Posts Tagged ‘life’

Walk home from A’s, 090419

April 9, 2019

My walk back from my daughter’s home….
A lady skilfully making brooms from the spines of palm fronds.
A young boy trying to make a “puLLi kOlam” under his sister’s tutelage (an unusual sight!).
Yellow carpets of Copper Pod flowers, and the occasional purple of the Jacaranda.
The ground still damp from the previous night’s short shower of rain.
No school buses.
Steam issuing from coffee urns in darshinis, with customers already sipping
The early buses, BMTC and company ones, thundering past.
Peeping past the Metro mess as I cross the road, hoping not to be hit.
Uneven footpaths, potholes to be avoided.
Two boys having great fun splashing a bucket of water on to a car, washing themselves as much as the vehicle.
Young men sorting out a variety of newspapers, before delivering them. Pourakramikas trundling their trash bins.
Such vibrant life around me…there cannot be a single moment of boredom in a city walk!

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When does old age begin?

October 24, 2018

I turned 64 yesterday, and was musing on what old age is, and when it begins.

Certainly, as I grew up, the horizons of old age shifted. In my childhood, 60 was an unimaginable old age, and life expectancy being what was in India then, a man who turned 60 would have a big ceremony to mark the occasion.

When I first started travelling abroad, I was much struck by the fact that people in the “developed” countries of the west…and many people in eastern countries…seemed to be hale and healthy at what I considered an advanced age. The trains I took in Switzerland were full of 80 year olds, having a good time as they enjoyed the relaxation of a life after work and career.

Of my immediate family, my parents both died at 66, and my mother in law at 59. None of my parents’ siblings made it beyond 70. My father-in-law an inveterate walker and cyclist, lived up to 87, but it was dependent and sick old age for the last few years, after a series of strokes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s took their toll on his physical and mental health.

In spite of all that, the increase in the average life expectancy began to reflect in many other extended family members and friends. As I grew old, 50 became the new 40, and now, 60 took up the same position too. I have friends’ parents who are in their eighties, living independently and enjoying reasonably good health.

One of the most unusual example of old age I have seen was my WASP son-in-law’s paternal grandfather. With the help of two consecutive pacemakers, he made it to an independent 101. And then he did something which I have not seen anyone else do…he took charge of his destiny and After a few episodes of congestive heart failure, decided he’d had a full life. He asked his pacemaker to be switched off, and passed away the next day after that.The only parallel I know for this was the story of Bhishma in the Mahabharata, who had the boon of “icchA maraNam” (death at one’s own will) and exercised that will when he decided that his life’s work of protecting the kingdom was over.

Today, I am surrounded by so many people of my age, or older, and what I notice is the importance of good health in their happiness. Independence of life, and good health, are the essential parameters, I find, of a good quality of life in one’s sixties, and beyond.

But an intangible which I think very important …is…the ability to also get along with people younger….and much younger….than one. I can truly say that I don’t seem to consider someone’s age in interacting with them; I have very close friends who are 20 years older than I am, and 30 years younger. I am so lucky in being able to enjoy the company of children so much that I find the thought of a senior citizen’s home, where there may not be many children, not appealing at all….yet!

Another intangible is the attitude we bring to age. Far too often do I see people who are young, thinking of anyone beyond a certain age, to be “old”. Also, many of the people I see, of my own age, seem to think they are “old”, and begin moaning and groaning about their small ailments. At 50, a friend told me,”Our lives are over, now we have to live for our children!” I disagree. I love my child, but I can’t live only for her! In fact, perhaps my keeping up my own interests and activities, and the fact of my having friends of all ages, has kept me healthy…I am not so sure of this, though!

This is because good health, unfortunately, is not always the guaranteed result of regular habits and a disciplined life. Illness and disease come out of nowhere and strike hard, making a mockery (mocking a makery?) of one’s will to be independent. Dependent, and sickly, old age, is a daily torture. The ageless personality in the suffering body chafes at the restrictions that hedge and control life.

