What Will Give You Happiness?

 

This question was posed by a friend to me a couple of days ago. Without batting an eyelid I said – “If Amma, gets seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, that will suffice.” He replied, – “But Mahesh, that is not in your hands right?”

I replied – “But that’s my biggest worry and concern at the moment.” He replied – “Mahesh, we are all in our wormhole of problems, wherein the health issues that our loved ones face impact our own focus. Even my Amma has a severe problem of the swelling of her feet and nerves, I can’t do anything about it other than advising her to follow the course of medicine prescribed by the doctor.”

His reply set me thinking, what would then really give me happiness:

1 – Getting the home loan paid in totality. (A long road ahead of about 14 years beckons)
2 – A song that amplifies my thoughts –

3 – One more: –

What will I be remembered for? What will you be remembered for? What is it that will give you happiness? How does the health of our loved ones impact our own choices and lives?

I type out this post as I see my mother lying with her eyes deeply shut trying to zone out the pain that afflicts her head and ears. We visited the ENT specialist, she says the eardrums have holes in both ears and there’s nothing more to be done. No moisture to go in, no cold to afflict and no buds. It’s been less than a fortnight at a new organization, but the patterns return, again an unplanned leave, again a vortex of hospitals, doctors, medicines and cutting a sorry-figure before those whom I report to – an endless stream of thoughts that boil down to the query – “What will give you happiness?”

I can at this point counter with a thought – Why is it important to derive happiness, why can’t just one remain – and why is sadness and pain such a big deterrent? Pain drives one in strange ways, it teaches you to believe that things can’t turn any bitter.

But it is this pain that when it afflicts a loved one that causes added misery. If only I could take all her pain and struggles and absorb them within my own realm. If only I could, if only….

I resign myself to the master: –

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I sought pardon,

For my sins,

In lives gone by,

And this existence.

I found refuge,

In temples, mosques,

Monasteries and churches.

In mountains and caves,

In rainforests in the heart of darkness.

Rituals and ceremonies,

To appease the higher power,

Whichever name you choose to ascribe.

The tests and struggles that everyone faces!

Either makes them stronger or breaks them down.

Every single time when I hit trough bottom.

I fought, for I believed, I had a chance.

An obligation to survive, because I was accountable to my mother.

To make her world and life as happy as possible.

Today, as I observe her in a drug-induced stupor.

We fight ailments known and unknown.

I am powerless to help her,

All I can do is to take her to hospitals.

Follow medication and diets as prescribed.

Still there is no clear solution.

No proper answers, the battle,

For a good night’s sleep,

Was lost long ago!

I keep my eyes shut tight.

But the ears remain steady,

Waiting for the slightest moan or cry.

I don’t know what I have turned into.

A robot who mechanically,

Continues to go about his chores.

My employers have been patient.

Helping in anyway possible.

Friends, a handful, call or message.

Fragments of a family scattered around the world.

A few good souls still keep in touch.

What lies next? I don’t know,

The charade of positivity,

Of hope and good things,

All remain mere masks.

I hope I find answers.

I hope things change, for the better.

I have just one reason left,

To continue this struggle.

As that reason too, disintegrates,

Bit-by-bit, cell-by-cell.

The tunnel of darkness,

Seems to beckon me.

If tomorrow comes.

We shall meet again.

Hospital Memories

It may seem strange, but I do recollect the hospital where I was born after a marathon struggle that my mother and the operating doctors underwent – Portland Hospital. It is said that I was still-born and there was no response and the doctor as a last try whacked me gently on my butt and I broke into a wail, announcing my presence!

My next memory is that of my maternal uncle returning one evening from work, perspiring abnormally and clutching his chest. We proceeded to admit him to a hospital where he was treated for a massive cardiac arrest.

The next memory of a hospital is a pleasant one of seeing my aunt’s son being born!

This is followed by my nephew being born in a nursing home and my sister all smiles but tired.

After this, every single memory of a hospital has been nerve-wracking and physically and emotionally full of turmoil. From losing friends, from seeing friends having a close shave with death, of having multiple close shaves with death myself and somehow escaping the Grim Reaper; these all remain as distinct memories. The devil within the brain, does not let me forget the smallest of details, each memory is full of pain.

