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Monday, August 15, 2016

When shadows lengthen

I have been preoccupied with health issues over the last month. Not mine, my father’s. He has shrunk greatly from the hulk of a man he used to be, and behaviorally, as my sister put it, the lion has become a rabbit. My mother, having suffered him lifelong, is happy about it, but I am not. I miss the lion, frightened as I was of him more than any other man alive for decades, and often resentful: who could have imagined I was also secretly so proud? For having dealt with so many thousand fathers over so long a time, I know how few deserve the slightest attention, leave alone regard and respect and awe.

So anyway, he had a cataract removed and artificial lens implanted in one eye recently, but little did we know that it was the beginning of his troubles (he had had a severe breakdown three years ago, and though he had recovered somewhat, he had become uncharacteristically slow and quiet and hesitant). A dizzy spell induced by a sudden drop in blood pressure caused him to slip and fall while ambling about his room, breaking a femur near the hip. A few days passed in pain until the doctors were sure that he needed to be hospitalized for surgery. Same hospital and same surgeon that treated me last year. Having well-placed connections always helps in this country, as does having money, so the procedure – replacement of the hip joint ball with a prosthetic – went smoothly enough. He is convalescing well by all indications, but I am keeping my fingers crossed until he is certified fit to be discharged and can walk normally again. Heaven knows what is next in store for him… the father of a friend of mine, now 86, is in the ICU as I write, having suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, and it is near-certain that if he should survive, it would be only to drag on in a purely vegetative state for a few weeks or months more.

Is this what the techno-commercial society has done for us, in the end: prolonging life without being able to prevent the gradual decline and decay into helplessness, paying through the nose if one or one’s loved ones can afford it, and ending with a whimper, leaving only sad memories of glory days behind? Is this what is waiting for me, too, and for my daughter to witness and suffer? And is there really no way out of this suffering of the mind except to anesthetize it for as long as possible with shopping and partying and gaming on the cellphone? Is that all that six thousand years of civilization has given us? 


Nishant said...

Dear Sir,

I am very sorry to hear about the broken bone, the pain, and the surgery. I hope your father recovers soon and has no further trouble. My impression of him has always been of a kind, chatty person (and I remember I used to chat a lot every time I visited 'Namaskar'); I wouldn't have imagined him as the 'hulk of a man', as you put it. I suppose time and age catches up with everyone. I must have last seen him about twenty years ago. I am not sure if he remembers me, but please do convey my regards, and wishes for a speedy recovery, to him.

I would hope that keeping the mind occupied with reading and writing are much better alternatives to anaesthetising it with shopping and gaming, for otherwise, we don't seem to have much to be proud about!


Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to read about this and I hope your father is better now and recovering well.

Although these incidents make one gloomy, at the same time, living the good life, as you have tried to show us in numerous ways, definitely make our lives worthwhile rather than just drudging through it.

With regards,

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,

I'm sorry to read about your father and wish him a speedy recovery. I didn't have much chance to talk to him; though I met him twice at your home. But having heard so much about him from you, I hope he will recover soon enough with no such incidents in future.

with regards and best wishes,

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for the kind words, Nishant, Saikat and Soham. Not many could be bothered to take the trouble, apparently.