I never imagined a write-up about my mother's near-fatal accident would have so many people from across the world reaching out to me with heartfelt messages and support.
To begin with I have no idea why I wrote the blog. I remember the night before Mother's Day was hard on me. It wasn't hard to wake up because I hadn't slept at all. I realized I hadn't lost sleep. I had lost my sanity worrying over how to rehabilitate my mother.
That's when I began to write. It was may be the first piece of writing that came so spontaneously to me. No writer's block, no revisions and no deadlines. It wasn't an assignment.
And then everything changed. Strangers became friends. We connected across continents, nationalities, ages and beliefs. And I see why. The blog after all was about a mother. The blog went live on ndtv.com at 7 in the morning May 14. Since then, I have been constantly replying to hundreds of mails, tweets, posts, comments and personal messages on Facebook where it was widely shared. You connected with me, empathized and applauded my family for standing up to our biggest challenge. I didn't expect it.
I am touched to see how many men have frankly admitted to being moved to tears. A gentleman tweeted to say the blog took him a whole 20 minutes to read because he often broke down. We shared the same emotions-me, while writing, and you while reading. I had tears rolling down my cheeks in a busy newsroom when I reflected on every instance of my time in a haunting room called the ICU.
Another young gentleman from the US who shared my blog on Facebook said the piece voices the fears of all of us who live abroad, worrying about our aging parents back home.
I have had people offer me help, people who have bared their hearts with personal stories-of instances when they have lost their parents to accidents, and my fortune of being able to serve my mother in this crisis You made me reflect on that - on being able to be there for my mother when she needed me most. When I saw her in the ICU struggling to breathe and doctors said they could not keep her on a ventilator for very long, I believed I was the most unfortunate daughter in the whole world. Today, I am glad she fought her battle and me mine.
Many of you have agreed that it's time to push for urgent changes. There's no doubt there's so much that needs to be fixed-ambulances, the admissions process at hospitals and traffic.
The most moving messages of all have been those that echoed this line- "I want you to know you can reach out to me anytime. We get busy with lives and it takes something like this to remind us how fragile we all are. You have always been tough and I hope you know you have a supporter in me."
I have only now begun to understand the power in opening up, sharing and speaking from the heart. Also, in the universe of social media where bullies wait for the slightest opportunity to troll you, it's so wonderful to see support is possible too.
As I grow and understand life from a very different perspective... I come back to my mother from where it all began. She always said a name should be meaningful because it grows on a person. I didn't know it would come around to me. 'Um' means mother.
(Um-E-Kulsoom Shariff is Senior Anchor and Senior Reporter, NDTV.)
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