edited: Thursday, April 09, 2009
By Deep Inder
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009
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How important euthanasia is can be known only by those who can empathise with the sufferer.
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She died over five years ago but I still find it difficult to write about those excruciating moments. Even to think about that time is to re-live those six months of suffering. The doctors had given her six months to live; it seemed an agonizing eternity.
I had to visit her every weekend. Every visit was a nightmare. I wished I had been employed ten thousand miles away and not just a hundred. It would have been better to have come only once--at her death; now it was a weekly death and a perpetual horror for me to think about the coming weekend.
I can still hear her screams, I can see her pitiful face, and I can feel her agony. God seemed unconcerned. She had been deeply religious; she died an atheist. Religious ceremonies were conducted after her death.
I could not sleep the weekends I was with her--her repeated cries for water and the bloodcurdling screams that interspersed the continuous moaning ensured that.
Within a few weeks, I saw her familiar face with a cheery glow turn into an unrecognizable, emaciated visage with the only expression it could register being that of sheer panic. It was amazing how she could scream so loudly with the little she ate and the lack of strength apparent from her ghost-like physiognomy.
I saw her grow berserk with the pain no drug could control. I saw a walking, talking, cheerful woman turn into a struggling, angry, irritable person and then into a desperately screaming, bedridden beast always waiting for a chance to kill herself--a chance the people around her, the family, were vigilant enough not to give. They had all turned her enemies. They forcibly took away the pair of scissors she tried to thrust into her stomach as if to exorcise the appalling, agonizing part of her own body--the part which was sure to grow and kill her but was too slow and too painful to bear. They took the scissors away (knives had been banned from her room long before). They took no chances.
No, they were not sadists, not cruel. They were just afraid of the law. They consulted all the doctors they could but none had any solution. Everyone was sympathetic but no one could do anything--it was against the law to commit suicide or to help anyone commit the 'crime' and it was impossible to cure cancer in its last stages. She had cancer of the colon that had spread to the liver and the lungs. Only God, they said, could help. But God was probably angry as we, with our polluting ways and a tense, modern life-style, had ourselves created the problem. We had created the problem but insisted that He supply the solution.
I saw the terror--terror not of the unknown but known terror, tangible terror, terror she felt every hour, every minute, every second of the pain. I witnessed the frequent retching and the vomited blood. I heard her pitiful cries for mercy, her horrible screams. I smelled the peculiar foul smell of fatal sickness that never left the room. I felt the uselessness of life, the horror of pain and wondered just why, why, why it all must happen. What could I do? What could anyone do?
I placed a matchbox on her bedside table. I knew it was a crime; but then, she was my mother. She had given me birth; I owed her this relief. But before she could see the matchbox she went into a stupor-like fit of continuous moaning. It was my father who noticed the matchbox and removed it. She regained painful, horrifying consciousness and the loud cries continued.
My dad told me to pray for her death. I prayed as I had never prayed before nor, I hope, will ever have to pray again to ask anything of God. I wrote to the country's President about the pain and the terrible suffering. I wrote to him in smoldering sadness to amend the law or, at least this once, allow us to help her fulfill her dying wish: to end her life before the disease did. Even criminals, I reasoned, were asked their last wish before being put to death. It was foolishness, my friends told me, but I was desperate. Those who have not passed through such a situation can never ever understand…
The day I wrote the letter, she oozed blood from the mouth and died. I did not post it but I decided that very day I would write about it. I would make people hear. I decided but did not dare to think the thoughts that would bring back those feelings of terror and horror. Despite the long time that has passed, I have not forgotten that harrowing experience. Still, I have somehow gathered courage to write. I must write because now there is a ray of hope.
Most ancient civilizations did not consider suicide a crime. The modern Indian democratic state does. The Christ came to save mankind from suffering. He took the sins of humanity on himself and died so that others may not suffer. Christians are known to have ended the suffering of horses and dogs with bullets, but humans have been unfit for their mercy.
So, where is the hope? It is in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is now not a crime. Will the rest of the world follow? I think it is now mature enough to do so. People are slowly realizing the veracity of that old saying, "God helps those who help themselves." It is especially true of today's world as we are ourselves responsible for most of our problems.
Copyright © 2001 Deep Inder. All Rights Reserved.
Mr. Deep Inder is a writer of features and fiction whose work has been published in various newspapers, maga/e-zines. Readers may write to the author directly at deeepi333.yahoo.com