The 6th of February

FEBRUARY 6 MARKS two things in my life. Today would have been my father’s 63rd birthday. Today, too, marks the 3rd year since I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Two things, both a combination of happiness and sorrow and of triumph and defeat, remind me of how it feels to stay in a beautiful, peaceful place, only to hop on a bus later, never to return.

Today marks two things I never imagined in the past. One, I never imagined celebrating my family’s birthdays as a child without any of my parents. As children, we always have this sense of permanency in life. Growing up with our parents and siblings by our side, we never believe that everything can change in an instant. We never realize that life does not really have that immunity to changes. I realized that the day I watched several men carefully put my father in his casket. And as if to rub salt into a wound, I felt it even more the day I stood beside my mother and my sisters and watched men bury my father and lay him to rest. I knew I’d never celebrate February 6 the same way again. Two, I never thought I’d be as healthy as how I am now 3 years back. Three years ago, I was at my worst state. I run out of breath when I stand up, get up from bed, and even when I turn in bed. I had a disease that had no cure and was at its severe stage. Knowing what my illness was, I found out that without an effective treatment, I could die in 3 years. The medicines I tried both failed. Though I was denying it to myself, I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. It wasn’t the happiest moment of my life. But luckily, the last medicine worked for me. And now, 3 years after my diagnosis, I am still alive and in a much, much better shape.

I do not know for what this date now stands. But I want it to be a celebration of life – a celebration of what it used to be for us and my father, and maybe a celebration of life that still stretches for me. Today, my father would have been 63. Today, too, I – the diagnosed “I” – am 3 years older and 3 pounds healthier.