Sunday, December 26, 2010

For Tvisha - Age 12, 1978

Dear Tvisha,

1978 was yet another year with a couple of major events, one of them good and the other one not good.

Responsibilities at school were increasing, as schoolwork got tougher. I now had become at best an average student in class. This never bothered me much though. My aim now was to do the best I can, and it was ok if I didn’t make the top of the class. I was still doing very well in a few of the subjects such as Mathematics.

I had made many friends by now. After my mother, there was no one really to monitor how long we stayed out of the apartment after coming back home from school. I used to hang out with my friends until late, or would come home, have dinner and then go back out again. Not great for a 12 year old, by the way.

Thaatha got busier at work. He got a big promotion at the bank. They made him responsible for the state of Maharashtra and Goa. He had to travel several times a month to cover all the cities that fell within his area of management in order to monitor performance. As you can expect, he was also coming back home a little later than usual, and brought a lot of work home that he would work on after dinner for a long time. So he wasn’t able to spend as much time with Krish and I as he would have liked.

The bank also provided thaatha with a new car and a chauffer to go along with it. So our lifestyle changed a bit due to this as we could travel now by car to any place we wanted to, when we chose to. We really liked this convenience, which was something new for us. The person who used to drive thaatha to and back from work was a man named Ghosalkar. Over the years he became very close to us. You may remember him from your visits to India when I always meet him. I consider Ghosalkar to be one of our family, he is that close to us.

I may not have mentioned this to you, but after my mother passed away, thaatha’s brother who got married moved back to live with us along with his wife, and of course my grandmother (mammai) who took the place of my mother in raising us.

There was something going on, with my father and his brother taking mammai to the doctor often. I could sense that not everything was right. When I would ask they would just say everything was fine. I was in the midst of my final exams at this point and was in full preparations for the same. That was the reason why they wouldn’t tell me what was going on with her. I was really close to my grandma, hence.

So on the day my exams got over, my uncle (thaatha’s brother) looked very relieved and informed me that grandma’s surgery went well. I was very surprised that they didn’t even tell me about her surgery. Then I went and visited her at the hospital every day while she was recovering. She was there for quite a long time. I didn’t like that hospital (not that anyone is supposed to like a hospital in the first place unless you work there, I think).

One day after school, I came back home as usual. My uncle’s wife opened the door to let me in. I walked into the room and placed my bag in the corner of the room as I always do, when I heard someone making a clapping noise. I turned around and saw my dear grandma sitting on the bed and beckoning me. I was so happy and thrilled to see her, I jumped on the bed and hugged her so tight and didn’t want to let go. Then I saw as to why she couldn’t call out to me when I came in. There was a hole in her throat through which they had conducted the surgery and it hadn’t healed yet. So she couldn’t speak for the time being.

Later on, I learnt that grandma had ulcerative colitis for a long time that eventually turned into colon cancer, for which they had operated her. The prognosis wasn’t too good, something I would learn only after a few years.

- Appa