The past few years have seen me rushing to the hospital with unfailing regularity with my mother seeking deliverance from a variety of illnesses. From fluctuating sugar-levels, cardiac issues, a broken arm, the list never seems to end. Last year was fluid build-up in the chest and lungs and almost a cardiac arrest-type of situation

This past fortnight was terrifying as we could not pinpoint what the core issue was and the reports from the labs found nothing significantly out-of-the-ordinary. Whatever she ate, she would vomit; she would not be able to stand and fall back onto the bed and complain of extreme dizziness.

Finally with some assistance from the cab-driver, managed to put Amma into the cab and proceeded to Sundaram Medical Foundation. En-route in the cab she vomited, then in the hospital’s emergency ward, she was put on nutrients, tests were run, some food advised to be given, which she again duly vomited after one bite. Tests were run and as is the usual protocol, the nurse would come out and call ‘Sharada Attender’ – A list would be given or a bill for a test and I would keep making the payments at the relevant counters. Finally, an ENT said it is the ears that have been severely infected and there is a pressure imbalance leading to the dizziness. Slippery sensation in the feet, linked to Diabetes and would need due course of correction later. Ears cleaned, medicines given and finally dinner she ate without vomiting and said food is bland! I was here thanking God that something went in to her stomach and she says – ‘Uppu illai’ /’No salt’!!!

Then doctor said let us do a CT-Scan and cross check if there’s any other issue in the ears or the head that may be affecting her and causing dizziness. Finally at around 12:30 AM the cleaning staff cleaned the floors of the sitting area outside the ECU Ward. People began to spread sheets and lay down, I managed to lie down on the steel-chairs and found a place under a fan and went into a disturbed sleep and nightmares that keep haunting me every night; of the inevitable, painful truth!

Nurse came in by 4:30 AM, some more tests and some medicines to be bought! As dawn broke, like a gigantic robot, the hospital began buzzing with life, even as in various parts of the hospitals, life was being created, in some corner life snuffing out after a battle; the hospital awoke!

After a lot of discussion between the main doctor, a lady who was about 50 years old and who for some strange reason reminded me of Indira Gandhi and the ENT specialist, I was informed that we can leave for now and return on Tuesday for OP-review. Vertigo the reason for these problems!

We returned home and after a simple lunch and some rest, she vomited again and my helplessness continued. Medicines given, dinner given, fitful sleep, the next day dawns and vomiting again! The Gods are propitiated, rituals conducted with rice and requests to spirits of the ancients to safeguard us. In the interim, Amma’s friends from the nearby temple who are equally old and tired, call upon her and add to the moodiness and gloom and leave.

So far the lunch of samba ravai kanji has been consumed in portions.., don’t know what the evening and night holds in its wake; keep my mum in your prayers.

Till we meet again…

When I See You Fall

You are the reason,

For my genesis,

From your womb,

To this punishing world,

You have been the strongest,

The pillar that held me together.

We have crossed so many chasms,

Overcome so many battles.

Today, when I see you fall,

It kills a bit of my soul,

The realization that the clock,

Is ticking faster, the disintegration,

In front of my eyes, physical and mental,

The anguish that this is causing me,

The truth that none of the Gods or Goddesses,

Are going to come down to help.

Rage that is building within me,

As I am powerless to make you heal.

I stand defeated and broken.

Everytime, I have managed to turn the tide.

But this seems to be a brutal phase.

All I can do is pray and hope,

That things change,

Every time I see you fall,

A piece of my soul dies.

Hoping tomorrow brings light!

Sleep well, I shall stay awake,

I will be there by your side,

Sleep well…sleep well mother.

Trapped

I walked down,
The narrow streets,
Of the Evening Bazaar.
A shop caught my eyes.
In a 5 by 5 enclosure,
An enterprising young man,
Had set up a shop,
With cages all around,
There were birds,
With feathers of varying hues.
Blue, Green, Yellow,
The plumage was a feast for the eyes!

