HUGGS student Dhanalakshmi
Dhanalakshmi ran up the uneven steps of the pathway to her home. Today was the day. Today would decide if she could pursue her dream.
“Dhana! Dhana! Wait up.”
Dhanalakshmi turned around and waited as Kumari caught up with her.
“Dhana, I heard you’ve finished school. What’re you going to do now? Are you getting married?”
“No way!! I'm going to study to be a nurse.”
Dhana had decided to be a nurse ever since that fateful day her father had died. Bhoopathi had been running a high fever for a few days, but had refused to go to the hospital. What was the use, they didn’t have money for the medication. That day, he became delirious, and everyone got really scared. By the time they took him into Emergency and waited two hours for a doctor to see him, it was too late. He passed away just as he was put onto a stretcher. If only she had known what to do. The nurses in their crisp white uniforms looked so smart, following the doctor so efficiently.
Yes, she definitely wanted to be a nurse. She had just finished Grade 10 with flying colours. Even if she could afford it, many years of study lay ahead – two of Intermediate, then four of the Nursing degree. She was just sixteen. She could do it! If only she had the money. Of which there was none. Her mother worked domestic jobs, often having to switch from one demanding housewife’s whims to another. Then there was her younger sister, in Grade 5 – so many more years to feed and clothe.
Dhana bent low to step under the sloping thatch into the unevenly brick-walled space that was home. A few steps into the thatch-roofed space, her mother was tidying the one room that had a proper door.
“Amma, did Mr. Hemant come?”
Even as she spoke, the neighbour’s little son came prancing in.
“Dhana, Dhana, someone’s here to see you.”
Mr. Hemant’s head peeped in from under the thatch.
“Namaste, sir. Please come in.”
A cot had been set up, a handloom bedspread draped over its coir weave, ready for the visitor.
Dhana’s mother hastened out, all smiles. Behind her, the tea kettle was boiling on the kerosene burner. Mr. Hemant noted the spotless stainless steel pots shining on the high shelf inside. A worn steel cupboard and an 8” B&W TV on a small table were squished into the 8x8 room.
He cleared his throat, and smiled at Dhana’s mother.
“How are you? Is everything good?”
“You have a very smart daughter. She has done so well in her Grade 10 final exams. A ninety percent average!” Mr. Hemant paused and turned to Dhana with a smile. “Congratulations! HUGGS is going to sponsor your studies.”
Dhana had been waiting for this for many weeks, yet she couldn’t believe her ears. With a shy smile through which her excitement shone through, she looked into her mother’s teary eyes. Now she could start her journey to her dream!
Fast Forward six years …
Oblivious to the ambient bustle of the general ward, Dhana confidently moved the IV stand closer to the patient’s bed. Through the haze of high fever, the old man watched her silently. This woman in nurse’s uniform looked very young. But she seemed to know what she was doing.
“Don't worry, Raju-garu, everything will be alright. Your fever will be gone by the morning.”
Dhana located a vein in the wrinkled elbow and expertly inserted the IV needle. The old man didn't even flinch.
“There! That didn't hurt, did it? The medicine will help you sleep. Tomorrow you will be able to go home.”
As she tucked in the blanket around the patient, Dhana recalled the day her father had died. She hadn't had the skills to save her father, but today she could save this man. She was a qualified nurse! This one’s for you, Appa.
Thank you, HUGGS.
Dhanalakshmi's home Dhanalakshmi with mother
About the Author
The mission of HUGGS Canada is to provide underprivileged students in India with the opportunity to further their education, enabling them to contribute more effectively to their families and communities.
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