It was in between sessions of chemotherapy that Lakshmi Priya got her 12th standard results. Seated on her hospital bed, she asked her cousin to repeat the marks again on the phone: “973? That’s 81 per cent,” she said calculating quickly. And, happily.
Lakshmi Priya stopped going to school in November 2012 soon after she was admitted to The Centre for Blood Disorders for treatment for leukemia. She sought discharge so she could go write her board exams.
Only recently has pride wrestled into her father’s constant state of anguish. S. Velu’s voice breaks often, now with pride, and then with distress. “She was in the hospital and always studying. She kept asking me to get notes from her friends.” Lakshmi Priya is the first in her family, who belong to the Dalit community, to have gone beyond 10th standard.
“Thanks to my boss, we put our girls in good schools. When we found out in November last that Lakshmi Priya had blood cancer, it shattered us completely,” he says. “She has always wanted to be an engineer, and has studied so hard. It cannot fall apart now like this. She is a beautiful girl, and she must fulfil what she was born for,” he adds, his anguish welling up and spilling into his words.
Lakshmi Priya is stronger: “I’m not scared,” she says. “Science has advanced so much. And it is such a blessing that my sister is a perfect match for me. I’m just waiting for my bone marrow transplantation.” She also wants to help little children suffering from cancer.
Though she doesn’t make much of it, Lakshmi Priya has had her share of suffering. The chemotherapy tires her out beyond belief: sometimes she is so tired she cannot summon energy to eat or even walk; but she has always been able to pick up a book. “I have to study well, there is nothing else to it,” she says.
Her father has slowly been selling assets over the years, and spending a chunk of his monthly salary of Rs. 14,000 on hospital bills. It has not been easy, but “it is nothing in front of fulfilling my daughter’s dream, and seeing her walk out of the hospital.” The doctors have told him the bone marrow transplant will cost the family Rs. 30 lakh.
Those wishing to contribute can send a cheque/draft to Apollo Specialty Hospital, A/C of V. Lakshmi Priya.
State Bank of India
Account Name S. Velu (father of Lakshmi Priya)
Account No: 20061692933
Ph: 98407 93744/ 99519 86815