Renu's Week

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Report of 25 Jan 2010

Hello from Chennai -

One's thoughts get addled when a parent is sick, don't they. There has been no focus on anything else. I was in Madurai last week to go to the cemetery. The anniversary of my brother's demise is 26 Jan, and I cannot usually go on that date, especially if it is a weekday. 26 Jan is Republic Day in India, and a national holiday, but travel is usually difficult on that day. So I went on the 22nd, and put a garland of roses on my brother's grave, and remembered the robust, handsome, loving young man who was my brother, whom I got closer to as both of us married and had children, as we went through some similar life experiences, as we sat and snarfed chocolate.

My mother remains confined to bed, though I had her sit in the wheelchair for a couple of hours one morning, and she complained bitterly through it. I explained the new bed sores on her body, and she understood for a bit. My father had pulled an arm muscle, likely in caring for my mother, and remains in some disability. I was only in Madurai for the day, and my father uncharacteristically voiced disappointment; usually he accepts my plans for what they are, and is unfailingly grateful for the effort made to go and see them. I think he is getting exhausted, however. And my mother is ill, "sundowning" with regularity. "Sundowning" is a state where a person's mental status gets altered in the evenings. My mother does not quite know where she is at that time, and speaks irrelevantly. It is a bit difficult to see, because this was a vibrant, classy, sociable and extremely funny woman in her heyday. We are planning to shift her to Vellore next week; Vellore is where my sister and brother-in-law live, and there is an outstanding hospital (Christian Medical College and Hospital) there, where both work. My parents are listed as my sister's dependents, and will get free care at CMC.

There are dogs at the Banyan - both the founders, Vandana and Vaishnavi, are dog fans - and there are 2 around me now hoping for some food.

The Banyan continues well. I was fortunate to have a meeting with Vandana last week. She is 39, founded the Banyan 17 years ago, and is a very visionary, engaging, gregarious, funny, warm, loving human being. We have had raging arguments as well - both of us are intensely opinionated - and she is a fun person to work for. As I often tell her, she did not hire me to keep my mouth shut, and she agrees wholeheartedly. The B's abject lack of money does not bother either of us too much, as the work will go on.

On other updates, the young woman who had been sans a menstrual cycle got evaluated at the center I sent her to, and has started her period, to everyone's great joy. Little Ms. S, the impoverished schoolgirl, now goes to school regularly, says Swapna. Our triumphs might seem small, but they are mighty.

On Saturday, we went to visit a village that Scott's company has sort of adopted. Scott pays for a little boy's school supplies, and we met the child, M, at his school. It was great! Mr. M started out shy and quiet, but warmed up as we went along, and played ball with Naren and Navin. They managed to get a smile out of him, even. Naren quickly walked M to his house to put his gifts away, worried about the bullying by older children; M assured us, though, that the older kids would not yank away his gifts, and we were pleased. Scott's colleagues had taken chocolate, laddus (laddu is a very tasty Indian sweet) and pens for all the school kids, and it was a treat to see the kids line up and glow with absolute joy as they got the goodies. The lead organiser from the company is trying to get more employees involved in this effort; I see now that money exists for all causes, we just need to know where to find it.

Please drop me an email if you can. My head spins with regularity, and I welcome contact from friends near and far.

Unw (Until next week) -



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