Harini turned to the direction from where the voice was coming. Sarva strode towards the dining table, placing his mobile into the pocket, smiling.
He pulled the empty chair beside Harini and placed it in between Mohan and Gopal and sat on it.
“There was a small issue. We came to know last night that one of Nikhil’s relatives landed here. “Sarva began to speak but stopped as he heard Mohan’s voice.
“Oh my goodness. I remember that now. It was one of his uncles, Am I right?” Mohan interrupted.
“Were we supposed to receive them and was it missed?” It was Gopal’s turn to ask questions.
“Uncle and Thatha, please relax. Their flight was delayed due to a technical swag. They reached here by midnight and the transport was arranged. I just spoke to them now. They reached home safe. Everything is fine.” He stressed the last sentence, in an attempt to re-iterate it to the cousin group.
Harini made a face at the lie.
Liar. There was no Technical swag. As per Kirti the flight landed on time.
Kirti made sure she heard it. She was waiting to make sure Nikhil was fine, before she dialed his number.
“I spoke to Nikhil and his parents too. They are all happy now.” He stressed again.
“Did you co-ordinate the entire thing?” Gopal asked Sarva.
“Yes, it was almost late night when we came to know about the swag and it was exactly midnight when they landed here. We did not want to disturb you all. “Sarva smiled.
“And the stay?” Mohan asked.
The conversation slowly shifted between Sarva and Mohan. Gopal tried hard to talk as the cough interrupted his speech. The change in the weather had affected his throat, which had led to cough and cold.
Srimathi came in between the men and placed a Glass of hot water for Gopal.
“Kirti told me about the Service apartment you had booked earlier for Nikhil’s family. They reached there safe.” Sarva continued to talk to Mohan as Gopal sipped in some hot water.
Srimathi, Akhila, Uma and Thanuja sat for the breakfast as the men continued to talk.
“They should have expected us.” Mohan was curious.
“I got to know the service apartment address from Kirti . Harshith and I went there, while Arjun waited for us in the house. We cannot leave the house open and just go away in the midnight. Plus we guys did not want to bother the girls too. I just thought someone of us should be there in person. I made sure their apartment was good and comfortable, gave them our Chennai contact numbers and asked them to contact us in case of any requirement. It is all taken care, Uncle. Please do not worry. Let Thatha get some rest. Probably we can go sometime in the evening, Uncle.” Sarva assured.
“You had been there on Nikhil’s behalf, which is fine, but on..” Mohan was interrupted by Sarva.
“Uncle , I did not go there on Nikhil’s behalf. I went there on Kirti’s behalf, as one of the member of this house. I went there on our behalf, Uncle.” Sarva smiled.
“Thank you. Uma and I will definitely visit them this evening.” Mohan gave a gentle pat on Sarva’s shoulders.
“Thank you. I am not sure if one of my grandsons would have done that. One is playful and the other does not take charge easily. I am happy you took charge and got this sorted. If you people had not been there yesterday, it would have been a horrible mess.” Gopal shrugged.
Sarva thought for a moment before reacting. He was not sure if he should smile. Gopal sticks to bitter truth. Sarva now realized from where Harini had acquired this quality from.
“We all did it together Thatha.” Sarva smiled. “’Thank you’ is a huge word Uncle and Thatha. I am glad you all are happy and everything is fine.” He continued as he got up.
Gopal smiled and went to his rocking chair for getting some rest.
“Thatha, take deep breath. This is just congestion due to cold. Take deep breath. If needed let me know, I can suggest come cough syrup.” Harini held one of his hands as he walked back.
He smiled and caressed her hair, affectionately.
Mohan had to call up one of his sub ordinate at office to inform that he would be coming in the afternoon.
Srimathi and Uma were happy, Adithi was not. Harini never reacted since Sarva spoke.
“Appa should not have spoken about our sons in that manner to a stranger.” Akhila nudged Uma as they headed back to the kitchen to drop the soiled plates.
“Though it was disheartening, it is true. Harshith still needs more seriousness. It hurts, but at the same time we should be mature enough to embrace the reality. In fact I have spoken a lot about this to Harshith himself. “Uma shrugged her shoulders.
Back at the dining table, Adithi, Sarva and Harini were still seated.
“So, are you happy that you have impressed Thatha and Mohan Uncle?” Adithi began in an attempt to bring up the conversation between Sarva and Harini.
“I was happy that I was able to handle a situation better. I was happy that the elders noticed.” Sarva replied casually.
