My dad never had any bad habits. He always used to have Parle G biscuits in his bag to feed stray dogs. In case he couldn't see any stray dogs on any day, he searched for them, fed them, and then only came home.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis
I was born in Mumbai. I have a very small family. Our financial condition was not so good, but my father never let us suffer from anything.
I was in Mumbai till my 8th standard, and then till 10th, I studied in a Jain Dharamshala. Everything was going well. My elder brother was very close to me; we had a very great bonding. Because of many reasons, we shifted to Gujarat. My father struggled a lot for two years to settle in his work. Later, he got shifted to Surendranagar and started working with my maternal uncle.
Suddenly, after a few days, he started having weakness and fever. Everyone thought it was happening because of atmosphere changes. He used to take medicines and feel better, but one day, his health suddenly started deteriorating, and we went to the local doctor and got some tests done. All the reports were normal, so the doctor prescribed some medicines for two-three months.
He was fine for two-three months, but then again, he started feeling unwell. We took it seriously and consulted various doctors this time, but we didn't get any conclusive results. Someone asked us to go for some blood cancer-related tests. We were shocked to hear that and didn't want to go for that, but at the back of our mind, we had a thought that what if it is true? We crossed our fingers and went for the tests. When the test results came, he was diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of Blood Cancer.
Blood Cancer Treatment
We got him admitted to GCRI, but it was too crowded, and my father wanted a peaceful place. Someone suggested to us a hospital that was known for its hygienic and peaceful environment. We got him admitted there and started his Blood Cancer treatment. He underwent Chemotherapy. My father required white blood cells every 3-4 days, but we never had to contact anyone for the donation; we got help from everywhere. That was when I realized the importance of blood donations and thought of donating my blood from then on.
My father had a great connection with everyone. One of the laborers who used to work with him told us that he wants to be with him and take care of him in the hospital. He told me that he was brought up in an environment where he saw only the cruel side of the world. But after he met my father, he changed a lot and became humble after being with my father.
I was young at that time, so I rarely visited the hospital. Whenever I visited the hospital, I saw that the entire hospital staff got so attached to my father that even when my mother was not with him for few minutes, the hospital staff used to take care of him.
He spent 6-7 months in the hospital. I never got much chance to spend time with my father, initially because of the studies and later because not many people were allowed to be with him. Therefore, even if I visited him, it was only for a few minutes.
His Sudden Demise
I still remember it was "Sharad Purnima Night when I got a call saying that he would get discharged the next day. I felt so happy that it was already Navratri at that time, and my father was getting discharged at that auspicious time.
I was outside the house when I got the call, but as soon as I got the call, I rushed home in the excitement that I needed to get ready to bring him home. Suddenly, after half an hour, he started Vomiting with blood and left for his heavenly abode.
I could not accept this news because just before half an hour, I had got a call that he will be discharged, but now everyone was saying that he expired. I was numb at that time. The people who got to know about his demise started coming home, but I was just roaming here and there, not able to understand what was going on. I could not believe what has happened until I saw the ambulance coming and saw my dad in front of me. I broke down and cried non-stop. I was utterly blank after seeing his body in front of me. I never knew that those little moments of extreme happiness due to his discharge news would convert into something like this.
We took him to his funeral pyre, and as soon as we pushed him for cremation, we were completely shattered. When he was in front of us, at least we felt that he was with us, but after the cremation, we realized that we would not be able to see him or touch him again. I cannot express that feeling in words.
Clowning helped me to cope up
I never thought that I would ever be able to cope up. I used to cry every night for two years. I changed a lot and became very quiet. I wanted to focus on my career for my family. I moved to Ahmedabad and started a job. Later, I came to know that my colleague Mr Jitendra Lunia went to the hospital in a clown get-up. I saw some of his pictures, where he was in the hospital as a clown, but I could not find out what it was. I asked him what that was, and he said it was clowning.
I asked him what clowning meant, but he said he would love to show me rather than explaining in words. We took off on Saturday and went for clowning. The first time when I entered the hospital, I was reminded of all the previous incidents with my father, but I tried to control myself anyhow. When I entered the ward, I could not believe that it was a hospital ward, but then I realized it was indeed the hospital ward.
There were many volunteers doing clowning for cancer patients in their own way. I was surprised to see how cancer patients were laughing and dancing with the cannulas in their hands. It didn't look like a cancer patients' ward. I never saw such a thing in my life, so I was a little uncomfortable for the first time, but I decided to join clowning from that day onwards.
When I was about to leave, I saw volunteers sitting in a circle. They called me and asked me to join them. They said it was a circle of reflection to share everything we experienced or felt while clowning or even in our lives. I feel that this reflection circle should also happen in our day-to-day life so that we can take off our masks and express everything we went through during the day.
I introduced myself in the reflection circle and narrated my father's journey. My life took a U-turn after I joined clowning. It seemed like my life was back on track. I never visited any hospital after my dad expired, nor did I have the courage to visit. I could not join clowning for two-three weeks, but then suddenly, I wanted to go for clowning and make those patients happy. I gathered the courage and visited the hospital and did clowning, imagining how I would have tried to make my father smile if he was at this same place. The response was so positive, and everyone appreciated me for doing clowning.
I learned a lot of things while clowning. Making those kids fighting with cancer happy feels like an achievement to me. Clowning helped me to cope up with everything, and kids taught me that no matter the situation, you should never give up and look forward to life. I always loved singing, but I was too shy to sing in public, but clowning made me open up and follow my passion. It has helped me in my personality development also.
Don't bottle up things; you have a small heart, you cannot handle all the things alone, so try to express your emotions and feelings. Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. So try to make people happy as much as you can and share whatever you feel. Whatever has to happen will happen, and we don't have control over it, so just accept and move on. No problem seems to be big because of the problem; it depends on how you react to it. Don't give much importance to problems. Live your life care-free like children.