The Bangalore Together we Share and Learn gathering saw stalwarts who have been an active part of FOM activities in many cities and who have attended all previous meetings and there is one individual amongst them whose presence was really special and who enjoyed the meeting as he has done the two previous ones before this. Special because of his unconditional love and infectious happiness, the sheer joy in his face and demeanor and the fact that he comes from across the country from a distant village in Rajasthan.
When I asked him what motivated him to make it every year despite the financial challenges he said with the greatest charm,” Why, I come to meet you of course” and this simply threw me off my guard. Once again when I said to him no tell me why he said he loved meeting everyone and enjoyed listening to the doctors – in his village no one could dream of ever meeting such well known and famous doctors and converse with them face to face.
Then he said to me that he looked forward to all the mealtimes – the breaking of bread with so many people he knew were taking medicine for cancer just like him. And to see their laughing faces and their families all celebrating life. He is already making plans for Kolkota he says with a twinkle in his eyes. Ram Kumar is a farmer, cultivates wheat and millet – a young and hardworking man, a caring husband and proud father of two little boys.
We have a picture of him and his blushing bride Saroj in our office board. A year or so after he had started on Glivec he came to meet me ; he was being treated in Tata Memorial Hospital those initial years and was a regular visitor at the Max India office. He was in a dilemma – his parents had chosen a bride for him but he was not sure he wanted this young woman to be married to a man with a diagnosis of a fatal disease and ruin her whole life. He wanted to know what he should do. Telling him he needed to speak with his doctor we also told him the young lady and her family should be made aware of his diagnosis before taking any further steps. Soon he was calling me from the village saying the young lady had no qualms about marrying him and had also convinced her parents to agree to the match.
Ram Kumar got married and I could hear the blush in his voice when he called me to say he was very happy and loved his new wife dearly. He was very particular that even if the doctor said they could begin to look at planning a family, he would not force his wife; it would be her decision alone. When she did indeed become pregnant he asked me to choose a name both for a girl and boy child so that they would be ready when the baby was born and he was adamant that that the child’s Bombay Grandmother would name the child.
So Anand was born, a healthy baby and a year and a half later, again after the names were chosen and sent from Bombay, Chetan, their second son was born. Ram Kumar then requested a transfer to a Centre in his state itself so that he did not have to leave his little family alone when he made his periodic visits for follow up. However this meant that we would no longer be able to meet each other every three months. That was when he says be sure to let me know of each and every meeting you will have, I will be there, wherever it is !!
And he has kept his word every year since 2006 and no, the meetings would never have been the same without him. To the Mumbai meet he brought his parents, to the Delhi meeting he came with a friend and to the Bangalore meeting he brought a cousin. With them he brought his courageous spirit , his simple heart and his enriching love. He tells me he is so happy now, able to work on his small holding, support his family and look after his parents too as his only brother is with the Indian Army. And he wants us to plan a meeting in his home state –the land of Kings, Rajasthan!!