As Adithi and Sarva conversed, Harini completed her breakfast, moved into the kitchen to drop the soiled bowl.
“How did you manage the other side?” Adithi tried to smile naturally.
“Yeah, as you know, I just told it was a technical swag to this family, while I told that Thatha was not well to Nikhil’s family. They first asked me, ‘If someone is unwell why does everyone in the family has to rush to the hospital.’ , but I managed to tell that it was a little serious here. They were convinced. Since it was related to the health issue of a senior person in the house, they never dared to raise further questions.” Sarva replied.
“Oh.” Adithi nodded.
Harini came out of the kitchen and strode towards the steps. It was evident that she did not hear a word of what Adithi and Sarva spoke, while she was in the kitchen.
“Harini, come here.” Adithi called out.
“What is the matter with you Adithi? You have been snubbing me since morning and all of a sudden you want me to talk to you now and this guy, Oh my God. How could you lie so easily? It comes so naturally for you.” Harini made a face as she shifted her eyes from Adithi and Sarva once in ten seconds.
She turned swiftly and walked towards her room.
“Hey.” Sarva raised his voice in an attempt to stop Harini. Akhila stuck her head out as she heard loud voices.
“It is nothing Aunty. Just like that.” Sarva managed to smile.
He took two steps at a time to reach Harini.
“Hey,” he called again.
“Stop ‘Hey-ing’ me.”
“Ok. Sorry. Harini, listen.”
“I do not want to listen.”
“Let her go, na.” Adithi chuckled.
“Adithi, please.” Sarva sighed and turned towards Harini.
“Harini, I know I was wrong. I just wanted to save the situation.”
“La..la..la..laa…,”Adithi sang shaking her hands, as she climbed up the stairs.
Sarva and Harini looked at her for more than ten seconds, when Sarva’s voice broke the silence.
“Chuck it. Ignore her. Now coming to this, I am so sorry.” He tried to stop her.
“You are just a bag of lies and nothing more.” Harini gritted her teeth and walked past him, swiftly.
The rest of the day continued in complete silence for Harini. Harshith came back from work quiet early and came to know about the series of incidents. He had mixed emotions. He sighed, shook his head in confusion and connected his office laptop to charger and started taking office calls and meetings from home.
Adithi seemed apathetic towards the things happening around her.
Kirti was in a buoyant mood, beaming with glee. She made a couple of calls to Nikhil.
Harini checked the watch. It was ten minutes to six. She came down to the living room.
Akhila was talking to her husband over phone. Srimathi and Thanuja were in the kitchen. Uma was seated in the couch with a book in her hand.
As she heard footsteps behind, she turned to see who it was.
Uma smiled at her daughter. Harini smiled weakly at her mom, sat beside her and rested her head on her shoulders.
“Tired?” Uma asked.
“Shall I make some coffee for you?” Uma almost stood up.
“No Amma. I will have Green tea. “She walked to the kitchen.
Thanuja had placed a huge pot on the stove top to make Dhal.
“What do you want dear?” Srimathi asked her grandchild.
“Green tea, Paati. I will make it myself.” She smiled as she pulled out her mug. She filled it with water and placed it in the Oven. She took out the mug after few minutes and dipped the tea bag into it. She walked towards the kitchen window and stood leaning against the wall. She placed the hot mug on the window pane and looked outside. Something in their backyard garden caught her eyes.
She took the coffee mug and walked outside.
Sarva was lying down under a tree, hands under his nape, supporting his head.
She walked slowly and placed the coffee mug on the grass. Harini tried to clear her throat, but she fell silent.
She sat there scratching her head, whether to begin a conversation or walk back.
“Hi.” She finally managed to speak.
“2 minutes 38 seconds.” She heard a voice. Sarva opened his eyes slowly.
“What?” Harini asked in confusion.
“It has taken more than 2 minutes for the doctor to talk to me.”
She smiled. “Just a random number.” She turned away to take the coffee mug off the floor.
“Nope. I had been counting the seconds from the next moment you came near. I heard your ‘Hi’ on the 158th second.” Sarva showed the watch in his left wrist. “I know precision impresses you.”
“Don’t try to impress me. By the way, You knew I was here? I thought your eyes were closed.”
“True. My eyes were closed. My nose wasn’t. The fragnance – perfume or your natural fragrance?” Sarva grinned.
“Flirt.” Harini shook her head and tried to stand up, immediately regretting the thought of meeting him and apologizing for her behavior earlier.
Sarva sighed. “You were good until I opened my eyes. Weren’t you?”
