Keerat’s own osteoporosis or her daughter in law’s supposed ailment, it was hard to tell which nettled more.
The two storeys high “Sekhon Farm” with its five watchdogs and twenty Jersey cows had begun to ring hollow ever since her Ajaib Singh’s marriage to the Chief Justice’s daughter. “I feel I have lost my son,” it was a refrain Keerat’s septuagenarian husband liked to ignore. He was tempted more than once to suggest she take a leaf out of his own mother’s note book on freeing one’s son so he may bond better with his life partner but he was a wise man and kept his counsel.
The genteel couple had brought up their son with the time worn values of hard work, enterprise and discipline. It had taken blood and sweat to raise him to be a productive young man. “We did all the tough part and I am now supposed to just hand him over meekly to a strange girl he happens to be married to,” Keerat had turned acutely possessive of her son. “Well, that’s a new! It wasn’t all that while ago I remember you decrying his being insensitive, laid back, careless and forgetful. Now that his loyalties are divided, you hold him up as a shining symbol of his industrious and sterling lineage,” she resented her husband keeping her grounded in this manner.
But they were one in their concern over this unexpected and bothersome new challenge in Ajaib’s life. His bride had taken ill with a rare and expensive disease. It bothered them no end to see their son bowed down with work and worry. Keerat’s reaction was tinted with annoyance at her daughter-in-law, “Are you sure she is sick? She looks just fine; I think she is just plain lazy. Her parents should have told us of her illness. I believe multiple sclerosis is hereditary.”
“It has been called the invisible disease Mother, the symptoms can disappear completely between attacks. And who is to say about the point of onset, she has been diagnosed with its progressive form, very hard to predict the direction her condition will take.”
Ajaib sat his mother down in front of his laptop, “It is important for us to understand what is happening to her. Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system and there is as yet, no cure available for this disease. The more you deny her suffering from it, the greater her stress and worse the MS symptoms.”
Keerat fell silent, struggling with her mixed emotions. “Not many of our friends and family know about it Mum because I was myself uncertain as to what we were dealing with. But we are approaching decision point soon. I am afraid she may be slipping into depression. Her epileptic seizure last week shook her up real bad.”
“A fit, did you say a fit?” Keerat’s voice went up an octave.
“She was alone at home. Everything was fine when I left her for the airport. Some two hours later, she just keeled over. I cannot risk it again.”
The mother broke out of her stunned trance, “How can I help?”
“She is more than my wife, your daughter-in-law or Sunny’s mother Mum. She is a person, a very proud, self-respecting and right now, a deeply grieving person. She is gradually losing her independence and that is very painful. We have a very tough time ahead. Help me to help her.”
“Look up a service dog on that computer of yours. We should consider getting her a pet soon, trained to assist her with the daily chores,” Ajainb’s father had come in quietly and had been listening in with increasing concern.
Keerat sat up with a new sense of purpose, “A pet that could fetch her cell phone, open the door, switch off the lights or keep her company at night when she is in pain. You are so right, she needs her own team on this.”
“That and an unconditional love,” Ajaib’s voice grew softer.