It was Purvi’s fourteenth birthday. The air was redolent with the fragrance of joy. Everyone including her parents, siblings and friends had gathered in the bright, spacious hall with a crystal chandelier and thick oriental rugs.
‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you dear Purvi, happy birthday to you….’ song was echoing in the hall. She was about to blow out candles inserted into the dark chocolate cake. Ever since she was a child, her mother always made a chocolate cake with white frosting, paired with tiny chocolate sticks. Purvi’s friends gorged on the cake to their heart’s content. Everyone forgot about weights and calories on this one evening of the year. This year seemed no different. After the cake was cut, they had started fighting again comparing the sizes of the pieces each of them received, amidst squeals of laughter.
Suddenly, the ambience of excitement turned into despondence, the rhythmic choir of birthday song turned into sharp dissonant shrieks and the joy turned into dejection as tremors of the quake shook the ground beneath their feet.
The quake damaged the entire city. Everyone became a victim of nature’s sudden outburst; so did Purvi who got half-buried under the pile of debris. She was groaning with the pain and pleading for help. Her yells were loud and strong.
Next day when Purvi opened her eyes after a long dreamless sleep, she found herself in an enclosed room, on the fowler bed. Tubes, needles and saline were attached to her left hand. As she forced her mind to recall; the dreadful picture of devastating earthquake played in her mind. Immediately, she checked the injury the pile of debris had made to her right hand and what she saw unbelievable. She had lost her right hand. Tears brimmed into her eyes. She withdrew in an agony of hopeless grief from where it was difficult for her to see the light of hope.
But, fate could not be changed.
The incident stole the colours and charm of Purvi’s life, left her drab and dependent for a lifetime. Now, she could not go to school on her bicycle with her group of friends, nor could she play her favourite game – table tennis, neither could she win any swimming competition. Unfortunately, she had to seek help for almost everything including her daily chores. From the time when the aurora broke till the darkness set in, she would recite– ‘Maa quickly make my braids..…I’m getting late.’ ‘Maa I can’t button my shirt, please come and do it for me.’ ‘Hurry up papa! The bus has already arrived, please tie my shoe lace.’ ‘How can I eat with my left hand, it’s so fussy; maa please feed me!.’ ‘Writing with left hand is a real trouble, please help me papa to finish my homework.’
Despite life’s challenges and tribulations, Purvi had slowly learnt to live with her loss. She didn’t try to hide her loss; instead she strove to find strength in her pain. Whenever Mr. and Mrs. Desai offered her an idea of prosthetic hand, she had always denied.
“I’ve lost one hand, but I’ve found four new. I’ve lost few friends, but I’ve found many new in the form of books, I’ve lost my dream of becoming a swimmer, but I’ve seen a new one too, of becoming a doctor and help disables.” She said.
Many times frailty, solitude, sadness filled Purvi, they frightened her, lead her astray, but could not stop her from following the path of her dreams. Eventually, she became a successful doctor that, in younger years, she had thought of while recovering from the loss of broken hand and broken dream. Her constant hard work and dauntless efforts paid off immensely.
All this while Purvi had forgotten the old wounds, but the night before her convocation ceremony the fear of frightful tremors once again trapped her. Cracked walls and ceilings, cracks in concrete and pavement, rubbles of collapsed buildings and houses, shaking trees and bushes, broken windows, knocked down light poles, maimed bodies played behind the curtains of her eyes. Purvi was watching this devastating scene once again. She was trembling in her bed and water was relentlessly flowing from the corners of her eyes.
She woke up with a jerk. Her heart pounding hard and her body was drenched in sweat. She glanced around in dismay. Everything was set at its place, neatly and tidily. There were no cracks in the walls, ceiling and floor. The fan, affixed to the ceiling, was taking its usual aggressive rounds. Two tiny red-black tiger barbs were floating swimmingly in the fish bowl. The lamp with pen and paper holder was standing straight on the wooden table in her room. She heaved a deep sigh.
She wiped her face off, but soon she realized her pajama was wet and strong smell of urine was wafting up from it. As she stood up from her bed to change, she felt weak and feeble. Somehow she managed to change her underpants and pajama and threw the wet sheet over the mirrored closet door. The very moment alarm clock, kept on her bedside, began to jangle. Its tinkle scared her for a moment, but she soon slid the switch to turn off the alarm. Then, raising her face upwards she thanked God for being there by her side whenever she needed him the most and escorting her to make her dream come true.
Following that evening, Purvi walked into the convocation hall along with her parents and sister. Her head held high, eyes shone bright, chest puffed out and she was proud to finally be done with her MBBS. When her name was announced, she confidently took her stand at the podium and delivered a wonderful speech. That was a day when her parents had forgotten to clap; they just stared to watch the wonder-woman in front, who was also their daughter.