This was written on 09/11/2016 when I was staying in Noida - Archiving it here.
When I got back late at night, after work that day, I saw him lying in the corner of the hall where he usually sleeps. He was shivering. I asked him to sleep in the vacant room downstairs and then gave him the tablets which were mistakenly taken back by a colleague of mine, after leaving the caretaker back at the guest house.
We took him for the follow up check up at same Government Hospital, the next day. It was really appalling. There were not enough doctors to attend to the patient. The one's who were attending, didn't bother and were busy gaming on their mobile. The medicines were not properly prescribed and the guy who gave the tablets would nothing but yell at us after for asking him about dosage and timings of the intake of tablets. Humanity has come to such apathy and what pains me more is, there is not a single thing we can do to change it.
My thought took a tangent, they must be seeing people cut open, wounded and screaming in pain all the time. What for you is a "loved one dying or suffering" is in their eye, just a piece of flesh to be stitched together.
The guy is 48, unmarried, a staunch follower of the "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" group. He doesn't eat garlic or onion. He doesn't drink tea or coffee. He wakes up early in the morning, offers the cooked food to a customized Krishna aka Calendar and then serves food for us. What was startling to me was even at that stage, he refused to have anything that is cooked outside and he was doing his things, on his own. He told that he was worried what we will do for food, when he wont be able to cook (I am taking that on face value as always do). Let us ignore the merits of his principles for a moment. From where does one summon such strength to refuse help and stand of their own and to what for? Is it because people are pushed to the state that they have to be on their own? Is it even worth it? May be he was longing for someone to take care of him and felt vulnerable to say it.
The fear of being alone preoccupies my mind every time I meet my Chitappa. He is over 50 years old, unmarried and on his own. When I helped him move into a new rented house, I found so many stuff that were almost destroyed and he still held on to them. My athhais would urge him to dump all of it and he wouldn't budge. He reluctantly dumped the old typewriters, broken vessels, broken wooden suit case, a big old mechanical wall clock etc. He changed his mind at the last moment and brought the mechanical wall clock back saying "Edhukku kailangkadai la podanum. kammi kaasu tharuvaan. Ingeye irundhuttu porathu". I fondly remember the wall clock hanging, dang in the center of the hall at the CIT Nagar home, where we used to live and I even broke the pendulum once, trying to meddle with it. I slowly gathered that he was finding solace in the things that brought him the memories of the old times, when he was always around people. What is waste object blocking space to us, was a relic of the good times of a gone by era. He grew up with 5 siblings and a dozen uncles in a single house. From that, he has gone to living alone, albeit near by his sister, who visits him often. Perhaps his only solace.
He has been having a tough time lately. A wash basin dropped on his foot and he was not able to work for months. Once that healed, he fell on the bathroom floor and fractured his hand, which he is still nursing. I inquired as to what he does during the day and could imagine the hell he is going through. Thank goodness my athhai is near by and she is helping him out.
The biggest fear in my life is that I will end up like the caretaker. Alone, without mother or father, no friends that we knew back then, totally out of place with the current times. In another 10 years time, I am pretty sure all of the people who knew me since birth will be thwarted out like flies. When I was a kid, I used to calculate how many years my parents would live and then cry to myself in darkness of the night. I had this weird way of using alphabets to calculate it. I don't even remember it now. Insecurities, anxieties and what not...
Not many are lucky to lead a life filled with companionship and the sad part is people take this for granted, when they have it. It is so easy to be alone and not let it bother one bit, when you are young and healthy. Things become gloomy the moment your basic activities become such a chore. When you get old and weak / old or weak, you'll understand that your arms are too short to box with time.