time will it take ?” n bla bla bla ..He smiled and asked me not to take so much stress as it would only aggravate the situation. I told him I had had a kachori with tamarind chutney the day before. He prescribed me some medicines and blood tests and said it was nothing to worry about, that it was completely curable and might take as long as a whole week to cure. One whole week!. For someone who had recently got serious for studies ( temporarily :-)), missing out on 5 batches/day for continuous 7 days meant too big a loss. I decided to face the world with this speckled face. “ Doctor, is the allergy infectious? “ This was my last question as I stepped out of his clinic. “ No.” His curt reply relieved me.
I went to Vishesh hospital with my father to get the tests done. We were taken to their lab testing section where young interns smartly dressed in white coats were gossiping and having a tea-break. They reminded me of DMG, the serial my father accuses of spreading insincerity amongst students and interns. We had to wait for about 5 mins after which one of the interns attended us. He exchanged frequent glances and smiles with a female intern working adjacently. He asked me few sympathetic questions in a louder tone –“ Is it itching? How did this happen?..etc” all of which, to his dismay, were answered by papa. I suppose the questions and particularly the louder tone was aimed at making it audible to the girl..to make her feel jealous or insecured. But his efforts went futile as the girl seemed to be least perturbed. I do not blame her for this…with the kind of ugly duckling look I was carrying, who on earth would feel insecured? But I seriously intended meeting them once I got cured, especially the girl, to show her this was not the real me and even I could look pretty at times.
The pointed needle of the injection terrifies me. I closed my eyes, my throat turned dry and I tightly grasped the handle of the chair I was seated on. Soon the blood sample was taken after which I experienced a blackout. I called for my father who was walking a few steps ahead of me. I had some glucose powder and felt better, weakness still there. Deprived of just 3 ml of blood and this condition! I now wonder what would happen if I donated 300 ml of blood in the NPA blood donation camp. One test was still pending and we were asked to come the next day.
I was fed on a low-calorie diet: soups, dals, khichdi, fruits and boiled vegetables. I slept the whole afternoon out of weakness and got ready before time for the evening batch as I didn’t want to be late and get noticed. It was from this evening batch that the real ordeal began. People were staring at me with varied expressions as I climbed the stairs. Never in my life before had I felt so helpless, so pitiable. Howsoever hard I tried to escape, I caught majority’s attention. People who know me and people who don’t know me looked at me in complete amazement. People who know me went a step further . They approached me, sympathized and asked the same questions I was fed up of answering .. yet which I had patiently answered thousands of times since morning. “ Can’t you guys and gals just leave me alone? Can’t you just stop poking your nose in others’ matters?” I wish I had the audacity to say this. The only way they could have helped me was by ignoring me..by behaving normally and not making me realize that something was not normal. There were few such sensible people too but like a drop in the ocean. But it was with their support that I dared to attend the class. Some girls seemed unwilling to sit with me fearing the allergy to be communicable. They were making faces and before they said anything, I myself got up to avoid humiliation. By that time, two of my friends had arrived and they reserved a place for me. They didn’t ask a thing about allergy and behaved like usual days. They had no problem sitting beside me. This strengthened their place in my heart.
The trial began again after the class. I found girls standing in groups staring at me and talking about me. I felt sickened, felt like running away from there and confining myself to a locked room. The boys thankfully didn’t pay much heed. Only prettiness catches their eyes not ugliness. Some envious girls seemed to be delighted at my condition and showed fake sympathy. Some started their sentences with- “ baap re !”
I returned home, determined that I would not step out of home until I get cured. Mamma, Papa and my sister Riya were getting ready to attend a distant cousin’s reception. Maa asked me if I wanted to come along.- “No, I can’t.” This was my obvious reply.
I had my plain dinner and waited for them to come. In the meanwhile, I sifted through the newspaper, listened to my favourite tracks but nothing could please me. I doubted whether I’ll ever look pretty someday. So I decided I would direct all my energy towards studies. If not beauty, then atleast brains.
