Posted in Australian Politics, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 7)

dad lab

Even in the hospital Dad couldn’t help himself. He was still the same old man, who hated the societies preferential treatment to the have’s and the have not’s.  As he had “Dr” in front of his name all the attendants and nurses treated him well.  Unfortunately,  his neighbour was not privy to the same, sometimes even the basic requests were ignored. The guy next to him related to us that couple of nights ago, he had no water and the nurses had just ignored his several requests, Dad almost had a tumble trying to give him water from his jug.  Dad had even shared some of the food that mum had taken him. That guy was so grateful. But dad was annoyed and a tad bit ashamed that he was treated well and the other not so. If Dad was alive and living in Australia now, he would have been so happy.  So, happy to note that there was a society where you are an equal in a Public Hospital.  In fact you are an equal in most places.

I wrote letters to my uncles who were living far away, telling them that Dad has pulled through, that Dad was coming home tomorrow.  What a whirlwind of events.  But, we knew, it was a long way from us returning back to TRI (Tea Research Institute) or to a normal life.  There was suggestion that he could do light duties in Colombo with the Tea Board.  We knew he was still fragile, but he has pulled through the biggest hurdle. We will make sure that he doesn’t set back in his old workaholic habits.  We will take care of him. Dad’s 53rd birthday was coming up at the end of the month.  We will celebrate it, as we never have.  I saw a funny birthday card in the shops, something about old age, so I bought it then and there.  Life was good again.

I was thinking this was going to be our last evening visit to the hospital.  Dad was coming home tomorrow evening.  How sweet does that sound.  Dad had worked out what needs to be done.  He wanted mum and Cuz Sulo to come in the morning with several cakes from “Green Cabin” a popular cake shop and some good tea(leaves)from Tea Research Institute.  He had a list of doctors, nurses and attendants to whom he wanted to give gifts.

He asked Velu (a man assistant given to us by TRI), Thangamma (our long time maid) and myself to stay back and clean the house,  as he expected many visitors.  He told us the number of people he had invited to our house in TRI.  Not just for a meal, these invitations were for them to come and stay with us and have a holiday. He was in an elated mood.  So were we.  Much better than him confused and disoriented.  I shake that memory off, just celebrate girl, that was just a bad dream, I said to myself.

*Note: for the benefit of those who have not read the first 6 parts of this story, at present we were living in Colombo in one of my cousin’s house, our usual place of residence is Talwakelle (upcountry 4.5 hr drive) where TRI is situated).

The driver was a touch late to pick mum and cuz Sulo.  My cuz wanted to be in the Hospital before the surgeons finished their rounds, so she could speak to them.  So she asked to be first dropped off in the hospital, before the cake purchases.  Mum, decided to follow my cousin to the wards, so she could pack dad’s clothes, toiletries etc and take it with her before going for the cakes.  Her thinking was so when taking dad, their hands would be free to concentrate on taking dad to the car safely.

The clock had turned back again.  The blaring horns of the traffic outside my window sounded the same that night. It was humid, hot and uncomfortable as always.  There was no signs to say that the clock had wound back sixteen days.  There were no signs at all to say that the roller coaster was now on free fall.

Cont…

 

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Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 6)

dad lab

It was such a relief to see dad being wheeled back.  We were informed that the surgery went well.  He was back in the ICU.  A part of his hair was shaved and had a cone shaped bandage around the head.  He was not conscious as yet. We were only allowed to peak through the window.  Maybe tomorrow said the nurse.  Maybe tomorrow he will walk and talk again as normal. Maybe tomorrow he will hold me and say everything’s going to be alright.  Tomorrow looked so promising.  Today was turning out to be better than I feared.

Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow were getting better.  We were able to see dad, two people at a time with special head nets and socks.  Dad would take mum and my hand and kiss it.  His eyes looks welled. It was saying I love you and thank you.  It may have also been to say sorry for putting you’ll through this. He looked weak, and spoke very softly.  But that smile was still pretty strong.  Very infectious too.  It brought a smile back on my face.

I was ever so grateful to God.  Cuz Sulo’s mother-in-law Paremes Mami (mami is aunty in tamil) started to take me to the temple quite regularly.  I shunted between a Hindu temple, the popular St. Anthony’s Church and a Buddhist temple.  I am not sure if my belief was, if I pray to god he will give my dad back or just a place and time for me to just meditate in silence.  In each place the I performed the rituals without much thought, mostly followed what others were doing. But the rituals helped. I think it took me to a calmer place. Lighting a candle in the church gave me hope, touching the stone idols in the temple gave me assurance that I’ve been heard.  Laying a lotus flower in front of The Buddha statue gave me peace.  Now, I don’t believe that it is God’s job to look after the individual needs of each person.  “why save my dad or my child just because I ask him”, I don’t think he/she would be that petty minded or vain to think that our prayers and wishes are what he answers to.  But back then I wanted to believe that my prayer was going to be answered.

