Kay and Zee are
neighbours in a poorer locality of Kozhikode (formerly Calicut). Kay is in her late 40s, while Zee
is in her mid 30s. Apart from shared economic woes and a common ancestry, they
have something else in common. They both have CML.
Kay keeps calling
me, as she says, to keep in touch with one of the hopes in her life. How much
ever I keep explaining the GIPAP/NOA programmes and describing the multiple
entities involved, especially Novartis, she is either too simple or too adamant
to want to know. In her down to earth manner, she says I brighten up her day.
(Thank you Max, for shining out through me!).
Zeenath is another
recipient who also keeps in touch, although less frequently; with more respect
and correspondingly less freedom.
While Kay attends
meets as an active participant, Zee is a silent supporter.
Kay met Zee at the
hospital while on one of her periodic visits. Much to their surprise, they
found a lot in common, including the significant fact that they are neighbours
from the same area. One thing led to another, and their friendship grew.
Then came the day
Zee confided in Kay about her heaviest concern. “Who will marry my daughter?
People of our community know that I have CML. Though my daughter has been
tested and is clear, who will accept her knowing my state?” All that Kay said
in reply then was “Don’t worry Zee. I’m with you.”
The very next
opportunity, Kay was on the phone with me. “Tell me dear”, she wanted to know,
“Is it ok for descendents of CML afflicted to marry one another?” I explained
what little I knew and asked her to talk in detail to her physician.
The next day was
special. Kay called from her phone, but Zee spoke first. She was gushing. “Kay
Bhabhi (elder sister) has agreed to get my daughter married to her son! I can’t
bear the joy!” she squealed in to my ear, all reserve gone. A more sedate Kay
came on line and said these golden words rather casually, “If we CML afflicted
don’t take care of each other, knowing full well the implications, how will the
superstitious and ill-informed others do so? So I have decided, and my son
agrees wholeheartedly. Please bless our families.”
Despite all my
vocabulary, and the experience of handling a hundred different situations, I
was tongue tied. The woman in me popped up and the tears flowed.

What an
irrefutable truth Kay has brought before me! Awareness, and action to back it,
should first start within the community. Let us practice first, then we can
preach with conviction.
I stand humble
before you, Kay and Zee, sisters in CML.

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