My brother Nitin is the eldest, then Mamata and then me. We call him Dada. Growing up, we were extremely close. We have some amazing childhood memories and I have to share this particular memory that we have pulled his leg for an eternity, but to a large extent, has played out in real life.
He was in college at that time and came home with a sad face. With a very serious face he said, “One of my friends lost his sister in accident. My friends and I went to meet him. He was crying as he was very close to her. When I saw him in that state for a change, I felt good that I have two sisters.” We were listening to him intently and then he said, “In case one of you dies, I will still have another.” Seeing the shock on our face he rectified himself by saying, “But of course, having both of you will be much better.” My mom stopped short of punching him hard.
Growing up we were a close-knit family and our parents kept us grounded. All three of us have taken after our dad when it comes to humour, but my brother is especially good at it. I have fond memories of spending many nights over a cup of coffee laughing. He is the funny one, Mamata is witty one and I am good at giggling. We have always loved each other, and he always used to say you two sisters are very precious to me.
As we grew up, got married and dispersed, we continued to be close. Unfortunately, due to a few setbacks in his life, he started withdrawing himself from the family. He went into a depression and started having issues with us. It went on to the extent that he started staying alone, away from his wife and kids, and kept himself at a distance. Even if we met, there used to be arguments and sometimes very unpleasant ones. In the family gatherings, he became the elephant in the room. This went on for almost 5 years.
Mamata and I were trying to mend bridges with him and took him out for lunch once. We had a good time and it almost felt like the olden days. He had said that time, “I miss this so much. You two are the most precious people in my life.” We thought he was out of his mind and senses to say that when he had two daughters of his own. In fact, we made fun of that statement!
In my last blog, I spoke about the day he came and told me that he wants to donate his kidney to me, but apparently, he had shared that intention with Dinesh when he came to know I was unwell and had a kidney failure. He came to hospital and casually mentioned to Dinesh that he was ready to donate. At that time, no one was sure if I would’ve made it out alive and the thought of a kidney transplant was not even on anybody’s mind.
I was overwhelmed when he said he would like to donate his kidney. It was a very emotional moment for all of us. My siblings are amazing. My sister looked after me and was very much willing to donate her own kidney, but my brother put his foot down and said he would do it.
Kidney donation is not easy, even if there is a willing donor. The kidneys need to match. On many occasions, the kidneys of the blood relatives do not match. Pop star Selena Gomez also had a kidney transplant and none of her family member’s kidneys matched hers. Finally, one of her friends turned out to be a match and donated her kidney. Apart from that, there are many parameters for the donor and recipient that need to be considered. There are number of tests that both have to undergo.
The situation was that I myself was not in a condition to go through a major operation like that. I was too weak, and I was not able to walk on my own. Every time my nephrologist saw me, he would always say “Have you started walking? Can you climb stairs? You should stop using a wheelchair and a cane.” He knew very well that my health was not good, but he kept pushing me. He would say, “We can’t even think of a transplant until you get better and start walking. After the transplant, to have it be successful, we need our patients to walk a lot and if you can’t do that, we will not do it.”
My brother, as he was living on his own and had neglected his health, was also having health troubles. He was a smoker too. At one point of time, he was admitted in the same hospital at the same time as me and Mamata ended up switching from one room to another to look after us. Doctors told him that he needs to look after his health and quit smoking if he wanted to donate a kidney to me.
He did what we wanted him to do for the longest time. He moved back in with his wife and girls so he could take care of his health.
One day when I was in dialysis centre, his wife Madhavi visited me and I asked her “Is Nitin moving back working for you all? If not, I will ask him to go back to his house.” She said, “No we are fine. It’s all good. I shouldn’t say this, but your bad times have brought good times for me. The girls and I are very happy that he is back, and we are really enjoying staying together.”
It felt like this whole thing was God’s plan.