But were the birds happy?
They were scared!
Tired, hungry and angry,
Looking for someone,
To buy them and set them free,
Or probably offer grain and water,
With love, care and affection.
They conversed in low chirps.

As I stood for a while and pondered,
I wondered, am I any different?
Trapped in doing something,
For a living – without a big choice!
The SMS alert from the bank,
Every month reminding me of the EMIs,
The happiness of the salary-credit,
Being overlapped by the splitting,
Of expenses all around!

The rising medical bills,
The growing costs of grocery,
Lesser and lesser interaction,
With friends in the real world,
Being replaced by bonhomie,
On Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
I wonder!! How elegantly I am trapped!!!

A vicious cycle is this –
That has no signs of redemption.
When was the last time,
I smiled honestly, without fear or pain?
When was the last time,
I attended a social event,
Without worrying about the ticking clock,
And the long commute home??
When was the last time,
I stopped worrying about an aged parent?

The mountain of worries and fears,
Piles one upon the other.
Neither is there peace within,
Nor confidence outside!
Like a wolf caught in the glare,
Of powerful headlights from an SUV,
I stand dazed on an icy path,
In the treacherous forest path!

As the clock keeps ticking,
I continue to question my choices,
Of having let go of opportunities,
Of having accepted challenges,
Of realizing that nothing,
Nothing at all matters,
And one is only as good,
As the last published post!

This urge to break free,
To bid goodbye,
To this false sense of security,
Is rising, the head throbs,
There is this intense frustration,
That builds into a castrated rage,
That seeks an outlet of release!

I am trapped, well and truly trapped!
And that’s the only truth!!
That’s the only truth!!
Perhaps, tomorrow, may offer hope!
Hope is the only emotion,
That offers comfort of any sort!
Hope is a good thing,
Despite being brutally trapped,
Hope is a good thing!

Patterns of the Night

It usually starts,
At about 2 AM,
A moan issues,
I dread it,
For I know,
She is not well,
I get up,
Switch on the light,
She is in a drowsy state,
In a weird state,
Between sedated sleep,
And a feverish pitch,
That asks her to get up.

I have to hold her steady,
As she gets up,
Usually she will complain,
Utter some lines –
“Why am I still alive?”
Then she will cough,
The phlegm flows,
At times, the fever,
Will cause her to vomit.
I wipe the mess clean,
Put a new maxie on her.

Then offer her a hot decoction,
Of herbs that come in handy,
It will have a bit of medicine,
That puts her to sleep,
A deep sleep,
And I will stay awake,
Sitting staring into the abyss,
Wondering on the unbearable,
Lightness of the futility,
Of this existence,
This facade called life.

At some point beyond 6 AM,
She will awaken,
The pain would have gone,
But the fever would remain,
Over the course of the day,
She will continue to be monitored,
The day will turn to noon,
The noon to evening,
And the noon to night,
And then in the night,
The pattern will repeat again!
The cycle of pain,
Suffering, discomfort and medication,
Will continue all over again.

No light, no darkness,
No sunshine or moonrise,
No joy, no sorrow,
No blessing, no curse,
Like one pointless,
Bagpiper blowing his bagpipe,
In the darkness of the mist-filled night,
I go on, till how long??
The patterns of the night….
The patterns of the night,
They are never ever right,
When will I ever end this fight?
The patterns of the night!

— Mahesh

On the Needle’s Edge

Where is the time,
To sing, to dance, to be joyful,
And spend merry moments,
And magical moments with friends?

My life is now defined,
By a single needle’s edge,
18 units of insulin in the morning,
And 12 units of the fluid at night.

Life revolves around medication.
You are forever in a state of worry,
Rushing from task to task,
Worried about delayed trains.

Your only goal in life,
Becomes reporting to work on time,
Getting work done, and returning,
To put the injection as early as possible.

No time for social engagement,
No time for friends,
No time for merriment,
No time for myself.

Just a constant state of chaos,
Going through life,
Like the aimless stream,
That dies in the woods,
Before it reaches the sea!