“You are good until you open your mouth, aren’t you?” Harini spoke, looking away.
“Anyway, I came here to apologize. Before you could flirt further, let me move away quickly. I am sorry.” She crossed her hands, across her chest.
“Uh? For what?” He smiled.
“I should have reacted better. I am sorry for not doing that. “She rubbed her hands together.
“Why there is a sudden change?”
“Well, I just thought over. I felt I shouldn’t have shown a morose face to you. You actually eased Thatha and Appa’s situation. If not for your presence of mind, it would have been a big mess. I am happy that Thatha is relieved. All this drama would have been too much for his age, so though you lied, I am ok with it. That is why I am not interested in what you told to Nikhil’s family. Should have been a similar lie, but that is ok. “She was looking around, still not making any eye contact.
“You love your Grandfather so much?”
“Yes. Of course.” Her face lit up. “I love him so much. I grew up aspiring to be like my grandfather – Perfect, truthful, honest and straight forward. He is my inspiration. He motivated me to do great in my studies. My whole family helped me so much. Mom , dad, grandma and him. But my grandpa took extra efforts. He used to accompany me to my early morning tuitions. He loves me so much. I love him too. He is my inspiration.” She spoke in a single breath.
He looked at her amazed.
“What?” She waved her hand in front of him to bring him to reality.
He took a second to recover and gathered himself to reply to her apology earlier.
“Apology accepted. I was a little irritated with you. That is why I just moved away from the people inside the house and came here.” Sarva extended his hands.
“Hmm.” She raised an eye brow. Sarva scrutinized her inscrutable face for some expressions. It seemed to him that the phrase ‘irritated with you’ hadn’t bothered her much.
“You are tough to decode.” He smiled.
“Don’t try.” She smiled.
“Tough, but not impossible.” He replied.
“Really?” She raised an eyebrow in sarcasm.
“Yes. I was able to understand few things.” He replied.
“What?” She asked him the next second.
“For the first time, the honorable doctor came to apologize, for the first time a person who doesn’t like wasting time in thinking, sat idle for almost 2 minutes, thinking hard what to speak. For the first time, you spoke so much that you had to take a break in between your sentence to catch your breath.” He paused after listing all that he wanted to say.
Harini smiled. She was not seemed impressed. She nodded, acknowledging the facts Sarva spoke and walked towards the house.
She suddenly stopped and turned towards him.
“Do you have a thing for me?” She asked.
“I don’t have anything for you, except for the dampness from the grass.” He showed his moist palm.
“Come on. You know what I mean.” She replied louder.
Sarva did not want to waste any time. He never thought she would come and ask.
“So you like me?” she brought her face closer.
Sarva burst out into a loud laughter.
“What is so funny?” She asked.
“Your choice of words- from ‘A thing‘ to ‘like’. Nice improvement.” He smiled. “What do you think the answer would be?” He asked.
“I didn’t know and that is why I asked you.” She kept her face straight.
“What made you ask so?” He was curious.
She stumbled over the unexpected question.
“Uhh..,” she stammered.
Sarva was looking at her closely.
“.. The fact that you were actually irritated with me and but still my vague apology helped. If you had not had a thing, I don’t think you would have accepted the apology. “She was looking at him now, her eyes toggling between his facial features.
He nodded his head and smiled.
“I … ,” he fumbled for a moment and then he continued. “,.. ok, in your terms, I like you.” He smiled. He gave just a moment’s gap in between, to think and shoot his question.
“And you?” He prompted.
“Just because I met a stranger in an airplane, just because we both have ended up in the same house for few days, just because he likes me, I cannot like him. Liking can never come just out of physical closeness. It comes from how close I feel even when we are physically apart. The other person’s words echoing and inspiring in my mind, how much I feel their presence in their absence, Ah, that is what I call…,” She stopped abruptly, letting out a sigh. “Anyway nice talking to you.” She smiled and left.
He kept calm and saw her walking away, into the house.
She walked into the house after dusting her feet in the door mat, not knowing what was in store for her.
The elders finished the early dinner and left the casseroles for the grandchildren to eat. Srimathi insisted Uma and Akhila to serve the grandchildren, while Harshith and Adithi assured that they will help themselves.
The kitchen lights were turned off.
“Adithi, Harini please put the dishes for washing after eating. Guys, make sure you put the soiled plates into the sink for washing. Do not leave anything on the dining table.” Uma instructed the guys and walked towards the sit out, where Srimathi and Akhila were already seated.
