Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Accepting Grief

 Trigger Warning : Death, Chinese Virus, Grief

12th April 2021

We were both woken up by the loud ringtone of the husband's phone at 7:30 on a Monday morning.

"Ok.. ok..theek hai...ok", he said to the voice on the other side. 

He said to me, "Apparently Appa's breathing failed and they're trying to revive him..." the nurse called. 

8:30 am - One more call. One more "Ok ok ok..." from the husband.

"Poyittaaram..(He's no more)" husband gestured and later mentioned to me. 

6th April 2021

The husband's mother was back home after a 5-day hospitalisation after having tested positive earlier, for the Chinese Virus, sometimes called Covid 19. 

And so, we were very sure his father who had tested positive after a few days, would also be discharged in 5 days. In fact we were planning for their home quarantine , post their discharge, at around the 12th of April 2021.

8th April 2021

My father-in-law tested positive that Wednesday night . Having gone thru' the drill of sending bulk messages to friends and colleagues in search of a hospital bed earlier for my mother-in-law on the 30th of March 2021, we repeated the same, a week later.

Formatted Messages / Calls to all friends and colleagues to help us with a hospital bed for an Octogenarian were sent / made. Thanks to some kind folks who we have had the fortune of working with, we managed to find a hospital and get him admitted at 2 am. 

How do you tell someone they've contracted this deadly virus and that they'd need to leave asap for the hospital? 

"UngaLukku Adhu Vanduthu... "

"Haan...Ennadhu?"

Adhudanpa.. Corona vandudutthu" - The husband told his father way past midnight informing him that he'd need to pack and leave for the hospital.
"Do you want to carry your hearing aid / pallu set (Dental set)?"

"No I will take just my comb" he replied. He got ready combing his hair straight, packing a set of clothes. The long ride to the hospital went with discussing vetti stuff on the rare sight of empty Bombay roads at 1 am.

At the hospital the Duty Doctor explained treatment protocol and we admitted my father in law at 2 am. Back home, husband and I were exhausted but we slept early morning, with a lot of hope that he'd be back in just 5 days. And that one did the right thing admitting him on time.

9th-11th April

The next few days went with regular updates from the hospital and the nurses that a certain uncle ji was progressing well. And that he had Khichdi and his oxygen levels were ok. On Sunday the 11th of April 2021, the husband decided to visit his father just to reassure him that we were around and that since it was a Covid ward we couldn't visit him regularly. Husband came back later that evening, mildly worried but still hopeful of his father's quick recovery and planning his discharge, home quarantine etc.

And in less than 12 hours, we were informed of his passing, by the doctor.
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My father-in-law was a simple, no-nonsense, unassuming, Independent person. He'd probably have an answer if Thillu Mullu Rajini were to ask him "Sindhu Bhairavi Raagatha Sivaranjani Ragathoda Mix Panni, Ataana Ragatha Arokkanathula Pidichi...Thodaila Aadhi Thaalam potta kidaikara Raagam Kalyaniya Kaambodhiya Karagara Priyava Shanmuga Priyava illa Sripriya va?"

A man with an amazing memory and love for Carnatic music, he had an enviable Carnatic music cassette collection and was the in-house encyclopaedia for all things Carnatic. Who needed google when we had him know all ragams and thaaLams on his finger tips?

My first memory / discussion with him was when we both watched some Malaysia Kalai Nigazchi on Suntv early 2000s featuring all Tamizh film actors. Actor Ajith was conspicuously absent in the star-studded event featuring Rajini, Vijayakanth, Kamal etc. I asked f-i-l if he knew why Ajith was absent.  "IT Raid-a irukkum!" f-i-l adichivittufyed.  Not kidding, the following week's Kumudam / Vigadan carried Kisu Kisu of IT raids at Ajith's and hence his absence. Now in hindsight, I think we missed an opportunity to host a cleaner version 'Valai Pechu' then, featuring my fil. He would've made an amazing host for all things Kollywood.

As I write this, my father-in-law is probably watching Sembaruthi on Indra TV in Heaven, eating his favourite Vadai and Aviyal watching his family here reminisce the good times they shared with him - Be it his grandkids talking about their trips to  Mother Dairy or his son talking about how he managed to keep a copy of every Govt. document / bill copy ever safe, or his loving wife wondering why he didn't eat the Vadai she made for him last month. And smiling to himself, he's probably gone back to watching the next soap opera after Sembarutti.

13th April 2021 - Today

It's been an overwhelming 2 days. We have been flooded with calls and messages of support and strength, from family, friends and acquaintances from across. We are eternally grateful for the support that's been pouring from across. Nothing but gratitude for all the gestures of affection.

Every time after a long call with a friend, I end up crying. The very thought of seeing the husband and mother-in-law coping with this loss in their own way is often overwhelming, emotionally tiring.

The husband's close knit family of 5, including his mother, are on video calls regularly, just chatting about general stuff and to reassure one another they're always there for each other, no matter what.

The discussions at home between the husband, mother-in-law and I have often been around the mindless Tamizh soap operas (Sembarutthi fans anyone?) on mil's Jayam Ravi fandom (I resign from this family) or how pretty my nighties are. Lulz.

Husband and I often remind ourselves what the other person needs to do if one of us show symptoms of Chinese virus. "The worst is over..." he reminds and reassures me almost on an hourly basis. Sometimes I just wish I could be like him. My ever optimistic, always-looking-into-the-better-brighter-side-of-things, husband.

He has, after all, taken after his mother. So we'd should be alright. We will be.
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PS - I don't get "How old was he?" "Did you see his face/ body?" questions.

4 Responses:

Unknown said...

So sorry for your loss! Convey my condolences to aathukaarar as well.
Om Shanthi!

Anjana Dhanavanthan said...

Your father-in-law certainly sounds like the maama everyone would enjoy being around. Covid is playing a havoc in our lives and it's unfortunate that the elderly are suffering for it. My love and prayers to your family & you, Bhavani. ����

Unknown said...

They way you described the beautiful human being who left you, was heart warming. I have written a post about the same topic "grief". https://durgaekambaram.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/the-well-guarded-grief-of-mine/
Maybe you can resonate with my thoughts as well regarding this topic.

Unknown said...

I don't know how to console, my eyes welled up reading this. This virus is taking its toll with a vengeance just when we thought the worst is over. I pray that uncle's soul rests in peace