Calm in the storm
Today I went to see a patient whose glucose had shot up sharply, after taking powerful steroids. The man was in his sixties, fair, with a salt and pepper hair. His stubble and stooped posture, gave an air of melancholy. He had every reason to be upset - even though he was a non smoker and a non alcoholic, he was suspected to have lung cancer. To make matters worse, the tumor had spread to far off places in his body. I felt sorry for him.
I am no cancer specialist, but a metastatic cancer is bad news. The odds are about as good as Ukraine’s fate in the face of fearsome Russian attack.
Thankfully, he had his wife with him.
As he was struggling to eat, she took small morsels of sambar rice to feed him. She had become his mother, in some ways. She asked me a few questions - all of them pertinent.
For someone in an emotional turmoil, she seemed strangely calm and composed. It wasnt the calm of dejection and despair. It felt like the calm of someone who knows that no matter what, a superior power will take care and things will be alright. She seemed to have a super human ability to find peace in the midst of a storm. Through sheer hope, she had banished the despair in the room.
I wondered what could be the source of her mental strength ?
She was wearing a hijab.
Her faith moved me.
Hospital wards have always seen more fervent prayers than the walls of any temple,mosque or church. When the farthest reaches of science fail to provide succour, it is faith that lifts up our soul. Her hijab, (like ash or cross) is an expression of that faith. Some may see it as a talisman of patriarchy. I see it as a portal to God.
I wished him well. When I left, she thanked me.
Her calm demeanour wasn’t a veil or facade. I realized that she was powered by the love for her husband and her faith in God.
She is one of the most empowered women I have ever met.