Harini rested her elbow on the dining table, stretched her legs on the opposite chair and sat relaxed, with her phone in her hand.
She was busy texting Shipra who informed her about Dr. Sachin’s absence in their college and they were discussing about his medical tour.
“You disappeared for some time in between?” Adithi asked Harini. Adithi wanted the actual reason. She knew it would not come from Sarva.
“We were just talking.” Harini replied, still chatting in her phone.
“We?” Adithi asked.
“Sarva and I.” Harini replied casually.
“About?” Adithi probed her question.
“Does that really matter?” Harshith nudged Adithi as he sat beside.
“Shut up. And you have finally divorced your office laptop? ” Adithi snubbed Harshith.
“Yup. Just now the meeting was done.” Harshith replied.
Adithi turned to Harini.
“What were you talking about?” She asked.
“Why are you so interested?” Harini shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway.. It was just how he dealt with the issue and blah blah..,” Harini sighed and was still chatting over phone.
Sarva walked towards the dining table in his round neck t-shirt and Nike three fourth.
Adithi shifted her gaze towards him.
“Hey,” she called.
Sarva waved his hands at Adithi and smiled at the rest of them at the table.
“All smiles.” Adithi winked, trying to build a conversation in the way she wanted.
“Hmmm.” Sarva was smiling; the evening conversation was still lingering in his mind.
“Looks like you guys have spoken your heart out?” Adithi asked Sarva.
Arjun came back from gym and settled on the couch with the water bottle.
Kirti who finished her video call, joined the rest of her cousins at the dining table.
“Not exactly. Just a causal talk.” Sarva placed two rotis on his plate and filled half of the bowl with Dhal that was there in the casserole.
“She was fine?”
“Yes, she was. “ He tried to keep his reply short. He did not want to disclose a lot about their time.
“Were you?” She now turned to Harini.
“Yes, just because Thatha and Appa were happy and relieved.” As she replied to Adithi, she ended her chat conversation with Shipra with a smile.
“In spite of knowing that he lied about Thatha’s health?”
Harini took her eyes off her mobile and looked up at Adithi.
Adithi jutted her lips out, shrugged her shoulders and pointed at Sarva.
“What did you say about Thatha’s health?” Harini asked Sarva.
“Harini, It is ok. Just calm down. We will take this up personally.”
“It is NOT ok and there is NOTHING between us to take it personally.” Harini’s voice grew louder. A lie, on top of it, about her grandpa, had agitated her.
Adithi suppressed a smile, while the rest were dumbstruck.
“Yes l lied that your grandfather was hospitalized. What is the big deal? It was just to save the situation.” Sarva seemed to have lost his cool for the first time since he met Harini.
“It is a BIG DEAL, FYI.” Harini’s face reddened with rage.
“Handle your temper, please. Don’t look at things rationally, everytime.”
“Don’t instruct me.”
“It is not an instruction. It is just a reminder- A gentle reminder. Harini, there will be a lot of situation in life which has to be handled emotionally, driven by your pure instincts. Rational thinking will never help.”
“Stop preaching.” She made a face.
“I am not preaching. I am telling something which I have been learning.”
“Learning? Learning what? To lie? Lair.” She muttered under her breadth.
Harshith moved towards Harini , trying to calm her down. While Kirti made sure Sarva was ok.
“Harini this is too much. You need not comment on what I know and what I don’t know. Before trying to understand the human heart anatomically, try understanding the human hearts emotionally. There will be situations in life, in which you will forget the facts and go by emotions. That moment, when you hear your own heartbeat out of fear, you cannot sit and count the heartbeat. The scene in front of you or the fear will take the upper hand. Facts will fail there.” His nostrils flared.
“You don’t have to tell me how things work. You are just dumb- A dumb liar.”
“Harini, there is a limit. Stop your harsh words. I just told them that he was hospitalized. I did not tell them that he was dead.” Sarva’s voice echoed the living room. Harini froze for a moment, so did everyone else.
“****.” Sarva hit his forehead with his own fist. “I am sorry.” He covered his face.
“What the hell did you say just now?”
“I am sorry.” Sarva apologized.
“I just….,”Harini began speaking but stopped in between as she heard Srimathi and Mohan’s voice.
“Harini…,”She saw her father running towards her.
“Appa.” She exclaimed.
“Thatha is suffering for breath. “
Harini turned to Sarva, gritted her teeth, shook her head, pointed a finger as if to tell something, but returned to her dad and started running towards Gopal’s room.
