“I still feel my stomach twisting up into a knot”

“I still feel my stomach twisting up into a knot”

How do you cope with a freak accident that hurts your mother? A 16-year-old young boy shares his story of healing.

Dhruv Singh

I had gone down to the park to play football with my friends when I heard the household help shout at the top of her lungs from the balcony saying words that even remembering now sends a chill down my spine. She said, “Come home, Didi (my mom) has cut her hand.” Hearing this, I rushed home. The door was wide open and my dog was frantically running around like a headless chicken. I entered the kitchen to see the household help crying and trying to keep from throwing up while also cleaning up my mother’s blood that seemed to be everywhere. My mother had already been taken to the hospital.

I still feel my stomach twisting into a knot, when I am reminded of that sight. I remember feeling dreadful, trying not to cry but more importantly knowing that I needed to be strong for my family and for my own sanity. I urged my household help to go and sit in her room since she could barely keep from throwing up. It would’ve added to her job if she threw up there.

The shock

After she left, I took a long and deep breath, put the dog in my room so that we wouldn’t step in the blood and take it all over the house and then tried to wipe all the blood off the walls. That’s when I saw the most gruesome and gut-wrenching sight I had ever seen – a piece of my mom’s finger. I almost threw up and remembered how throughout my life my mother had called me a piece of her affectionately but today when I saw a piece of her I couldn’t think straight. I knew I had to, so I looked all over the kitchen just in case there were more pieces of her fingers. I found two more to make it a total of three. I wrapped the pieces in tissue paper and threw them in the bin.

By this time the house help had started to feel better so I asked her how it happened. She broke into tears and said, “It’s all my fault. I should’ve never turned that switch on.” I could’ve broken into a fit and blamed her but I knew in my heart that this was not in anyone’s control. It was just bad fate.

Our neighbour and her son, who is also my friend, came to check on me because my mom had asked them to. At that moment I thought two things: firstly why didn’t my mom call me? And secondly, what could these people even do? I wasn’t in the correct frame of mind to tolerate them without having a mental breakdown so I said I was fine and politely asked them to leave. Then I heard the landline ring. Hoping to hear a familiar voice, I sprinted to answer the phone and on hearing my aunt’s voice all the emotions I had till then buried inside poured out. I bawled my eyes out. My aunt said, “Pack your bags, we are on our way to pick you up.”

A shoulder to lean on

This provided me with the boost I needed to gain my confidence back. I packed my bag and also a bag for my mom that my dad had asked me to pack. My dad and I exchanged a brief interaction when he came to pick up the bag and go back to the hospital to attend to my mother. I said my goodbyes to him and told him to take care of himself and my mother.

I was greeted with the warmest of welcomes at my aunt’s house. I was also happy to see them after the long COVID break.

This was when reality set in that my mother wouldn’t be the same. When I got a call from her I could hear the pain in her voice and knew that she had been crying. I don’t remember much of what we talked about but I do remember her saying “keep praying for me and everything will be fine”. To lighten the mood I teased her by saying “I know you will be fine since you have too many prayers”. She mistook me for being angry. I couldn’t even apologize before she had to leave for the medical procedures. That night I lay sleepless in bed knowing that even in her immense physical and mental anguish I had managed to inflict more pain unknowingly. This haunted me.

It was a while before I could see my mother again or go back home. In my aunt’s house, I had started to show symptoms of depression and burnout like insane sleep schedules, unwillingness to interact with others and lack of energy. While I was at my aunt’s house, I didn’t do anything productive. I ate at irregular hours, finished a show on OTT with nine seasons in a span of five days. Finally, it was time to head home and be reunited with my mom and dad. I came home, opened the door and was greeted by my dog who, seemed to have lost a lot of weight due to what seemed like stress.

Seeing my mother again

Then I saw my mom with a cast on her right hand and joy on her face to see me. I hugged her for a long time and realized that her smile was short-lived. She was in an unbearable amount of pain. I knew I had to take care of her and to do that I had to take care of myself. I knew that the depression and burnout had to go. I started exercising in my room and eating on time while taking care of my mom. While doing that I realised that I was going to be a star for my parents. Like the name they blessed me with, I would be their guiding star and that I would guide us back to when things were normal.

All in all, even though I went through so much I know now that you should not contain your emotions. You should express them because when they build up, the problems that are buried will eventually catch up with you.


How I did it

We all have our journeys. These are some of the things that helped me heal and cope.

Talk about it: This is what everyone tells you to do. It will be very difficult to open up but you need to find the right person, someone whom you can trust and talk to them.

Do what you love: This varies from person to person but try to engage in positive and productive activities.

Exercise: The levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins change when you exercise. So just an hour or two of exercise will go a long way.

Journaling: Document what you feel. Often we aren’t able to talk to another person well enough but we know what we are feeling so what better thing to do than document it.