I remember my younger son Sohail was 3 years old at that time when Meraj, the elder one, had encountered Malaria. Symptoms had started appearing the day he came back home after a “lousy” day at school.
He had an elevated body temperature and didn't go for evening games. By next morning he was suffering chills and complained of headache. I had a long day ahead with a few presentations to make at a couple of meetings, my preoccupation with its nitty-gritty was intense and I mistook the fever and chills as seasonal change antics. I gave him a concoction and went off to work.
When I came late at night, he was asleep but his temperature was high. The following day again I suppressed his fever with paracetamols and kept on with my busy schedule. But that night he cried of pain and chills got graver, he vomited too. Next morning, when we took him to the hospital, we came to know that its been half-a week old Malaria that he was suffering from. My initial neglect of his symptoms was visible when doctors admitted him as infection was acute and needed continuous monitoring.
My husband who was travelling then, immediately came back when he heard about Meraj’s hospitalization. When I explained him his condition, he reprimanded me for negligence. In the following few days, Meraj’s condition worsened and doctors looked sorry. We became frantic and with tears in our eyes almost always, we began making prayers. I got too engrossed with Meraj’s condition and was staying in hospital day and night. I kept asking about Sohail by calling at home, where my mother was looking after him, but wasn't able to attend to him for days in a row. My husband kept chiding me intermittently for the negligence and the delay in diagnosis due to which Meraj was suffering. I only sobbed silently, as his blaming was not entirely misplaced.
A week later Meraj started showing signs of recovery and the following week he was discharged. A month long ordeal with Malaria had made him severely weak and emaciated. At home, he needed a lot of monitoring with his meals and medication. While I was trying my best to bring about his recovery as early as I could, I began noticing some unwelcome changes in my younger son. He had become irritable, and cried all the time. He was hardly eating anything and would vomit as soon he was made to eat. He also looked pale. I told myself I would be ashamed if my preoccupation with my elder son would be at the cost of my younger son, for both were equally precious to me.
When Sohail’s symptoms grew weirder, I immediately consulted doctor who confirmed that he was suffering from jaundice. That moment, I still remember was the lowest moment of my life. When my husband came to know about this, he grew worried too. But unlike the time of Meraj’s illness, he didn't burst out immediately. A few days, he didn't even talk to me and when one evening I summoned courage to ask what was wrong with him, he made sit on the dining table and told me that I was not the kind of mother, he would want for his children. Both the children were suffering partly due to my negligence in monitoring them properly.
My husband was very outright in making clear to me my duties as a mother. This episode left created a gulf between us which took years to fill. I remember how during those days I was constantly in sadness and my husband permanently tense. Gradually, things improved and both the boys were on their feet again. Happiness which had gone away from my home slowly returned with children resuming their playfulness.
This episode made me realize how central to a successful married life is the health of young children and how the health of young children itself is so fragile.
They need continuous monitoring and checkups. Their immune system is undeveloped and many a systems in bodies function differently than elders.
A healthy child is a great boon for the family and so is the importance of keeping our children healthy.
Above all, a healthy child is the cornerstone of a healthy home, I realized.
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