Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction. It is a short story about a young woman who is still leading her life with the ghosts of her past. It’s also a story about choices we make in our mundane lives which changes our life path forever. I dedicate this story to my family and to all individuals who have suffered from personal loss because of Cancer.
I open my eyes to look at a fuzzy picture of a crude painting. The bed is as comfortable as middle class cushion gets. It is not yet dawn for the sun to feed on my photophobia yet there remains an inexplicable void in my head. Instead of dealing with my early morning melancholy, I choose to catch up with my ceremonious coffee and daily dose of news. However tech savvy today’s youth are with their news apps and updates; I still belong to the good old days, with newspaper in hand and black coffee to trip on. Flipping through the daily news, reality of election dawns upon me and being a media reporter myself, I cannot afford to lose my grip on the present, especially when the election fever is at its peak. I remind myself to brush before everything else becomes a priority and go to the bathroom to unwind. As I look at myself in the mirror, I come across as a woman in late twenties, eyes with fading sparkle, defined features and shaped cups, paving way to a curvaceous body but a haunting sorrow surfaces and swallows the ghost of a smile from my mighty face. I wonder whether I was this depressed always and memories flood through me, which mocks my question right at its gut. I envision asking the viewers, “The question of the hour is to figure out how; ever cheerful Zoya could lose her charm? Viewers can post their comments on our twitter page”. This is pathetic, I should get a life. I reckon. I get into the bathtub for a quick shower as my train of thoughts take me to a different time.
“Zoya, I’m used to the cycles now, please don’t miss classes for your old man’s sake, live your life kid”, Appa used to mention with unfrivolous look every time I accompanied him to his hell visit of chemotherapy. As a kid, like any other doting daughter, I looked up to him for everything. He was my superman who could fly, make me touch the stars and help me do tedious science projects. How difficult could cancer be for him to not survive? But I grew up to realise difficulty was an understatement. It ate him up physically and mentally yet he didn’t let me have a clue regarding his sufferings. One fine day, I came home to a lifeless body and realised my superman has left the earth in search of his planet. I accepted the fact with much difficulty and moved on to an awaiting life of college, boyfriends, job and its perks which kept me from unlocking memories of Appa from the corner of my mind.
Brief knock on the bathroom door made me realise I had fallen prey to the same loop of thought which keeps me awake at night and tricks me into losing track of time. I yelled and instructed the maid to start cleaning the kitchen before raccoon marks its territory and dressed up for work. As I waited for the driver to arrive, I finally made up my mind and called for an immediate intervention and forced every part of me to sit through the whole process.
I need to acknowledge the fact to myself. Yes. I may have cancer. The lumps in my breast can actually lead to mastectomy but worst of all my fears – yes!!, I do not have my appa, my superman here to navigate me through this hell. But what other sane option do I have apart from getting the routine tests done to crack the truth? NONE stared at me until I shushed it. I closed my eyes with all strength to recall the last conversation I had with Appa – “do not look around you and feel you are alone once I’m gone kiddo. Close your eyes and listen to the voice in your head. Both the demons and angels are just the thoughts which you choose to see. So choose well. Choose the angels and that’s where I’ll be”.
I opened my eyes and from that moment I decided to numb the sad thoughts from within. I called my office and took leave. Went to the city’s most preferred oncologist’s clinic and scheduled an appointment. Rung the man I have always liked and asked him out on a date and serendipitously enough he’s single. So cancer or no cancer, I chose not be scared by the ghosts of my father’s death. I chose well. I reckon.