Bed 15—H1 Ward
The clock ticked…
Against the quietness of the ward it sounded like pounding rather than ticking. Sarvishta looked; there was something about the terminal ICU that was inhumanly human.
H1 bed 15, was an elderly man, a powerful magistrate of his time, with him was his brother, a senior professor, and son, a leading businessman. Sitting very composed was the magistrate’s wife and younger son, all looking rather helpless.
It is quite scary at a point to see, the patriarch, the strength and the navigator of the family story lying helplessly on a bed with tubes connected all around.
Just that afternoon, her husband’s ex-girlfriend Sarasa had called from Chennai.
“Look at the two responses,” Sarvishta’s husband commented, “one hand there is Sarasa, who is very concerned about her father, she was telling me, that she would be flying down to Kenya as schedule and if anything happened to her father, she would have to return. On the other hand is Ajay, his father is on the ventilator, the doctors have given up, he has returned to states and is asking me what to do.”
Sarvishta wanted to ask him, so they are two situations, what do expect them to do, but she was too tired for a full blown discussion. Maybe because he had never been there, the point when you have to accept that mantle, take a decision. Actually she had not really heard the conversation through she wondered what did he expect.
She could empathize with the family at bed H1 or even Ajay, going back and forth, from being so young that the world was not so big, one could see everywhere and then papa was a hero and not a human being, to being so burdened with the choice of letting or hanging on.
When her own father had died she thought the world had crashed, she was drowned in this abysmal sense of loss that she wanted to whimper for everyone to hear, I have lost my father, my world is no longer the same, no more is warmth of the pre-dawn conversation, no more is the 6am call, my safety net has had been removed and I was endangered. It was at that moment Sarvishta wondered if that was why father was perceived as God, father’s inspired us to measure up, while mothers loved us unconditionally or so it is believed.
Most of us learn to engage with the world outside, from the odd moments our fathers teach us, you know those moments when they are not trying to teach us, we are formed by little scraps of wisdom that we pick up and quilt on to the fabric of our conscience.
She was brought out her musings by the ward sister bringing in coffee, “Doctor, ami Piku bhagitle, the movie has brought out father-daughter tension and bonding so well.”
Sarvishta smiled, “sister ani dhon, cup coffee haad,” looking at professor and his nephew, the younger son had taken his mother home.
While sister went to brew the coffee, she slipped back to memories of her own father, his tears and fears unseen, his love never vocally expressed,yet his care his protection through out her life, to the day she had her morning coffee in his presence.
When in a moment of depression she had tried to end it all, he had held her hands and said,”I know you have done nothing wrong, I know don’t need someone else to tell me that, I know the daughter that I have raised. I fear for you future, not for your character, my love and trust accompanies you no matter where you go, my concerned is you should have that nest to return to.” From then came her moment of recovery.
“Sir,” Sarvishta called handing them the coffee.
It was as if, the coffee took the decision, the Professor who was normally everyone’s strength supported by his nephew, three of them had their coffee in silence.
Sarvishta was back at her father’s,
“Vishy, he is in pain, a person from beyond is calling him, you are the last bondage let him go child.”
The decision had been so painful, holding her father’s hand and telling him, “Papa, I am your daughter I am strong and will survive, you can move on when you are ready.”
A week later he was gone.
“If nothing changes by morning I think we shall take him home,” professor said handing the coffee mug back to her, they sat there in silence a moment of compassion, and strengthening.