Author : Prashant Yadav
Company : Infosys Limited
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone rightly said, you live life forwards and understand it backwards, I don’t know about others but it has been true for me, may be I never been that smart kind of guy or those spiritual types who would reflect upon their life and delve on it. I just lived, every moment, did everything, regretted nothing, just took off when I wanted to, stay if I liked. Funny, you never plan to get a headache or a lesson but you get it. Years we go to school and college but the best lessons are taught by life with school-bell.
It was about 17 years ago I was with my friend. His father was about to undergo a major surgery in couple of week’s time. It was one of those times when the patient goes from a better to a complete worst state of health, the patient (my friends father) were going through the phases of these similar kind. Sometimes he will be all right but due to his weak health he would be under great physical and mental pain. It wasn’t easy for me to see a man in his late sixties to go through such pain and the worse was seeing myfriend and his mother suffering seeing the old man in such agony.
The relation between this son and father was not easy. There were some strains. I asked my friend often, why but he kept telling, it wasnothing. His father was introvert and spoke very less, kind of disciplinarian and strict but he never stopped my friend from living his own life. May be it was nothing and that was the problem, nothing, not good, not bad, just nothing. I knew the old man since my childhood, ever since I knew my friend.
My friend was depressed, unlike him. There was something he wasn’t telling me, and I suspected even more when his, mother told me that he and his father might have had a fight just before the old man fell ill. It was a bit uncomfortable for me to meddle in family affair but I guess, when youknow someone as much as you know your own siblings, it is difficult to stand back and watch.
First time, when I entered the room and saw, Uncle lying on bed, his face all swollen and pale, his body looked weak, I have never seen him like that, though I agree that every man or woman when so critically ill, looks weak, pale, and of course, not there usual self, but when you actually see the person and someone you know and have some level of attachment, you feel at absolute loss and helpless, the fact that you cannot help the person and have to see them suffer. He did looked at me and gave me a look which said that he recognizes me and tried to smile but that didn’t come well, but I could hear his unspoken words. He then looked at his son, and I felt that as if he tried to say something but my friend didn’t looked at him, as if he was trying toignore him. There was something between father and son, but I could not make it.
Few days past and things remain as they were, Uncle remained critical but stable, there were tense moments, but everything luckily was fine, and so was the relation between father and son critical, but stable. I was convinced that the old wanted to talk to his son, but my friend wasn’t ready for it. So, I felt I should meddle in family affair once and confront my friend and talk about the situation. Now, I needed to find a perfect time to talk with my friend. But, life in hospital is life of timetable, its routines and mundane activities. Its weirdness and eeriness can only be felt when you are part of some unfortunate predicament or a friend his, just like I was.
Our routine then was pretty simple, in nights my friend would stay with his father, because during this time, patient’s condition worsen as compared to day and the only son to the patient could handle it better than his nocturnal friend. But, this made my situation more difficult, as I had to look after the old man in daytime, when I am sleepy, after staying up awake till 3 O’clock in the night. Anyway, I was better off, as in night, my friend’s mother told me that, it was very difficult to take care of old man, as he would be in state of complete craziness, as if hallucinated and out of control, his blood pressure risen, and he screamed out loud because of medicinal side-affect coupled with severe pain.
During this difficult phase, I found opportunity to speak to my friend to talk about, the tension between him and the old man.
Friend: I spoke with him already, I didn’t tell this to my mother.
Me: You already spoke with him? About what?
Friend: Nothing, (confused), its actually, about a lot of things, He is just, tensed and feeling…he is really unstable and stressed,
I could say the same thing about my friend then.
Me: Stop, stop, what are you saying tell me this clearly.
We sat down, suddenly, he wasn’t tensed anymore, as if he read my mind and gathered himself up and got his composure back, just looked confused to me, some how he was much cooler than I thought, I was of the opinion that he might be to depressed but while speaking he was much relieved.
Friend: You know, that we were never so great together as father-son, and that is all, he regrets the fact that, he was busy taking other responsibility but didn’t care much about his son.
Me: He said that this to you.
Friend: No, not exactly, but I know, it seemed this was the thing which was bothering him, all along. But, you know I have no regret, for the time he didn’t spent with me or have no grudges against him. I know he loved me, but then other things were important, but my Mother took great care of me and he did his part too, not all fathers are alike neither are all mother. Now, he is just guilty about that, that’s it.
Me: I understand that, and you have told me this already, we have had this discussion before too, but what did he spoke to you.
Friend: That was the problem, he just started crying and told me that, “You mean alot to me, but how could I ever tell you” and then his blood pressure rose, he was out of breath, he was in danger, but he kept on trying to speak about the things I already knew. If he tries to speak, it’s very dangerous for him. He should not speak, it will kill him and it will kill me too. All he has in his mind is guilt and that’s is killing him. He is very old and weak; I have to keep that in mind.
Friend finally showed some emotions and that said it all. He just cared about his father’s life and he already knew what he wanted to say. But, the problem was, what if not saying, not expressing his emotions to his son could do to him.
Me: I understand what you are saying, but not saying could also kill him. I guess you already know that.
He took a deep breath and looked at me once and stood there, unmoved. His silence made be a bit nervous. Now, I started feeling guilty for the words I used.
Friend: What would you do, if you were in my place?
I just prayed I would never have to answer that, and my prayer was answered. My friend left, saying, “Take care, see you in the evening.”