So what is the point of all this musing? Er, nothing…it’s just musing…meandering, and possibly a sign of old age. Three sure signs of mental “old age”, according to me, are….1. A perpetual harking back to the good old days, and a feeling that the quality of life has gone down in all ways; mores and values have deteriorated. 2. What a wit called anec-dotage…the tendency to live in that now-glowing past, and recount endless stories of one’s prime.

And 3…the tendency, in the age of the internet, to keep on forwarding stuff! When I start sending you forwards (instead of sharing my own thoughts) regularly, can you come and snuff me out,please? Thank you!

Walk home, 310118

January 31, 2018

My walk home this morning.

Newspapers flying through the air to land in sometimes wet front driveways. Vegetable vendors offloading from autorickshaws. Sunlight slanting in motes of dust, through the branches of trees. The still-lingering nip in the air that makes me–almost– forget that I am still limping, 9 weeks after the knee surgery.

Steaming, tiny cups of chai and kaapi at various corners. Rangolis that are much smaller than they were last month. A little boy reluctant to get off his mother’s two-wheeler, at his school. Beans more tender than a child’s finger, and a cauliflower with a caterpillar smiling up at me…that makes me decide to buy them (no pesticides!) Smiling at several people whom I don’t know but see regularly.

I arrive home, feeling peaceful and happy. Surely, this is a perfect life.

On the passing of Mythri, 100118

January 10, 2018

Every moment that I live,breathe, look, sigh…
May be someone’s last moment on earth.
So tough to understand this, but it is true.
More and more often, when I hear of young people dying
I wonder why there is no logic in life or death.
Why should I, having lived a full life, and with no regrets,
Not be taken, and a young life,
Full of talent, hard work and promise,
Not be spared to the world?
Why should old sere trees, their uses long gone,
Creak on, moaning of the past to the world,
While young saplings,which we hope will grow
And mature into giants,
Be cut down in a lightning swathe of random fate?
I do not understand life…or death.

Another surgery..and back home again

November 24, 2017

2 weeks after the surgery that I described

here

the knee injury that I had sustained in Madhya Pradesh (a young man boarding the train to Bangalore in a rush pushed me from behind, and I fell with my knee hitting the corner of a tin trunk, leaving me in excruciating pain) flared up again, and I could not even move a few steps.

I realized that the “settling” of the knee problem with antibiotics in September had not really solved the problem. So I went to the orthopaedic surgeon in Fortis while I was underoing the follow up after the surgery.

This surgeon did not give me any feeling of confidence, so I went back to Dr Ananda Murthy, the orthopaedic surgeon I had consulted in September.

I went only with the idea of having physiotherapy to clear the inflammation, but I soon had to change my mind. Dr Ananda Murthy clearly explained that I had a meniscus tear in my knee, and there was some other growth that he could see. I also mentioned the

Plica syndrome

the Dr J V Srinivas, the orthopaedic surgeon at Fortis Hospital, had found, and he said he would take care of that, too. He explained the process of

arthroscopy

clearly to me.

The decision made, I felt there was no point in delaying, and suffering. Friends took me to Shanthi Hospital which he asked me to go to, and was admitted. At noon, the arthroscopy was carried out, and I was discharged the next day (23rd November). The bill, by the way, was half was what Fortis would have charged! The hospital was small, pleasant, and quiet. Very clean, and a lovely private room with a view of a mango and a jamun tree! Good nursing staff, and good food (at reasonable rates for visitors,too).

With some amount of pain, Anjana took me to her home, but I found my knee progressing really well as the day wore on, and late that night, she drove me back home. I put some of the stuff away, let the others lie, and zonked out at 11pm…waking up only at 7.45am today (24th Nov) instead of getting up early and crossing the road to Dr Ananda Murthy’s clinic and being the first patient when the clinic opened at 7.30am!

I managed to cross the dangerous Bannerghatta Road and went to the clinic, where the doctor saw me and pronounced me fit to carry on normally. Both he and the physiotherapists at Shanthi Hospital and the clinic made the same statement:

“At your age, we usually have to tell people to walk more, and take the stairs, but we have to give you the reverse advice. At the outset, don’t walk more than 2 km per day, and be a little careful. After that, you are fine. We are impressed with your level of fitness..it’s closer to a 40-year-old.” That’s the kind of compliment that is very reassuring!