Gopal was in his rocking chair, taking short heavy breaths. He was perspiring heavily. She checked his pulse.
“We need to take him to the hospital, now.” She told her dad.
“Anything serious?” Srimathi’s worried voice reached Harini’s ears.
“I think it will be better if we get a senior doctor’s advice.” She replied.
Gopal’s pulse was low when she checked him. She knew that he needed serious medical attention.
She unintentionally looked at Sarva. He refused to meet her eyes. She turned away.
Sarva, Harshith and Arjun carried Gopal to the car. Mohan drove the car while Harini took the back seat with Gopal. Uma was seated in the front.
Srimathi, Thanuja, Akhila and Ashok came in the second car. Kirti, being the bride was made to stay at home, along with Meena. Meena helped Gopal’s family with the daily chores.
Sarva and Harshith followed the cars in the Harshith’s bike. Adithi and Arjun came in Arjun’s bike.
The hospital was bustling with anxious people walking around. Harini waited along with Srimathi outside as Mohan ushered Gopal into the doctor’s room.
Gopal’s family had their regular health check-ups and medical visit there and hence most of the doctors there in the hospital were familiar.
It was more than 10 minutes since Gopal and Mohan went inside.
The rest of the family members arrived.
The doctor arrived outside along with Mohan. Gopal did not turn up. Harini was devastated. She knew what it meant. She expected it, but she could not handle it. The doctor would have planned to admit her grandfather.
“I have given instruction for admitting him. I think it is better if we have him in ICU for the first few hours.” The doctor addressed the family members.
Mohan nodded and followed the doctor for completing the admission procedures.
“Doctor.” They heard Harini’s voice.
The doctor stopped and turned.
“I shall be in the ICU along with my grandpa.” Harini spoke hastily.
“Attenders cannot stay inside the ICU.” The doctor cut her short.
“Not as his attender. I shall be there as a doctor.” She came forward.
Uma saw the confused look on the doctor’s face.
“Doctor, she is my daughter, Harini. She completed her M.B.B.S this year.” The doctor nodded his head.
“I am currently a research analyst, researching in Cardio vascular system. I am going to pursue my M.D in cardiology, soon.” Harini added.
“That is good to hear.” The doctor continued to walk.
“Can I be with my grandpa?”Harini asked again.
“Dr. Harini, don’t you understand a basic fact here? You might be a well-trained doctor. That doesn’t mean I can let you into my ICU to treat my patient. You get it?” The doctor’s voice was firm.
“Don’t you understand a basic fact?” Doctor’s voice echoed inside her brain. Had she forgotten a fact? She wondered. Yes she had. She nodded to herself.
There will be situations in life, in which you will forget the facts and go by emotions- Sarva’s voice echoed.
Was it a co-incidence or was he right? She wondered.
Harini sank into the chair. Mohan and doctor disappeared into the moving crowd.
“Things will get better. Thatha will be back with us soon.” She heard a voice. It was Sarva. Harshith and Sarva saw Harini’s hand shivering.
“Back off. I know that. I need not talk to someone who doesn’t know anything about family. If you had known those words would have never slipped off your mouth.”
“But Harini…,”She stopped Harshith who was trying to console her.
Harini was completely lost in angst and anxiety. As she tried to speak, they saw the doctor and Mohan walking towards them.
“Mr. Gopal is in ICU. One of you can stay here. The rest of you all please go home. As of now we have started monitoring his parameters. Most of his bodily parameters are normal, except his ECG. We have started injecting medicines for bringing his heart function under control.” The doctor spoke.
Harini looked at the doctor with wide eyes.
“Mohan, as I told you earlier, one of the leading cardiologists Dr. Sachin is paying his visit here. He is one of my very good friends. I will discuss about your father’s health with him. Your father will recover soon.”
While the doctor’s words gave mixed feeling to the family members, Harini shook her shoulders in sudden recognition and raised her voice.
“He is the one.” She spoke to the doctor. As the doctor turned to her, she continued. “I am a research analyst under Dr. Sachin Patil. Will you allow me to look after my grandfather if Dr. Sachin permits?” She asked. Anxiety shimmered in her voice.
“Well, I just called him for confirming his visit here tomorrow..,” the doctor was seemed a little hesitant. Harini acted quickly. She quickly dialed Dr. Sachin’s personal phone number.
“Doctor, I am so sorry to disturb you now.” There was a silence. The crowd guessed that the doctor was replying on the other side.
