Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Abandoned Mother

She lay there in the hospital bed staring blankly at the open door. Her 85-year old hands and legs are tied tightly to the bed. She probably does not know that the binds are there to prevent her from walking away. She is alone and feels lonely. The bedsore on her buttocks indicates the length of her stay there. She is senile, her doctors called it Alzheimer, and if the nurses had joked about her appearance and the inability of her dress to cover her fully, she wouldn't know. If she knew, she would have complained about the poor customer service to her son and daughter-in-law. But would she remember that long enough? Would she know that the 15,000/month hospital charges is more than her son's pension? Right on cue, her son and daughter-in-law walk in.

Her daughter-in-law asks, 'ma! Do you know who has come to meet you? do you remember me?'. She looks into the younger lady's eyes and face. It seemed like this lady would've been a beautiful young bride once upon a time. But she does not remember the lady. She does not remember all the years she tortured that lady. She does not remember the cruel treatment she met out to her in public, the amount of times she asked for money from that lady's parents, the length of time she prevented that lady from visiting her parents. She does not remember the recipient of her harsh words, the subject of her rants to neighbors, friends and relatives. She does not remember becoming senile. Cannot recollect excreting and urinating in her living room. Does not remember the lady who cleaned her stools and the lady who handled complaints about her senile and abnormal behavior from friends, neighbors and relatives. The lady in front of her was beautiful once. Now she is greying, wrinkled, sad and standing in front of her. She gives her a blank stare and says,

"no. I don't remember you"

That lady seems shocked to hear this. Now, its her son's turn to ask "do you at least remember me, ma?". A mother's memory is funny and very different from a mother-in-law's memory. She quickly says his name. In a short snapping tone full of contempt. But she does not remember why she is upset with him. Maybe it is something to do with her son's wife, that lady standing next to him, who still seems to be in shock. Shocked by her inability to recollect? But why? The binds are tight, painful and irritating. She suddenly does not care about the younger lady's shock. She does not know that if she weren't senile, her answer to that lady's question, as it had been many times in the past, would have exactly been the same. But now, she does not really remember the lady. Her son asks "do you remember some slokams ma". She stares at him. "Chant Sri Sthuthi ma, you do it everyday.". For the next 10 minutes, she chants the sloka without missing a word, pronouncing Sanskrit, a language she does not speak, to perfection. She occasionally glances at the lady whom she does not remember, while chanting a sloka, she does remember. She forgets, for a brief while, her condition, the hosiptal, her binds and her anger. She is not repeating from memory, she is reliving some memory. Did someone love her many years before, did she love anyone ever? Who cares about the past love of an 85 year old? After saying the last askhara of the sloka, she falls silent. Does not speak further. The couple leave a few minutes later. They seem sad.

A nurse, who walks in after a while says, " Children these days, they abandon their own mother after she becomes sick. Is there a god greater than a mother?". She nods and is, for some reason, happy to hear that.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

True! Maamiyar aana vudane apdi ena dan aagumo inda ladies ku lam? nan kalyaname panika pordu ila. enoda amma ipdi ayiduvalo nu bayama iruku. :(

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Lovely write-up, sire! :)

Babu said...

Almost started like Notebook, but finished very emotionally and originally......reality

good one daaa

rads said...

Why do I get the feeling that there's a hidden depth to this?

Nice writing! :)

Deepa said...

One koshtin for you Saar. Student, vetti officer and working pro - how come you blogg(ed) regularly all the time? Thats commendable.

Krish Ashok said...

Saar,
romba feelings touchings. Well written. Particularly evocative because Ive seen a few alzheimer patients in advanced stages. And the part where there is recall of completely unrelated items is very true. Ive seen that happen

Ashwin said...

Story is fine... but I cannot put my finger on what you have tried to exactly convey through this story.

Feeling is similar to that of rads.

sriki123 said...

expecting a post from u on this article on rediff..
http://in.rediff.com/cricket/2007/oct/23agarkar.htm


he .. he ... he...

Hari N Iyer said...

my patti had dementia for 5 years and i have seen many things written here and more in real life ...

Karthik Sriram said...

@ Hawkeye,

A good read! One of the unsolved mysteries in this world is how do any random pair of M-I-L and D-I-L don't get along with each other??


@ Deepa,

Adu engalai madri maa-medhaigalukku dhaan andha madri talent ellam irukkum :P

Kannu ketta apram suryanamaskaram madri, romba vayasaana apram padicha ipdi daan agum! :D

LKS

Deepa said...

Why is LKS signtaure there in your reply? He knows better than to say something like that to me. Avan kudumi en kaila.

Hawkeye said...

anon,

what you say is scary.

Sudipta,

thanks

babs,

:-) "reality".

rads,

hmm.. why do you get the feeling? :-)

deepa,

you have to fail miserably as a 'husband' to even begin to do the list of things you have outlined. :-)

krish,

thanks dude! yes! it is in fact heart breaking to see that the person is both unalive and undead in the alzheimer's condition.

ashwin,

rads is on to somthing right? :-)


sriki,

no more agarkar :-)

hari,

true. i did not include the "more" part because fiction has to be more grounded in reality that fact.

karthik,

no, many get along. if the MIL and DIL dont get along it is the husband's fault.

Deepa said...

LKS, was half-asleep when I read this. So you had actually replied to that comment! Nee ippo MIL-DIL patthi yosikkara nelamai laya irukka? Adhukkum "konjam" time irukku.
Hawkeye, good thing is you are still married. So it couldnt have been that bad, right?:-)

y.v. said...

a very beautifully written piece. there are many things i like about it - the detailed observation of people's mannerisms; the way in which 3 personalities and their emotions and memories come together in a fluid manner; the way in which the short length and simple words hide much deeper meanings within. truly well written.