My 10-year-old daughter is a shy, quiet child. We tell her she must befriend more people. But for Poulami, it was just me and her father, Biswajit who means the world to her. An only child, she grew up fully understanding that we didn't have enough money to fulfill all her desires. So she worked hard at school determined to achieve what her parents couldn't give her.
My husband Biswajit, doesn’t have a permanent job. He works as a security guard in different construction sites. There are days when he doesn’t have a job and we have to depend on our relatives for our basic needs.
Whatever Biswajit earns, we used to save for Poulami’s future. Everyone told us this one would go far. Poulami was fine, until one day she had very high fever. Her fever didn’t come down for days and we took her to the doctor. After several tests, Poulami was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia. This is a condition where the body is unable to develop blood cells - a disease that the doctors say is worse than cancer.
Neither Biswajit nor I are educated enough to know or understand the risks associated with any disease. The doctors told us that the situation was urgent. If not treated - even with blood transfusions, we will not be able to save her. She needed an urgent bone marrow transplant to function properly and live.
As early symptoms, Poulami lost appetite and was tired and sick all the time. Doctors told us it would be deadly if she started having bruises and bled even a little. There are days when we don’t even know what to eat the next day. Now we had to collect enough to save our child.
Our relatives helped us a lot during early treatment, it was impossible for us to arrange such huge amounts of money. But they also have their own families. It’s not possible for them to keep supporting us. We have also sold all the gold jewellery that I ever had. We don’t have any money left now.
Biswajit has already lost his existing job. We have stayed away from our hometown, Howrah, for too long now. Once we go back to Howrah, my husband has to look for another job now. I don’t know how are we going to manage till he gets a new job.
My little girl asks me when will she be able to go out like others do. She asks me why is she not allowed to eat outside. She has become irritable because she can't to do things that other children of her age do. As a mother it breaks my heart to tell her that she is inflicted with a dangerous disease that won't go away.
Poulami has grown up in a joint family. Since she fell sick, her cousins keep asking me and Biswajit when Poulami will come back. I don’t know if she can even get better again. Paulami can't run, jump or hit herself. Even the slightest impact will cause internal bleeding that could be fatal. It is not something a child will understand. It breaks my heart to accept that Poulami is forbidden from all the fun in life, through no fault of hers.
The doctors in Meenakshi Hospital, Madurai, have been kind and helped us deal with the situation. Poulami’s treatment for bone-marrow transplant couldn’t be delayed. Although it had to be performed on an urgent basis, we had no money to sail through the situation. Every time I saw my daughter, my heart sank.
As I was the donor for Poulami, I have been with her since the time she has been admitted in the hospital. I will continue being with her unless she gets discharged.
We had already told the doctors that we have no money for the treatment. But the doctors focused on how important it was to get her treated. We couldn’t refrain from doing it because we knew it was a life and death decision for our daughter. We thought the battle was won - but it has only just started.