“Thank you. My Grandfather is unwell and he is admitted in S.K Hospitals, run by Dr.Kumar. I hope he spoke to you now. I feel I should be a part of the medical crew treating my Grandfather. Dr.Kumar is hesitant about letting an anonymous doctor to treat one of his patients.” Harini suffered for breath as she spoke in one go.
“Let us move in. “ Dr.Kumar ushered them into his room. Dr. Sachin’s immediate response to Harini’s call made him understand the rapport she had with the famous doctor.
“Sure, I will do that now.” Harini handed over her mobile phone to Dr. Kumar and mouthed, ‘he wants to talk to you.’
“Ok Sachin, I will do that.” Dr.Kumar replied and handed over the phone back to Harini. Dr. Sachin was still on the line.
“Hello, Yes Doctor.” Harini continued. She replied with a couple of ‘Ok’s and the line went dead.
“He asked me to have you in my medical crew. He told me that if he had to suggest a brilliant junior doctor, it might definitely be you. Sister Viji will guide you into the ICU. You will be there along with Dr.Saravanan, who is currently in duty in the ICU ward for tonight. I will permit you to take care of Mr.Gopal alone. Hospital staff will take care of the rest of the patients. Sister Viji will talk to Saravanan about this.”
Harini nodded and followed the nurse. She looked at her family behind. She fixed her gaze for few seconds at her mom and headed towards the ICU ward.
She wore a coat, sterilized her hands and ran to the bed on which her Grandfather was laid.
The nebulizer mask fitted perfectly on his face, covering his nose and mouth. He was gasping for air. She stood beside, looking at him, without batting the eyelid. She did not bother about greeting or getting familiarized with the other doctor who was there in the ICU.
The nurse informed her that Dr.Kumar will come for final rounds before leaving home and he would give instructions.
Harini grabbed a stethoscope and placed it on her grandfather’s chest and held his wrist. Pulse rate was lower than normal. Her heart beat rose.
Dr.Kumar’s light tread disturbed the silence. He came in and monitored the patients. He gave a set of instructions to Saravanan for the rest of the patients while he called Harini to talk about Gopal.
He handed over the X-Ray report.
“Harini, this is the X-Ray report. Do you have the previous patient history of your grandfather?” He asked.
“I was able to glance through some this morning, when the congestion increased.” She replied keenly looking at Dr.Kumar’s face.
“Why didn’t you bring him earlier?” The doctor asked.
She was busy distracted with the fight, wasn’t she?
She stood speechless.
She took the X-Ray from Dr.Kumar and placed in on the stand. The lungs showed heavy congestion.
“Beginning stages of COPD- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” She murmured, lines of perturbation appearing on her forehead.
“You are absolutely right. If it had been a medical class, I would have appreciated you. This is not the right time for appreciation.” Dr.Kumar moved closer to Gopal’s bed and monitored his blood pressure. It was slightly higher, which could be brought under control.
He discussed the medicines that were currently being injected as IV and those were given along with drips. He handed over the sheet to Viji and Harini and asked them to enter the parameters for every one hour.
“I will come for rounds the first thing tomorrow morning by 7A.M. Dr. Sachin will be here by 8.30 A.M. Call me in case of any emergency. “ He gave the instructions and moved away.
She moved closer to her grandfather. She checked the instrument above his head showing the heartbeat, blood pressure. His pulse count had not improved. He was still suffering for breath. The medicine injected via IV had taken its effect. His Blood pressure was now close to normal.
She sat on his bed. The doctor in her urged to move away. She did and took the chair that was allocated for her.
She thought hard. She had to improve his condition. She had to make him feel easy and normal again. What was she going to do that night? Sit and worry? What is she going to tell her family next morning, that her grandfather is still in the same condition? What is she going to prove to Dr.Sachin the next morning? That she was able to sit and stare at a patient and was able to note his blood pressure for every one hour?
Her mind raced. She looked at the X-Ray and at the ECG report. She strongly felt it was the Lungs which needed attention.
COPD. She thought again. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease was due to the mucus and inflammation in lungs that causes the Air sacs in lungs to enlarge and malfunction.
She tried to analyze her grandfather’s condition more. A part of her felt happy that it was just the beginning stage of COPD. How was she going to stop it now? She wondered.
The short breaths and abnormal ECG were due to the malfunctioning of the lungs.
What was that she had to treat first? Her mind raced again.
Dr.Kumar discussed about the medicines that were given to mitigate the congestion.
She knew that Dr.Kumar had given medicines to treat the infection in his lung. That will control the infection, but she had to monitor the other parameters. Her mind raced again.
