Our little flat was filled with people. Relatives who had got to know of the situation flocked to see him and us. When I say he was loved by all, he was really loved by all. It is not a sentence just grouped together at the eulogy. We still have people writing books about him or mentioning him in their book. For dad this was one big party. He was happy to see everyone, but didn’t understand what the fuss was about. He was more interested in making sure everyone had a cup of tea and biscuits to go with it, and downplayed that he was unwell.
I was absolutely useless. I wanted to keep it altogether, but was struggling enormously. I didn’t want him to see me upset. I didn’t want my face to fess up, why my heart was sinking. I was in a daze, it was worse than any nightmare I could imagine. I disappeared to the next room time to time, and sobbed uncontrollably.
I don’t know if at that time I feared his mortality, or just felt he was never going to get back to being normal. I think it was the latter, but even that was not okay for me. It took a long time for the next day to arrive. There were no birds chirping, just the blaring horns from the traffic outside. It felt louder than otherwise.
There were many if’s and maybe‘s that kept popping in my head throughout the night. If only mum had not accompanied me to Colombo, then she would have found out Dad was ill, he may not have got ill at all, she would have been there to make sure that he took his blood pressure tablets, to make him proper meals, maybe we should have rung him during the week, then we may have picked it up early…. The questions never got answered, just repeated on a loop. In time I have learnt not to dwell on if’s and maybe‘s, Life’s hard lessons have taught me to move on, not to dwell. But, I was far too young then, and this was my first real lesson in life.
Peter, the (TRI) ambulance driver came over just before lunch. Peter came early as he couldn’t sleep or stay away, he was very upset about dad too. So, the plan was to have lunch and then to head off to the specialist. I think they were going to see a Neurologist. My best bud (who is now my sister in law) had just heard the news and had rushed over to see us. Dad’s conversation with her highlighted even further the memory blanks.
Dad’s speech was slurring even more. He asked me for a towel to wipe his sweaty face. It was a hot and humid day. Still, he was sweating way more than us. Mum, signaled to me to see her in the kitchen. She asked me to fetch my cousin Sulo.
She is a doctor and was home on maternity leave. She lived next door. When I say next door, it’s not like you open your front door and walk up to the next drive way. I have to run down the stairs, through a passage way, through the small opening on the wall, under the water tank and finally to her back door. (my aunt built four houses for her four daughters next to each others and created nice little “Favela”)
My cousin didn’t wait for me to finish my sentence. She was on sprint mode. She suspected that he was having a heart attack and ordered us to carry him down stairs and to take him to “Emergency” Hospital. She was vehement that he should not walk downstairs but to be carried.
This is when I saw the quirkiness of the ailment. Dad became very stubborn. While I was away to fetch my cousin, he had vomited. But as per him, after that he felt better. So, now he was feeling full of beans, and didn’t see the need for the fuss. Then he reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital. But, again didn’t see the urgency to rush. I can still remember him having a last look at the mirror and combing his hair. This was very unlike him. He was not a stubborn man, nor was he fashion conscious. But on this day he was, he didn’t want the patient tag on him. He wanted to walk downstairs too. But, with my begging he listened and allowed, our downstairs neighbor and friend Sri and the ambulance driver to carry him downstairs in a chair.
Mum and my cousin accompanied him to the hospital.