Shabna was the first girl I met in the dormitory in law college. She sat there, eyes red and watery. She was already homesick. Me, in an hour, I thought, sneaking looks at her while mom and I unpacked and made my bed.
Shabna and I shared the same room in the first year. She had asthma and that year because of the climate change and adjusting to college/hostel life pressure, she had more attacks than all the years in law college.
I remember, after studying with my friends and classmates (she was in the other batch), I would come to my room to find her gasping, notes in hand, absolutely sure, she'll fail her test the next day. There were other days, regular college days, when there was always so much time (sigh!), when I would sit up with her, chatting, trying to take her (and my) mind off the painful gasps of air she took.
In second year, I moved to room 10 with my gang of friends and that was to be my residence the next four years. Shabna moved to room 9, next door, with her friend and classmate, Shimla (I know :)). Her shelf space was now covered with large bottles of dark coloured, strong smelling ayurvedic (yes, very much a mallu) medicines and concoctions.
Yet, when sufferring at night or day, she would, sometimes, call me over... I don't know, maybe it was easy for her with me. I have cleaned her vomit, washed her clothes and though we were never together, there were nights that I was thankful she was sleeping across the wall.
She shared stuff with me that she told nobody. When she fell in love, truly, madly, deeply, three years later, I knew of it at least nine months before my roomies or her roomies even got whiff of it. Yes, I am very good at not telling people things!!
She has a daughter and son and is living blissfully in Kerala. But, she's been on my thoughts a lot this last week, especially the nights.
Two days ago, a renowned chest/allergy specialist told us that our daughter has bronchial hypercativity, mainly (his words), because the doctors don't like to use the words asthma with regard to children.
She has been prescribed those inhaler sprays in blue, green and pink - her words. She might grow out of it, but then again, she might not - the doctor's words.
This last week, my little daughter has been coughing (not yet wheezing, thankfully) the entire night and day. I carry her and pace around from bedroom to living room and back. Shabna used to tell me that her earliest memories are of her dad carrying her on his shoulders throughout the night.
By the way, the little wise daughter turned five yesterday. We had a teeny party (if you can call it that) where she jumped and played and laughed a lot and ... did not cough even once. A small but precious miracle!!