It struck her then. ABG Test. Arterial Blood gas test. Patient’s blood was taken and sent to the laboratory for testing the level of oxygen saturation in the blood.
She looked at the clock. It was 10.30 P.M. The nurse came back with the anti-biotics and the other medicines prescribed by Dr.Kumar. She advised the nurse regarding the dosage and rushed down. Her father was seated there. He came running as he saw Harini. Harshith was also there along with his dad.
“Appa, I need your signature.” She spoke hastily.
“What is it?” He was equally anxious.
“Nothing to worry- I just want to take a blood test for Thatha.”
She handed over a form, got the signature and turned.
“How is he?” Harshith asked.
“He is ok.” She replied.
She ran up and collected the blood. She circled on Gopal’s skin and wrote the time.
Twenty long minutes passed by. The report had come. Her hands shivered as she opened the cover. 75.6% Oxygen , the report read. It was lesser than the normal 88%.
Not critical but the condition needs attention. She thought.
She decided to wait for an hour. She wanted to see the effect of the anti-biotics.
She moved closer to her grandfather and touched his wrinkled skin. She suffered a lump in her throat. She looked at the wall around. It was white and vast. She felt it was closing on her. She held her fist tight. She had to wait. Her mind and heart raced, but she had to accept that he was 74 years old and his body accepted the medicines slowly.
She moved to the chair and sat there. She felt weak. She had not stayed awake so late. It was 11.15 P.M. She rested her head on the table.
“Your relative?” She was startled by a voice. She raised her head to see who it was. The other duty doctor who was in charge came close to her.
“My Grandfather.” She spoke, her voice coarse.
“Oh, Ok. I am Saravanan.” He introduced himself.
Harini managed to smile, “I’m Harini,” she replied.
He stood there for a couple of seconds, waiting for her to talk. She fixed her gaze at her grandfather’s bed.
She looked at the wall clock. It was almost 12 in the midnight.
She looked at her Grandpa. His face seemed pale.
The nebulizer was not of much help. She ordered the nurse to bring in the oxygen cylinder. She slowly removed the nebulizer mask and replaced it with the oxygen mask.
Gopal seemed to breath better once the oxygen was supplied externally. She checked his other parameters. It was all close to normal.
She sat on the chair exhausted and worried.
She fell asleep for a minute, her forehead touching the wooden table. She woke up with a startle and sudden consciousness.
She looked around. Saravanan was taking care of the other patients.
There were a bunch of books on the shelf. ‘Brain and Heart’ a book in a shiny cover grabbed her attention. She slowly took the book and started to turn the pages. She kept an eye on the clock and on her grandfather. His breathing pattern was now close to normal.
As she turned the pages, an article for a couple of pages encapsulated her attention. She re-read the article several times. The author name and a small photograph of the Author beside seemed to catch her attention more than anything else. She was not sure how long she started at the article.
Her attention was diverted by a sudden loud heave.
She turned just to see her grandfather suffering for breath. She rushed to his bed.
Harini looked at Gopal. Something was terribly wrong. His legs started to swell indicating the fluid accumulation in his body.
Renal activity is coming down. Kidneys aren’t working properly. She spoke to herself.
She looked at the oxygen cylinder. Her mind raced. She thought hard as what went wrong.
She urged herself to do an ABG test again. She rushed and took out the blood. She looked at the clock. She circled the pierced point and marked 1.30 A.M. As the sample was given away to the lab, she heard a voice from the side.
“I think putting him on a ventilator will work.” Saravanan suggested.
“No.” She shook her head.
“He is 74. Considering his age, putting him on a ventilator now, will just make him completely dependent on it. It might just be like postponing his death.” She swallowed hard as she uttered the last words.
“What can we do now?” Saravanan asked.
“Thoracentesis.” She told out slowly.
Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall called the pleural space.
“What?” Saravanan asked.
“Look at his feet and hands. Fluids have started accumulating. It is the same case in his Lungs. We have to remove the excess fluids that is accumulating in his body”
“We do not have a pulmonologist at this time. We need anesthetist too.”
She nodded her head. She was not experienced enough to perform the mechanism of removing the fluid from the lungs by inserting a thin caterer into his wind pipe.
The ABG test result came. The carbon di oxide retention in his body has increased. The oxygen saturation was now only 65%.
Harini held her fist tight and looked around. She almost broke down. The medicines that had been given for so long did not work. Harini did not know how to proceed. She feared she might lose her grandfather. She swallowed hard. She took a few steps, went beside the oxygen cylinder and stood, leaning against the wall. Her chest rose and sank in heavy breathing. She heard her own heartbeat.
