It’s the strangest of coincidences that caused Shikha’s and Rahkee’s paths to cross – in London School of Economics as soon as they joined the institution for the Masters programme in 2003.
‘I thought you’re a Bong’, grinned Shikha introducing herself. “But that Kuttiparambil told me you’re a Mallu. I’m Rakhee. Rakhee Chatterjee”
Rakhee and Shikha took to each other like duck to Kuttanaad waters.
That evening, when Shikha spoke to her father, she told him that she’d found a friend. “And papa, her mother’s name is Shikha. She thought I was a Bong till she heard my surname. You might know her mother. She was in the DSE around the time you were doing your PhD there”
“I don’t know, Shika. There were several Shiksas there.” Shikha thought her father sounded not his usual self.
“Her mother is an environment activist now, locally famous.”
“Hello. You there, papa?”
“Yes, yes. Shall call you later. Have an official call coming in”.
Within twelve hours after this conversation came that phone call which shattered Shika’s world. “You father has a condition which he had been keeping from us till now. It is a degenerative disease called motor neurone. He is not expected to survive beyond two years. His doctor spoke to me today. I thought I should tell you this.”
Shikha came back to Chennai and pursued her Masters in Residency College. Michael wanted his ailment to be kept a classified secret. Said he wanted to work till the signs of the disease showed - which never did. Eight months later, Shikha got the joyful news that the diagnosis was not quite right. It was actually a drug induced SLE, a reversible and manageable condition.
Shikha had been going to the Wednesday novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour ever since she returned from London, and she believed that this was nothing short of a miracle.