Saturday, October 22, 2016

What matters in the end

My grandmother passed away 3 months back. 3 months and 13 days ago to be precise. A lot happened before and after she passed away. Her life and passing away made me realize some important facts about life and more about death.

My grandmother was no less than a third parent to me. I have lived all my life in her presence. She has seen me grow up from a baby to a woman, while I had seen her become a baby from a fine remarkable woman that she was. Life is definitely a vicious circle and growing up with Patti taught me that. With her passing away, the one question that hovers in my head is ‘what is it that really matters in the end’?

July 8th 2016 was the day my Patti breathed her last. Scenes from the day are hard to forget. They appear like a movie scene right in front of my eyes.  Patti had a fall in the mid of June.  She came to eat her dinner one evening like she always would and all of a sudden she lost balance and fell down. My parents and I were right there and didn’t know what caused the sudden loss of balance. We moved her to the bedroom and comforted her.

For the past year and a half, Patti suffered from moderate dementia. She had difficulty doing her daily chores like using the bathroom or draping her saree, remembering names, and recognizing extended family members including her own sisters. She had difficulty comprehending instructions and expressing emotions be it pain or happiness. If she was happy she would smile and take my hand and give me a kiss.  If she was irritated or angry she would tell me to shut up and leave her room. She behaved just like a child and small things made her very happy. She would nudge my stomach when I sat near her and laugh when I twitched. A piece of cake or chocolate made her very happy. Wearing pink nightgown that I had bought for her made her smile and she would become very sad when it had to be changed. Over the past few years, it was a family custom to have dinner together. All of us would gather in Patti's room to spend the whole evening with her. Patti's room was converted to our living room and dining room. If we ate something different for dinner than what she had eaten, she would ask my mother why she wasn't given the same dinner as others. If any day the custom changed because of an unexpected event like going out for a wedding, Patti became very upset and would question us as to why we left her alone.

Patti had started having falls and blacked out a couple of times in the past two years. It was due to mild TIA or Transient Ischemic attacks the doctors said. Older people were more prone to it. The day she fell down in June 2016, was the last day she walked on her own. She was confined to bed after that for 20 odd days. Multiple doctor visits, a short stay at the hospital and back, nothing made a difference or improved her condition. All her parameters were normal and the doctors had only one answer ‘old age’. Eighty nine and a half wasn’t young, but my Patti was always healthy and she had always fought many such incidents in the past. That made us hopeful. She had even reversed her diabetes with a strict diet. She had no blood pressure or cholesterol issues. Despite her fall she didn’t fracture a single bone.

But this time the situation was different. She would lament she was in pain and often cry that she wanted to go. She had made a resolve to leave the world. Every time she spoke she spoke of leaving and said she didn’t wish to live. No amount of coaxing and cheering her up made her change her mind. She would murmur every night ‘ Bhagawame yenna kootindu poidu’ – ‘ Oh lord, please take me with you.’ One day when she was lamenting ‘I’m leaving’ , I asked her where she wanted to go.
“Very Far”, she said.
“Even I want to go Patti. Let me come with you” , I said.
“You’re too young just shut up. You cannot come there. Go do your work” came the reply.

I was astonished and shocked. She refused to take medicines, food, and even water. She didn’t reply when we would ask her if she wanted to eat or drink or if she was in pain. How did she answer me so cleverly?

The sub-conscious mind is a powerful weapon. I learnt that from Patti. She would never speak but would clench my fist so hard that it hurt. She decided to leave the world and she firm in her resolve. She stopped eating or drinking even water during her last few days. We did coax her but it was in vain. She would clench her lips together and just wouldn't open her mouth. She loved any form of sweet, and even the trick of offering her sweets didn't work.  

On the morning of July 8th, I asked Patti if she would have Proteinex, a drink she normally loved, and she nodded her head. I fed her 2 spoons of Proteinex mixed with milk, with great difficulty as she refused to open her mouth. My brother had come home to see if things were fine and if we needed any help.  I noticed her breathing was not fine and she was having breathing difficulties. We checked her oxygen concentration and it was around 70. Normally the oxygen concentration should be around 95-100 and anything below 70 was a cause for concern. I immediately called up the doctor and rushed to my uncle's house to get an oxygen concentrator. We came home and fit the oxygen concentrator but her oxygen gone down further and the reading in the pulse oxy meter showed 58.

