Friday, July 29, 2011

The living dead

You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all…. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing…. (I can only wait for the final amnesia, the one that can erase an entire life, as it did my mother’s….)

—Luis Bu├▒uel

We haven't known each other for long, but, ever since your grandson declared that he wanted to marry me, you have welcomed me open armed into your family. You and Aajoba did everything to make me feel welcome and were proud of me and my education like my own grandparents would have been. You did not once tell me to quit my studies and move to Mumbai to live with my husband. Instead, Aajoba kept urging me to work well and achieve higher laurels. You called me your naat-sun even before the wedding and took me with you to Goa, Shiroda and Saawantwadi and fondly introduced me to your home and family. You were thrilled with my rudimentary Marathi and appreciated the fact that I was actually trying to make an effort to communicate with you, instead of laughing at my lapses. You both refused to be bogged down by failing health and made the trip all the way to Bangalore to be there in person for our wedding; and in fact, attended every single bit of it. The days we stayed with you, I would wake up early and have a cup of tea with you and Aajoba, and you would reminisce about the days you worked at the Port, about how your mother gave you mangoes for lunch, about I. Butler and P. Butler who worked at your office! You would urge me to have yet another cup of tea and more biscuits while I chatted with Aajoba and tried my hand at reading the Marathi paper.

Then, aajoba fell ill and your memory started fading. I was bogged down with work and troubles here, and I could not make a trip to meet him in spite of knowing of his poor condition - and he passed away before I could meet him one last time. So, when I heard of your ill health, I wanted to come and meet you, and so I did. I know not what purpose it served. Your illness is of a different kind. You are trapped in your own mind, in a limbo between the real and the imaginary. You stare ahead with unseeing eyes and I cannot fathom what goes on behind those glazed eyes. You did not even realise I was there, though you had asked about me just a couple of days ago. I sat beside you, rubbed your palms and talked to you in my broken Marathi, but you did not respond - not because you were displeased, but because you just weren't there.

They say medical science has made remarkable progress, yet, my friend who is a doc tells me that most medicine is trial and error. Each human is different and hence, will respond differently to medication. Your doctors are trying out every possible thing to bring you back from this state of oblivion, and I hope fervently, that something will just click and you will be back to remembering and recognising us and come back into this world of the living.


Mukta said...

Grandmothers and grandfathers are dear creatures indeed. To them you are precious and in turn, they leave you with precious memories. I hope your grandmom shall be fine too :) That's all I can say.

Bastet said...

Thanks, Mukta!

Vijayanth said...

I was touched reading it. The pain and angst felt by the loved ones in such a situation has also been portrayed really well.

Hope your grandma recovers at the earliest.

Bastet said...

@Mukta and Vijayanth
Ajji is showing signs of improvement. Thanks for your wishes :)

Unknown said...

My Aunty suffers from Alzheimers. It is a horrible disease. The person you know is wasting away but you cannot do anything. There are good days and bad days and you wait eagerly for the good days. I hope and pray that your ajji gets better soon.