Things were going really great now.  It is now nearly fourteen days since all the drama started.  Dad was coming home tomorrow.

Cont…

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Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 5)

dad lab

Jana was pretty much living at our place now.  She made us remember to have a cup of coffee, gave us a purpose to cook a meal.  Things had started to brew between her brother and I.  Pretty early stages and not the right time open up to mum or dad about this.  I couldn’t take the chance of stressing dad out even in the slightest way. Jans’s brother was a nice young lad, but didn’t carry the right resume for some.  He was neither an Engineer nor a Doctor.  He was in fact a Sailor.  He didn’t hide the fact that he liked a drink or two. Even though he didn’t show any signs of being an alcoholic, people were ready to pass judgement because of his pedigree.  In spite of the rumors and the cool exterior,  to my surprise I found him to be soft, sensitive and an interesting person.  His honesty was refreshing.  He wasn’t going to pretend to the world.  We had a lot in common. Especially our love for the comic books “Asterix” and “Tin Tin”.  Our mutual friendship and banter was now turning to something else.  Jana was the only one to know and to approve.

If Dad was not unwell, these were all great arguments to put forward, but circumstances were different.  I couldn’t upset dad, I didn’t even know if this would upset dad, but didn’t think this was the time to test it.  Most Sri Lankan Tamil marriages were still arranged marriages.  Not necessarily to complete strangers, mostly to some one from the same village, a distant relative etc.  But, still the main operators were your parents.  Dad was not entirely comfortable with this.  He has in the past said to me, the final decision has to be from me.  Whenever he sees young couples by the side of the road, or at the Botanical Gardens canoodling, he would say, “now, don’t do that, just bring him home and let me meet him”.  I would feel really embarrassed and would yell back “DAD”.  Thinking back most dads were not this liberal.  I think it was his complete trust in me, the complete confidence that his daughter was smart enough to know right from wrong and wasn’t going to do anything stupid.  Daddy’s little princess never wanted to break that trust.

Jana was my friend as well as a relative.  I am not going to explain lineage, as we joke about this, we feel it’s not a family tree rather a vine, a vine in a thick overgrown forest.  So their family, including Ganesh (Jana’s infamous brother) were all well known to mum and dad. By now Ganesh has become a regular visitor to our house, with the excuse of giving his sister a lift or what ever else.  Mum was rather fond of the two.  Which was a good thing, but I have seen in many cases things going pear shaped, when it came to who was good for your daughter.

So our love or affection at this stage had to be held back after an eye contact and locking of a mutual glance.  And each of us knowing to leave it there.  Although no words were exchanged his actions spoke volumes.  No, he didn’t buy me roses, instead he would buy my dad books.  Huh! says you.  Let me elaborate.  Ganesh visits my dad at hospital and asks dad if he wants anything.  Dad loved the fact that Ganesh was a great reader, knowing this dad asked Ganesh if he could bring his some books.  He meant Ganesh’s own books to borrow.  But someone wanting the brownie points bought new books and took it to my dad.  Yet another inside joke.

In a world of elaborate gestures and the most expensive and expansive proposals, our’s would look the most pathetic of romances.  But, my man didn’t have to build me the Taj Mahal to tell me how he feels, his small gestures and the awkward looks were enough and spoke volumes.

I am not sure how we got to the hospital, was it the TRI driver or Ganesh?  Not sure, but Ganesh was there and so was Jana.  We were pensively seated and at times pacing in the corridor.  I accompanied a corpse in the lift.  For the attendants this is just routine, they don’t feel the need to be sensitive, respectful or any other special way to treat the body nor the people around.  I shock that thought that popped in my head “no it’s not dad, don’t even go there”, while in the corridor, saw a few more bodies being wheeled while the attendants spoke about lunch break.

Again the clock was ticking, but the time was refusing to move.

cont…

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Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 4)

dad lab

I was just starting understand the meaning of “that life was not meant to be easy”. In each turn, there was yet another hurdle. And you had this constant fear, that you were going to tumble over one of them any time soon.  Mum and I were mentally exhausted.  The surgeon, who was supposed to be the Island’s best for this particular surgery was not willing to take over dad’s case.  The reason being he was going away to the UK in two weeks time and he was concerned that he wouldn’t be there for the post op consultations. The norm was, the surgeon who performed the surgery continued the post op and there after.

