For Esha*, her first Valentine’s Day with her fiancé may also be her last.
Esha is the oldest child in her family and also the sole breadwinner. Her father passed away while she was completing her masters, and since then, she had been handling the financial responsibilities of her family.
Esha met her beloved Ali* last year at work. She was a customer services representative for a service provider, and he was a customer. Ali, a police officer, was immediately taken by her and soon they started spending time together. On days when she was unable to meet him after work, she would stop by his office with his favourite foods.
A few months in, he asked for her hand in marriage. It was not easy, as at first, Ali’s own family was unwilling to let him marry a non-Syed. However, both families consented towards the end of 2011 after being impressed by the couple’s sincerity.
Esha had been feeling sick during this time and had assumed it was stress from rumours of downsizing at work. However, when her health failed to improve, she went to a doctor and had a few tests done. The results changed her life. Esha had late stage blood cancer. To add to her misery, she was downsized as well.
Still financially responsible for her younger siblings’ education, she is spending all her savings on her family.
Esha is divided. Should she tell her family and risk losing her love, or should she keep it to herslf, and risk losing her life?
She has not even shared the fact with Ali yet, as she fears his family might force him to back out of the engagement. The fear has taken its toll on her determination to get treatment.
Esha remains quiet as she finishes wrapping Ali’s Valentine’s present, a pencil-sketched portrait of him, along with chocolates and balloons. At the same time, Ali is busy arranging wedding-related events. Meanwhile, Esha’s mother is asking for money for wedding clothes and jewellery.
The greatest irony in life may truly be falling in love with the right person at the wrong time.
*Names changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.