This is about an experience I had about a year ago when one fine afternoon, my sister returned from school, sweaty and panting with fever. Living in the most polluted city in the Indian sub-continent, I assumed it to be an inured case of viral or some infection. However, chaos filtered in after two days of high fever and vomiting. My eleven-year old sibling, is a very bubbly cheerful and healthy kid, who in the course of the fever, had then become frail and exhausted.
We finally decided to make a move to the Ganga ram hospital which is about 3 kms away from our home. The next 40 minutes resulted in my sister getting admitted to the Emergency Pediatrics Ward, nurses with blank faces and blunt responses, coming in and going out of the Hall that had about 15 more kids, some in delirious state.
I have developed some sort of a phobia ever since I was admitted to the hospital few years back. From the painstaking intravenous injections and multiple failed attempts at syringe insertions to the dozens of blood, urine, stool tests- the colored and pale liquids to the bland hospital food, the very proximity to the hospital was something I despised. Add to it, that my sister was being admitted and I was to stay with her, not knowing the crucial ‘why’s’ and ‘what’s’.
However, Dad came in later to tell me that the doctors suspected her to have developed Typhoid and that she needs immediate medical care. My sister was waiting to hear this and she started shivering. I cuddled her in my arms and told her I’d be there with her and that she had nothing to fear, but within me, I was a bundle of knotted nerves. I wanted to run away and puke but I had to sit there, acting brave.
But what startled me was the efficiency our mother had all this while! From recording her temperature, trying on medicines, communicating with the doctors, and managing to get my sister admitted at such short period– it was nothing less than an extra-ordinary achievement. And as if she read my thoughts, she was standing in front of me, as I broke out of my thoughts about her. She, post my sister’s birth has not been too well. Thyroid, Sugar, Blood Pressure….you name it, she has it!
However, when I looked at her in the past two days, I saw a woman who was undeterred. She is a dutiful mother, but minus the drama. Pari was impatient and wanted extra attention, but my other-wise dramatic, reacting mother transformed into calm, in-total-control woman and handled Pari, myself and the doctors and Dad, so well that it left me flummoxed! I on the other hand, was exasperating. I was scared, I have had bad experience of losing a friend to a treatable disease, and all of it clustered together, I was on the verge of having a nervous break-down. As hilarious as it may sound to some, I dread blood. The very sight of blood makes me go haywire. And in this situation, Pari was being tested for a 1001 disease list it seemed!
I kept massaging her hand, kept irritating the nurses for complete 14 days, day in and day out! Pari on the other hand, played games on my mobile, watched TV, befriended the male nurses, chatted about Bollywood with the female nurses in the all-night long sessions, and even prepared a card for them while leaving the hospital after she was discharged.
My mother is 50 years old and my sister is 11 and I am 22. And I seem to be the black sheep of the family in all possible ways. While the two females are so strong-willed, determined and completely personify the “tough exterior-soft interior” kind, I am one of the characters from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Confused... Whimsical and highly irritating!
Nonetheless, from them I learned the sense of Courage and Acting when the time comes. We in our daily lives, speak so much and comment a lot on a variety of issues. But when it comes to these little things in life, from not throwing litter to standing in queues… from donating blood to spending some hours at an NGO… What we see, we learn. And what we do, others see. And they are thus inclined and inspired to emulate these practices in their lives.
Although we say that there’s no age for learning, we take children to be learners only. We forget that children, with their pure souls and sheer innocence, teach us these little lessons of life that we, as grown-ups often forget. So the next time your kid tells you something– be it stopping the vehicle when the signal is red, not smoking or eating healthy; listen to her. And whatever you do, know that they’re watching. And what they See…they Do! What they do, they Learn. And that’s what the society becomes like, and each of us play a significant role in this exchange of acts of goodness or otherwise.