The first thing that I noticed about her was the vibrant blue nail polish on her toes, and then the long braid… Aishwarya was a lively 13-year-old girl, so they all said. And then there were the machines she was connected to as she lay on a bed in the Intensive Care Unit – dead. A sudden catastrophic bleed in the brain, with no warning whatsoever left her brain dead and her family stunned.
Memories, so many of them… yet not enough; these were Aishwarya’s mother’s feelings. Rama told us with pride that her child would participate in every activity in school, and then murmured brokenly, “She went to school on Monday morning, just like any other day, and now she has returned four days later never to go back again.” Her father Prabhakar with tears in his eyes shared that she was the only girl child in his family. An uncle remembered that Aishwarya always had a smile, that she loved to dress up, visit her cousins and play with them. Her friends said that she’d told them that morning that she’d got all that she needed for Diwali and that she was happy.
What struck us when we met the family to counsel them was their unwavering commitment to organ donation. Her maternal uncle said, “We are doing this for Aishwarya…for her life to be meaningful.” It meant a long waiting period, more than 24 hours while the procedures were carried out. The entire family waited patiently, stoically till it was all done.
We visited the family on the day of the funeral to pay tribute to Aishwarya. We laid a garland and lit a special candle on which was inscribed “Light…Pass it on.” I watched Rama standing by gazing at her daughter’s face. Someone had mentioned to me that Rama was a Sanskrit pundit and a long forgotten prayer from my childhood came to me. I reached for Rama’s hand, held it, and recited the verse.
asato mā sadgamaya
tamasomā jyotir gamaya
Oṁ śhānti śhānti śhāntiḥ
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Peace, peace, peace
Rama looked at me and said, “Aishwarya too recited that in school every day…”
On Friday 21st October 2016 Aishwarya donated her heart, two kidneys, liver (that was shared by two children) and the corneas (that allowed two people to see again).
Aishwarya passed on the light of life to seven people whose lives were threatened with darkness.
She attained immortality in death.
We pray that her family attains peace.