Sometimes, dads do not matter to children as moms do, or so I felt after my children stopped taking calls from me. Obviously, therefore, I do not matter as much as their mother [now my ex-wife] does to them, for they are in touch with her on a daily basis.
I had suffered yet another heart attack July 19 2013 and had been treated at the St Isabel’s Hospital.
A nurse wanted to know the identity of my attendant, someone to sign the form, blah, blah even I was panting for breath.
Dr Thangavel [May God Almighty Bless him and his entire family forever] forced the young woman to send me to the ICCU.
“Can’t you see this man is fighting for life? Would you force him to die simply because he has not yet fulfilled the bureaucratic red tape needs? If need be, I will sign him and if he is not able to pay the bills, I will pay it for him,” the doctor said in a somewhat angry tone.
Nevertheless, rules are rules and hence I tried reaching my son through my mobile … who told the doctor … “I have to consult my mother.”
“So consult her,” the doctor said with some exasperation.
My son ‘promised to call back.’
He did not.
“I am divorced and the son, along with his wife, lives with his mother,” I weakly explained.
Perhaps the doctor realised I was losing my will to live – a very dangerous trait in a heart patient.
“We will cure you fully and make you as good as new,” Dr Thangavel said as I was wheeled into the ICCU.
After the diligent attention of the doctors and nurses there had brought me back into a semblance of well-being, I tried reaching my younger brother Srinivasan, also known as Cheena whom I had considered fairly close to me. I had merely wanted him to sign the form.
He turned up some 5 hours later along with my younger sibling Sharada Prakash, the woman who virtually runs the company called Giri Trading Agency P Ltd like a female version of Rasputin.
You say you have a heart attack. More importantly, do you have a heart? I have brought Rs.5,000 with me and I can afford to pay even more, but I hate paying a paisa for your sake you ungrateful wretch, Sharada began.
The anger in me seemed about to erupt somewhat dangerously, triggering a mild alarm in the hospital.
I did not want to see you and did not ask for money from you at all. Why have you come to wound me again?
As I had asked the question, the nurses calmed me down.
Sharada stomped out and returned a little later to announce, You ungrateful wretch, I have paid a deposit of Rs.5,000. Do not come back begging for more. I do not want to see your horrible face again!
She flung a Rs.500 note on my face and went away. She had done something similar while I had been admitted to a privately managed ICU part of a government owned hospital in Santa Cruz, Mumbai some 2 years ago, flanked by another younger brother Viswanathan. Then she had paid Rs.2000 to the hospital in the name of covering medicines. The bill had been settled by senior police officials who had heard of my predicament.
Cheena had followed her without saying a word.
The next day, I telephoned my mentor in Tamil journalism, friend and now a true father figure – Mr Cho S Ramaswamy.
Within the next four minutes a sizeable sum of money reached the hospital to cover all expenses.
My friend for over 35 years – Swaminathan who is listed as the publisher on record in Thuglak – handed over the money to the elderly sister saying – if there is any further need – let us know and we will be around to help and took leave.
The next day, someone informed me that both my son and daughter were within a radius of 2 km from the hospital. Neither of them bothered to visit me. Perhaps, they were busy with personal work. An ailing and perceivably impoverished male parent was the lowest in their list of priorities.
I had approached my daughter for medical insurance through my son-in-law Kesavan.
Much later, he told me that I was not covered under her policy as it covered the 2 grandchildren and the husband.
I did not have the heart to tell him that since he works for a foreign bank, he too is covered medically to take care of his, his family's his children’s and his parents' medical needs. Besides, any offspring’s insurance coverage covers male and female parents … standard rules under which insurance companies operate.
Obviously, the daughter did not want to extend her coverage to me - something she had grudgingly done in the past.
Under normal circumstances, the bile of anger would have risen inside me.
This time it did not.
The reasons stated earlier in these same columns:
I had promised in my dream to the Shirdi Sai Baba that I would not say nasty things about my children or would curse them.
So I did not.
I could not be allowed to use my mobile phone within the ICCU. I was getting worked up because I could not use it to reach the outside world to continue keeping body and soul together.
In their collective wisdom, the doctors discharged me after having steadied my heart and the nerves.
At home, take the medicines regularly and just take complete rest. You would be alright, sir Dr Aggarwal, the senior cardiologist said.
On the way home, I went in to Thuglak Office to thank Mr Cho.
As the doctors suggested, go home and take rest.
Though his comment was said in a flat voice, I could discern concern and a strange kind of fatherly affection in his voice.
You have saved me yet again sir, I had said in an almost choked voice.
Just go home. You will be alright, Mr Cho said and turned towards the television. It was a faint signal of asking me to go away.
I could feel that he was feeling sad over the turn of events as well and did not want me to get mushy in his room.
Mr Madalai, the man who runs that ship as the second in command, offered more words of comfort and a sweetened it with a bit of wit.
You go and take rest for a few days till you are completely fit. The outside world has the habit of taking care of itself without your interfering endeavour, he said with a faint smile. A friend for over 30 years, he clearly was pained by my sufferings.
