“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stich together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic little swarm. The lungs, the brain, the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”

 

Taken from “All the Light we Cannot see” by Anthony Doerr.

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Age

Image result for bird who never knew to fly

Age is a just a number, allright. But its not infine and if you donot do the correct math with those numbers at the right and opportune moment, hoping it to be done on a better,  warm sunlit day, you will be the bird with the wings who never knew to flew.

“Swimming is better, Papa”

Image result for kids and dogs

Children, as they grow up, they have different views of themselves and what they want or what they don’t want.

When we were kids, we would often be thinking of ourselves on the characters that we read in comics as like Superman or Batman. For the girls, maybe it was their Barbie dolls!

Times change and now children have other different mediums of exposure like Tabs, TV, mobiles etc.

My kid, when he was a bit younger would think of himself as to be Doremon or Pokemon on some days or Ninja Hatori (I hope I am getting it correct) on the other days.

He’s more fascinated by Wildlife channels these days and a little bit of cricket, much to his Mom’s annoyance. She thinks cricket watching is a waste of time!

Coming to Wildlife Channels, he thinks that the time has come for him to have a pet.

He wanted a Lion cub initially and after a few days finds the Hippopotamus baby very cute!

It took a lot of effort to convince that they cannot be kept as pets.

He suddenly takes a liking for birds and wants an owl! I say birds are not meant to be kept in cages. They are meant to be free and to fly.

One fine day he says that he wants a puppy as a pet. I thought that this idea would too disappear with time. It was however not to be. He was persisting.

I am not very fond of the idea of keeping pets though it is not an aversion. Keeping a puppy would be like taking care of a child. When you buy and bring home a puppy, it is like, for your own pleasure, separating a child who knows only to drink milk from his mother and nothing else. I, under no circumstances ,would want to do that unless we justify by taking good care of it. Leaving the puppy alone for hours together is not my cup of tea.

You cannot explain to a child these things for he would not understand.

One of my friend’s elder brother had shifted to Bangalore and we had gone for a visit. They had bought a Golden Retriever puppy and it was around 2-3 months when we first saw him. My son was very excited on seeing him. Both of them played together and it was fun watching them. Not so fun was the repetition of wanting a dog immediately at 11pm in the night by my son!

As for me, I had never seen such a beautiful dog with such beautiful eyes. I just kept on thinking if we should change our plans of not buying a dog. More than my son, I wanted one now. The only constraint was the non-availability of any one of us for hours altogether. We just couldn’t think of doing that. Taking care of a dog is a full time job.

Few months went by and on one Sunday, I decided to take my son again to their place. He was excited to go. He wanted to play with the puppy.

The moment we came in, we could see that the puppy was no longer a puppy. It was a young dog and looked healthy and strong. Even before my son could say something, she had jumped onto him, licking his face. My son was taken aback. It scared him a bit. The small little puppy was nowhere to be seen. I could feel that he was not at all expecting this. The dog was attracted towards his colorful socks and made every possible attempt to take them off. She was jumping, chasing and licking him all of which didn’t go down well with him. That was the moment, much to my liking, when he must have decided that he was not going to have a dog.

On our way back, I gently asked him if he enjoyed playing with the dog. He was silent for a moment. He then said that his mom wants him to join swimming and that he would rather do that. He also said that ,maybe, we can have a rabbit.

Thus ended his craze of having a pet though the puppy had almost made us to change our minds. Maybe, one day we will have a pet, but only when we can give sufficient care and love. Never before that.

When I remember the eyes of that puppy, I understand the attachment and love owners have for their dogs. It a true feeling which is good to have.

 

 

The Poor Maid.

 

A few weeks prior, we had gone out to one of the malls. The plan was to have dinner there and then come back. There is a food court there which gets very busy during weekends. Also because you can select many options without really burning a hole in your pocket.

We managed to find a table. We ordered some food and as we were having our dinner, I could see that next to us was a family of 6 having their meals. With them was a maid, who had perhaps yet not stepped into her teens.

The family of six comprised of a couple and their 2 not so small boys and an elderly couple, presumably the grandparents. They looked quite well off, enjoying their meals. The kids were munching on KFC chicken and seemed quite happy.

What caught my eye was the maid whom I had written about a few lines back. She was sitting in the extreme corner. As the others were happily gobbling down their food as if this is the last meal of their lives, the poor maid was not given anything to eat. She was just their sitting and staring blankly at the crowd coming in or going out.

She would occasionally steal a glance as to what the others were having and that was just it.

In front of her was a plate where things that were not being consumed, like bones, were kept.

I gently prodded my wife to have a look at what was going on. We just stared at each other in disbelief.

We have all lived through the age when the mere site of food made you hungry. There were days when the fridge used to be locked and the keys hidden away, for the shelves would be cleared up in no time! Couldn’t the parents of the chicken gobbling kids realize that?

For like most of you, I have come from a very humble and modest background. We may not have had much money, but as like most of us, our parents have taught us the basics of humanity. One of them was sharing whatever you had to eat. There was never a day that I would get preferential treatment and others would be given less. We were happy with whatever we had. The most deprived would probably be our mother, for she would want us and the others to have the best. When I grew up, I really used to feel very angry at this. But she would never oblige. She would want the best for others.

Couldn’t the parents on that table on that day spare a small meal for the kid? They could. But then, why not? When I look back, I realize that the defect or the lack of humbleness and humility had started with the grandparents. This has been taught to their sons and daughters and will soon be preached by the grandchildren. I just can’t imagine that I eat and the person sitting next to me doesn’t because he can’t afford. I am not a saint, neither you are, but that’s what has been taught to us.

