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“Such a feeling is coming over me, there is wonder in everything I see, not a cloud in the sky …” As I danced tonight to the old song with my friends, in the cold wintry air I could feel the surge of happiness after a very long time. It was like the beginning of a flickering flame which slowly spread into my very being - banishing the numbness which had threatened to become a part of me. And the glowing charcoal in the thick iron stoves placed all around the big tent added to the warmth. I was so blessed to be with the ones who understood me and who cared about me I thought as I looked at my friends. It felt so good - just being happy.
The past few months were spent away from home. And in October I had to go to Kerala. It started with a phone call from my father who was bed bound for so many months. He had broken his leg which was operated twice and had still not healed. He said that my mother couldn’t move her right arm and legs. I urged him to ask someone to take her to the hospital as soon as possible. There was no one he said. Was he too weary to ask his nephews or his friends? I still do not know. It took me four days to reach my parents. My mother was very ill by then and later in 'Critical Care' for several weeks. While my brother and I sat outside waiting, I thought of how my mother had taken care of my brother and me when we were young. What a creative woman she had been. There was not much money but she made sure that there was plenty of delicious food on the table for us. The warmth she had brought in her home. The dresses she sew, the delicate embroidery, the beautiful garden she tended, sweaters and socks she knitted for many soldiers who fought for India in the 1962 war. What a woman she had been – pioneering work in welfare for Refugees and Airmen’s families after the 1971 war. And later ... how relationships had changed after mental illness had entered our lives. How expectation, anger and sorrow had clouded my love for her.
When she came out of the coma she spoke my name and my brother’s looking at us both with such intense adoration. I understood then the complexity of human nature, love and relationships. She was completely paralysed and I wanted to run away from it all - to the Himalayas away from all the pain and suffering of the ones I love. Her brain had been traumatized by stroke and low sodium levels. She was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I prayed with desperation for the strength to help her in the struggle. I was able to be by her side while she slowly became better. While recovering she spoke so often about her love for my daughter. It was so comforting to be with my mother. My anger towards her has gone - forever. Watching her suffering has been so very difficult.
Meanwhile my daughter was able to cook meals for her father, take care of our home, the cat, the plants - and so well. She spoke to me every day wanting to know everything. And she said -“Mama it is Grandmother’s brain that has been affected. We all know how it is. Take care of her and help her. Do not worry about us.” I will always remember these words and am grateful to God that she could do what she wanted to do in a difficult time.