I spent that day, thinking about what must be going through my friend’s mind. It was easy for me question him and tell him do something, but for him its not as simple. What I thought, was that he just needs to talk to his father keeping his ego aside, but for him it was about keeping his father integrity and honor intact by letting him know that he was a responsible father and not let his health be affected by it, because at that point of time, those unsettling emotions could have broken the old man. My friend also said the his father was ‘old and weak’ and it made me realize that only a son could understand the pain and emotion of a father lying sick in bed, breathing in and out, knowing next moment could be the very last.
Those days were stressful and mentally exhausting. Seeing others in pain can be painfully disturbing and disturbingly painful. Being almost 24/7 in hospital had other impact on my mind too. It wasn’t a routine, it was something very peculiar and uneasy, from the air of those white walls and green drapes to sound of stretchers and wheelchair, green and red light present of operation theater made me realize those movies weren’t fake after all, people wearing mostly white was common for hospital staff, a routine.
I remembered the quote, “The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches.”
It seemed strange to me, being in hospital where death was everyday stuff. These white walls see great pain, end of life and witness joy new of life. How this was possible under same roof made me wonder and look thing and most importantly people, a bit differently, good different and bad different, both.
While I was sitting there, for sometime I was disconnected from my surrounding for a moment. It’s very easy to get distracted in such crowded place as hospital, but after a while that crowd and noise didn’t distract me at all, I found my peace with it and the noises then became as good as silence.
“Patient is refusing to take breakfast. Without breakfast he can’t have medicine,” said a lady in white, standing in front of me.
It took me awhile for my brains come back to real world and then the word “patient” made sense to me. I stood up as if from shock with sudden jerk moment and started walking not before the lady in white, the nurse, told me the right way to the patient, because I was heading in otherdirection, may be the sudden jerk moment made blood rush to my feet left a scant amount of blood for my brain to process the right way to the patient.
Patient, the old man has refused to eat breakfast, said no milk or tea. His son and my friend wasn’t there, and he would be the only one who could convince the stubborn old man because he wouldn’t even listen to me, he spoke to me like I was a hospital staff. Anyway I tried to pursue him but he remained strong-headed and then worst was as much as I didn’t care about him taking breakfast and but I care about him taking the medicine.
Things changed in a moment, when nurse told me that his blood pressure was getting lower, he suddenly began shivering and his face became very red and I panicked. In a moment the patient’s condition went from bad worst, nurse called for doctor. The old lady, my friend’s mother came inside and seeing her husband, she started weeping, all in one room, nurse, the old woman and me, with one man on bed as if fighting for his life made thatplace hell, I was trying my best to keep the old lady calm but when the patient raised his hand and pointed towards his wife, she ran towards him, he was trying to mumble something but he couldn’t say anything, he was out of breath, the nurse told him not to speak, he will strain himself, let the doctor come but everything seems worthless, his shivering reduced but, his face started to become paler and his efforts to speak became fainter, it was the end. I randownstairs to find my friend. He was outside, I called him and he knew it what it meant, although he was quite far away from me and hospital, but he seemed to have wings on his feet, he ran for his father, and before I could speak, hewent past me.
When my friend saw his father, he screamed, which scared me and for a moment I was froze, his father was not moving, his mother was quite, was staring at her husband’s face, the eerie silence in the room was cutting my skin like a brand new razor blade, slow and painful. Doctor and nurse were not saying anything; my friend held his father’s face and just stared in for a while. I hope I wasn’t there.
“Dad, do you need some water,” said my friend. I couldn’t believe what I was listening, I was shocked and I thought so was my friend, may be more than shocked, he had just then lost his father.
In that moment I realized how much he loved his father, he might have had never said it but he did. Speech and words are so futile at times and so overrated. We try to find meaning in them. Love can be seen and felt without words much better than with it.
What is love? Love is what I seen in my friend’s eyes that moment for his father, and what his father had for him, though he could never say that; how much he loved his child, but then words are so futile.
But no matter how meaningless word can be, I wished he could have spoke a word or two to his father and his father to him. He is just kept saying, “Dad, do you some water” and kept crying.
A voice came.
It was his father. Yes, he was alive and that was the moment when I believed, cried and thanked God. May be it wasn’t God, it was the love of son for this father or prayers of wife of dying man, there is no way to find that out, but I thanked God.
The relief my friend had on his face and happiness waspalpable, the son calmly helped his father with some water and the mother kept one hand the son’s head and looking her husband with smile on her face and eyes still wet. The father didn’t looked anymore like the old and weak man on bed, strange but true.
Finally, the son had spoken to his father.
The old man then swiftly reached under his pillow to take an old piece of paper and unfolded it. He looked at doctor and nurse standing for a while, then at me, smiled, then to his wife, finally, to his son and took a deep breath and said with unflinching and sturdy voice, untypical of a patient on bed for a month.
“Though I may never tell you,
How much I loved you my child,
When you came to your mother, crying
I listened to you hiding behind,
In happiness you hugged her so tight,
But not me,
Not to hug you was a fight.
Your results were not good, you were in fear,
I didn’t care about results; I care about you, my dear,
When I shouted on you, I hated myself more,
You didn’t reply, I loved you even more.
Though I may never tell you,
How much I loved you my child,
Because these words are so futile.”
He got up to kiss his son on forehead and gave the paper to his son.
Old man wasn’t a poet or a writer, nor a great narrator, some may feel that the lines were incorrect or flow was inconsistent but itwasn’t a poem or a prose; it was just what a father wanted to tell his son.