"It’s so good to see you, Naina, after all these years," Sameer beamed as he took a seat opposite his school friend at the cafe. “I practically rushed through my meetings today, hoping the day would go by faster. I just couldn’t wait to see you.”
"I know!" Naina smiled. "I think it’s been sixteen years since we last met. And I think we connected on Instagram about five years ago. Didn’t we?"
"Just look at you! You look nothing like what you were back in the day," Sameer said.
"Hey!" Naina frowned.
"Oh, no. Don’t get me wrong. You pull off Indian attire pretty well. I mean, who would have thought Naina Kapoor -the tomboy of the class, finally got married? And is now a mother of a beautiful baby girl. How is Myra doing? I’ve literally seen that little one grow on Instagram."
"She’s a handful. She keeps me on my toes throughout the day. When I return from work, Myra just doesn’t leave my side even for a second," Naina rolled her eyes.
As the chitter-chatter went on between the two, a woman in her late fifties entered the cafe. She had a fair complexion and beautiful eyes that crinkled when she smiled. She wore a tiny diamond pin on her long, delicate nose, making her face light up. She was dressed like a typical Army wife. She wore a crisp pink salwar suit which softened her rich skin tone. She wore a lovely pair of open-toed rose-wedged sandals with a matching handbag. She was very much the wife of Major S.N Rathore.
Mrs. Rathore seated herself, neatly placing her handbag on the empty chair beside her; she set her phone on the table.
She patiently gazed out of the window, waiting for her daughter to arrive.
At that moment, Sameer spotted Mrs. Rathore and excused himself. He excitedly walked over to her table to greet her. It had been years since they had last met. They brought their conversation to a close as her daughter and granddaughter arrived.
"Who was that?" Naina asked as he settled himself back in his chair.
"Major Rathore’s wife." He said proudly and took a seat.
"Who is Major Rathore?"
"You don’t know who Major Rathore is?" Sameer’s eyes widened.
"No," said Naina. "Should I?"
"Okay. Let me tell you the story. The Major and Mrs. Rathore were my neighbors many years ago. He was a soldier who fought courageously in ‘65 and in the Kargil War. He was a patriot and dedicated his heart and soul to the nation. After the war, he was posted in Karnal. One day, he was driving home to his family here in Delhi. Sadly, he met with a car accident and was taken to Fortis Hospital. He was placed on a ventilator and declared brain dead. The doctors said there was no hope as his injuries were innumerable and several were life-threatening."
"Oh, my goodness," Naina said.
"Mrs. Rathore rushed to his side from Delhi. The doctors told her quite bluntly that he was dead, but the machines were keeping his organs functioning. That brave lady did not flinch. She asked the team of doctors if there was really and truly no hope of reviving his brain?"
"Gosh," Naina said. Her eyes were moist, and she carefully wiped them so as to not smudge her mascara.
"She was told that there was absolutely no hope. She made a decision that few could make. At the same time, Mrs. Rathore was approached by her distant relative who was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. She had also learned about organ donation and the serious lack of organ donors. She knew that there were patients who faced certain death if a transplant was not forthcoming. She said she would like her husband’s organs to be donated to those who needed them. The Green corridor helped transport the kidney to her relative in no time."
"Had Major Rathore told his wife to donate all his organs if feasible, in case of his death?" Naina asked slowly.
"Yes," said Sameer soberly.
Naina listened attentively to what Sameer said next. "His corneas from his eyes gave sight to the blind. His heart still beats in someone. His kidneys are functioning well in Mrs. Rathore's distant relative who had end-stage kidney disease.’
Sameer went silent as he gazed intently at Mrs. Rathore enjoying her time with her granddaughter.
"Sameer… Sameer? Are you still with me" Naina asked.
“Umm… Oh! Sorry! You know, if it were not for Major Rathore’s organ donations….”
“Go on!” Naina said impatiently.
"Naina, my body carries Major Rathore’s liver. But this is not all. Mrs. Rathore has facilitated a community of all the people who have received a part of Major Rathore. Not only did we have the privilege of having our lives improved or saved through Major Rathore’s donations, but we have the support and community that Mrs. Rathore has created. The first time she gathered us together, she spoke of her husband’s great vigor, his love of life, his love of fun, and his endless concern for humanity. In the end, she said he was not a warrior but a man who fought against war. The sudden loss of her beloved husband did not deter her from providing new life and joy for many people. When we get together at Mrs. Rathore’s beautiful home to remember our donor, we are astounded at all the lives this man has touched. We often say he is our hero of a thousand faces."