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(10) Shah Rukh Khan Story [Shah Rukh Khan Story]

"Friends, doctor says I have cancer."

I knew what cancer was. I'd heard of people die from cancer. I just never had related the disease with myself or my family. I couldn't possibly think of cancer with my father. People never really think of things until it actually happens to them.

A persistent and annoying blister on the tongue took Meer to a doctor. There he was diagnosed for cancer. Advanced and malignant. It was some weeks after they came back from Peshawar. The blister worsen and badly suffered Meer. It caused horrible pain and frequent bleeding from the mouth. Meer became unable to eat. Then eventually unable to talk. He communicated by writing notes.

Meer was hospitalized. He was in a common room with three other patients. Shah Rukh often visited him. Shehnaz could hardly visited for she was in a dormitory of Lady Shri Ram Collage. Shehnaz was 20 years old and adored her father more than anything in the world. She inherited his fair skin, gray eyes and slender figure. She was also as dreamy as Meer. For Shah Rukh and Shehnaz, Meer was literally someone to look up to. They never had a slightest doubt about his victory over the illness.

When Shah Rukh opened the door, Meer's eyes caught his. While he lost his voice, his eyes were so talkative. His rolling eyes were saying,
"Hi son! Well, it's hard. But I'm bearing up somehow".

Sometimes, one of the four beds was empty. It meant the patient finally lost his battle with illness and left the physical body behind. It frightened Shah Rukh to death when he saw Meer's bed was empty, but it was when Meer was taken to the chemo therapy. He never lost his hair from the therapy like other people.

Treatment cost them fortune. Meer needed over 10 injections a month and each injection cost 5000 rupees. Fatima worked hard round the clock to earn the money. She worked as a local magistrate during the day, and as a co-owner of a restaurant at night.

In spite of her effort, Meer's strong Pathan body gradually perished as the days go by. It took six months to completely conquer him. He became weak and thin as a skeleton. He couldn't pick up a pen to write notes anymore. He then gestured to tell people what he needed. Shah Rukh also gestured back. Their sad silent game continued in the quiet room in the hospital.

Shah Rukh's hope did not die despite the obviously critical condition of Meer. He thought that Meer could create miracle for he was a real superhero to him. In fact, Meer did show a sign of recovery and he was allowed to visit home shortly. Meer went home and shaved after a long time. He even ate some icecream and made Shah Rukh relieved.

Meer went back to the hospital next day. By then, his battle and medication in the hospital had become a daily routine for Shah Rukh. He didn't visit hospital on the day Meer went back.

After the midnight, a phone call awoke Fatima. It was from the hospital. It was telling Meer's death. Fatima woke Shah Rukh up saying,
"Come on, daddy wants to see us."

Meer was laid in the middle of the morgue. His body was already cold as ice. Shah Rukh rubbed his feet vigorously wanting to bring the warmth back. Eyes without gentle teasing light, a drop of blood from the ear... Shah Rukh marked the details of Meer's final presence in his memory forever.

The day broke and they had to go home for now. Driver had already gone leaving their Fiat parked. Shah Rukh naturally sat behind the wheel and let Fatima get in and drove off. After a while, Fatima said, as if she had just noticed
"Since when have you known how to drive?".
Shah Rukh answered,
"Just now."

Shah Rukh Khan, 14 years and ten months old. Amidst of the adolescence. It was too heavy for a rite of passage.


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