24 Mar 2019: So what I was in hospital? I was made to play holi, too! The photo you see was taken on the 21st.

I was very unwell throughout January this year and was diagnosed with multiple problems in February¬†— acute colitis, gall bladder stones and fibroids in the uterus. I knew something was wrong in my body, but was shocked to find so many organs in disorder! Mid-Feb to mid-March went in a flurry of specialist consultations and medical investigations. For most of Feb, I was under medication and underwent colonoscopy early in March. Thankfully, there was nothing major to worry about. But the gall stone surgery had to happen and the gall bladder removed. That happened on 20th March. I was back home on the 22nd, with one organ less in my body and four incisions plastered over in my tummy.

Srishti had come to meet me during ‘Visiting Hours’ on the 20th (after her dad had secured “special permission”), a hand-made card in her hand. In between horizontal bars of colours, it said: “Mamma, please return soon, and next year I hope no one has to go to the hospital. Happy Holi”. I was struck by the long sentence (and the fact that there was not a single spelling mistake in it)! Srishti loves to draw and gifts me a card every few days, for all manner of reasons; a lot of them periodic declarations of her love: “I love you, Mamma”. They await me especially on evenings I’m late in returning home… her way of saying she has missed me after school. They melt my heart, unfailingly.

But what was really unusual about this particular card was that she was referring to something else, a painful memory from last year. Last holi, my father was almost dying in hospital with a freak kidney failure that no nephrologists could make sense of; this holi, I had my gall bladder removed. Both years, Srishti’s dad tried to ensure that she got to “enjoy” holi, but the shadow of this thing called “hospital” stayed in her mind. And made its way into her card.

On the morning of Holi, I reflected on this – on how Holi has seemed to have taken on a new association after my return to India. But even as I did so, a bevy of nurses and attendants, all laughter and youthful joy, came rushing in to my cabin with colours and sweets and made me feel special. I was touched. I will cherish that moment.

There is something I will cherish even more. Shekhar told me that evening that the previous night, just before going to sleep, Srishti had confessed to him: “Papa, I love you very much. But I love Mamma a little more”! I think my surgery was totally worth it!!