As I slowly age, I have started realizing that the world is not as straight as it seems to be. But let me tell you one thing. If you can imagine things straight, the world for you would be a better space. How you shade or color your dreams and thoughts depends on you entirely. Whether you choose the color black or a multitude of bright colors is your choice.

The Aged Lady.

caretaker

I have been staying in Bangalore for a couple of years.  I like this place (minus the traffic and bad roads) for the weather is awesome. And also because I meet many of my close friends here regularly as they often come over for work or pleasure.

Very recently, one of my very good friends had come over and we decided to meet at Brigade Road, which is flooded with cafes and bars in and around. It really is a good place to be.

Below is a word by word description of our meeting in a café. I knew he had been very sick and hospitalized some time ago and it was good to see him get back to  his old self.

I have asked him if I can write this conversation and he has kindly agreed.

In the café, for some time ,we were discussing friends, careers and the usual stuff. The topic of his health came up and this is what he had to say:

“It all started with a mild pain in my back which was persisting. I thought it was merely a backache. A few shots of pain killers gave me some relief but then it started again. I kept ignoring until I could hold on no longer. It felt as if my whole back and my tummy were on fire.

I tried to go to a nearby hospital which was only two hundred meters away from my home. I could hardly walk the distance and perhaps it was the most difficult and painful walk for me. I couldn’t walk any longer and thought I would just fall down. The security guard, whom I had never even cared to acknowledge, took me in his arms and brought me home. While in health we don’t realize, but when your body is flail and cannot cope, the whole world becomes a very difficult place.

My wife had just joined me and my son was just seven months old. Luckily my cousin brother was there and I called him. Seeing me, he didn’t wait and took me to one of the better hospitals. I was vomiting and couldn’t make myself to walk. We reached the hospital and the pain was so much that I couldn’t get out of the car. A person came to me carrying a wheel chair and gently placed me on it and carried. The person seemed a savior .

The pain was killing me and I remember myself to be crying out of pain.People whom I didn’t know and waiting for their Consultations gave way for me.  The Doctor ordered a CT scan and I was diagnosed to have Acute Necrotising Pancreatis, probably due to some stone blocking some duct.

I was told that I should have come earlier.  They ordered admission and I was admitted. I stayed in the hospital for the next 35 days.

I was very very sick, with lungs filling with fluid and ascites (fluid in the abdomen) which are compications of acute pancreatitis. My wife had to manage the child and other family members were still yet to come. I knew I was in for a hard and long battle. I knew exactly how precarious my situation was. Surprisingly, the mind works very well in these situations.  I was prepared for any eventuality. I knew there was hardly anything to do except to have patience.

Life, till then, had been very good to me. My father was well known in his circles and growing up for me has been quite good, easy and comfortable. I really didn’t know what hardship was. We lived in a 12 room palatial house. We had people to clean the house, to wash utensils, clothes and the cars. There were people to do the errands, water the plants, to cook and what not. For me, they were just some people who were destined to serve us. It didn’t matter to me that they too were human beings. For me, they just meant to be objects who worked and served us.

While lying in the hospital bed, fighting the sweat of pain and the coldness of despair, I was taken care by people, apart from the kind doctors, who till then had never an existence for me.

There was an old lady who would come to clean the room and tidy things a bit. I would chat with her a little bit with whatever energy I had. I was not even allowed to drink a drop of water for twenty days and I was being kept alive by the fluids running in my veins.

The old lady could perhaps realize what I had been going through. I was sick with despair and I thought if I could hold on any longer. I could not say these thoughts to  my family for they are already a worried lot.

I was thinking about my kid whether I would again ever see him.

I would fall in and out of sleep and I could see and feel the old lady placing her palm on my forehead and hair. I was wondering why was she doing t when at this age and time, it is difficult to call your own your own.

The old lady would comb my hair and did whatever possible for me to feel better.

Gradually, I was recovering and on the 35 th day, I was discharged.

When I reached home, I had to climb stairs which I could not without someone holding me. I couldn’t lift my child in my arms.

I was gradually regaining my strength and feeling better. I was thinking of giving something to the old lady who had taken such good care of me.

I went to the hospital after some weeks . I met her and presented her a saree and a thousand rupee note.

She didn’t take any of those from me. I could see her eyes moisten. She took my hand and said that I remind her of her son who had died some years back. She couldn’t save her son but said that her heart felt lighter and better when she took care of me.

I cant say how I survived. Maybe, one of the reasons could be the form oflove and strength that the old lady had in her heart for her son.

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want people to see my wet eyes. I mumbled something and ran away, placing the saree and money on a table. Never had I been swept away by this wave of such strong human emotions.

I never met her after that. I don’t know where she is now. I don’t even know if I can ever face her. I am too miniscule in front of her.

This lady made me realize how foolish, ignorant and selfish I had been. Here has been a person or persons who had held my hand when I was sinking. The security guard, the man with the wheel chair and the old lady had a role in changing my myopic beliefs and vision. The whole format of someone on top of the rung and someone at the bottom, is all but  temporary. It matters to be rich, but in the long run, the richness should be in your heart. It is ignorance not to give people their due, whatever be their position in their lives. If you respect people, you will get respect. The respect that you get by domination is just but temporary. It will cease.

When I look back now, I feel  , maybe, it was God’s will and my destiny to be taught a lesson. It has changed my whole life. I have realized that we should not take and make opinions just on appearances, for appearances are deceptive. Its  how your heart is what matters. Life is temporary. You are here today. You may not be the next day. Live your life well and fully. You can, if only you learn to respect.’

My friend and me we sat in the café for a long time. It was a realization for me too. I didn’t know what to say but I could understatnd that the whole episode had made my friend wiser and more modest.

Maybe, there are different ways in which we learn the lesson of life, and maybe this was one of them.