When the going gets tough – the tough get going

Born and brought up like a princess in the beautiful state of Assam – my parents’ karmabhoomi – I had a wonderful upbringing. With the limited resources we had, I had the very best of everything – from my schooling to my higher education and career opportunities. 

Meeting my husband was the next best thing that happened to me. It might sound weird if I tell you that I had said yes to the marriage even before I had met or spoken to him, and what really made the decision for me was his CV… yes you heard that right!

He already had 5 degrees which included a CA, CS & CWA when I first saw his CV and the list only grew post marriage. In fact, he completed his CPA after our first child was born. For a doubly qualified Chartered Accountant girl from a somewhat conservative marwari society, meeting someone who valued my education and gave flight to my wings was absolutely incredible. An understanding husband, loving inlaws (including a sister-in-law who is no less than my kid, in fact, the first one) … this was a perfect marriage one dreams of. 

11th October 2012 was a normal, sunny morning. For me, having a morning cup of tea with my husband was that special part of the day when there was no mad rush even if it was a routine affair. It was all about being with him and living every minute of my life to the fullest… 

While my morning seemed like a super-fast train trying to catch up on a morning meeting date with my business partner, for him it seemed like a lazy one – with a reluctance in his attitude to go to the gym. 

There I was ready to go…dressed in a white dress complimented by the dazzling white accessories that tried to show themselves off from the parts in my colored hair. Today was his chance to bid me goodbye at the lift, a gesture that I would perform every morning as he left for work.

As I greeted my business counterpart and set the agenda for the day, the phone rang. Without even hearing what the person on the other end really said, I rushed out of the room, picked up the car keys and headed out of the office.

The words on the other end of the phone call haunted me… he had just met with an accident, but he was at home. My voice quivered and tears rolled down my cheeks as I tried to maneuver the steering wheel to reach him as soon as possible. I started making frantic SOS calls now knowing who could help. The emergency unit of the hospital showed me a few known faces, but my eyes were searching for that one face, my husband who I had loved more than myself, life without whom did not exist for me even in my dreams. 

As I walked in, he was right there, on a white sheet which was colored in the blood oozing out of his ears, surrounded by a group of men in white clothes trying to inject almost every medicine that they had in him. He was screaming in pain with his eyes closed. Tearing through the crowd of doctors I managed to hold his hand and with a choked voice assured him that I was beside him. I tried speaking to him, but he totally ignored me, very unlike his normal behavior. Little did I know then that this was the start of a new phase in my life…something that I was totally unprepared for… 

My neighbors and friends who brought him to the hospital narrated what had happened. He was running on the treadmill and had taken a break. While getting back on the running track he slipped and was thrown back – hitting his head on a cross-trainer which was stationed behind. 

It was the 5th day of the accident. The head injury had left blood clots in his brain and he was on a ventilator for 4 days, the doctors were trying to assess the extent of his injury. He was scheduled for a brain scan that day.

5 pm was when the visiting hours started. As we waited outside the Neuro ICU for the clock to strike 5, an announcement restricting entry to the Neuro ICU sounded. Assuming that it could be a new case that needed critical help, we waited patiently but yet another announcement left us frozen.

There was a call for the family members of my husband. As I rushed into the passageway, I caught sight of his bed which was surrounded by doctors on all sides. 

Seeing me through the glass window, the Director of the neuro department walked out “He has had a huge cardiac arrest and is now critical”. While he sounded concerned I had no idea at that point how serious the issue was and what this meant to his recovery.

Prognosis, diagnosis, surgeries, a stent in the brain…the ICU was our home for the next 4 months and a very harrowing experience. Every morning when the senior doctors walked out of the ICU to brief the family members gathered there on the health status of their loved ones, there was a new hope and along with it, an underlying fear. Every little improvement gave us an occasion to celebrate but the failures and roadblocks weighed us down every single time.

Back home my daughter who was 10 and my son who was 7 had their loving dada dadi and Bua by their side. Ours is a very small family with both my father-in-law and my husband being the only sons to their parents. Our friends and extended family stood alongside us through the moments of cheer and despair. 

What happened at the hospital stayed there and we made it a point to celebrate all the festivals that came along whether it was Diwali, Karwachauth, New years, and even the birthdays both at home and with him in the special room that was allotted to us within the ICU. 

After 4 months of multiple interventions, we finally got my husband home in Feb and created a mini-hospital at home. My sister-in-law – who had just started her corporate journey – took a year-long sabbatical to take care of him as he needed 24*7 attention while I went back to work full time to ensure the financial aspect was aided. 

Fast forward to today – it’s been 8 years since the accident and my husband has yet to speak or recognize any of us since the day of the accident. The accident has left him in a vegetative state and despite all possible treatments and therapies, he is yet to respond to any of us.

We lost my father-in-law a few years back and life added another set of experiences and with it – new learnings. We should be thankful for our struggles because they show us how strong we are, and performing the rituals for my dad-in-law on behalf of my husband definitely needed all the strength. In our society where women are restricted from entering the cremation ground, when I sat there picking the remains of my father-in-law for immersion in the holy river, the reality of life stared bright and clear.

My daughter is now a student of the prestigious LSR college pursuing economics honors after topping her school, while my son has recently completed his 10th boards and is an avid sportsperson, and of course my first child – my sister in law – works with one of the big 4 firms as a Chartered Accountant. 

Needless to say I am a proud mom of extremely bright kids standing tall with a smile. 


 A Chartered Accountant and Cost Accountant Savita Awasthy is a Vice President with HSBC. She is a proud mother of two loving kids. Her daughter – who was a school topper last year – is now pursuing Economics honors with LSR at Delhi University and her son is a class 11th student and a budding sports person. An art enthusiast, she likes to listen to music and experiment with colors in her free time.

Editor’s Note :

Dear Savita,
A big tight hug. You are my hero. I cannot express it in words how much strength you gave me when I read your story. You did not give up. How beautifully you embraced all the situations. I loved the way you have described your husband’s sister – your firstborn child.
Your extraordinary parenting and firm belief in education is the reason your children are doing so well.
I wish you success and endless miracles ..!!
Lots of love !!

This is a powerful story of how things can change in a fraction of a second and what it takes to keep going. A must-read – WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH – THE TOUGH GETS GOING

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