I grew up in a lower middle class family. Always in need of commodities, I despised the life I led. My parents were, well, a lower middle class income individuals, striving their best to run the house and provide me with a bright future. But I was too naïve to recognize the significance of their actions and sacrifices. Perhaps a bit too naïve.

My dad would always be at work. He rarely visited us. ‘Stuck’ with my mother, I would often get into heated arguments with her. I would often fight with her over how miserable a life I led and how my classmates could afford items of luxury and pleasure which I could only dream of. “WHY CAN’T YOU BUY ME A SMARTPHONE ??!!” I would shout at her. She would reply in her shaky, soothing voice, “You know we can’t afford it. It is barely possible for us to afford our day to day items. And look, your Dad does not even have a cell phone.” Deaf to her pleas of mercy, I would rebuke her “All my classmates have it. I feel insulted in their presence. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE MY SITUATION?? “ . My mother would manage to reply “We are trying our best son “. And then I would cruelly fire back,” Well it’s not ENOUGH!! I am sick of leading such a pathetic and miserable life. IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD basic commodities for your son, why bring me to this world. WHY DON’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ??!!”.  And this is how a typical conversation went between my mother and me, me being unaware and ignorant of how I pierced her heart with my words. As dad was always away from home, my mother bore the brunt of my verbal abuses. But she absorbed it calmly.

There was this one day in school. I was playing a game of soccer, when I suddenly  fainted and collapsed. I was taken to the hospital, where after many days of medical testing and analysis, I was diagnosed with a terminal heart disease. There was no cure to it. The only solution to it was a heart transplantation, which in my case was simply unaffordable. When I  heard it, I was in a state of shock and happiness. Shocked that my life will end so prematurely. Happy that I will be freed from this ramshackle, miserable life. I think I was intrigued and happy by the prospect of death. I welcomed death with open arms.

I had 2 months to live. Coincidentally, my twelfth birthday was in 2 months. Ha! Destiny could indeed be cruel. As I counted my days to my doom, I often wondered what I would have done with my life had I had the chance to live. As days passed by, it became harder for me to live. I would often have severe heart pains. Unable to see my pain, my doctors officially got the permission to euthanize me, or in simple words ‘put me to sleep forever, due to extreme pain’.

It was the night of 23rd April. The night I was to be euthanized. I wouldn’t live to see the next morning, my 12th birthday. As I lay in bed, wondering about how miserable a life I spent, my mom came and sat beside me. I still had anger and hatred for her. I turned away from her. Ignoring that, she started to stroke my head. I think I heard some sobs. I didn’t care. I was on my final ride, a ride away from life, a life which I never wanted to live, but was forced to, all due to her. I closed my eyes.

Wait, I am still alive. I woke up the next morning. Confused. Amused. Scared. Unaware. I am supposed to be dead!  I was covered in all sorts of tubes and bandages. I could barely move my hands. A nurse came and helped me. After a while she handed me a letter. Barely able to hold and read it, I read the following.

” Dear Son,

I hope you are doing fine. You don’t know the happiness you gave me son. It was a bliss being your mother. I understand I was unable to provide for your needs. I am sorry. I tried my best. And here I am, having disappointed you your whole life. You always wanted me gone from your life. I can understand your hatred. Its natural.

Oh! Happy Birthday. Today’s your twelfth birthday. I wish I could see my child grow up and be the good man I know he would be, but that is not possible now. We never could afford you a gift on your birthday. It was way beyond our financial capabilities. But I do want to gift you something on your birthday today. Something special .  Something which you will cherish forever. Son, make the most of your life. Don’t let poverty limit you. Chase and achieve your dreams. That, is a life worth living. And take care of yourself and your heart. Because the heart that beats within you, was mine.”


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Amit Panja is from Jakarta , Indonesia. He is an art critic , historian and a science addict.