18 June, 2008

Sunday, 15th June 2008

Life, they say, is a series of well planned events. And it has often been said that life is best lived on a day to day basis. Carpe Diem – which, popularly translated from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” means “Seize The Day”.

It never ceases to amaze – the extent to which we humans take our lives for granted. For that matter, we take everything in life for granted. Starting with our senses of touch, smell, hearing, vision, movement right down to just about everything. Hot food everyday, being able to go where we want to when we want, 24 hours water supply, electricity – everything and anything – the common factor being the human ability to take “things for granted”.

So did we.
Life was going on as usual and it was a usual Sunday morning. Lots of banter, chatter, music playing in the background of it all – adding to the melee of noises in the house, clatter of pots and pans being used in the kitchen and the wonderful aroma of the Sunday Special Biryani wafting from the kitchen. And as usual, we were wondering where the children were going to plan an outing to.

Just as we were about to have lunch, my cell phone rang and the display read “New Number”. Casually thinking that it would be one of those “advertisement calls”, I pressed on the “call receive” button on my phone. Little did I know that it would be one of those calls that totally lurches one’s stomach and all of a sudden gives one the feeling of the carpet having been pulled right out from under one’s feet.

It was my cousin from Bombay. It so happened that my mom was on her way to someone’s place for a condolence visit and as she stepped on the pavement, the unevenness of the pavement twisted her foot, made her stumble and fall. There was a bit of pain and discomfort but assuming that it was just one of those “twisted leg syndromes”, my mom applied some balm on her leg and went forward with the condolence visit. Turns out that it was a lot more than just a twisted leg. She had fractured her leg. That too, in a manner that is not treatable with just a cast. This fracture was at the junction of the femur and the hip bone. And the orthopaedic surgeon, after having looked at the X-Rays, said that there was no option other than to operate and replace the femur head with a stainless steel one.

It is very difficult to express in words how I felt at that very instant. For one, I went totally numb, totally blanked out. All I could think of was the agony my mom must be in. My brain refused to function at normal speed. It was as though everything around me was moving in slow motion. For those first few minutes, nothing - absolutely nothing made any sense. And then it hit. Hit really hard. My parents were all alone in Bombay and now Mom would have to be hospitalised for days together. Dad would be alone at home. And the term "surgery" hung in the air like The Sword of Damocles.

With my parents in Bombay and with us sitting here in HK, last Sunday gave us a new meaning to the term “helplessness”. With the kids school still on and with Aparna’s year end exams in progress, immediately jumping onto the next flight was not a feasible possibility. And the initial shock reaction was making just about everything magnified – larger than life itself.

Since then, life has been on a very low ebb. Last Sunday brought into distinct clarity the conflict that has been playing around in our minds, as I’m sure is the case with a lot many people who live abroad. “It is at times like these that the feeling is so strong – enough is enough – it is better to go back home, lock stock and barrel – our parents are getting old and they need us” was what kept hitting home time and again. That was the heart thinking. When one thinks with the head, the situation is a lot more complicated. On the one hand, our parents are getting older by the day, their health problems are getting compounded and they don’t have their children around to fall back on physically when they need them. On the other hand, our children are used to the education system abroad, they are well entrenched with this system of teaching and learning. Would it be sensible to rock the boat and pull them out of their “educational comfort zone” and plant them elsewhere.

I guess these are some of the questions to which there really are no easy answers. The questions keep coming up at regular intervals, the answers differ ever so slightly depending on the situation. At times, it is the heart that rules and many other times, it is the head that rules.

Mom is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow and all I can do sitting out here is hope and pray that things go well. That no further complications arise and that she regains her mobility soon. I know her only too well and to be cooped up in a bed is something she would absolutely hate, totally detest from the bottom of her heart.

