Posted in Daily post

Bud and Two leaves

tea

I was pleasantly surprised with the Daily word prompt – TEA.

My glorious childhood was among’st this backdrop.  Sri Lanka’s upcountry was mainly adorned by Tea estates.  But this was no ordinary Tea Estate.  This was my little utopia.

My dad worked as a Scientist at the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Sri Lanka.  Tea being the major export of the country, this research facility also was one of the largest organisations of the country.  It was also important to establish the research centre where the Tea actually grew rather than in a major city.

Very large laboratories of all disciplines such as Bio Chemistry, Entomology, Pathology etc were established with the latest equipment’s.  All the staff were given Housing. Rather beautiful and luxuries houses were built for the staff.  They were maintained by TRI as well.  The lawns were mowed, regularly painted and furniture’s were upgraded. Most of these things were primarily established by the British.  So you did get a feel of the British presence in the decor and style of the Bungalows.

We had our own transport.  Buses for the staff and their family to go to school, shopping etc.  A large fleet of cars with drivers for staff and family.  Our own little hospital and medical facility, Post Office,  Telecom and even a  Water dam and purification plant. Our own club house, sporting venues the list goes on.

We were all removed from our core extended families.  This became our extended family.  It’s not a cliche’ when I say, we lived together in harmony without any racial or other disputes.

The labs were my playground.  This was the era before Occupational Health and Safety or Work Cover mandates.  But we didn’t have any accidents, this was also an era where people used something called common sense.  We didn’t need a sign that said “Slippery when wet”.  Anyway, coming back to my playground or playgrounds, I had no siblings and no playstation or any other electronic device.  Not even internet, so I had to learn to amuse my self and I lived mostly outdoors.

The soil here was really great.  Everyone had a great garden filled with flowers, fruit treas and vegetables.  Constantly we would exchange our produce.  I spent most of my time up a fruit tree.  When I got bored with that I would walk to the lab. On the way I would frolic through the Tea fields, run up and down the extensive stairs that went from the Tea Factory to the Lab.  Every one knew me.  I was like the common village dog, that was fed by every butcher.

I mainly played in the Bio Chemistry Department as that’s where my dad worked.  But I knew the entire geography of all other labs as well and had at least one friend in each department.  Yeah I know they were grown ups and I was a kid, but they were still my friends and showed me “cool” stuff.  I knew to operate the centrifuge and I played with Magnets.  I knew about Poly Phenol’s long before I went to high school.  When I think about it now, it wasn’t really playing, my dad was teaching me Science and I was doing science experiments.

One bud and two leaves – all that is plucked to produce tea.  Silver tip is the only one uses just the buds and hence the high cost.  I would accompany my dad on many of the guided tours he would take our visitors and I knew all this information long before I started school.

dad stamp

The above is my dad on an old Sri Lankan Postal Stamp. He is injecting radio active isotopes into tea leaves to study the pattern of the nutrients movement.  Nutrients from the root did not evenly go all over the plant.  The mother leaf (the bigger leaf on the bottom) fed the one on top and so forth.  When you removed the big leaf right underneath baby leaf, the leaves further down acted as a surrogate and fed the bud.

That was one amazing child hood, it all came to an end when I lost my dad at 19. Such is life, still grateful that I had this childhood and to all the uncle’s and aunties of TRI who were there for us then and even now.  Children of TRI hold a special bond.  All of us grown up and adults now.  But most of us are still in contact even from different parts of the world.

Disclaimer:  It’s a long time since I left TRI, some information shared here may not be completely accurate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/soil/

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=two+leaves+and+a+bud+book&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV17SrzLDVAhXEF5QKHS14DU0Q1QIIdSgB

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1280&bih=894&q=tea+plantations+sri+lanka+nuwara+eliya&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHvd7KzrDVAhWLe7wKHX6UATAQ1QIIuwEoAQ

 

 

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…

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/confused/

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…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/maybe/

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…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/joke/

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…

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/admire/

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.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 2)

dad lab

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.

Cont … 

Part 1 https://uma197.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/if-only-i-could-turn-back-the-clock/

Part 3 https://uma197.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/if-only-i-could-turn-back-the-clock-part-3/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/maybe/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stubborn/