The doctor arrived and said she had suffered a pulmonary edema, which meant there was excess fluid collection in the lungs and her chances or survival was only 20%. Even if she did survive she would need ventilatory support. We wanted to rush her to the emergency and I was frantically calling for the ambulance. Meanwhile, my mother sensed that Patti might be nearing her end had phoned up her sisters who lived close by. Patti's sisters did not want to put her through the torment of hospital, injections and ventilatory support and wanted her end to be peaceful. She was surrounded by her sisters, her maid who had served her for the last 45 years, her son, daughter in law and her grandchildren. I held her hand for the last time. She had no grip. She threw up the last bit of milk I had given her. Her eyes kept rolling looking at everyone surrounding her as she was struggling to breathe and suddenly she stopped.

While most of us talk about the quality of lives we want to live, hardly anyone talks about the quality of death.  Atul Gawande, wonderfully expresses this phenomenon in his book ‘Being Mortal’. I wonder if death could be gratifying. While it does bring sadness and takes away our loved ones from us forever, it makes us realize that it’s nature's terrible game played with mankind. That’s how I saw it. While death to many is an end of suffering, it is an abrupt end to dreams and future for many. Some are lucky to escape suffering. Some are lucky as they get to say their good byes. But death always leaves questions that are unanswered.

When I think of old age and the kind of old person I want to be, I always think of downsizing. I should be able to downsize all my needs into a single suitcase, light enough that I could carry by myself. That way I wouldn’t accumulate too much junk or wouldn't regret not having used half the things I accumulated during the course of my life.
My Patti didn’t carry anything with her when she left. She hardly wore any jewels except for a red plastic bangle that she had always worn. The red plastic bangle was a gift from her husband who died when she was barely 32, and she would never remove it from her hand at any cost. Eventually, she forgot the sentimental value the bangle had. She carried no memories. 

Patti carried with her a sense of fulfillment, she had lived a long life and decided it was enough. She carried with her love from people around her. She had everyone around her telling her she would be fine and everything is going to be ok when she was dying. These soothing words, however far from the truth, is something we always yearn to hear. Hearing these words from loved ones as we fight our last battle on earth, could define the quality of death. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anbulla Rajinikanth

Dear Rajini,

I am writing this in good faith and in the belief that one day you would prove your critics wrong. It disheartens me to see the ridiculous Rajinikath jokes float all over the internet. What disheartens me even more is the fact that none of your movies resemble anything close to what is stated in such ridiculous jokes. But Lingaa proved me wrong. Unfortunately, the climax scene of Lingaa is a testimony to those ridiculous jokes.

I started watching you since I was three. I watched Raja China Roja and you were the hero who could capture my heart when I was barely three. More than your looks, your style made an impeccable impression on fans like me. Your gait, fast paced walk, dialogue delivery, and those piercing eyes were the potent combination that was required for a hero. The story of your life from being a bus conductor to the Super Star of Tamil Cinema inspired and instilled hope in every ardent fan.

You were the hero who was different from the yesteryear heroes, because you were just like the common Tamil man - unassuming.  In an era when Tamil cinema was dominated by Heroes who ran behind trees and applied make up with rouge and lipstick, you broke all stereotypes by making your entry as a hard core, despicable villain. You stunned people with your performances in Aboorva ragangal, Moondru Mudichu, and 16 vayathinile.

Before people could type cast you as a villain, you surprised us with your comic timing in Thillu Mullu, Guru Shishyan, and Dharmathin Thalaivan. You moved audiences and made us weep with roles in Padikaathavan and Dhalapathi.  Fortunately or unfortunately, today you are one of the stars whose stardom and larger than life image overpowers your ability to demonstrate your multifaceted acting skills.

A friend of mine never reads self-help books. She tells me that watching a Rajini film gives her a high and motivates her.  Both of us have watched  Baasha, Annnamalai, Muthu, Padaiyappa,  at least half a dozen times. These movies had the perfect formula of fights/ comedy/ romance and the punch dialogues. Dialogues  like “Kanna, Kettavangalukku aandavan neraya kudupaan aana kai vituduvaan, Nallavangala andavan neraiya sothipaan, aana kaividamaatan” ( Bad people will get many things in life but ultimately god will not help them, God might give a lot of troubles to the good people but ultimately he will help them when needed ) are pills of motivation.  If you listen to the song ‘Vetri Nichayam’ from Annamalai, you’d never find the need for self helps books ever. In the past decade or so there is hardly any dialogue from your movies that has remained etched in my memory.