That moment, when you hear your own heartbeat out of fear, you cannot sit and count the heartbeat. The scene in front of you or the fear will take the upper hand. Facts will fail there.
Sarva’s words echoed inside her brain.
He was right. She thought.
No, I am not imaginig. No, this is not a co-incidence. This is a pure co-ordination of mind and heart.
She closed her eyes and thought for a moment and then shook her head as if she realized something.
“Oxygen pump.” She said aloud. Dr. Saravanan turned his head.
“In some patients suffering with Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease, supplying oxygen externally might increase the carbon di oxide retention in blood, this condition is referred medically as Hypercapnia.” She recited the same to Saravanan which she had heard in one of the medical classes.
“Can we call Dr.Kumar?” Saravanan hinted.
‘I will handle this myself.’ She thought. ”No.” She shook her head.
She forced herself to think quickly.
Increased Carbon-di-oxide in blood -the reason was low oxygen in take.
Increased fluid retention in body – the reason was low oxygen supply to Kidneys.
Irregular ECG pattern was again due to low oxygen supply to the heart.
She thought again. All her grandfather’s complications were related to inadequate oxygen. Oxygen pump can never be used. It had been worsening his condition. Her mind raced. She was not ready to use ventilator.
A gut feeling told her not to go for ventilator. She thought hard. Her mind and heart raced. She wracked her brain to think hard and fast. She did not have time. She closed her eyes.
‘Diuretic drugs.’ It struck her suddenly. She opened her eyes in excitement. It was a brilliant option. It will reduce the body fluids.
‘Yes, it will work.’ She told herself. She had to make this bold decision – the decision of avoiding the ventilator and going for diuretic drugs.
She thought for a moment. It felt weird. She heard her own inner voice. Was it the instinct? She wondered.
Sarva’s words echoed.
It is the decision made at the fraction of the second. Most of the life changing decisions are taken in the fraction of a second only. It happens when you go by pure instincts and not by facts and time.
‘If I had to take records and facts into account, I must go for a ventilator’ she thought.
She shook her head. For the first time she followed her instinct, breaking the facts. She prescribed few diuretic drugs, which were injected.
The oxygen supply was removed. Gopal suffered for breath initially. She stood beside, monitoring him closely.
She waited for two hours. It was 3.30 AM.
She saw that his condition improving. He was then breathing easier than before. The diuretic drugs had worked.
Harini checked for his body fluid output. It was normal.
The time was 4.30 AM.
In almost an hour’s time the swelling in his hands and legs came down.
She sat on the wooden chair. She looked at the clock. It was 4.45 A.M. She was completely drained. She walked out of the I.C.U. She drank some water. She went and sat again.
She looked at Dr. Saravanan. He had fallen asleep on the table.
“Madam.” She heard a voice. The nurse who had been looking at her as a stranger and the one who had been obeying her orders with a hesitation and loads of dubiety was now looking at her with a respect.
“Take some rest. I will look after the patients. In case of any issues I will wake you up.” Viji assured.
Harini forced a smile. She went back to the chair and rested her head on the table. The book ‘Brain and heart’ and the pages still lingered in her head. She closed her eyes. She did not know when she fell asleep.
Harini was woken up by a soft touch. She raised her head with a startle. She saw Viji standing there. Harini came to the senses. She immediately looked at the clock. It was 5.40 A.M.
She immediately ran to her grandfather’s bed. The man who was gasping for breath and suffering the entire night was now sleeping peacefully with no mask covering his nose and mouth.
“My hand had hit you softly when I tried to take the notepad.” Viji smiled.
“Oh, ok. That is fine. I shouldn’t have slept anyway. Sleeping is never an option when we are on a night duty. ” Harini smiled. “By the way, I did not come prepared for a stay. Can I have a tooth brush and a small paste from the hospital pharmacy? You can include that in the bill.” She spoke to Viji.
Viji smiled and came back in few minutes with a brush and paste. Harini excused herself and went into the restroom. She freshened herself and came out. The hospital which was quite all the while slowly started buzzing.
Viji was assisting Saravanan with one of the patients. When Viji was done, Harini enquired about the hospital’s X-Ray room intercom. She enquired about the timing. She also arranged for a spirometry test.
As Harini placed the receiver back, they all heard a panicked voice.
Harini turned with a startle. It was doctor Saravanan, who had called her
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