Aarti Natarajan Sharma
The second Covid wave had wreaked havoc in so many people’s lives. Geetanjali was one of them. Overnight her world had turned upside down. One day she was relaxing at home, reading a book, and the next day she was in the hospital with her father. After his second Covid vaccination, he had developed fever and his oxygen levels had begun to plummet. Geetanjali had to admit him to Fortis. Luckily a bed had been available. The diagnosis was Covid.
The next day her mother developed high fever. Between tending to both of them, Geetanjali found her defenses crumbling. She would come home and weep. She recalled reading somewhere that care-givers went through as much of trauma as the patient, perhaps more, since the patient was often sedated. The night her mother’s oxygen levels dipped to 88, Geetanjali had no choice other than to admit her to the hospital alongside her father.
While her father started recovering slowly, her mother seemed to sink deeper into the labyrinth of medication and oxygen. It became a see-saw with huge fluctuations daily. Sometimes the blood pressure would dip, at other times it would rise. Her heart rate would get erratic. Through it all, she put up a brave front before her parents and did not let either of them catch a glimpse of how she was truly feeling.
She began to dread what each day would bring. Seeing her mother in the ICU, lying helplessly, was more painful than she had ever imagined. Her mother had always been strong and the backbone of the family. Here, she was completely at the mercy of the doctors and nurses. Geetanjali could not digest this downslide in the image she carried in her mind and found herself resorting to anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills.
A well-meaning friend suggested she show her mother’s horoscope to an astrologer. Geetanjali had never really believed in astrology but desperate times called for desperate measures. She recalled her mother had been friendly with a lady in the adjoining colony who had taken to practicing astrology after her retirement. Geetanjali rang her up, introduced herself, and hesitantly questioned the lady about her mother’s horoscope.
The lady responded after a day with some advice. “Your mother’s house of health and house of longevity are both afflicted in the horoscope, and the planets in them are interlinked. You will need to take some remedial measures to pull her out of this situation.”
Geetanjali agreed. The lady suggested a minimum of five malas of the Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap, a prayer to Lord Shiva, to bestow good health and grant longevity.
Geetanjali got down to doing this in real earnest. Five malas translated into five hundred and forty chanting of the Mrityunjaya jaap. She started chanting fervently. She also gave things away in charity.
Slowly, she perceived that a miracle was taking place. First her mother’s BP stabilised, then the heart settled into a steady rhythm. Next, her mother was able to sustain an oxygen level of 94 with gradual reduction in the external oxygen support.
And then suddenly, on the 29 day since Geetanjali had started the chanting, her mother was weaned off the oxygen completely. Within a week of that, she was discharged from hospital. The doctors called it a miracle. Only Geetanjali knew that Lord Shiva had answered her prayers.
Very often God sends a medium to carry out his work. Geetanjali hadn’t been religious before this and left to herself she would never have thought of praying to Lord Shiva. But through her mother’s friend, she was shown the way; a raft to cling to in stormy times. She was reminded of a saying she read long ago “The corridors of a hospital echo far more with prayers, than the walls of any temple.”