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.

 

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Nepal, your scars will go away soon.

tunnel

I have tremendous respect for the people of Nepal and not without a reason. I have been fortunate to have travelled several countries, with Nepal being one of them. I had been there thrice and the peace and serenity that one feels there is incomparable.

My father, a Doctor, after his retirement had an opportunity to work in a Medical College in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. He worked there for several years during which I, on the pretext of visiting him, would visit Nepal and explore! Nepal has the confluence of an admixture of local tradition as well as openness for other cultures too.

My first visit to Kathmandu was without informing my dad of my plans. For I knew that several questions would be asked by him and a whole day would pass while answering them!

I boarded a train (Sleeper Class which is the cheapest) from Guwahati (the biggest city of Assam, India) which would take me to New Jalpaiguri (in West Bengal, India).

From there on, I would cross borders and would board a bus to Kathmandu which would take me 16 hours. Young blood doesn’t mind, but now, if you ask me, I would rather stay at home than travel on a bus for 16 hours. I had no other option, being a student, with very limited money. I just had enough to board the bus and reach Kathmandu. I knew my Dad, after giving me a good sounding and some angry stares, would give me whatever I wanted. I would be there for 10 days and I would have all the fun I wanted.

Just after crossing the border and on Nepal soil, I had gone to an agency, which served as a Ticket counter, a hotel and rooms which you could rent for taking rest.

At the counter was a middle aged man, whom I asked to issue me a bus ticket to board to Kathmandu. He said that there are buses, but there has been a road block due to a landslide and movement on roads has come to a standstill. He had suggested that I buy a plane ticket instead.

I could feel my heart skipping a beat. Here I was, with almost no money, stranded in some place, not enough to pay for a room to see through the road block. I didn’t know what to do and where to go.

The person at the counter, perhaps, could notice the panic in me and the blood draining from my face. He asked me what my plans were. I said that I didn’t have the money to buy an air ticket and the only option left was to go back. Even if I told my dad, there was no way he could send money to me at that point in time. Internet and online booking had not made their mark yet.

The middle aged person at the counter sat there for a while, saying nothing. I was thinking that in addition to the mess that I am in, what my dad would be saying once he came to know was also doing the rounds. “I told you so…!” would be one dialogue that I would surely hear!

The person at the counter called me after a few minutes. He said that he was sorry for the state I was in and that he would issue me a plane ticket to Kathmandu, which I would repay him back once I came back after 10 days. He was a savior to me and I thanked him profusely for his help. I reached Kathmandu that evening and had my share of fun in the following days!

When I look back and think about this incident, I feel overwhelmed at the feeling of trust that person had on me. The old gentleman had no reason to help me for he had never known or seen me before. He could have left me on my own. And also from the look of it, his business was just enough, probably, seeing him through on a day to day basis. As for me, had I never paid him back, there was no way he could have caught hold of me.He would have lost the money on the ticket. More importantly, his trust on humanity would have been scarred. Trust on people doesn’t come easily. It comes over a lifetime, when your own life has been good and when you feel that way for everyone. It’s a difficult thing to possess, but once you have that, your happiness and the ease with which you take on life becomes great. You need not come from a great or rich place to be a great human being.

There are both good sides as well as bad sides in all of us. But that incident truly reflected that humanity still existed in one form or the other. To be good or bad is your own creation, not of the place you belong to.

Even now, when I think about that day, a firm belief that we are meant for much better and happy things rather than what we crib about day in –day out is felt.

The Earthquake which has shattered many lives and hopes, yet again tests the strength of belief and trust. As beautiful the country has been, so are its people and so also their trust on humanity and kindness. It may take time to erase the scars, but I am sure that it will be done. Nepal, with her people, will shine once again.