People trying to explain what is love, is perhaps as old as the emotion itself. And while the definitions have been varied, there is a consensus that love can be understood and felt in its manifestation. In, perhaps, not losing faith and being with the person you love amidst all adversity. Setting an impeccable example of the same, Nitesh Noor Mohanty, co-founder of The Root, shared his story with Humans of Bombay. His wife Divya, whom he met when he was 17 was detected with a tumour on the right side of her brain in 2007.
“From the time of her diagnosis, we were told that she had 7-10 years to live, and her entire treatment would be about palliative care — there was no cure,” he said. After undergoing three different surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Mohanty revealed, “[I]n the last three years, she has continued to digress and now she’s completely dependent on me. We’ve been in this battle for over 10 years and each year, she becomes less functional,” he said. However, that has not changed his relationship with her. If anything, it has made their bond stronger.
“I’m no longer just her husband—I’m her partner, her father and her mother. When you’re a caregiver, you play so many roles and each one comes with a different kind of love — ones you didn’t even know existed before,” he said. And in case you think it is a sacrifice he is doing, he is quick to dispel any such doubts. “Being with her is not a sacrifice, it’s a choice I’ve happily made. I cannot save Diya, but I can continue to love every version of her.,” he said.
“I was 17 years old when I met Diya. We met in art school and our friendship blossomed immediately — a year younger and full of life, she was just perfect! For the next 11 years, we danced through the different phases of falling in love, without even knowing it. We even faced long distance when I went to study in Ahmedabad for a few years. She wrote me 4 letters every month, and we made a promise to wait for each other. I didn’t give her the attention she deserved, but she never complained — she patiently waited for us to reunite. In 2003 we were married and the next 4 years were complete bliss—they were about thoughtful gifts, movie nights, dinner dates, romantic trips and distant getaways. We saw our dreams in each other and were planning to start a family, when suddenly she got an epileptic attack.
A scan showed a tumour on the right side of her brain. From the time of her diagnosis, we were told that she had 7-10 years to live, and her entire treatment would be about palliative care — there was no cure. No matter what we did from then on, someday my Diya would be taken. Since then, we’ve undergone three different surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation—all they do is keep her alive. While she remained independent for quite some time even with the cancer, in the last three years, she has continued to digress and now she’s completely dependent on me. We’ve been in this battle for over 10 years and each year, she becomes less functional.
Contrary to the ‘strength’ that people think I have as her caretaker, being with Diya has only been about my vulnerabilities and her walking me through life, since the very beginning. Way back in art school it was Diya who handed me my first camera and taught me how to use it — she made me realise how important it was to capture memories. Since the past 10 years, I’ve been documenting our time together, as a way to hold onto her forever…because I know that any moment could be our last. When I fell in love with Diya, or thought I had, she was at her prime—she was the most perfect version of herself — But true love is what I’m feeling today.
I’m no longer just her husband—I’m her partner, her father and her mother. When you’re a caregiver, you play so many roles and each one comes with a different kind of love — ones you didn’t even know existed before. Being with her is not a sacrifice, it’s a choice I’ve happily made. I cannot save Diya, but I can continue to love every version of her. The future is inevitable and each day, a part of me dies with her, but I have to abandon my woes every night and start with a blank slate every morning with one purpose — to make her happy. Happiness for me now, is waking up in the morning and giving her a warm hug with a smile, massaging her hair and giving her a head bath, cooking her favourite food and seeing her relish it with delight.
I end my day by reading to her, putting her to sleep and hugging her tight…the only way I want to end all my days. Today, she has a short term memory deficit and needs my help to even turn in bed. Even though it’s been difficult— I don’t think we’ve ever felt closer to each other. We as humans can’t comprehend just how powerful love is, until we’re at the brink of losing it. People wonder how I’ve dealt with this and have even urged me to leave her— but true love can never just ‘leave’ — she’s given me so much and made me the man I am today, that it’s a privilege to do these things for her. I’d do this all over again, in every lifetime because she’s not just my better half…she is me and my life is for her.”
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