Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The best and worst of times...

- 500 words
-- Begin with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"
-- Reimagine not this time, but some other time from your lives that can serve as analogy for this day, time and place.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, that December of 1998. My husband was recovering from a health condition that had kept him in and out of hospital from mid-August. He had just about started going to his office for a couple of hours every day. My father was in hospital in distant Delhi, recovering from a heart attack, diagnosed in early December. We were in Ernakulam. My older son was in Delhi, in his first year of college, sharing hospital duties along with my sister and my mother. The 26th was my father’s birthday, his seventy-sixth. I’d been remembering him since morning, sad at the thought of my active, cheerful father being confined to a hospital bed, and that too on his birthday.
We had been in regular touch over the telephone since my husband’s first hospitalization in August.  I had the support of my children, my sisters-in-law, aunt and niece-in-law, as well as a good friend, each of whom had come to stay for a while, as needed. My younger son, not yet nine, was well looked after. We also had wonderful neighbours and friends who were there for us.
Around eleven that morning, my son called, telling me to come, that Nanaji was critical. After calling my husband and asking him to book my ticket, I called up a friend in Fort Kochi whose mother had been staying with her for a while, and who had become a kind, motherly, aunt to me, asking her to request Auntie to stay in my home and look after the recovering patient and the younger son. (My friend’s baby daughter was almost a year old at the time). She came over and oriented her mother to my home and kitchen as best as she could.
That flight, from Kochi to Delhi, was probably the most excruciating flight of my life. I managed to convince myself that the husband would be well looked after, but I didn’t know whether my father would even be around by the time I reached his bedside. Our nephew picked me up at the airport and drove me straight to the hospital.
Within a couple of days my brother came down from England, and my Chacha and cousin came from Chhattisgarh. My sister had been ill, and was told to stay home. We had to move the patient from the government hospital to a private one for medical reasons. My cousin and I spent hours in the waiting room of the private hospital, waiting to show Dad’s reports to the cardiologist.               The closeness forged in those hours has only grown deeper. I remember Dad thoroughly enjoying the ambulance ride, sirens blaring, feeling like a VIP. The cardiologist had asked us to pay the hospital bills, and get government reimbursement later. I remember a neighbor coming to the hospital lobby and handing my mother a bundle of cash.

There was help at each and every stage, for which I remain eternally thankful.

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