The turn of events left me wondering what life was all about.
The realisation that I needed some emotionally comforting words that would never come from anyone around weighed me down.
And I felt I needed to lodge a protest against this selfish society.
I had tried committing suicide thrice … and have ruled out that route … because I have realised that if I succeeded, I would be admitting failure in the face of adversity.
In my opinion, those who call persons dying by suicide as cowards are … simply put … asinine ill-informed idiots.
It requires a lot of spunk to come to the decision to take one’s own life.
I ought to know as I have tried doing it thrice. And I know I am no coward.
As one aspect of my protest an uncaring world, I have decided to donate my organs – for cadaver organ harvest. The unusable rest would be given for medical research.
There are scientific and logical reasons for this. Someone somewhere is using the eyes donated by my late younger brother Aiyappan who passed away in 1999. I am media savvy enough to know that the kidneys, liver and the eyes could save other lives.
Further, the children who did not have the time to see the ailing living male parent may not have the time to dispose of the dead body. The less said about the brothers and sisters the better.
Being a devout, practicing Hindu, I wanted to find out as to whether one can perform one’s own funeral rites in advance.
I consulted Mr ‘Ramayanam’ Srinivasan at the Kanchi Math.
Those who renounce the world and become hermits are allowed this luxury … and it is an elaborate ritual. In the worst case scenario, I can provide you with the information and even get a priest to officiate the ceremony. But, would it not be better to seek the Acharya’s advice?
A little later, I was ushered into the presence of Shri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal.
It has been decided that you have no need to think of events to conduct your own last rites. In Our opinion, you have much more important things to do. Just continue your prayers. Try to salvage your relationships with your relatives, with whomsoever it is possible, His Holiness said.
I could discern the same concern and kindness in the voice of His Holiness as I had found in Mr Cho a few weeks back.
As I took leave, Mr Srinivasan added carefully, whenever you feel life is letting you down, think of me. I would be hopefully around to help you … in whatever little way I can. Don’t worry. God is continuously blessing you.
So, obeying the fiat of His Holiness, I have jettisoned the thoughts of conducting my own funeral rites.
To take matters to the natural, logical next step, I tried calling my daughter. She did not pick up.
A little later, I called my son-in-law Kesavan and said, I have said and written nothing against my children. I have no rancour left. I fail to understand as to why my daughter, with whom I thought I had become a friend, again … has stopped taking my calls.
A little later, the son-in-law said on phone, Your daughter has simply said that she does not want to interact with you at this point in time.
Henceforth, I will not contact either my son or daughter. My doors, however, remain open to them. If someone has to make a move to rekindle the friendship, it will have to be them, I said.
Thoroughly embarrassed, Kesavan did not say a word more.
I felt like approaching my immortal mom Lakshmi – mentally for solace.
She had passed away December 31 1992.
So, I picked up a song from the 1966 Hindi film – Chotaa Bhai [Younger Brother] penned by the immortal Anand Bakshi, where a son is shown wandering alone in the woods singing piteously thus and played it several times:
Kindly hide me
In your sari upper folds again
Give me a warm hug once more
There is none else on earth
To bless me thus
I won’t be a bad boy again
Please allow me to come closer to you
I have none left on earth
Kindly pardon my childhood pranks
Elders do not jettison their loved ones
As you seem to be doing
It was I who had strayed away
From the warmth of your affection
So call me back to you as before
Shower me with your affection once more
There is none else on earth
To comfort me thus
It was your bosom
That had breathed life into me
From walking to everything else
I had learnt everything as you
Had guided me, holding my hand helpfully
There is none else on earth
To show me the right path
So I keep tripping and falling often
And there is none
To apply the solace-like balm
To ease the resultant painful wounds
There is neither darkness nor light here
I cannot find either life or death here
Do not leave me behind
Alone in this strange, heartless world
Release me from bondage, mom
There is none else on earth
To grant me salvation
To these diamond-like words, I append a few glass piece expressions of mine.
I am hungry
I long for your tasty food
And the hunger makes me
Are you blessing me
By making me so angry
That it makes my heart beat faster
That would trigger my leaving the world
And making me come to you, mom?
Bless me some more
Make me angrier, angriest
So that heartbeats stop
To end my life’s anti-climax
One of your manifestations
Invoked your Heavenly Father’s forgiveness
To those errant children of yours
For they knew not what they did
When they crucified you
I am no patch on that greatness
Grant me the fortitude
To refrain from getting sad
At the bad turns of life’s seemingly never-ending lows
To you belongs my soul
And the body so mercifully given
By Your infinite mercy
That I leave mortal remains behind
The cause of the very humanity you have created
To better lives
Worse off than mine
Soon, the Mahalaya Paksham - that period of the year in the Hindu calendar wherein one would seek the blessings of family elders would waft in.
I had written something about that ... which also involves prayers for the departed.
The link: http://tsvhari.com/template_article.asp?id=401