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15 April 2015

The Care Giver.....

Sometimes it takes the absence of a person to put in perspective all the good things thtay they have done for you. Even if you had taken these actions for granted t the time they happened, as you grow up, you become aware of the magnitude of the things they have done.
Especially if the absence is permanent.
Why don't we appreciate the good work done by a person when he or she is alive? Why does it take the permanent absence for one to become aware of all the things that they have done?
I have been thinking a lot about his paradox ever since my dad passed away recently. We were four brothers and all of us had assembled from various locations for attending the 13 day long functions that were held after this sad event. We four brothers had a small get together where we reminisced about actions through which our dad demonstrated his care and affection to us children.
I being the eldest brother, everyone was looking at me to begin.
Where do I begin? My entire childhood was very difficult health-wise. I used to suffer from frequent bouts of bronchial asthma. The dreaded disease will strike sometime in the evening usually at about 7.00 PM. Or it might strike at about 2.30 AM in the night. It will start very mild and quickly deteriorate to a situation where I had to be taken to hospital where they usually used to give me a cortico-steroid injection.
Once I take the injection, the attack will subside as quickly as it commenced. I have been injected with many a steroid, prominent being Cortison, Aminophylline and Decadron.
Every time I had the attack, Appa will be ready and available to take me to the hospital. He will quickly arrange a vehicle for me from the company and accompany me to the hospital. Those days, I used to take it for granted. Only after I have grown up and have my own son, do I result the magnitude of this gesture. He must have had rough days when all he would have wanted was to have some uninterrupted time for himself. He would have been tired and would have wanted to take some rest. He must have had dreams where he would have wanted to spent some alone time. All these were given a go by as soon as it was found that I have had another bout of asthma attack. Ready, energetic and in command of the situation, was appa at those junctures, never giving an iota of impression of irritation or frustration.
How I did not value these gestures at that time !!. How I value them now !!
While there were many such instances, I remember one incident very vividly.
I had a bout of attack at around 9.00 AM on that particular day. Appa was at home at that time. Since the factory dispensary was nearby, about 200 meters away, and doctor was available at that time, my dad decided to take me to the factory doctor. Since the distance was only 200 meters, he decided to lift me in his arms and carry me to the dispensary. I must have been about 8 or 9 at that time and was reasonably heavy and my dad was a short person, about 5'4" in height. By sheer strength of the will, he managed to carry me in his arms to the dispensary. The doctor checked me and gave me an injection of 'Adrenaline'. Post the injection the episode of Asthma subsided in about 15 minutes.
Since I was tired, my dad carried me back home. On the way back, lying on my dad's shoulder, I vomited.
Adrenaline  had released all the phlegm stuck to my bronchioles and the entire phlegm came out as vomit and spread all over my dad's shirt.
While known for his short temper, in this instance, my dad was the epitome of patience and kindness. After reaching home, he helped my mom change my clothes, changed his and left for office. 
Thinking about this incident now, I wonder if I would be as patient with another person as my dad was with me. I am sure that he was unhappy and irritated with all the phlegm spread over his dress. Still he did not react.
But I am not my dad. He was special.
Now it was the turn for Amby (Tamil for 'Younger Brother') my next younger brother to speak about his experiences.
'I was in the fifth semester of Engineering', said Amby, 'I am very competitive and had prepared very thoroughly for the exam. I was looking forward to this exam and was certain to be in the top 10 in the class.'.
'So it came as a big shock when I was diagnosed with Chickenpox two days before t he exam !'. 
'They quickly moved me to Quarantine and informed appa. The two days that I spent in Quarantine were terrible and surreal. It was terrible because, here I was, fully prepared to take the exam, and not being able to take it. It was surreal because all my friends avoided me. While I knew that I would have done the same in theirs situation, being treated as an outcast by my friends was not a happy situation to b in'.
'I was miserable for those two days till appa came with a taxi. He lifted me in his arms and brought me home. you can' imagine the relief that I felt to see appa on that day. 
'Appa was there for us every time we faced a crisis', Amby was choking on his words now. Tears rolled down his eyes.
'I don't have memories of crisis like both of you seem to have', said Mony, our third brother. 'I don't think I was as sick as both of you were at any time while I was growing up. Despite that my memories also vividly demonstrate the care appa had for his children. The incident that I am about to narrate happened in the year 1993. I had just completed engineering graduation and was waiting for my next course of action. I  had given GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineers, a test conducted by IITs for admission to Post Graduate Programs in Engineering) and was waiting for the results. I had done well in the exam and was expecting a good score. While I was waiting for the results, I had attended a couple of interviews and got a job offer from Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC). The posting was at Kota, in the state of Rajastan in the north western part of India.'
'I decided to accept the job offer. That decision was mostly because I was staying with parents after my graduation and appa was finicky about all my expenses. I had to ask him for money for each of my expenses and while he will give me what I wanted, it was done with a big show of disapproval and nasty looks and mutterings under his breath. I was fed up of depending on his for even my small expenses.'
'Once I got the job, I decided to join the same as I mentioned before. I booked my ticket in the KK express train to New Delhi and take a bus from there to Kota. The train leaves Ernakulam station on the evening and reaches Chennai the next day morning. It takes another 48 hours to travel from Chennai to Delhi.'
'Well, I  boarded the train on the appointed evening. I was fast asleep as the train touched Chennai Station'.
'Suddenly I heard someone shouting my name. I woke up and found Dora Chithappa calling out for me. Chithappa informed me that appa did not want me to go to Kota and wanted me to return to Vaikom instead.'
'I got out of the train and returned Vaikom the next day. Having reached there, I stuck a bargain with appa. He was to give me an annual allowance of some money, which I could spent as I wished, no questions asked. Appa agreed to my demand and I stayed a Vaikom for another year before I left to pursue Post Graduation at IIT Kanpur'.
'That was how appa demonstrated his affection for me', Mony concluded.
'We children had always had ego problems when it comes to asking appa for money', I thought to myself, 'each of us handled it differently'
All of us knew how he cared for Mahesh. Early in his childhood he had fallen prey to 'Rheumatoid Arthritis' and appa had taken a lot of care for him. I remember both Appa and amma worrying a lot about Mahesh's illness.
In addition, Appa had demonstrated his care for a large extended family. He was fair and impartial and took care of them all.
Sometimes I wonder if I could have handled the situation as effectively as my dad did. Maybe. Circumstances have a way of giving us strength that we never thought we possessed.
Or not.
My dad was a true care giver. In this role he was ably supported by my mom who stood behind him like a rock and gave him all the strength necessary to handle this tough task over a long period of time. There is hardly any member in the family who have not been affected by my dad.
And that is a legacy few can match...

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