Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The more things change

the more they remain the same.

The last ten days have been busy. My parents are back in Kolkata after five months or so in Delhi.
My sister took care of them there, while I recovered from typhoid and then galumphed off to Australia.

But at eighty plus, changes are difficult to adapt to. I find both parents frailer than before. My father is now practically bedridden. My sister came with us to Kolkata to help settle them in, as it was no longer practical for me to manage both of them alone on the journey. (Indigo Airlines has excellent ramps for boarding and disembarking from their planes- a great help to the wheelchair-bound.)
We had great teamwork and coordination in both cities, thanks to my kids using their initiative and resources. The SRE, poor man, had been stuck in Durgapur, came home a little before we'd landed in Kolkata, and discovered that the Aquaguard RO system had broken down and the entire kitchen was flooded. ( He'd got very annoyed when he learned that the annual maintenance contract cost a whopping 25% of the cost of the machine, which fact the sales person had not acquainted us with, so he didn't renew the contract. I was in Delhi for my mother's birthday, at the time.) Wet floors annoy me and frighten me- there have been enough fractures in our family. He cleaned it up so well, and also stopped the leak- I wouldn't known about the disaster if he hadn't told me. So my usually domestically challenged husband proved his worth!

Getting my exhausted parents into their room felt like a great achievement- it took around seven hours, door to door. My new computer chair served as a wheelchair for my father, who had walked the long distance to the lift when they had left.

The home nurse came in the next morning. I had told my mother that this time she and my father would have to adapt to having a caregiver, at least from morning to evening.

The home nurse looks and is very young, though she is married and has a young child. She takes excellent care of my father, though he's still getting used to having an 'outsider' look after him. She also massages my mother's aching knees. She cleans methi leaves and coriander leaves and cuts vegetables for me in her spare time. She speaks Hindi, which was a basic requirement for us.

Her husband beats her.

She may or may not have have provoked him. He's about twenty years older than she is.
I'm sure he has problems of his own.
Last night she stayed at her parents' home. Her father works outside the state. She has a younger brother and sister.
What options does she have?
She works hard all day at a difficult job, leaves our house after 8 p.m., gets home and cooks and does various chores, and sleeps after midnight. Deals with various chores before coming to work.

On my morning walk yesterday, I saw a cat up a tree. There were three bristling street dogs below the peepul tree, waiting for her to come down. I tried to chase the dogs away, threw some clods of earth at them, but they refused to budge. I felt quite helpless, and moved on.
I feel the same way about this girl- helpless.

What can one do?

This is my hundredth post. I had hoped to write something light and celebratory, but reality impinged, and my incomplete fluff posts may or may not see the light of day. Despite the futility of many things, I'm so glad that I blog. I hope you are also glad that I do, gentle readers!


Space Bar said...

Was mystified by just the title and no post, Dipali. Returns home from vacation are always a little stressful, aren't they? Everything seems to be waiting to pounce on you. I hope that in a day or two you'll be ok, as will your parents.

And there's so much one feels helpless about. I think the trick is to recognise that one person can't take on everyone's burdens.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

We cant single-handedly change the world. The very fact that you employ her and give her a partial sanctuary through the day is your role in her life.

Cheer up - resettling into a routine is always over-whelming

Usha said...

They seem to remain the same dipali but soon you will see the changes. And when they haven't sometime it is comforting too.
I am rambling. What I am trying to say is that, this woman is at least financially independent and one day she may have the courage to walk out on that abusive husband and tell him to stop when he raises his hand. She just needs to see better people leading better lives which she has now.
Congratulations on the 100th and yes I love your posts.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

100th post! Congratulations! of course extremely glad delighted and so on to read your blog. Lucky Me!

Mampi said...

The (dis)connectivity in your post in itself left me disturbed-just the way you are-at the scenario with the girl. You can listen to her and encourage her to at least resist the violence, if not retaliate.
That she can come to you and talk to you is in itself a respite to her. How many domestic violence cases see the light of the day?

S.. Diva said...

really random

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I understand you wanting your 100th post to be light and funny, but I think you did better. This was hard-hitting, gut-wrenching and very real. Full of emotion, I can feel and empathise with your helplessness.

Love your posts. Can't wait to read the next 100.

Anonymous said...

You are doing what you can Dipali.

Congratualtions for your 100th. Looking forward to many more...

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the 100th post :)

Taking care of elderly parents is tough :(

I am going to take objection to this line "She may or may not have have provoked him." I don't think there can be any justification for beating your wife. Why blame her? I cannot imagine what could be considered "provocation" for his behavior.

Unknown said...

Been there Dipali - it is stressfuk because parents get terribly like babies as they grow older . Dont buckle down is all I have to say . The nurse's story replicates that of so many women who work as caregivers . As for the 100th post I prefer this to something light and foamy because it reflects you :)

Banno said...

Yes, we do love your posts. Take care. Take your own time.

Choxbox said...

echoing folks before me.

sumana001 said...

I'm glad that you blog, yes!

Anonymous said...

Of course we are glad. More than glad. Congratulations!

What a B*****d that man is. Can she move out/go to the police/ask an NGO for help.

Hope all the aches and pains that inevitably arrive at this age aren't too many for the parents.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your 100th post Dipali :)

Taking care of aging parents is a challenge in many ways. Especially when one lives across oceans. *sigh

Talking about beating wife, coincidentally, I just wrote about it.

Anonymous said...

You take on and share more than is humanly possible, Dipali. We may inherit the earth but must choose only some of its problems and trust other people and powers will share the rest. Has the nurse asked for assistance/guidance? Is she looking to alter things? Does she see change as a viable option? These are questions that may need addressing before any steps are taken.
I hope your parents feel rested soon. Something tells me you may not feel the same way. :0)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and btw, was going to say the same thing Lekhni has said, but she's already done it for me. :) Happy 100th.

Anonymous said...

you write with such honesty and depth, its great reading your blog.

Nat said...

I hope things settle down soon Dipali. To your liking.

Jawahara said...

Congrats on your 100th post. It's really heart-wrenching looking after aging and ailing parents, but it is something that feeds our soul for the long haul. That we're able to do something for them. At least that's how I feel now.

Hope the battered wife/caretaker learns to push back.

Good luck with it all. And by "all" here I mean life, in all its shades.

Anonymous said...

i am dipali! i am glad that you blog. happy 100th!