Short Stories UniK-1

Cyclone Titli

 

It is good or bad I don’t know but if you have a doctor child, then the parents have to go through a master health check up each year. This happened to me early this month. My daughter along with her husband came to visit me on the first of October. My daughter hugged me on her arrival and demanded a cup of tea with her favourite samosas. When I was serving the tea, she looked at me and said,” Ma, it looks like you are in pain.” “No, no pain at all” I said cheerfully. Rather I feel happy to see you both. But she decided to take an appointment with the cardiologist for a cardiac check-up. She didn’t listen to me as I kept protesting that the check up was unnecessary. The preliminary cardiac check up threw some surprises. So the cardiologist decided to go for an angiogram to help with the diagnosis. The process was done on 8th October and a blockage was found in my right artery. Although it could have been avoided, the cardiologist advised to go for a stent, a suggestion strongly supported by my daughter. The cardiologist of course asked for my consent, and I said” I trust the professional and I have no objection”. The process took a little more than 15 minutes. Then I was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for further monitoring. While I was in the ICU, cyclone Titli decided to visit coastal Odisha. With a prediction of 160km/hr wind speed, the weatherman advised the residents of Bhubaneswar city to stay indoors for at least 48 hours and with a warning not to travel. Given this situation, I couldn’t have travelled home on my discharge from the ICU. The kind cardiologist suggested that I moved to his quarters within the hospital premises. He allotted his master bedroom to me and my daughter who was attending to me. His 4-year old chubby daughter was the happiest to see two guests at their home. The lady of the house was a genuinely sincere and sober person. Although I knew the cardiologist before, his family was totally unknown to me. The doctor – patient relationship turned to a family affair for 48 hours. I could notice my daughter wasn’t very comfortable with a family of strangers yet i didn’t feel that awkward. The little girl and her mother reminded me of my own daughter and granddaughter. The little girl stayed with me most of the time, talking sweetly with me. She used to touch my chest with her palm asking “do you have pain?”

“oh, not at all sweetheart, I’m quite fine”.

“Aunty, papa is bad. He has put injection on you”

“no darling, your papa is a doctor and he is trying to cure me. He is quite good”

“Okay okay, but papa is bad”, she remarked.

I laughed hearing this and she too giggled.

The day turned to evening. We were being treated like VIP guests by the doctor’s wife, the little girl being the source of my pleasure. At night it was very difficult to take the little girl away from my room. She was coaxed by her parents to go to sleep in her room with the assurance that she would meet me first thing in the morning.

When I woke up in the morning, I could hear heavy rain pouring outside. All the windows were shut tightly. The doctor with his wife brought tea and we had tea together, with the little girl still in her bed. The TV was on and we were watching the devastation in the southern coastal district. The lady asked me,” Do you think the cyclone will move north towards Bhubaneswar?”

I said no. At that moment, their housemaid entered to clean the room, giving curious glances at me and my daughter. I could sense that she must be thinking that why the master brought these strangers home. We smiled at her and she smiled back.

Since my discharge from the hospital, calls were coming to my daughter’s phone from friends and family members. The cyclone related travel restrictions made them more concerned about me, especially me staying with an unknown family. I assured all of them that under the circumstances staying with a doctor’s family is the safest thing that could have happened to me.

We had to spend another 24 hours with the family. How much I longed to go home, and so was my daughter. By evening, the cyclone had changed its course and the predicted devastation was not meant for Bhubaneswar after all. So my assurance to the doctor’s wife came to fruition. Although I could have left for home, the doctor insisted that we stayed at his place until the mandatory 48 hours were completed. Being a doctor he didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk for his patient.

Next day we were ready for our departure. The driver back home was informed to come and collect us. However the little girl posed a problem. She started to cry and didn’t want us to go. A solid promise by me to come back to her with lots of sweets calmed her down. She smiled at me and asked, “pukka promise?” “Yes my dear, it is God’s promise”, I assured her.

Thanks to cyclone Titli, I had a new friend. A little innocent child. Her name was Ayushi, but I decided to call her ‘Titli’, my little butterfly. A new precious friend was hence added to my long list of friends.

How can another human being ever be a stranger? Whenever people meet, they long to communicate with each other despite the barriers put in by the difference in their upbringing, culture and language. My 48 hours stay with strangers made me realize that no one is ever really a stranger to each other.