On his last visit home three months ago, the eldest of Ramdeo Prasad's three sons had promised to return in August to reconstruct the family house. That wasn't to be, but Ganesh Bhaiyya's death has stirred up Pandeychak village in Patna district like nothing else. "We're all ready to meet his fate," is the battle cry of young boys. And although his death's left Ganesh's young wife Pushpa Rai dazed, she is confident of sending their 18-month-old son Abhishek to complete the "unfinished task of my husband".
As father fights for the nation, son faces a different battle
New Delhi, July 3 (Vishal Thapar)
The family of an Army officer who is fighting for the nation in Kargil is battling another enemy at home: leukaemia (a malignant form of blood cancer), which has afflicted his teenage son.
“I have no regret my husband is on the front. We’re so proud he’s with the unit when the nation needs him the most,” says Neeta Yadav, wife of Colonel DN Yadav.
Life came to a standstill for the Yadavs when Karan, 17, a brilliant Class XII student, was diagnosed suffering from the disease last September. Karan, who scored 98 per cent in science and mathematics in Class X, rapidly lost 15 kg and was forced to abandon the Class XII board exams.
The family immediately shifted from Ferozepur to Delhi. The only permanent cure for Karan is a bone marrow transplant. His sister Nidhi can be the donor — the marrows of the donor and recipient have to match perfectly, which is possible among siblings. But this is an expensive and difficult operation.
Discouraged by the low success rate in Delhi, Mumbai and Vellore, the Yadavs contacted Prof. J.M. Goldman of London’s Hammersmith Hos-pital. An authority in marrow transplants, Goldman was optimistic about Karan recovering, but put the cost of treatment at 71,000 pounds (Rs 50 lakh).
Col Yadav was in the process of selling some family property to raise a part of the money when he was ordered to return to his unit at Nimu, Leh, in the Kargil sector.
He had been in Delhi partly on leave and partly on attachment. Private appeals yielded nothing. And even these efforts came to a standstill with Col Yadav’s departure.
“I’m worried for my husband on one front, and coping with my son’s ailment on the other,” exclaims Mrs Yadav. “We’ve been unable to raise any money.” For the moment, Karan is being treated at the Army Research and Referral Hospital, where he takes an interferon injection daily. Each costs Rs 2,500 but, fortunately, the Army provides it free.
“There’s no way I could have pulled on without this facility,” he acknowledges. How does it feel not having his father around when he needs him? “I'm proud of him. I told him to fight hard and not worry about me,” replies the teenager.
ut Nidhi is frank: “War should stop and Papa should come back.” These days, Nidhi has the last word on everything. Any disagreement with Karan is disdainfully brushed aside. “I’m your donor!” she reminds him.
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