My name is Lakshmi. I live in a small house in Mumbai. My husband, three daughters, and a son comprise my family. My husband is a garbage cleaner who makes Rs. 5000 every month. Let me tell you something extremely personal and close to my heart which ideally I wouldn’t share on a public platform, but sometimes, a person is a slave to her circumstances. Please take a few minutes of your valuable time to know my story, or rather, the story of my youngest daughter. Her name is Shashikala but I call her Shashi. My precious little child is 9 years old and calls me ‘Aai’. She loves to talk and run around the house, annoying her elder siblings.
My baby has a beautiful smile that lightens up my world. But lately, she hasn’t been smiling much. She hasn’t been talking much and it feels as if a thousand blades have pierced me when she tries to talk and ends up crying in pain.
Shashi’s birthday falls on September 23rd. Little did I know, how drastically the significance of this number would change for me! 23 is also the number of Shashi’s hospital bed in Nanavati hospital. My child is severely ill and in need of help. She requires support to pay over Rs. 10,00,000 in the next 15 days, so she can become the healthy and mischievous girl that she is.
It pains my heart to ask anyone for help. It feels as if I am putting an unnecessary burden on a kind stranger. But I am a mother, and my children are my everything. We are a family with a limited income but we are happy with whatever we have. Just like you people, we also crack jokes together, eat together, and care about each other.
Everything was going well when one unfortunate night when Shashi was studying for her upcoming History exam, I saw her looking very worried. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she wasn’t feeling good. Her legs were aching. She was also running a temperature. Unlike her siblings, Shashi is always prepared before her exams and History is her favorite subject. So I knew she wasn’t just stressed about her exam. We took her to our local doctor and asked us to get her admitted. We rushed to the nearest Baba Hospital.
That night was the closest I have ever been to hell. Her fever shot up overnight. My daughter refused to open her eyes as she struggled to breathe. When we tried to make her sit up, she fell flat on her face. I thought I was losing her. Her father and I decided to shift her to Nanavati Hospital immediately. As soon as we reached there, they put some machines on her body and a tube through her nose. That sight was very painful but it looked like it was helping her.
Dr. Avinash Walawalkar explained that my daughter has GBS, Guillain-Barré syndrome. GBS is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, causing weakness, breathlessness, and total paralysis at times. To cure it, Shashi would need to undergo a surgery worth Rs. 9,65,000. I was dumbfounded! Where was I going to get the money to save my daughter?
Just the preliminary tests and medicines have cost us Rs. 1,50,000 already. The actual treatment hasn’t even started yet, and we’ve already exhausted all our sources – our income and loans from well-wishers. How are we going to pay for the hospital and the machines attached to her body, keeping her alive? My last hope is receiving donations from kind people who read my story and help me keep Shashi alive.
Seeing her open her eyes was a relief. As soon as she opened her eyes, she scanned the room for a familiar face. She saw me and tried to talk several times. When she realized she couldn’t talk, she gestured and wrote in the air with her fingers. I realized that she was asking about her exams. She’s worried that she’ll be left behind while all her friends go to the next semester. I assured her that I had spoken to her teacher so she has nothing to worry about, but the truth is I haven’t had the time to go speak to her school about our situation. But I cannot possibly tell her that, of the ten things she talks about, eight are about her exams.
Shashi hates the tube coming from her nose. What breaks my heart is her silence, she can’t even protest because of the pain she experiences when she tries to talk. She just cries pointing at the tube in her nose. She just wants to get rid of them. How can a 9-year-old who loves talking stay sane without uttering a word for 20 long days? We mostly talk to her by guessing what she’s trying to say. We’ve kept a small notebook and a pen beside her bed for when we fail to understand her gestures. Her siblings have been wanting to see their baby sister but how can I take them to the hospital when her father and I find it difficult to see her like this?
The doctors have said that she will have to be kept in the hospital for at least 15 days more. While that means I’ll get to see my daughter better, it also means more money for the ventilator, ICU stay, hospitalization charges, and medicines. We cannot afford any of these without help. If you feel that a little of your contribution can help save my daughter, please donate to our fundraiser on Ketto.org.