Love Beyond Self

by Chandrika R Krishnan

“The choice is yours. We will await your decision.  We’re sorry.”

I watched the white coated men leaving me and my son.

Should it be my son and me? I remember my English teacher saying, “Donkey should come second!”

I heard Ajay’s words, “Grammar Nazi,” and I smiled. I turned towards his bed to have my smile freeze and with tears blurring my vision watched his unresponsive state, the steady hum of the ventilator doing his breathing for him.

I held his hand tight, praying that my life would seep into him.  Doctors did say it was impossible as the brain damage was irreversible. But then, doctors have been proved wrong, weren’t they?  So, I hoped, I prayed and I willed for a miracle. Thirty years was too soon to meet the maker. It just wasn’t’ right or fair.

I recollected snatches of conversation as I was met outside the emergency room of the hospital where my son was at present.

An accident….the driver of red Hyundai had no chance…The BMTC’s rush to beat the red

As always in this unfair world, my son was punished for doing the right thing by stopping at the amber light.

How many times, his mother and I had dinned into him to do right by his book. And now he was lying motionless for following the rules, the verdict was brain dead.

I, who lived and breathed all of Robin Cook’s medico fiction books, did understand the terminology, yet the father in me hoped that it was coma and not brain death. I knew I was clutching at straws, “He might wake up. We just need to reach out to him to tap into the recesses of his brain.”

I told the next lot of white coated men and women who thronged the room.

There were a few more Sorrys followed by explanation.

“We did notice that there is absolutely no response in the brain stem to any stimuli.”  The chief doctor from the department of Neurology said with a tinge of sadness doubtless at the sheer waste of human life. “We can’t keep him on ventilator indefinitely. It is not recommended medically as it would lead to a whole set of new problems not to speak of the monumental financial strain.” He spoke more about disconnecting the ventilator and also murmured about people coming later to meet him to ask him for a favour.  “I hope his wife is on her way back from her business trip,” the doctor informed the lonely widower with a light touch to his shoulder to show his commiseration..

I was still by Ajay’s side as my daughter–in-law rushed in, in a flurry of tears, despair and terror. No words were spoken as I reached out to her and we held on none wiser on who was comforting whom.

“Papa,” she sobbed holding on to the man who seemed to have aged decades in the few hours, “how…why?” as she placed a hand protectively on her stomach that was just making itself visible.

“I am sorry…” now it was my turn.  “Aarti,” amidst sobs, I spoke about the 8 lives that could be saved by pulling the plug off Ajay…  Holding the shattered daughter-in-law and the unborn child of my son close to me, I barely whispered the words, “Sometimes there is no happy choice, Aarti, maybe our love for ajay will live on through others. Whose loved ones must be praying for a miracle.”

My racking sobs added to her quieter keen as she signed up the papers for Ajay’s release and permission to harvest his organs. We stood on either side of Ajay, holding his hand as we bid him goodbye knowing that he would live on in the body of others.


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