For the small number of people who’ll be reading this, I’ll issue an advance disclaimer. This note has nothing to do with LOVE as you all know it. It’s not about your corny, made for each other, soul mates kind of love. People, who know me, know for a fact that I’ll be the last person to have any sort of view on that. Well, to get to what I have to say, and quickly at that, I’ll narrate an experience I had which left its indentations on my mind.
I was on a “down the memory lane” trip to Bangalore and Manipal this May. Bhasma (Vikash Kumar) had invited me and other people had also planned to join us on the fun at Bangalore. As it turned out and as it often does, 3 people showed up. I didn’t let that dampen my spirit and went ahead for that one last hurrah@ manipal. I was having the time of my life and hadn’t felt any happier since college got over. Only 3 days into a week long party that I had planned, I get a call.
It was my father. He had fallen prey to the pneumonia virus and was admitted as a result. Mom asked me to reach delhi asap as she could use some help. I got my tickets booked and left for delhi first thing in the morning, though a little bit disappointed on cutting short the trip. As a kid, I had rarely seen my father fall sick and knew how dismissive he was, whenever we would notice a little sign of ailment. So, this was new territory for me and likewise for my father.
I was assigned night duty at the hospital since I am the only insomniac in the entire family. On the bed next to my dad’s, lay an old man, who (as my dad told me) had a peculiar kind of disease that led him to loose all his weight down to a level where only skin and bones were left. Plus he had respiratory and metabolic issues too. His name was Rajesh govil. Another old man, who looked only slightly younger than the one on the hospital bed, was tending to him. The pain, if any, was never felt in the ailing man’s eyes and yet it was palpable in eyes of the one standing next to him holding a glucose bottle and providing physiotherapy exercises to his near and dear one. I felt a little ashamed of myself, but then I took refuge in the fact that my father was doing 100 times better than the man adjacent to him.
The day dad was going to be discharged; I was excited for many reasons. The daily trips to a depressing place like hospital were coming to an end and also I still had time to plan for my parents’ 25th anniversary. The formalities were taking its due time and I was in a chatty mood. The next few conversational exchanges went like this:
Me: Dad, How about some chai!
Dad: Sure, why not!
(I come back with two cups of hospital ki chai, that for some strange reason I had begun to enjoy)
Me: Here’s the one with no sugar. Papa, I was wondering what you would like to have for your 25th anniversary. I am thinking of a small family affair as there’s little time left for a function.
Dad: Whatever you think is right, go ahead with that.
Me: Ok!…..Hmmm…..dad! did u see how religiously and without fail his son has tended to Mr Rajesh over the past few days. He’d be here talking to him all day, cleaning his uncontrolled bowels, providing physiotherapy exercises and what not! Its just fantastic!
Dad: Ha ha ha!
Me: Did I crack a joke here?…..its not funny dad!
Dad: So you think that Mr Rajesh is that man’s father? No, my son! It’s the other way around. Though Rajesh’s illness has made him look much older than he is but he’s actually that man’s son!
Me: (I look at him with my jaw dropped to the floor)
Dad: He’s been here for 3 months now and doctors have said that he has atmost another 15-20 days left.
Me: What!…..then what’s the reason left for giving him all the physiotherapy sessions and everything. What possible good can they do now?
Dad: It does not work like that…… That my child is love, Unconditional love!