Renu's Week

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Report of 8 Jan 2010

Hello and Happy New Year!

I haven't written in a while and have sorely missed it. Like communicating with friends.

It has been an exhausting couple of weeks. The Weiss men and I spent Christmas in Madurai with my parents and extended family. My mother had just been released from the hospital after a mild attack of dengue, mild but affected her mental status quite a bit, as illness will in older patients. When she was home, she refused to get out of bed and all activities were done lying down. It took considerable coaxing for her to consider the wheelchair, and one day, when she mildly agreed, Scott and my brother-in-law, Benji, quickly lifted her up and into the chair. That was good, and all of us then sang Christmas carols and prolonged the sitting position. So many things that my eminent professors taught me - about illness in the elderly, the need for constant support, the importance of nourishment and mobility - bore out with my mother. Scott was magnificent in coaxing her out of bed, and endured her illness-induced irritability with grand grace. (My mother is, otherwise, an exquisitely classy person renowned for her hospitality.) It was, of course, wonderful to see my sibs, sibs-in-law, nephews and niece. We ate, talked and laughed, and mulled over what we'd be like in older years.

We returned from Madurai, and the 3 Weiss men and I went to Orissa for a holiday. It is like salve to be with the men, and I like being able to bond thus. Our country has a rich, ancient civilization, and it is a joy to see it and know it; however, many heritage sites are dreadfully maintained and difficult to access. We try, though, as I like being able to see this magnificent history, and I like the men to see it, too. The Sun Temple in Konark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after we went there, I could see why. Hooo! There were explicit sexual positions of all kinds displayed in sculpture form all around the temple, some life-size and some smaller. It then became something of an odd hunt to find out what else we could spot in the small sculptures. Naren and Navin could not believe their eyes, neither could we actually, and all realised the truth that Hinduism really does worship the sexual act. The book "Kama Sutra" originated here. Other than the Sun Temple, the other temples did not permit non-Hindus to enter, and all make an assumption on seeing Scott, the white guy, as being non-Hindu, whereas he is a devout believer. We stayed in a nice hotel, discounted for us through an acquaintance, but did not eat there; instead, we found a sweet little eatery walking distance from the place. The food was extremely tasty and the price so reasonable that we ate there daily, made friends with all the staff, got an autorickshaw organised through them for local sight-seeing and all in all, had a memorable time. The manager, in particular, liked Scott immensely (not hard to do), and said he would come and see us in Chennai, which we welcome. Orissa is a militantly Hindu state, with non-Hindus coming to all manner of harm, and we did not see many non-Indian tourists about. While visiting there was nice, it was lovely to come home to our beautiful, safe Chennai.

On return, we found that my mother had been re-hospitalised, and I went to Madurai. My father had stated that no one need go, but he appeared grateful for my presence. I did not intend to quiz any of the specialists involved in my mother's care, but my father routinely unleashed me on them. This was also a chance to have great conversations with my witty father, and we talked at length. My mother's mental status waxed and waned, concerning me greatly, and it appeared to get better when she ate more, and got out of bed and into a wheelchair. St. V geriatricians, Diane and Patrick Healey, sure taught us well. I did what I could in Madurai, got a bit exhausted, and returned to Chennai. There is now full-time help appointed to take care of my mother, and plans are afoot for both my parents to move to Vellore, where my sister and brother-in-law live, and where medical care is free for my parents, being my sister's dependents.

In Madurai, the sweeper at the hospital finished cleaning my mother's room and asked me why she (herself) was breathless. I did a quick exam, found she was anemic, had a heart murmur, prescribed iron replacement and referred her to a specialist. She then touched my feet in gratitude/respect, which I felt was unnecessary. I chuckled about this to my father, and he said that the young lady was of the "Scheduled Caste" or an outcaste ("Untouchable"), that no one was to touch her and that she likely appreciated the fact that I *touched* her. Really, some things - such as untouchability - in my beloved country are remarkably stupid.

It is lovely to return to the Banyan, and do what I can for those whom others will not care for. I increasingly feel the presence of a Supreme Being, especially as I look at Ms. Ma and she smiles her beautiful, contagious smile and takes my hand.

Please feel free to drop me a line or two. It would be nice to hear from you as I deal with several issues concerning my parents, and myself.

Happy New Year! I wish for you good health and happiness, and am inordinately grateful for the chance to be in touch with you.

Unw -



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