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” I want to say “I would need an electron-fucking-microscope to see how little of a shit I could give about fucking fried rice right now.” But I don’t know how to say that in Thai. We get home and immediately pour ourselves some Johnny Walker Black. I feel its effects immediately as it burns my throat and gives my muscles permission to relax. One picture stands out, a small framed photo of Seema and me sitting on a swing on a porch in Indore in 2010. All those discussions about what kind of parents we swore we would be. The apartment is quiet as I sit alone in the kitchen chair with my drink. As Dad talks and laughs, I try to enjoy the last few moments of pre-cancer normalcy that our family will experience. My tears will come again later when I talk to Mom on the phone and I hear her crying. The photos we’ve hung of our friends and our travels stare back at me..action_button.action_button:active.action_button:hover.action_button:focus.action_button:hover.action_button:focus .count.action_button:hover .count.action_button:focus .count:before.action_button:hover .count:before.u-margin-left--sm.u-flex.u-flex-auto.u-flex-none.bullet. Error Banner.fade_out.modal_overlay.modal_overlay .modal_wrapper.modal_overlay [email protected](max-width:630px)@media(max-width:630px).modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:before.modal_overlay .modal_fixed_close:hover:before. Each orbit around the flames symbolizes the devotion to each other needed for a happy marriage. The dupatta that hangs around my neck is tied in a knot with her veil, connecting us as we hold hands and take turns leading each other around a sacred fire.It was probably Seema’s mom asking when we were going to visit them in Dallas next, then Seema’s father trying to convince us to just move to Dallas since there is no income tax. They continue to talk and reassure me but the words stop making sense. I would read the 400 books I’ve ordered on Amazon over the past year but have never read. Dwelling on all of these uncertainties will slowly drive me insane. So I search desperately for something, anything, to distract myself.I don’t know where their confidence originates, but I feel an emptiness in their words that is compounded by the sheer amount of uncertainty that has been laid at our feet. Seema distracts herself by diving into the prose of Junot Diaz and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I see a pin board filled with photographs of other patients. I suppose it would be ill-advised to have a board filled with emotionally shell shocked patients like ourselves. I think about the last time I spoke with them on the phone. Maybe it’s the only thing they can hang on to in this moment. They are nothing like the doctor who gave us the original diagnosis. They become our Dream Team, a multi-headed beast with an expertise in Oncology, Radiology, and Chemotherapy. Seema would explore fashion and intern with a designer. In addition to uncertainties about Seema’s health, uncertainties about our future, family, and careers constantly drift in and out of my everyday thoughts.
I take my newfound rage and disappointment out on the Thai restaurant owner speaking broken English on the other end of the phone. I begin stumbling through a scream-stuttered response. I feel the powerful numbness weighing me down once more, and I wonder if I’m ever going to feel anything ever again. Her dark hair and big, brown eyes are framed by her crimson veil.
But the more I stare at the photo the more it doesn’t look like us. Two kids oblivious they are sitting on some tracks with a freight train a few years in the distance hurtling directly towards them. Seema looks like an Indian queen in her crimson sari with her gold jewelry sparkling.
“We need to make an appointment with an oncologist.” I stare at her. She’s ahead of me emotionally and I’m jealous of her head start. Dad and Aai are with us during our first appointments to ask follow-up questions and throw out suggestions for medications or procedures. I didn’t think that was possible, but I accept it with open arms. Seema and I would attend a State Dinner with Barack and Michelle.
I fear the cycle of sadness she’s experienced that I soon will. We try to keep up, but the conversation quickly becomes complex physician speak. As we schedule and await Seema’s first scans that will indicate the severity of the cancer, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the flood of uncertainties about our future. I recently quit my strenuous job as a creative director at a successful advertising agency with plans to freelance as a hired creative gun. I’d make an off-the-cuff joke about Joakim Noah’s hair to the President.