Brotu Smita Foundation

Smita Datta - My Mum

I still remember the day when I had just come back to Mumbai from UK in Oct 2014. I was in Oorna’s office garden from where I called my dad in Kolkata. He said that my mum was not keeping well and that they’ve been visiting Gynecologists in the past few days, which obviously, my dad did not disclose to me earlier while I was in the UK. The next few days were a very stressful time for all of us in the family. While surgery was unavoidable as per the initial diagnosis, the question was when and where. I did my research in Mumbai and I did not want to take any risk and the immediate next step was to get them to Mumbai. The surgery was fixed at Jaslok Hospital on 31st Oct, 2014 which was also Oorna’s birthday. The positive thing was that the surgery was scheduled to be performed by Dr Sudeshna, who was also a very close friend. If I had to trust some doctor at that stage, I don’t think I would have a better option. She briefed me about possible outcomes earlier to the surgery. My mum was admitted earlier. On 31st Oct, I reached the hospital earlier and while my being made ready for the surgery, I tried to give her as much confidence as possible. My dad reached the hospital but by that time she was taken to the OT.


The wait started. My dad and me were waiting in the balcony next to the OT. I think this was one of the toughest few hours in my life. In some time, a nurse came and told me that Dr.Sudeshna is calling me to the OT. As I made my way to the OT, I was kind of sure of what she would tell me. Sudeshna explained that they were still in the middle of the process and had had taken out the tumor and sent for urgent biopsy and the results just came which confirmed it’s malignancy.  She then went inside for the next part of the surgery. She did tell me that her team was already prepared for this outcome and they would do what was needed.


I had to now give this update to my dad. One of the things which I have seen is that both my parents were mentally tough and it never occurred to me to hide the news from my father.

He was obviously shocked hearing it, but we both were mentally preparing for this tough fight which was on our hands.


What happened from that day till Nov 2015 were a few surgeries, many rounds of chemotherapy and unlimited number of visits to the doctors. My mum was always ready before time to visit the doc or hospital. I always knew she was brave and tough, but to actually see her in action during times when she has no clue whether she will live or not is truly something to admire and learn from.  She was one of those people who was liked by almost everyone in the family or in her friend’s circle. Whenever a friend or family would call her, she would say that she is fine and waiting to go back to Kolkata. In fact, when we met the Oncologist after her 5th chemo, the doctor said that after the next round of chemo she can go back to Kolkata as she is doing fine and if need be, may take the balance chemo shots from Kolkata.


We were all very relieved after months of stress, doctor and hospital visits. But luck did not favor us and before the next chemo when we went to see the doctor, he looked at the place where the tumor was earlier and said that there is one nodule which has come up. We were shocked. From thereon, our journey was downhill. We changed our doctor also and tried another way but nothing improved. She began to feel really sick and then she was in pain. On 31st October, 2015, one year after her first surgery, she was probably at her worst. But she still put up a smile, got ready in the evening to celebrate Oorna’s birthday and also clicked photos. We could all see from the photos that she was not herself. But I don’t think at that stage would have been able to do the same. She was so strong mentally.


I also remember once when she was admitted to hospital during the last time, she was alone in her room with me. She wanted me to hold her hand, I did that. But I just could not control myself and started crying. She told me not to worry and l don’t need to continue to hold her hand. I knew that she wanted to live more and at that stage, I felt so helpless to not be able to make that happen. That may have been why I could not hold my tears.


November saw things became worse. She was not able to eat properly now for some time. The pain also worsened. She was deteriorating. Baba, Oorna and me were actually hoping at this stage that she would not have to go through this much longer. On 18th November, she in considerable pain. We managed to get morphine injection for her and with the help of a family friend who was a junior doctor, administered the same. There were two attendants who was with her all time. They were instructed to keep me updated. At 1 am that night when I went to check up on her she was sleeping peacefully. I felt so happy. At last, she was able to sleep one day without the pain. But when the attendants knocked our bedroom door at 3.15 am, I somehow knew what they would tell me. My worst fear came true. She was not breathing anymore. I woke up my dad who was sleeping and told him the news. This was the saddest day of our life. 19th November is the day which we will never be able to forget in our life.


Every person has their own set of success stories in life. In small ways, I had mine. But those things don’t matter when you can’t save people who are precious to you. I am not sure whether I did my best to save her as she definitely wanted to live more. She was only 65. This would be without doubt the worst regret in my life.


This Foundation is in her memory. Hope with blessings from my friends, family and well-wishers, Oorna and me will be able to make a difference to few people’s lives in a small way.