So, my cousin Sulo went in search of the next best surgeon.  Cuz Sulo is another person in my life that earns a big salute.  A salute of admiration, respect and complete indebtedness. In spite of her disability (she was affected by childhood polio and one her limbs was affected), she was physically and mentally a force to be reckoned with.  Doctors, especially the surgeons of Sri Lanka are usually an Egoistical lot.  And to get anything done in that country, you need to have the right connections.  So having a doctor to lead the way to the surgeons room was a great thing.  Thinking back to how I was treated, how things were done in Sri Lanka, to how things are done here in Australia, I see such a vast difference.

Over here in Aus, the doctor will come out side to the waiting room, call your name, shake hands, take you inside, offer you a seat and close the door behind you.  Over in my old country, a guy would be at the door, who would bark your name, or the barking might come from the inside.  Then you go inside pensively.  By this time you might have done some home work on the doctor, to work out if by any chance you know some one, who knows the doctor, some connection to establish that I require some good attention as some one I know, knows you as well.  And you would open the conversation with “do you know so and so…”

Anyway, we didn’t know anyone of this 2nd best surgeon other than the fact that my cousin had done some work under him when she was doing her internship.  It was better than nothing anyway.  My cousin showed him the angiogram and other test results. The aneurysm was in a tricky spot.  This man didn’t like what he saw.  I was standing on the corner of the room and having a battle with my tear ducts.  He opened his mouth by asking why wasn’t Dr. Selvadurai (the top knotch surgeon) performing the surgery?  “He is the best at this…” almost saying “I can’t help you here”, both the surgeon and I could feel the disappointment and hopelessness in my cousin’s voice.  I don’t think I was feeling anything. Then from the corner of his eye he saw me, a young girl, struggling to hold her tears back, who was begging for her fathers life and humanity returned back in him.  He said “ask Selvadurai to do the surgery, he is the best at it, he should do it, I will do the post op”.  Cuz and I had to hold back so hard not to give him a big bear hug.  I was sobbing and smiling all at the same time.

The battle doesn’t end there.  We had to now convey the message to Dr. Selvadurai and convince him to go ahead with the surgery.  We were informed that he was fully booked until his departure to UK which was in a couple of days and he had ceased consulting.  The only way we could meet him was to catch him outside the surgical theatre.  So, that’s what we did.  Again, my cuz being a doctor and knowing a few people around helped.  We managed to send him a message from outside the theatre.  In between surgeries, he came to see us in one of surgical rooms.  He came out with blood and gore, and spoke to us while washing up.  He looked so casual, as if he had just cut up a fish.  Anyway we explained what happened between Dr. No.2 ( sorry I don’t remember his name) and his suggestions. He smiled and he mentioned that he was fully booked and then scratched his head, and said “no I think, we can do it”.  He was going to have a day off before his trip, but he decided to do my dad’s surgery on his planned day off.

Cont…

 

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Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 3)

dad lab

I was in a daze. This was the time before mobile phones, so there was no texts or updates coming from mum nor my cousin.  My friend Jana (Janaki) was there with me.  She was another reason why I started writing about this particular story.  This story is as much of a story about my dad and that fateful day, it is also a time to sincerely thank my best buddy who turned fifty a couple of days ago.  This was all meant to be written, completed and handed over to her on her birthday, but let’s blame that darn clock again.

I don’t think I could have survived those sixteen days and after that without her.  She stands tall and strong (literally as well), and carried us through the dredge.  She pretty much did everything for me.  Eventually she even found me a husband.  Well, she did a pretty lazy job as she didn’t, search long or far.  She just picked her brother who was probably just reading a book in a corner and thought why not.  So, now we are sister-in-laws. Well, I have forgiven her for that.

The clock was ticking but the time stood still.   Still no news from the hospital. Didn’t even know which hospital they went to.  Eventually mum and my cousin returned home. Dad was in intensive care unit and was doing okay.

Things were settling down.  We felt that we have jumped the biggest hurdle but we were sure that we had cleared it.  Dad was going to get better.

He was in the ICU for about two days or so.  The ECG and all the others tests indicated that his heart was okay and may not have been a heart attack that he experienced.

There was still the occasional memory blanks and him talking gibberish.  They suspected an aneurysm in the brain,  and sent him for an angiogram. Which showed that he in fact had an aneurysm in the brain.  This was not good news.

The roller coaster was back in operation.  Questions of should he be operated in Sri Lanka or should he be sent overseas, the success rate etc were hashed around.  You have to also keep in mind this was 31 years ago and in Sri Lanka where the technology was not as great as it is now.

