The sad young woman disappeared from our lives after taking her first salary. (This particular Centre presents you with a bill every ten days). When she left last Thursday evening, I actually had a very strong feeling that she would not come in the next day. The next morning I received a call from her sister saying that she was ill and couldn't come. My mother and I struggled through Friday with some difficulty, after telling the Centre manager of this second absence in twelve days. It may sound very unkind, but home nurses, like housewives, do not have a weekly day off. Since they deal with patients with conditions of varying complexity, they are supposed to arrange for a substitute whenever they take time off. I think that she found it very difficult to deal with an almost completely bed ridden patient who can no longer walk to the toilet. She had also reported for work on Thursday morning along with a cousin of hers whom she had received at our local station, and wanted her to stay in my house the whole day till she finished work in the evening. I asked her to finish off with my father's morning routine, go and leave the cousin at her mother's house, and then come back. It all seemed very strange to me. On Saturday I called the manager again, and said that I'd prefer to have someone else, since I would not like someone with a recent illness taking care of such a frail patient. He promised to send a highly experienced, older person the next morning.
Home Nurse Number Two is tall and well built. She was widowed when her son was one and a half years old. She lives alone. Her son and his wife and child live separately. She is forty-five years old. She speaks some Hindi, though not as fluently as the first one. She is very punctual, and walks here from her home. In the four days that she has been here, she has come across as very sincere and dedicated. My father was getting sick of having his meals in the bedroom. Some years ago I had had a high cane chair made for him, as he found it easier to sit at chair higher than our dining chairs. He used to walk till the chair, sit on it and I'd push him close to the table.
Now that he can hardly walk, the chair goes to the room, and the nurse pushes him to the table, and back. He enjoyed his lunch, with my mother and me for company, and enjoyed some good music with his dinner- Ustad Bismillah Khan and Vilayat Khan playing Raga Nand Kalyan, on good old Worldspace. (This is an amazing piece, by the way. I love Raga Nand)
My parents are trying to get used to having a 'stranger' tend to them. She is slowly becoming less of a stranger. I'm trying to explain to them that this is a symbiotic relationship which benefits everyone concerned. I think they are getting the point.
Now I just hope that our symbiosis with this home nurse continues successfully.