Tomorrow will mark two months to the day when you finally breathed your last. Everything seems like a blur. Last December, a week before your birthday, one night you spoke for a long time. I was getting worried as you recounted about the serials that you watched on TV and the neighbours and the children playing in the corridor. The next morning, you gestured saying, you were no longer able to speak. I took you to the hospital, test after test and recuperation and after all the experts visited, they said there was a phonatory gap and you needed speech therapy. I brought you home on your birthday Amma, do you remember. Like raising a child, teaching you the alphabets, bit-by-bit I coaxed you to speak. By the time January ended, you seemed to be back to normal in terms of speaking. But you lost your sense of hearing completely. Still, we managed. The renal functions were growing weaker, the heart to becoming weaker. As your legs would swell up suddenly, Lasix injection would come to the rescue. We had to cut down on liquid intake to 750 ml a day. I still felt you were growing stronger and would be fine.
Then on that fateful Saturday – the first Saturday of April, you fell down. We had to summon the support staff to climb into the verandah and open the door. I wonder now, if on that fateful day I had worked from home or if I would have been on leave, would you have not fallen down. Would you be resting in the bedroom when I would make the evening tea and bring it to you? I don’t know Amma. I have lost you forever. You are now relegated to a photograph framed and placed in the front room.
Taking you to the hospital again – surgery for the hand that broke. Bringing you back home, the doctors failing to diagnose any major issues in the review, returning back home and you slipping into a deep slumber. The blood tests done with you in slumber at home. The insane spike in sodium, potassium, and creatinine values. Again taking you to the hospital with your head on my lap, I knew I had lost you. The Emergency doctor saying – either admit her to the ICU or take her back home. The decision to give one last try despite knowing the inevitable. Dialysis after dialysis followed. For one brief window of five minutes you were conscious. You said the back was hurting. the nurse said medicated pad had been placed for bed sores. Amma said “Take me home”. Those were your last words.
With the doctors being clear that the situation would remain the same and barring a miracle you would remain in this vegetative slumber, we brought you home. Do you remember Amma? Somewhere as a spirit, as a star, wherever you exist, in any other dimension or astral plane, I want you to know I tried my best, whatever I could, I tried. I still could not save you. You gave up on life, you gave up on me, you gave up on Akka, you lost your will to live this time around. We brought you home on Sunday afternoon. The home nurse was hired to start service on Monday. She arrived on Monday. We gave you food in liquid form through the nasal tube. At 3:15 in the afternoon, you breathed your last with a massive sigh. I could not cry, I have still not cried to my heart’s content. I don’t know when the dam within will burst and I will be able to cry till all the tears dry up.
The cremation was done on the same evening. The next fortnight saw all the associated rituals being done. I hope you have found peace Amma. I hope you are finally free of all the physical pains that afflicted you in this mortal world. I hope you are smiling as you do from the picture that’s framed and stares at me. Try as much as I can – the emptiness is vast, never-ending like a chasm that does not end, or like a tunnel that keeps going deeper into the bowels of the earth. I speak to you looking at the photograph. Wishing you good morning and good night. I wish you when I leave home, I wish you when I return. It is almost like you have never left. Just that I don’t hear any replies from you or I don’t get to eat anything that you have made. No, I do. The last batch of pickles that you made still remains. I am tempted to preserve them / but then again, everything comes with an expiry date – like life itself. So I have to savour the pickles before they turn bad.
People ask me – when I will get married. they say – now that you have gone, there will be no restrictions and I will find a bride soon. But what is the purpose of another relationship? Of creating a life of love and longing and then to lose them again on some day and then suffering through the cycle of loss and grief all over again. There is a sequence in the animated classic “UP” where the old man Carl remembers all the beautiful memories of Ellie – the girl whom he loved and married and eventually lost to illness. He decides to fly away to Paradise Falls with balloons linked to his house, away from all the madness of the big city.
Where do I run away? Wherever I reach, the pain and grief within will not end.
Office – home – office – this has been the loop. I have not managed to get the patience to go to a theatre and watch a movie. The spare time that I have – I try to read books that remain at home. Attention deficit is becoming a big problem and the mind deviates with some memory or the other popping up. Focusing at work is a challenge that I have somehow managed to keep in control as the debts that need to be repaid loom large and scare me into submission. I honestly don’t know Amma what I am going to do? You have gone, left me, all alone here. Relatives console, support, pray, and help but to what avail? The emptiness that remains in the soul, how will I ever fill up the limitless void. I don’t have any answers Amma. Sending you lots of love and light and hope you are in a safe and better place now.