Thursday, June 21, 2007


Ajja [Grandpa, in Konkani] fell down and broke his femur head [hip joint]. He had to be operated. Now he is still bedridden - a complete dependent. Weak in both body and mind. Wanting to walk again but unable to walk, unable to strengthen his mind to overcome the pain experienced while trying to walk with his reconstructed limb. He aches. I ached, looking at him facing this hardship at such an advanced age. I worried about where this would lead, how this would affect my parents. I cried, helpless, unable to alleviate Ajja's pain or to allay my parent's fears about the complications that might arise, if he remained bedridden. I was confused, a continual drone within my head, where thoughts tried to sort themselves out. I tried to look into the hazy future, and saw no solutions to my questions. I called Prati, to talk to her. She said - "It is all in the mind. Your pain, your confusion. Your helplessness arises out of ego. It is because you think that YOU can help, that the fact that you actually can't, frustrates you." I asked her "Why this pain? Why this illness?" She said "Pain is catharsis. You learn from pain, from treating loved ones in pain. You grow from such nursing". I almost laughed - at the absurdity of the statement. I wanted to believe her, to put my mind at rest, but, couldn't bring myself to accept the veracity of her statements.

But, a week later, I guess, I am beginning to understand. I learnt how to stay unaffected, yet care with all your heart. Earlier, I had a misconception. That to care, one must genuinely feel what the other is going through. But now, I realise that this would just wreck your mind and cause havoc within you. Then, you would need caring as well! In fact, one can care better if one can stay detached.

I learnt not to peer into the future, or ponder over the past. Some questions shall remain unanswered. Maybe, because it is better not to have them answered, or, even more so, because their being answered isn't necessary. To be in the present, to concentrate on the need of the hour - is highly soothing.

Above all, I learnt to love my Ajja again. Over the last couple of years, Ajja had grown slightly senile. He would keep repeating himself, asking the same questions over and over again. I know it is despicable, but, I developed a growing sense of irritation about him and his ways. Now, all my childhood memories come rushing back to me. About how he used to brush my teeth, how he would carry me around to the temple, how he would read out stories to me, give me hand-made cards on my birthday, taught me how to write letters, how to draw maps, nurtured in me this love for English, realised each of my whims, doted on me, treated me like a princess. I learnt to love him again. I realised that I can't make him walk, I can't take away his pain, I can't make him recover miraculously - but I could love him. Give him all my love - and that, I am doing. I now , therefore, feel that taking care of him - feeding, bathing, cleaning up - isn't a chore. He did the same for me when I was small, and was unable to do them myself. Now the roles are reversed. But, the drive to do these things, isn't a misplaced sense of duty. It is love. And, it makes it all worthwhile and bearable.

Now, I can understand why Prati said that the experience is cathartic. It gave me back an important part of myself which had been suppressed in the past few years.
It cleansed me.

1 comment:

Sid said...


Touching and truly well written post. :)