The Inner Calling

She walks into the café, petite, hair catching the rays of the setting sun, face radiant and youthful. My mouth falls open in astonishment as I behold this lovely lady who doesn’t look a day older than 25. “I am 48 actually” she twinkles at my stupefied expression. 

Mrs. Roma Parikh, a lady who shattered every societal misconception when she donated part of her liver to her mother-in-law. As her Guruji cites in his book, “A daughter-in-law can also be a daughter”. And he hopes her story banishes our age-old myths of acrimony surrounding relationships between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.  

While that could very well be the theme of my story, I instead have been dazzled and moved by how this magnanimous act has changed Mrs. Roma at a soul level.  

In 2002, her mother-in-law was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to hepatitis C. In 2008 as her condition worsened the doctors suggested she sign up for a liver transplant. She however refused to sign up as she was under the false impression that life post liver transplant is unlivable. 

In 2011 when she entered pre-coma and the doctors pronounced urgent liver transplant. 

“My father-in-law was too aged to donate. Her two sons didn’t match. My sister-in-law had the same blood group but they suspected fatty liver. Mine was O+ and the doctors decided to test me instead.” she says. 

She recalls five rounds of intensive testing, physical and psychological. She, her husband, father, and father-in-law went through gruelling interviews conducted by a government team to ascertain that she was under no psychological pressure to donate and that financial gain wasn’t the motive.  

Her husband was undoubtedly concerned. He told her how it wasn’t a walk in the park. That her two young children were completely dependent on her. He hoped she had considered every pro and con before deciding. The toughest was breaking the news to her parents. In spite of their apprehensions, they staunchly stood by her. 

Her surgery went on for 14 hours. She spent 9 days in the hospital and another 10 in a rented apartment in Delhi. “My 3rd day was the worst day of my life. I was back from the ICU and throwing up all my food. With fresh stitches and 9 tubes stuck inside me, it was sheer agony. By the 4th day, once I was shifted to medicines, the consequent pain was a nightmare. Also, I developed an infection which had me back on the wheelchair on the 15th day” she recollects shuddering. 

And yet, she does not regret a single second of it. “I feel immensely blessed to have been gifted the opportunity to save a life in this lifetime. The minute I knew I was to be the donor, an inner force within me took shape. It propelled me forward with zero doubt or hesitancy For the first time in my life I didn’t shed a single tear. I was washed over with a sense of calmness and confidence that everything would go off perfectly well. I remember joking with my tearful family before being wheeled into the OT, that just imagine I am off for a day picnic!” 

The transplant has given a second vigorous life to her mother-in-law and changed Mrs. Roma’ on a far deeper level. She has achieved a spiritual contentment which very few humans can claim. She now strongly believes that only good will happen in her life, that irrespective of the ups and downs, only positivity will prevail. As she looks back and reviews her life, she feels blessed. A full life, loving husband, doting sons and family and friends who view her through the eyes of pride and wonderment.

“I did it with the simple intention of wishing to make a difference. I believe I was the chosen one.” she reveals eyes shining with joy. 

I am left with an overwhelming sensation of witnessing one of the universe’s many magical marvels. Where one pure act, leads to an infinity of blessedness. On a parting note, this luminescent lady wisely says, “For anyone wishing to donate, I would advise them to not give it any thought, to just do it.”  

– Arohi Bhimajiani