“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.”
—Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
By Soumya Mohanty, Rotary Club of Bhubaneswar Smile, India
We all fall in love, at different stages of life. But there is always that one person you meet and hold dear to your heart. No matter how many new people you meet or how many acquaintances you make, you look for traces of that one person in anybody and everybody. That is the kind of impact they have on you. Now imagine never being able to see that person again – because that is how destiny likes to play. And all you have left are memories that last a lifetime.
My story began when I met Rupa. We were studying together in college and a friendship blossomed into love. We got married and pledged to never leave each other for any circumstances. Many happy moments were sprinkled only slightly with the not-so-good moments like the pinch of salt that makes life feel real.
But, as the saying goes, destiny has two ways of crushing us – by fulfilling our wishes and sometimes by refusing them. A cruel villain entered our story – cancer. And what unfolded after that was Stage-4.
Rupa fought bravely to keep her promise not to leave and I, her helpless husband, tried everything I could to extend her life. The tiresome battle continued for almost a year, and then she left to begin her ultimate journey.
Alone, I became a lifeless doll. I searched for the answer to the question Rupa had posed, “Why me?”
I struggled to find new meaning in life, and wrongly contemplated thoughts of ending it all. But then I would look at Rupa’s photo and her face would tell me I can’t quit; that I had to carry on and fulfil the dreams we had shared. She coaxed me to remember the moments we had together. And in reliving those memories, the idea of writing Stage-4 was born.
I’d always wanted to write, and tried twice to write a novel, but I could never complete my stories. I now realize destiny had a different plan. I had to experience Stage-4 before I could complete the story.
The day I wrote the prologue was Rupa’s birthday. I had planned to celebrate at one of the children’s shelter homes in our city Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. My cousin had planned everything along with one of his friends, a social worker. We spent a few hours with the children suffering from cancer and decided to form a new Rotary club, dedicated to bringing a smile back to the faces of those suffering or in need. I had already founded the Rupa Foundation and a trust to support it. We named our club the Rotary Club of Bhubaneswar Smile.
That same night, I pledged to share the entire proceeds of my book, Stage-4, with our club and Rotary District 3262 to help children and women suffering from cancer.
The book is a story of love and loss, one where death does not win because the spirit of life lives on. The book was launched virtually on 7 November on the evening of National Cancer Awareness Day by Rotary International President-elect Shekhar Mehta with other dignitaries.
If you want to support our work, you can find my book on Amazon and at https://notionpress.com/read/stage-4. I thank Rotarians everywhere for all they do to bring peace and smiles to the lives of others.