It pains me to see my hero at the age of sixty, battle with health issues, force himself  pull some moves and dance like a twenty something year old. It pains me even more to see that there is no formula that will help Rajini showcase his acting skills more than his style. It pains me the most to see you trapped in the cloud called stardom, and see you push yourself to perform unbelievable stunts like jumping from a cliff to a hot air balloon and act with actresses half your age.

As an ardent fan, I just have a humble request of you Rajini. We fans want to see you do what you love doing the most –leave everything behind and  just act. Act like a sadistic villain, act like a foolish comic or act like a just the common man.  We don’t expect you to dance, wear lipstick or do stunts that are unbelievable (Like flying in air and kicking a time bomb). We don’t expect you to be larger than life. We love you because of your simplicity and only because you are just like one of us.
Please give us a chance to celebrate you winning a national award. Pleaseeeeee…..

Yours ever faithfully,

A random fan

Saturday, October 12, 2013

30 Undeniable facts about the 'Average Indian Male'

  1. The average Indian male stares at women.
  2. The average Indian male thinks he can woo girls by humming random songs or whistling.
  3. The average Indian male aspires to go to Amerikaaaaa.
  4. The average Indian made has at least one matrimonial profile.
  5. The average Indian male always wants a virgin, slim, and fair skinned wife.
  6. The average Indian male never praises his wife. 
  7. The average Indian male loves cricket more than his wife. 
  8. The average Indian male never buys roses regularly for his wife.
  9. The average Indian male thinks he is doing a favour if he cooks for his wife.  
  10. The average Indian male doesn't know how to give his wife pleasant surprises.
  11. The average Indian male never pulls up the chair for a woman.
  12. The average Indian male never gives a woman the way in a crowd. 
  13. The average Indian male is pampered by his mother. 
  14. The average Indian male wears dirty socks. 
  15. The average Indian male watches porn.
  16. The average Indian male always idolises another man. 
  17. The average Indian male doesn't fold his own clothes neatly.
  18. The average Indian male has peed in public at least once in his life. 
  19. The average Indian male enjoys jokes about women and so called victimised men. 
  20. The average Indian male honks on the road. 
  21. The average Indian male slurps.
  22. The average Indian male wears a pair of jeans on a beach.
  23. The average Indian male gossips.
  24. The average Indian male wears at least one gold ornament.
  25. The average Indian male holds another man's hand while walking on the road.
  26. The average Indian male indulges in self pity.
  27. The average Indian male thinks his moustache makes him very manly. 
  28. The average Indian male thinks he is witty and humorous. 
  29. The average Indian male doesn't mind roaming around topless. 
  30. The average Indian male prefers beer over champagne. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mane Matters

Just as I was cleaning my cupboard last week, I found something that I hadn't used in years - a bun clip. It was nothing fancy, it was a half concave flap of polyurethane with two holes on either ends to insert a stick that looked like a snooker cue. I don't remember if I had bought it or if one of my aunts had left it behind. I had never used it because I always felt that a bun was to be adorned by older women in their 30's and I still had time.

Buns are out of fashion today. They became out of fashion in the late ninety's or may be even before that. These days when I travel by bus or an auto I hardly find any middle aged working woman adoring a bun. Thanks to the dwindling cost of hair straightening products, the bun has lost its glory. Every woman these days wants to look good, young and have the perfect hair. Permanent hair straightening as they advertise it, although is not permanent gives you a shot lived happiness. On the flip side hair straightening can be compared to a mistress in a man's life. It comes with its own terms and conditions, it is very expensive to maintain, you know its not going to stay for ever and when your relationship with your straight hair comes to an end, you are left counting the few sporadic stands of your original crowning glory.

During the 70's and 80's the bun was the only hair style you could spot on any heroine. It made every woman look naturally dignified with a certain class. Buns came in various shapes and sizes and no matter what dress the actress wore the bun never went unnoticed. When worn with a string of Jasmine flowers around it, the bun did make heads turn. Be it curly hair, wavy hair, medium length, long length, dry hair, oily hair you could bury all your worries about your mane inside your bun. One could even bury a hand grenade inside the bun. Many women prefer the bun more for comfort, than anything else. It is customary for police women, nurses, air hostesses in Indian Airlines and women who work as security to wear a bun. I cant imagine a nurse with free hair flying all over her face giving me a shot.

