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.