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We have been living in this neighborhood for almost 10 years. I remember Priyanka and Nithin moving to the first floor of our apartment some 9 years back. I was 5 months pregnant then and I was extremely happy to hear that Priyanka was also carrying and she was 3 month preggy. We got very close and was roaming around together for the evening walks, grocery shopping, Gyn visits etc.
We resolved that our kids would also be close friends like us, my son was born in April and hers on May. Priyanka named her son Dhruv and the boys also loved each other’s company like their mommies. Though Dhruv was a month younger to my son, he crossed all milestones well ahead of my son. While sonny was trying to crawl, he stood up and when sonny managed to stand Dhruv was running. Dhruv our little champ was so cute and charming, no one can take their eyes off him. He was so caring and helping minded from the toddler stage, at 1.5 years I had seen him standing by my son to help him climb the stairs.
When the kids started play school and schooling together, Dhruv was the star. He was equally loving towards me also, he calls me “aunty ma” which melts my heart. We all took pride on him. His dancing was with such a grace and there were no grey moment when he is around. During annual days, our laps will be loaded by his medals while we see him performing dances and dramas with pride brimming in our eyes.
When the First grade began, we noticed that he tilts his head a lot and was also blinking one eye frequently. We thought that the kid is having an eye problem as we saw many of Dhruv and sonny’s classmates with glasses. Dhruv was taken to an ophthalmologist but his eyes were normal, however he was referred to another Doctor for an elaborate diagnosis. After some preliminary investigations and an MRI we heard the dreaded word. Dhruv was diagnosed with DIPG a rare pediatric cancer with 0% survival rate. DIPG (Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) is a tumor located in the pons (middle) of the brain stem. The brain stem is the bottommost portion of the brain, connecting the cerebrum with the spinal cord. The majority of brain stem tumors occur in the pons and are diffusely infiltrating (they grow amidst the nerves), and therefore cannot be surgically removed.
Everyone who knew Dhruv were shocked and shattered, how could such a demon choose our little Dhruv to be his prey. The poor parents did not leave any stone unturned for their kid. They were ready even to fly to the UK or US or anywhere in the world if a treatment is available to save Dhruv. But unfortunately there was none. The possibilities of alternative treatment were also explored. Google which had answers for every search was also blank as the cure for DIPG was unknown.
The sad reality is that this kind of tumors usually grow quickly and affect important parts of the brain. The median time from tumor progression to death is usually very short, gradually the body functions shut one by one and the treatment options available were only for prolonging death and not for curing. Dhruv was taken for radiation sessions, unlike other DIPG kids Dhruv did not show any ugly symptoms of DIPG, he was active as always, which made us all pray that this diagnosis is just a nightmare. But our handsome little Dhruv did not wake up from sleep on the 42nd day of diagnosis, he grew wings and flew away to his creator.
We were short of words to console the shattered parents, everything happened within a short span, the ever active happy kid was nowhere but his memories were suffocating everyone who knew him. His bright smile and contagious spirits was etched in my mind. His parents not able to bear the void vacated their apartment and left to their native in North India. We have a portrait of Dhruv and Sonny in our living room and sonny feels that Dhruv still lives here very much near him. He narrates dreams where they both play in beaches and in the neighborhood parks. I have told sonny that Dhruv was named after the brightest star in the Milky Way and so every evening we spot the pole star and wish and pray for our little Dhruv.