My uncles gathered to discuss the pros and cons, overseas vs local.  My uncle in England, who also happens to be a doctor, found out that, airlifting him would be very dangerous. And the success rate of the local doctor seemed to be in par with the overseas doc’s.  So a collective decision was made to go ahead with the surgery with the Local Doctor.

 

 

 

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Punishment – nuns

school

If there is a word that I truly understand the meaning of, it is Punishment. Punishment and nuns were in de facto relationship.

I was born a Hindu, but was sent to Catholic Boarding School. Not because I was a naughty child or my step mum didn’t like me.  Well in fact I didn’t even have a step mum.  It just that we lived far away from any decent school.

At school and in the boarding, you are constantly preached about forgiveness and the prodigal son etc, but we were never too far away from a Punishment. At least in Hinduism, there is no such thing as absolute forgiveness.   When you think about, it’s not a very forgiving religion at all.  You will have to pay for your actions.  If you were spared in this birth, you will be hounded down and will be paying for it in your next birth or there after.  “Karma” was our favorite word.  But at least the messages were clear. If you do the crime, you pay the time. Christianity is all about forgiveness and love, and most laws in most countries are founded upon Christian beliefs.  So how does one fathom, the death sentence?  Don’t get me wrong, some vermin’s do deserve to die.  But I am not sure if we can legislate that.  Anyway I got side tracked from my story from the past.

We didn’t get caned or anything, but standing out side the class room, standing on a chair, and sometimes kneeling was all sanctioned and prescribed punishment.   Public shaming without much proof or substance was also well administered.  And our crimes could range from uniform too short, slightly turning our head to look at a boy that had just entered our school premises etc.

Time to time they would like to crack down on some major issues as well.  After school holidays,we would usually arrive at the boarding the day before the school starts.  For what ever reason some boarders, would take another extra day off and come to school a day later.  I guess the theory was that most times, the first day of school was really a fudge day as nothing happens, other than new teachers, time tables etc.  I was one of the “goody two shoes” type of kid, so religiously got to school  from the first day.

But just this once, due to unavoidable circumstances I missed the first day.  My little cousin (from my mother’s side) accidentally tipped a big pot of boiling water on to her.  I was very fond of her, she even lived with us for a little while.  Anyway she lived in a farm in a place called Mannar, a small island off the main island of Sri Lanka.  Dad and I left as soon as we heard the news.  Couple of trains, a few buses, a van, a ferry and every other vehicle was boarded to get to their house, which was in the middle of nowhere.  This is Sri Lanka, so nothing was running on time.  So, although we planned to be back on time for the school restart, it just didn’t happen with the last train cancellation.  With no sleep and proper food, we got their a few hours late to the start of the school.  I asked dad to come with me and talk to the Principal and explain.

Sister Letitia was all so sweet to dad, she even said a quick prayer for my cousin.  With a hug and a kiss dad parted (hug and the kiss was for me, maybe that’s where we went wrong).  By the time I dropped my things at the boarding, got changed into my uniform it was lunch.  So after lunch I went to school.

I did see Sister Letitia in passing.  I couldn’t say if she was happy with me or angry with me.  You couldn’t usually read her face.  So, just a nod from both of us and we went our way.

The next day dawns.  Still tired and hungry, although by now I had sat for a few meals in the boarding, I haven’t actually eaten much.  I managed to sneak in most of my food in my mug and had shoved it down the sink.  This food would is so special it would make Oliver Twist to never ask for more.  Just after eating my mum’s for a month the body was completely shutting down and refusing to eat the “boarding food”. Anyway, after the morning “hail mary” and we had forgiven our trespassers, platting my hair, looking for my pencil case, and I rush to school eventually.  Still tired, hungry and coherent.

Announcement comes that all who were not at school at 8.30am yesterday had to go to the Principal’s office.  Well, technically I was not there at 8.30 so I thought, I will just go to the Principal’s office and get the okay nod and then return to my classroom.  Well, it is the right thing to do.

So Miss Goody Two Shoes gets to the office, and is met by some casualties already, there was a row of girls knelt down in front of the library.  My goody two shoes brain is kind of very smug at this point.  “well, they should have been here,  even with all the difficulties I managed to get here.  they do this every year, I mean seriously”. Sister Letitia sees me from the end of the corridor.  She waves to me and ask me to come to her.  I don’t want to have eye contact with those who are kneeling.  I didn’t want to show that I was sympathising with them.

I smile at Sister Letitia, there was no smile back.  I start to speak, “I was here by lunch time and Dad spoke to you..”  No, I didn’t get to finish my sentence, “yes, yes, yes good story, but you can kneel down here”.  “But ..” she had already walked away.