I’ve been speaking to my parents everyday since last Sunday. Almost once every couple of hours, I automatically find myself reaching for the phone to call back home. Surprisingly enough, never before have I spoken to them on a daily basis. It took a crisis of this sort to make me call them and speak to them everyday. It made me feel ashamed of myself. There have been times when I’ve forgotten to call them once a week (that used to be the standard pattern) and they’ve called me up to make sure everything was OK. And now, looking back at those times when they’ve had to call me up, my past behavior reeks of insensitivity and irresponsibility. Yet again, it took a crisis situation to make me see this. It has been a lesson well learnt. I don’t think I will ever again take even something as simple as making phone calls back home irreverently. This has been a eye-opener in more ways than one.

Made me think deeply actually – in situations such as these – what is it that we fear the most. It is that feeling of “not being in control of the situation”, it is that feeling of “total helplessness”, it is that feeling of “not being able to do anything”. But I did realise that there is something that I could do sitting so far away too. Something intangible yet something so infinitely strong as faith and prayers. Total trust in God and in the way that I’m sure has been already paved for each and every one of us. What has to happen will happen and whatever happens – happens for the better.

Like Emmanuel once said

“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

As Mom goes in to surgery tomorrow, I’ve vested my faith totally on the Lord above. He has never let us down until now and I rest on the firm belief that He will see all of us through this as well.

And I do know for a fact that Mom is not the only one who is going to come out of this ordeal a changed person.

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24 voice(s) said so:

itchingtowrite said...

gauri- my prayers with u & your mom
exactly same thing happened to my dad- he underwent surgery. thre was no one around. relied on dads & moms numerous cousins!!
i think its less eventful and demanding if parents come round to stay with th kids. but thy dont want to uproot themselves of thier age group company/ lifestyle at this stage esp if it means going abroad.... all the best!

Altoid said...


I can so totally relate to where you're coming from, really I do!

Best thing to do is to keep the faith and be strong, you're right. Only He can work miracles. Sending plenty of wishes and prayers your way. Hugs!


~nm said...

I think I can feel your anguish and pain of not being able to be with your parents when they need you. Or rather when you so want to be with them.

I can just pray and hope that your mom's surgery goes well and that she recovers real quick!

Preethi said...

I can relate to this.. only too well.. and I have done that once, when we were just 2 packed our bags and left!!
Prayers and good wishes for both of you!! Hugs!

Lakshmi said...


Have been a long time reader here. De-lurked to say that my prayers are with you and the family. Wishing your mother a very speedy recovery.

In december 2006, my dad underwent a similar operation about a month before my sister's wedding. My mother was with me in the US assisting me with my new born baby. Appa was alone there with my to-be-married sis. Luckily for us, my brother was able to fly down and be with my dad for about 10 days and between the two of them they took care of Appa. But my mom and I were very very sad that we were so far away and could not do anything to help.

But, with God's grace and my dad's determination he pulled thru and conducted my sister's marriage with aplomb.

Am sure your mom also will do great and pull thru this.

Best wishes,

DotThoughts said...

So sorry to hear about your mom.. wishing her a speedy recovery. And of course she will be fine. Don't worry. *hugs* Do you have siblins/cousins who are around to help in this emergency? It is very hard. I too sometimes feel its best to go back with parents from both sides not getting younger day by day. Keep your faith Gauri, everything will be fine.

B o o said...

Be strong, Gauri. My prayers are with your family. I totally understand the "helplessness" part. Hope your mom gets well soon. My moms coming here to help me leaving my 90+ grandma in India and she feels the same way too that shes caught between the old and the young. I talked to my grandma the other day and she felt bad for me and I felt bad for her. What to do? Love flows downwards, does nt it?

Aditi's Album said...

I've got to agree with you. Rcently my mom was undergoing a series of tests for a minor ailment and all I was thinking was 'How nice it would be if I were closer to her - just to hold hands and be there for my parents'. But I do call her everyday. And I must listen to my mom every morning - if her phone is switched off or out of charge - I call my dad to check everything's okay at home. I am an only child and too closely knit as a family - the heart and head tussle continues here too.

Mystic Margarita said...

Oh Gauri, My prayers for your mother's speedy recovery. I know how painful and worrisome it is when you can't be with your parents when they need you. The sheer feeling of helplessness makes the situaion even worse. Went through it myself when my ma was unwell last month. Maybe, you can try and take a quick vacation during the surgery? It will ease the worry a bit. Even if you can't, she will be fine and the surgery will go well. Will keep you and her in my prayers.

