He stood near the bed and took the frail hand in his. She opened her eyes and on seeing him there was a glimmer of light in those dull eyes and her lips lengthened into a smile. She asked him to sit by her side and gently pressed his fingers while asking him if he was happy in the new job.

Dear old Nani, always concerned about the happiness of others. His eyes brimmed with tears as he told her not to exert herself. The nurse came in to check the IV fluid.
He sank into a chair near the bed and his thoughts went back to the times when Nani was young and strong.
Nani who was his refuge whenever his parents punished him for his childhood pranks.
Nani who would kiss his bruises and make the pain go away.
Nani who told him stories from mythology.
Nani who undertook a severe fast when he was admitted to the hospital with a severe viral attack.
Nani who would save up on her pension to buy him books for his birthday.
Nani who wrote to him every week when he was in the hostel and homesick.
Nani who only knew how to give and to love and to help.

He heard footsteps and looked up. It was his uncle and aunt who held a cup of coffee for him.
“It costs us about 10,000 every month, the two nurses and the medications,” the uncle said..
This sounded bizarre to him. “It is your mother,dammit.” he wanted to scream.
His wife went one step further and said how she could not go to stay with her daughter as she was saddled with Nani.

He wanted to take them out so Nani would be spared of hearing these but it was too late. He could see the tears in her eyes. She had heard it all. She knew she was only a burden for them. But what could she do?
He wished he could take her to his house and take care of her as she had done to him in his childhood. But he worked 2000 km away and Nani could not be transported. He knew she had a very little of life left in her. He only wished people would be patient and be kind to her in her last days.
“It won’t be for long”, he told his mami.
“Even Dr Sharma said the same thing 6 months ago.” There was frustration in mami’s voice. And he hoped for a word of reproach from his uncle but there was only a passive nod in agreement..

He wondered if there was anything sacred for human beings anymore in this age of materialism. Even relationships are valued only as long as they are convenient and useful? In his profession he had seen poor mothers beg him to save the life of their children. He had been taught that if he could prolong the life of a person by a day it was still worth all the effort needed. But here he was not able to sit and take this anymore.

He told them to leave the room to allow her to rest. He sat next to her on the bed and stroked her hands and her cheeks and wiped her tears. He kissed her on the forehead and whispered into her ears, “I love you Nanima. You were the best part of my life.” She asked him to bend and kissed his forehead and feebly whispered ,”And you are of mine beta. I am proud of you.”
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he sat holding her hand and stroking her head as she fell asleep.

Then Dr. Amit Kumar got up, opened his emergency kit, found what he needed and added it in the IV fluid. He touched her feet and told her “Nanima, I wish I could kiss you and make the pain go away but this is all I can do to ease your pain.”
He came out and quickly took leave of his uncle and aunt, went down and sat sobbing in his car.

He knew they would call for him soon.
12 Responses
  1. Krish Says:

    Wonderful, poignant and realistic. What more can I say?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    enna sollanu theriyala...short of words. you have brought that feeling in your words

  3. Paavai Says:

    Lump in my throat Usha

    This reminds of Thi Jaa's story "Vendam Pooosani". Looks like for time immemorial this tragedy has happened to senior citizens

  4. Usha Says:

    hennavan, Dubukku: Thanks.
    Paavai, Thanks. I haven't read that story of Thijaa. Sometimes i think it was a sort of kindness to them that people didnt live to a ripe old age in those days.

  5. Shashi Iyer Says:

    may be poignant writing simply belongs to your realm. words almost whisper and cry, emoting according to the rhythm of your beautiful posts. i guess its straightout of your mind... may be that's the magic. your posts are truly magical... getting me to whichever levels they command me to step on to.

  6. Usha Says:

    Thanks shashi.

  7. Wow, Usha! Now the time is ripe to start publishing outside blog-world too! Keep it coming!

  8. Ram Says:

    Yet another poignant one from you on the suffering of the old.

    As an aside, I do wonder whether Dr Amit could have found a job, at least on a temporary basis, in the town of his Nani, to take care of her. Anyway, since he hasn't, there is no point in his being judgemental about his Mama & Mami, except that they ought not to have discussed those points within earshot of Nani.

  9. Usha Says:

    humor, asha, Ram: Thanks.
    Ram, I agree

  10. Usha,
    That was a beautiful post. It's so horrible when you see your own aunts and uncles arguing about who will pay your grandmother's hospital bills.

    Life is so ugly sometimes, no?

  11. Usha Says:

    Ya vaish although it doesn't always rear its ugly head, this side of human beings comes out during times of test.
    That is when you can sort people out!