(This is the ninth part of a short story No stranger bond. You can find the full story here .)
"Please take some more", said Shuja as he passed the biryani to Sharada, "all the vegetables are leached!" The Subramanyams had come to Shuja Mohammad's house for dinner. "Oh, we dialysis patients! Imagine having leached vegetables in a biryani", burst out Sharada. They all had a hearty laugh.
"Luckily we both have our dialysis tomorrow, otherwise all the water this biryani is going to cause us to drink will surely kill us!"
"Totally agree Sharadaji", said Shuja, "but soon all this is going to be a thing of the past!"
"Oh, how badly I want a transplant, Shuja bhai. I want to be able to eat coconut chutney with my idlis again!"
"And I want to be able to be able to eat - forget it", Shuja stopped midway realizing any mention of meat would not be appropriate in front of this "pure vegetarian" lady. "I would love to be able to have a full glass of sherbet on Eid. Oh how I miss the fragrance of sherbet!"
Their children let the parents do the talking. How relieved they all were! It was a mystery how it all came about. They were not bothered though. As long as it would all turn out fine in the end.
Dr. Bhalla was ecstatic! The first swap transplants were both doing very well. It had been more than a month and it was very gratifying to see them so happy. And then he got to know that Shuja and Sharada had also agreed to the swap. He was thrilled that the new software they had procured would help another set of patients get rid of dialysis. It was the perfect marriage of technology and medicine!
The date of the transplant was fixed. There was about a month left. In the meantime, the four people involved would need to undergo a last set of tests.
A week later, the Subramanyams invited Shuja and his son over for dinner. Shuja gifted a nice sari to Sharada. Sharada decided she would wear it on the first monthly anniversary of their transplant surgery. Sharada had prepared a sumptuous South Indian spread - all low salt and low Potassium!
As the date of the transplant neared, the two families were on tenterhooks. After all this effort, they were hoping everything would go well. Dr. Bhalla put together a team of the best available surgeons and anesthetists. He got most of the people who had done the first swap transplant.
About a week before the surgery, to Shuja's and Sharada's surprise, Govind Patel and Shomik Bhattacharya, the two men who had the first swap transplant came to visit them at the dialysis unit. They stood between the two beds and Govind Patel said to them, "It is amazing to be able to do this. For both of us, it has been nothing short of a miracle. We had really given up hope. But when we were told by Dr. Bhalla about the possibility of a swap, we were so excited. It was like a new life!"
Shomik Bhattacharya added, "We had heard about your fights! We never thought you would be able to reconcile. It is really great the way both of you made up."
Shuja immediately gave the credit to Sharada, "It was all thanks to the payasam!"
The day finally came. Shuja, Sharada, Masih and Bala got admitted into the hospital. Shuja's relatives had come to Delhi for the transplant to look after them for a few weeks after the transplant. The surgery was scheduled to happen the next morning. That evening, they all gathered in Shuja's room for a final meeting before the surgery. The duty nurse allowed this exception. They were all totally tense. What would tomorrow bring for them? The transplant surgery for one patient was complicated enough. Here they were doing two simultaneously. They left things completely to God and wished each other luck.
They went back to their respective rooms eagerly awaiting the new light that was about to enter their lives.