They returned soon. I was devastated when Riya announced she would not allow me in her room. That was what triggered my tears which I had been trying to hold back since the whole day. I was unconsolable. I lost all the strength I had geared up and all efforts of mamma to relieve me went in vain. I resisted so many humiliations the whole day..coz they were by the people who least mattered to me. But this was by someone who is my very own. How could I face it? I kept weeping the whole night..the entire day spinning in my head. Whole night, maa sat by my bedside holding my hands.
I woke up late..my eyes extremely red out of crying and allergy both. Felt guilty at the sight of maa at my bedside. She woke up and smiled, extended her hand over my head, a tear rolling down her eyes. We both cried almost instantaneously and simultaneously. She addressed me by what she normally addresses me when I’m low – “ Mera bachcha sher hai naa?” I hugged her. After having cried so much, I had shed out the bitterness of the day and felt lighter.
“Going to class?” – “ No mamma.. I can’t bear it. They don’t have any right to shake my confidence.”
“ Divya, you are the one allowing them to shake your confidence.” This fact appealed to me. I got ready to attend the DT batch. I had mustered up courage again.
I again reached early. Sarthak Sir was still taking IDTL and so we waited outside. Again I found girls eyeing me but it didn’t matter to me at all. I was cool and unperturbed or maybe I had got used to it. The class went well. Most of the people had got bored of staring at me and didn’t bother me much that day.
After the class, I went to Vishesh where papa was awaiting me. We first collected the previous tests reports and reached lab area again to get the last test done. I went through the report though I couldn’t comprehend the medical terms much. It showed the leucocyte count- basophils, eosinophils etc. At the bottom was mentioned- Platelets are adequate. No hemoparasite is seen. I was relieved.
We were asked to wait in the lobby as they already had many patients waiting. I felt I was wasting papa’s precious time and so opined I could get it done myself and he should better leave. But he didn’t. He waited for more than 40 mins , keeping aloof all the important tenders and meetings just to be with his daughter.
The lobby gave view of the mammography, the sonography and the x-ray sections. There were old men and women many of whom were bald and pregnant ladies – each patient accompanied by an attendant. There was misery and fear all around- fear of possibility of some severity being detected in the tests. Yet the ambience was soothing. The old men and women were taken good care of by their sons and daughters. There were patients of cervical cancer, breast cancer, kidney infections, diabetes , bp and what not. Yet they were living every moment fully..with their loved ones..for their loved ones. There was a young couple.. the wife apparently detected of something serious.. they exited together with damp eyes, the report in their hands… even the thought of separation killing them the very same moment.
There were small kids who had just entered the world with severe diseases. Heart-attack patients were being rushed to ICU.. their loved ones waiting outside..praying. Waiting outside were also expecting fathers- eager to share their world with the new-born. There were sounds of loud cries from upper floor , upon sad deaths . Irony, isn’t it? Happiness and glumness all at one place.
Yet there was love everywhere around. People gained strength from the love their own people showered them with ..the love that endured them to face the most severe diseases.. Those 40 mins really opened my eyes. I had caught some allergy which I knew would get completely cured in a week’s time. And look at me. I behaved as if it was the end of the world. And look at the people around me whose remaining days in this world were countable yet they had more life in every passing second.
I came back home in high spirits. The reports were normal and according to doctor, it wasn’t allergy in medical terms. The doctor said it could be some bacteria that caused all this. I suffered from fever for the next 2 days hence couldn’t attend any of the classes. The redness had almost disappeared from my face within 3 days. Within a week, I was perfectly fine. Riya apologized solemnly but still calls me ‘ tamaatar.’ This allergy ordeal brought me closer to my family.
This experience made me feel the pain for 3 days which umpteen people feel daily- people with burnt faces, girls on whom jilted lovers had thrown acid, patients of leucodermia or the ones born with deformed faces or any kind of abnormalities. They don’t need your sympathy. All they need is your love, your acceptance. Make them feel normal by ignoring their abnormality.
It was a learning experience for me, though painful. I am glad this happened with me..that I gained a lot from it though I do not want it to recur ever in my life.