I was so furious.  Good Story!!  did she think that my dad lied too.  What was that prayer for?  Ah! you woman on a broom stick, you two faced woman on broom sticks cousin whose name starts with a B, yes I called upon a few  (inside my head).

Did the Punishment fit the Crime?

Daily post word prompt: Punishment

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Posted in Australian Politics, Daily post, Sri Lankan Politics, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

My Uncle, My Surrogate Dad

frail skantha

It’s now four years since we said goodbye to my uncle.  Just recently we had a prayer, remembrance and a family dinner filled with many chuckles on his behalf.

I like to share something I wrote for this day.

I wanted to utter these words at his funeral, but I didn’t.  Is it because I was overcome by sorrow?  Is it because I felt that I was saying goodbye to my father all over again?  Is it simply because, I didn’t think my words would be good enough? Or is it because I knew I should have told him these words when he was alive?  I guess it was all of the above. 

For whatever its worth, I need to say them now.  Today is a good day as any other. 

I will start with the funeral.  I was filled with much sorrow as well as guilt.  Periyya (uncle in Tamil) passed away the day I returned from Singapore.  When Ganesh picked me up from the airport, he said, “your Periyya is not well, we will go and see him once you have a bit of a rest”.  I didn’t think it was that serious.  I thought here we go again; the Old man is pulling another one.  He waited till I got back from Singapore, but it wasn’t that important for him to say goodbye to me in person.  He passed away that afternoon. 

I felt guilty that I didn’t go straight from the airport to see him, I felt guilty that I took that nap.  I felt guilty that I didn’t go to see him more often.  More than anything I felt guilty that, I never told him that he meant so much to me than he will ever know. 

As each eulogy was being read, I was reciting my own in my head. Deja vo, why am I saying goodbye to my dad again?

It’s taken me nearly four years to make peace with myself and get the courage to speak up.  Knowing my Periyayya, he would have been utterly chuffed with any word that I had grouped together.  The card that he sent me for the first Depavali after my dad’s passing, just signed “Periya (appa)” two words, that’s all.  He didn’t need to quote me Shakespeare or Nietzsche, it told me in abundance that, he loved me, he missed my dad, he wishes my dad didn’t die, and more than anything he has got my back. 

I am not sure if I totally believe in the possibility of spirits, souls and after life.  But, I take comfort in the possibility of Rasam and Skantha having a chuckle, and keeping watch from up there.  Or it could be down there.  There are more magnets down there than up there. Who knows.  

I am not sure if it was fate or a just a mere coincidence that the two families in tandem decided to move to Adelaide.  But it feels as if, it was the grand plan of the man up there.  Whoever, or whatever the reason for the reunion, I am truly grateful. 

I got a chance to spend quality years with this larger than life personality.  More than anything, my kids got to enjoy a surrogate grandfather. 

I like to wrap up now but with a special request for a visual.  Can you just imagine if he had the farm in Australia and the two monkeys?  We would have ended up with monkeys named Barnaby and Joyce. 

Here’s to my Periyayya.  To a man who was the biggest pain in the Ass and but had the biggest heart as well. 

I will give you a little bit of a background into who this man was so you understand some of the references.

I was very fond of this man, who was a larger than life personality. He was dad’s older brother.  In a family of extreme academics, he was not one of them.  He was probably dyslexic or suffered from a learning difficulty.  But nothing was diagnosed in those days. Just considered as a problem child by the teachers and maybe even by the parents at times. Still he achieved a lot more than any academics in the family.

He joined the Agriculture Department and was rising through the ranks as he was coming up with novel ideas to solve the problems of the region.  Also he was a stubborn pain in the ass to all who didn’t have a vision.  He didn’t mince words when he had to say something. Once after a heated discussion with the then Minister for Agriculture he came home and named two of his monkey after the Minister.  At a later date when the said minister and his yes men visited his Farm, he introduced the monkeys to the group, without skipping a beat.

He was also big on yoga and magnet therapy.  He used to carry a big block of magnet in a back pack.  Once leaving a restaurant, he walked away with a good number of cutlery.

My dad was the youngest of eight kids.  But unfortunately he was the first to depart at the young age of Fifty Three.  The day after the funeral my uncle sat me down and explained a tamil word. “Periya appa” means Big uncle.  “Periya” means Big “appa” means Dad .  He said just remember that and he left back to his farm.  For the outside world he comes across as this rough and tough guy.  But in reality, he was the biggest mush.

In his latter days it was really hard to see him so frail and reduced to a small child.  Even then you would witness his personality pop up time to time.

Rest in Peace big man.

 

Daily Post Word prompt

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