I underwent some physiotherapy, made the dangerous crossing (the road!) back home, and the compressive bandage having been removed, I felt such a sense of relief.

I had the hot-water bucket-bath of a lifetime,cleaning away all the plaster and bandage gums (oh how affectionately they cling!), tender massaging of the various stitches. This was followed by a self-pampering full-body moisturizing-cum-massage (done by me!)

I look at my body. Perfection in looks? No! So many bulges and bumps. So many places where the call of gravity is being heeded. So much efficient storage of fat. It doesn’t look anything like Miss World’s. But there is one great thing about it…it’s alive, it has carried me through 63 years of healthy life.

It has bounced back–fast– from so much that has been thrown at it, and it houses me in great comfort still.To me, this body is perfect. I will pamper it with a good lunch and a siesta now….or should I walk 2km to my daughter’s home and be with the grandchildren?

Life with K2

October 25, 2017

K2, as I call Kalyan Mohan Shaffer, is an original thinker as all children are. Some examples:

K2, while getting ready for playschool: I want to be like the old pwesident of Amewica.
Me: Who’s the old president of Amewi..sorry, America?
K2: Obana (sic).
Father: The present president is older than the old president.
K2: Oh, Donald Twump is older?
….the things four-year-olds know!

K2: “Spell ‘thousand’, Deepamma.”
Me: “T-H-O-U-S-A….”
K2: “No! You are WONG! Thouzend…you have to spell it with ‘z’ and ‘e’. You don’t know ANYTHING!”
Me (humbly): “Yes…I am afraid so…”

K2: “You are WONG. You are saying ‘night’. There is a ‘k’ there, so you should say ‘kanight’ not ‘night’, Deepamma!”
Me: “OK, have it your way…”
K2: “No, it’s not MY way, it’s the WIGHT way!”

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

Stages
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

For life to begin

August 31, 2017

In an empty, silent house
I wait for life to begin.
Life will arrive
With the first young child
Bubbling over with tales from her school.
I make sure she eats the rest of her lunch.
While listening to her,
I make preparations
For the evening meal.
More noise, more tumult
When the little boy comes in.
“Dwag me to the bathwoom!” he yells
Glowing with the dirt of the day
Spent in playschool.
Soon, other children come in to play.
The house wakes up, is full of life.
Homework, Hindi, settling squabbles:
Bath, dinner, and a game or two.
I cuddle up to one, or both
As we say a prayer, or read a story.
The little, reassuring rituals of bedtime
Are done. Darkness prevails.
Peace reigns again as they lie asleep,
Hair tumbled over pillows, arms askew.
Life sleeps now, but will be up tomorrow,
Getting ready for the day, again.
Awake and asleep by turns, this house
Is the home of the future.

The river

May 1, 2017

Rush,rush, rush…
Around me, the seconds flow past
The minutes fly
The hours march,
The months creep slowly.
I hardly feel the year’s progress
Into the lap of what-has-been.
I live in the present…
That’s a conondrum
As with every ticking second
My present becomes the past.
As I sit here, writing,
My heart starts the next beat.
I take my next breath.
I am not what I was
When I first thought of writing this.
What a relentless river Time is.

IMG_9038

Govind

April 22, 2017

Should I wait
For it to be exactly six months
Since you decided
To change the plane of your existence?
Do I not remember you
Very often, never mind what date
Or day, or time it is?
When two of my friends
Had surgery recently
To remove growths
You come to mind
Whenever I lift a camera
I often see you,
Before I see the scene in front of me.
When I see good planning
And crisp execution
You slip into my thoughts.
When I laugh at jokes
I recollect how you used humour to heal yourself.
The determination that got you through so much,
The travels all over the world
The staunch affection…
You are there in every thought I have
About such things.
Time will flow past:
Six months may turn into years.
My friend, you are always here
Where it matters.
In my heart, and in my memories.