During summer, I cant sport a hair do other than the bun when I am out in the sun. While denim which was invented for factory workers is still in fashion, I wonder why the bun lost out in the fashion race and has been discarded. The other day I was aimlessly walking around in a mall that was recently opened near my house, and I noticed that only one out of every 5 women who passed by had her hair tied up.The mall was very crowded and people were standing in a queue at the entrance of a few shops. I got in line to enter Big Bazaar and just as I entered inside the air curtains at the entrance worked more efficiently than expected. With the sudden gush of air from the air curtain, a lady's hair tickled the another man standing behind her and he sneezed right away. It was quite unexpected that the residue from his nose would land on her hair.

I wonder who felt more disgusted. Was it the man for he had foreign particles, that too someone else's hair inside his nose, or the lady with free hair who obviously couldn't be free anymore.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Ha Ha Ha

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"Can I go out with friends?"
"Yes you can, but don't overspend,
and wear clothes that would offend."

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"Can I go to a late night party?"
"No my dear we live in a country,
where men are flirty and play games that are dirty."

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"Can I go to the temple and pray"
"Yes but make sure you don’t go astray
and don’t forget to carry a pepper spray."

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"I just updated my face book status"
"Make sure you hurt none, at the cost of fun,
you could be chased by a cop holding a gun."

“Mama, Mama!” “Yes Beta!”
“What does the word 'Ban' mean?”
“Ban means to forbid and also
movies, Rushdie, and paintings of a few queens”

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"What does the supereme court do?"
"It provides support when the government goes boo hoo
and sends the bad to a human zoo"

“Mama, Mama!”, “Yes Beta!”
"Do we live in a democrazy?"
"Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha."

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Perfect Story

On the perfect day of the year,
At the perfect time of the day,
The perfect baby was born to the perfect parents.

The baby was so perfect, it had no wrinkles,
The perfect parents were proud to have her,
Theirs was one of the few perfectly happy families in town.

The baby grew up to have the perfect childhood,
Reading about little Red Riding Hood,
And her table manners were always good.

She grew up to be the perfect teen,
No pimples or blemishes on her face were ever seen,
Her parents presented her a Lexus when she was sixteen.

She got a perfect SAT score,
She studied the preferred course in the best of grad schools,
She graduated with the perfect job.

She fell in love with the perfect man,
The perfect man was just like her,
He was born a perfect baby to the perfect parents.

Theirs was a perfect love story,
No Complications, no quarrels,
And the perfect couple had the perfect wedding.

The wedding was on a perfect Wednesday,
With the perfect choir, perfect bridesmaids and best men,
The oldest wine in town was served to the guests.

The Sperm from the perfect man,
Fused with the Ovary from the perfect lady,
And they gave birth to the perfect baby.

The perfect Couple’s baby had the perfect childhood,
The most exciting teenage, the best education, a high paying job,
And finally the perfect wedding just like his parents did.

A perfect granddaughter was born to the perfect grandmother,
The perfect grandmother recited stories from her perfect life,
And the perfect baby instantly went to sleep.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

There is more to life..

There is more to life than
A Hitler like boss,
Meeting your ever procrastinated plan of weight loss,
And the Indian cricket team winning today's toss

There is more to life than
Honey moons and happy married lives,
Being pregnant and yet so naive,
Or watching a football match live.

There's more to life than
Today's morning being very bright
The movie you saw last night,
I don't care if it's the dark knight.

There is more to life than
What you ate last night,
Or having a dinner amidst candle light,
You don't need to publicize it on a satellite.

There is more to life than

Graduating from an IVy League,
Taking home a glamourous pay-check every week,
And struttin stuff from uber chic boutiques.

There is more to life than,
Facebook status updates,
A 100 likes for a photo of you in a pair of Skates,
Or a living in a private villa in the United Arab Emirates.

There is more to life than
Covering your grey hairs and bald spots,
Trying to become like you're neighbour who now looks very hot,
And appearing to world as someone you are not.

There is more to life than,
The viscious circle we live in,
The tales about us that others spin,
Or thinking about all our sins.

There is no more to life than,
Showing your finger at every adversity,
Laughing at people's absurdity,
And carving for yourself a unique identity.