She was 14 and hardly 20 kg in weight. Her frame had nothing except bones only. But she was very cheerful and kept herself engaged in activities she liked. She kept her spirits high and heightened ours as well. Yes, I am talking of my daughter who was suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (a type of blood cancer) and was under a chemotherapy regime at CMC, Vellore. The treatment of the dreaded disease being more painful than the disease itself, my little daughter showed indomitable courage to combat it. We had to rent a house to stay in Vellore for about a year for her treatment. It is during this period she learnt to make tea and cook her favourite snacks. She would prepare the eatables and sell them to us for a price and enjoyed the business. Every week some drug or other was administered to her and that kept her dull and dejected for three to four days. She was unable to move because of the extreme weakness. She was unable to eat as she was under constant influence of nausea because of the side effects of the poisonous drugs. For the two days of the week when she felt relatively better she was very active and wanted to eat tasty things. My wife tried to prepare things of her choice but her almost dead taste buds could not relish them. In order to make her busy and forget the painful treatment my wife asked her to help her in preparing something she liked. Thus, in spite of her weakness my daughter accepted her mother’s challenge and enjoyed cooking with her. Prior to this she had never been to the kitchen even to warm a glass of water.
One evening when I returned from the market doing some grocery shopping she came to me with a tray containing a cup of tea and some pakodas. The tray was trembling as she did not have the strength to hold it tightly. I took the tray from her hand began reprimanding her for her dare devil act. But she was so much overjoyed with her achievement that she ignored my grumble and told me with a smile writ large on her face, “Papa I have prepared everything that you see in this tray. And I have come to sell these to you.” I could hardly believe my eyes. My suffering daughter has prepared all these for me!! My wife confirmed, “Yes, She has done everything with a little bit of guidance from me.” Tears welled up in my eyes and I embraced my little princess. But she shouted in her feeble voice,”No, No that will not do. You will have to pay me.” “How much, my darling?” I asked. “One hundred and fifty Rupees” averred my little princess, “One hundred for the Pakodas and fifty for the tea.” I gave her two hundred rupee notes which she gladly accepted but regretted for not having ₹50/- to return to me. I told her to keep that as an advance for another cup of tea on the next day.
Needless to say my daughter learnt the art of cooking in the most trying circumstances and that pastime helped her to overcome the ordeals of the painful chemotherapy. That also gave us the mental strength to deal with the situation. And today, seven years ahead of that incident my little princess has become a good cook and prepares very delicious fast food. Not only that her never say die attitude towards life has made our entire family quite optimistic.