Renu's Week

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Report of 21 October 2018

Good afternoon from our living room!

The haze is hazy, cannot see the Bay of Bengal well.  I love water; to be able to see the sea and greenery and the backwaters closer to our apartment has always been soothing. 

I swam this morning and it was fabulous.  The big pool is being cleaned, so it was yellowish-green.  Hardly swimmable, but the baby pool was clean and good; usually, after I swim in it, I am not sneezing all day as I do after plooshing around in the big pool.  The baby pool has to be used strategically; it is a 5-stroke size, but going diagonally yields another stroke or 2.  I was up early this am, after going to bed at 8 PM last night - a daily sought-after time, and accomplished last night, Saturday night!  Thus, I was up early and went out before it was bright outside, heading over to the nearby clubhouse, discovering no electricity and the security man asleep on the sofa inside; up 8 flights of stairs and ducking under bats (who are very good at keeping the mosquito menace under control), to the pool.  The water was a wee bit cool, but hey, fabulous.  My "Tyr" swim goggles are some fancy tinted numbers; while good at keeping the water out, they tend to change the view under water - things aren't clear and pretty, they're blue and pretty.  No matter, on I went, and on and on, then came home and announced to my husband that I was home; I got a "Hello, beautiful," in return.  Nice, no?

The Banyan is good.  We have rescued a mother and child at Kovalam.  The child is about 10 or 11 and as I walked in on Monday for our joyously frenetic clinic, I asked whom the child had come with; I saw not many patients about.  I was then informed of the rescue, i.e., this mother and child were homeless and starving, and we took them to Kovalam.  This child is pretty and full of beans; she likes being at Kovalam - in shelter, warm and dry, fed until her belly is full, with many people who show genuine affection and caring.  Every child's birthright, truly, but sometimes life gets in the way.  I asked her how much she had studied and she said, "Fifth standard (grade)," then said "English medium."  In English, I asked her her name, how she was and whether she had eaten, and we had a splendid conversation; I patted her head and told her to go eat, a hitherto-unguaranteed activity.  There, but for the grace of God go I.  My mother valued nutrition, we ate well, and to succeed in academics was an unwritten rule from both my parents.  My mother was also an excellent seamstress, so we were well-dressed, and sufficiently-fed and excellently-educated; I appreciate my mother's efforts much more now, especially the fed and educated parts.  With regard to the little girl at Kovalam, the B will undoubtedly find a school for her, and see that she is fed and clothed and read, and treat her mother for whatever's ailing her.  The ailment that most of our patients have is poverty. 

There was another memorable interaction at Kovalam: an older patient came in and we started talking about her home situation.  She lives in a little hut and said God would provide for her needs other than medicines (we got those).  As our flabbergasted community worker, used to tangibles like all of us, voiced our thoughts and said, "How will God provide?," the patient - with immense conviction - said, "Kattaayam kuduppaar," or "He will definitely provide."  Then she stated her story, that on living in a dargah once, she had cared for a boy with all sorts of needs; the boy grew up to be a young man who went overseas to work and now sends money for her upkeep.  It was riveting; the lady was poor and somewhat frail, but when she spoke of God's mercy, her voice was strong and confident.  I have little faith, and all 3 of the Banyan employees in the room - the community worker, our medical assistant and I - were enthralled, and subsequently counted our blessings.

My robust, handsome, loving older brother died in a motor vehicle accident several years ago, way before his time.  That's why the faith is little.  My other siblings - his widow, my sister and my younger brother - still pray and such, I do sort of. 

Adaikalam is also nice.  One of our patients, who had been hospitalised with a serious bacterial illness, is back with us.  That is good to see.  She is not quite herself yet, but occasionally is.  All of us are keeping a close eye on her, and that is the joy of the Banyan.  Young colleagues - women who have had to give up their dreams of an education due to poverty - work with us and avidly soak up what we teach them: to recognise an emergency and to respond, to know when someone is better and someone is not, to call for help when necessary.  It is a joyous place, the Banyan.

It was a 4-day weekend.  Ayudha Pooja, when we set our instruments (my stethoscope, Scott's laptop and pens) before God and worship, and Saraswathi Pooja, when we pray to the goddess of learning, were this week.  The kids like Saraswathi Pooja: it is the one day of the year when they are told not to study, as the books are placed in front of the goddess.  Yes, every other day except for summer vacation and sometimes even then, they are expected to hit the books.  Scott and I went to see 3 movies on Friday and eat at one of our favorite restaurants - Writers' Cafe, which is run by women who are victims of burns.  The food is a little pricey and excellent, and we go joyously, overeating merrily for a great cause.  We saw "Venom," "A star is born," and "First man."  Scott and I don't always agree on movies and plays, but both of us thought "Venom" was the best.  Tom Hardy did full justice to the role, I could honestly believe he was infected by something, and the humor and dialogue and supporting players were oh-so fine. 

We talked to Naren and Navin today, and that was - as always - fabulous.  Navin feels he is getting to be like me, mouthing off at will; he said there was an adult customer throwing a tantrum at the grocery store and he nearly went up and asked which one of two anatomical parts the man was.  I don't quite do that, but totally appreciate that Navin thought we were similar!  Naren enjoyed the shoot; he insists it is a small part (Episode 2 of "The code," Dr. Patel), his father asked if he got paid, he said "Yes" and Scott said it was a big part. 

The #MeToo movement is taking off in a big way here in India.  Good. 

I am stricken at the Jamal Khashoggi episode.  Scott and I have often gone to consulates, one has waited outside.  That this should happen, my word, how horrific; all because Mr. Khashoggi wrote something that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia apparently did not like. 

The pen is always mightier than the sword.  It is nice to live in countries where there is freedom to write.  India is trying to curb said freedom, and there are numerous people fighting back.  Go, freedom!

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