Manjari Rai said...

My best wishes with your mum...nothing can hold down spirited souls like her..keep faith!

I love Lucy said...

I know exactly what you are going through,Gauri.I have been there.
I am sure your mom's surgery will go off very well.The one good thing is that since they are in India, relatives and friends are around to help in whatever way they can.Of course there is nothing like you being able to be by your mom's side at such a time but do take consolation in the fact that she won't be too alone.
Heres wishing your mom a speedy recovery.

Rohini said...

Hope the surgery went well? Hope your mom feels better soon...

Gauri said...

Itchy, Altoid, ~nm, Preethi, Lakshmi, Dottie, Boo, Aditi's Album, Mystic Margarita, Manjari, I Love Lucy, Ro : Thank you all so very much for the get well wishes and the prayers.
Mom's surgery went well yesterday and she's doing fine. Spoke to her yesterday evening and today too.

Compulsive Dreamer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Compulsive Dreamer said...

good to hear that the surgery went on well and your mom is feeling better. Just read the post and tears welled up in my eyes, and my fingers crossed automatically. Am sure she will be fine and ready to come and visit you soon.

Neera said...

You and your mom are in my prayers Gauri. Relieved to know the surgery went fine. I do hope she recuperates very soon.

I totally identify with what you are feeling. Being an only child and extremely attached to my parents and they being in reasonably good health for their age, I still have lived in dread the last 4 years of being away from them in dread of incidents like these. By God's grace they have a wonderful family and circle of friends to fall back upon, God forbid, if something happens but still no one can take up a child's place, right?! At unfortunate happenings like deaths of one chacha and a major accident of another one, I have cried more for my parents wishing I was there just for moral support if not anything else. I wish I could do a post on my blog about it but my parents read my blog regularly and I know they'll be too upset to see I feel this way and there'll be too many tears.

You are doing your best, having strong faith, praying hard for her well being. Believe me your parents must be so content sensing that. Knowing how much you worry about them and are doing your best inspite of being so far would be giving them strength and making them at peace. Much good luck once again.

Sorry for the long comment.

WhatsInAName said...

Oh Gouri!
My prayers are with your mom. She will be up and running soo again. And.. dont despair. These are just tests of God. May you emerge stronger!
This will pass too...

choxbox said...

hi gauri, here after a long time as i was on a brief break from blogsville.

hope your mom is better. can completely identify with the helplessness bit - in fact that is one of the major reasons we decided to move back. as for schools, i think esply in chennai and bangalore there is a huge range of schools now, from the very traditional to the totally unconventional type (dont know abt the other cities as i havent researched there at all). i know loads of folks who have moved back from both Asia and UK/US - in every case the kids are the first to adapt. its us grown-ups who carry loads of baggage!
(sorry for the digression but hey if you are planning to move back, thought this might help).

again, wishing your mom a quick recovery.

p.s.: very cute pic of the sibs!

Nat said...

Hi Gauri,
Sorry to read about what happened. I can imagine the anguish you went through. I m sure everything will be fine, your faith in God sounds of the best kind.
Praying that everything goes well and your mom recovers quickly.

dipali said...

I can well imagine your anguish.
I'm sure your mother will make a good recovery. Sincere prayers never go waste!

Mama - Mia said...

glad to hear the surgery went off well.

Its the story everywhere i guess. Even if you are in the same country, its equally dificult to balance...

hope your mum is recuperatong well! a prayer can indeed work miracles! :)



Gauri said...

CD, Neera, WIN, ChoxBox, Nat, Dipali, Abha : Thanks so much for your wishes and prayers.
Mom is doing much better now and will be home today from the hospital.

dipali said...

I'm so glad to hear that Gauri. Usually patients are encouraged to walk quite soon after hip replacements, and I'm sure she will do well. I do hope your parents are both taking calcium supplements- the requirements increase with age.

I love Lucy said...

Glad to hear that your mom's surgery went off well and that she is doing much better now :)