Dusk has descended over the sky and I am washing my hands and legs at a water tap in the front yard of my home after doing a little gardening work. ‘Where is father? He has yet to return after his usual evening walk,’ I turned my eyes towards the front gate with a little concern, for he is old and ailing. Suddenly I realized - what foolishness! How can he come back? He is gone for ever! He is no more! Yes, I won’t see my father any more! I just forgot for a moment.
It was on the 7th of October last that he left us. He was eighty two, not an early age to die, true. But remember, he was my father and I could not afford to lose him at whatever age he was, can anyone? He was admitted in the ICU of Tiruvalla Medical Mission Hospital the day before. He had been rendered an invalid since about three years before. Binswanger’s Disease (what a weird name, my boy?) added with a little Parkinsonism as a flavour was it.
I had never heard of anything like ‘Binswanger’s Disease’ at that time. So, what did I do? Searched the www, what else? There I got enlightened. ‘Gait disorder is the prominent outward symptom that usually manifests in the beginning,’ I read. Oh, gait disorder! I can testify that, I thought, as a slight awkwardness had set in the way he walked, since a long time before then. Then on, he was under the treatment of a Neurologist until he died.
That disorder in gait became worse ever since it was first noticed and he had to resort to using a walker soon. Later it became impossible for him to walk or stand, even with aid. It was too much for him as he used to be very active when he was healthy. He began to think he was imprisoned. The disease actually affects the brain and it is caused due to the damage of some parts of the brain. A doctor and not I will be a better one to explain it.
In the last stages of the disease, my father lost memory considerably and he had been, I presume, most of the time living in an imaginary world, full of illusions and he became delirious. Tantrums were also not uncommon. At times he was unable to recognize me or even his wife (my mother, of course) Everyone, myself included, began to think that it would be better if he died without having to pass through further hardships (God, forgive us!)
We took him to the hospital when he became unconscious one day. It was on the 6th of October last (It was only a week before that he was discharged from another hospital after a stay of about ten days in the ICU). He was admitted in the ICU of Tiruvalla Medical Mission Hospital. The next day it was before six in the morning and I had got into my car to proceed to the hospital when my wife called out to me and said that they just phoned from the hospital asking me to be there immediately.
I wasted no time in reaching there; it was hardly a five minute drive to the hospital. There, the doctor told me that my father’s condition was very critical and that he had had a massive heart attack. I stood beside his bed for sometime and then went out of the ICU. After about ten minutes I was called in again to hear that he was gone! I looked at the body of my father lying motionless in the bed. His eyes were remaining closed. They never will be opened to look at me. I was unable to hold myself back. I burst into weeping shamelessly like a little child. Or who was I, but a little lad that had lost his father for ever and ever!
What hardships did he endure during his lifetime on behalf of this unfortunate son of his! Oh, my poor father, I doubt whether I was ever able to rise to your expectations! Forgive me father, for every pain you experienced because of me. I had had to pass through many misfortunes in my life and I know how your heart pained each time! He was a man who never knew what peace of mind really was, for so many other reasons too. But he never showed his grief to anyone and kept everything to his mind, poor soul!
“Do you think you are orphaned?” I asked myself. Not really, but I feel a half of my strength gone!
But where is he now? He must be somewhere in this very planet, very near to us perhaps, for I find no reason for not believing in re-incarnation; do you?