Days and weeks go by – you’re doing things, wandering around this huge bungalow with it’s lovely grounds, strolling to the little station (officially called a ‘wayside stop’), being charmed by that oriole whose singing made you smile. At other times listening to the froggie orchestra at night, surfing the net for good things to read, cooking a bit, waking in the morning to coolness and gratitude for ordinary days.
And then Mummy is in hospital again. No broken bones this time. She is being tested for new treatment and for continuation of physiotherapy. The first attempts of the physiotherapist were such disasters, to my utter disappointment. She would whack his hand away, while I would apologize and she would ask me who the hell I was to do so. It was a riot. She would not cooperate and hated the whole idea, in spite of the cheerful optimism of the person gently manipulating her joints and massaging her limbs and of the hospital staff appearing with big smiles first thing in the morning.
It was Uday and me there this time. We thought we should do alternate visits to sit with Mummy and to give Denis time off. The illustrated route drawn by him shows the approximate distance it was to travel up and down daily.
And then hours and hours of whiling away time there while she slept, or had her meals, or spoke a little. Meantime we got sore and sorer and cranky and crankier with just the sitting around and with each other. I took along a drawing book, drawing pictures from magazines or copying studies from an illustrated book of flowers.
When tired of this I walked about the place. These were very old buildings constructed in British times, that made up the Military Hospitals around the country. The ceilings were high, the walls thick and the verandahs deep and pillared, everything a bit creaky and aged. There was space between the various low buildings, with roads connecting them and venerable old trees shading the place. Good military style maintenance reflected in the painted tree trunks and even large boulders painted in stripes. They say in the army here, ‘If it moves salute it, if it’s stationary, paint it’.
Or we would drive off to some nearby joint or to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. The patients meals were brought to them in sharp time, increasing our hunger. Then some more sitting around till it was time to go back to Brahmanpalli.
Everyone in the village house could relax during the days Mummy was admitted in hospital and you’d think there’d be a sigh of relief all round. Not from the chief caretaker though. He was doing some pacing and some time passing while alone in the house. Like many people, my father liked being alone in one part of the house while busy with his occupations so long as someone else was present somewhere in the house. I heard him tell Uday that he couldn’t find anything to do when Mummy was not at home. I could hardly believe that he was fretting for the company of someone who needed round the clock maintenance, because on our time at home we enjoyed the slower pace and the lack of responsibility.
The next day of our visit when the doctor came on his daily visit to the patient he said he thought she should be discharged the next day for sure. I knew my fathers state of mind and so called him to give him the joyous news that we would all be busy doing the daily routine soon again, in fact tomorrow. He was SO upbeat listening to this and asked me to give my cell phone to Mummy. She listened, saying, “alright”, and smiling and smiling said ” I love you too Denis”. Well, I’d never heard my parents being so sentimental and realized that in sixty years or more of marriage, what a habit and anchor you become to each other. She was his sustenance as much as he was hers.