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The unusual cancer conqueror

The biopsy of the tissues from the tumour confirmed malignancy. The ensuing treatment was protracted, but it arrested the galloping malady. And now, three years later, the battle had been won.
Last Updated 22 February 2024, 21:34 IST

I had known a few cancer warriors—my mother was one—but this case was different. I was inspecting the small-mounted contingent of city police when I came across it. The unit had vacancies in its strength, which we could not afford considering the crucial role it played in night patrolling and controlling crowds from time to time.

I asked the officer in charge how we could augment the strength immediately. He said that one of the invalid horses, Shibu, could return to active duty if declared fit. On probing further, I learned that Shibu had been suffering from cancer but now had all
but recovered.

His ordeal, I learned, had begun with a small lump on the left foot. Gradually, it became so big that it had to be removed surgically. The biopsy of the tissues from the tumour confirmed malignancy. The ensuing treatment was protracted, but it arrested the galloping malady. And now, three years later, the battle had been won. 

The officer narrated to me how everyone in the unit had helped their mate in his fight for survival.

I nodded appreciatively and asked the officer to complete the formalities to get Shibu back on duty. Such is the rush of events for a policeman in these times of relentless breaking news that I forgot about the matter.

One day, the officer came to inform me that Shibu had been declared fit. For a moment, it rang no bell. My blank expression spurred him to add, “Sir, I am talking about Shibu, the cancer survivor.”

The word CANCER filled the gaps in the memory maze in an instant.

“Oh, very good! I would like to see him tomorrow at the parade ground,” I told the officer, and he left.

Next morning, the officer introduced me to Shibu. The young mount looked full of health and vigour. As I patted the horse’s neck, he seemed restless to get back to action. 

“Can I take him for a ride tomorrow?” I asked the officer. “Not yet. Sir! He has been out of practice for three years. He will need at least two months’ training to return to active duty.”

“Okay,” I said.

Shibu, meanwhile, had become quiet. As I patted his neck again to say goodbye, I became intensely aware of how beautiful the day was. The sun had come up, and the air was abuzz with sounds, smells, and colours of life—the normal life. The life that we all take for granted until...

Who could appreciate it more than someone like Shibu? I wondered what he was thinking. I got the reply when I looked at his face. The expression in his moist eyes said it all. 

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(Published 22 February 2024, 21:34 IST)

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