Monday, May 18, 2015

Aisha #10

Anu ended telling about Aisha with loud hiccups. She controlled her sobs while telling and that resulted in harsh and loud hiccups. Ganga, herself dewy-eyed, reacted started with a jerk and realized the situation and gave Anu a water bottle while patting on her chest to ease out. It took a while before the water could be administered in her twitching form. After two large gulps of water while Ganga patted her continually on her chest and head her hiccups finally subsided.

Aisha was still sleeping, peacefully, because of the powerful anesthesia. With an emaciated frame those heavy bandages on her hands looked even bigger in comparison looking like boxing gloves. Anu pointed at her and said, “This is not right. I wouldn’t wish such a condition even on my worst enemy. Death itself is much more peaceful,” saying which she gave into the flow of tears.

“Please calm down Anu. Aisha will be alright soon,” said Ganga although her words felt insincere to her own self.


Anu was showing Aisha funny videos in her mobile, and Aisha was giving an occasional laugh, although the eyes looked as if her soul has been sucked out of her and all her actions a mere mechanical clockwork. And suddenly Aisha clutched Anu’s hands with both her hands and pleaded, “Anu, please take me home. I can’t stay here. I don’t want these medicines.” This happened almost every other day. But today luckily for Anu before she could somehow try to talk Aisha out of it, there came the sound of a train horn, from the track that goes behind the hospital and Aisha suddenly left Anu’s hands and instead use those to cover her ears, tightly, as if her life depended on covering those ears, to muffle out the sound of train horn as much as possible. It was very heartening to see Aisha behave like that at the sound of the train horn, to whom train and railway station had always been a second home. Using this moment as her gateway she brought her mobile to her ears and walked swiftly out of the room, saying, “Yeah, Arun, Amma is ok.” Both Aisha and Ganga, who was mixing some tonics beside her, knew it was a faked call.

She was waiting in the reception area, fiddling her facebook wall, waiting for Arun. Ganga came and sat beside her and started talking about some more ways to keep Aisha happy. It was her idea to bring some funny videos, and suddenly asked her point blank if the call earlier in the room was true. Anu turned pink and said, “No, I pretended that I got a call from Arun. What else can I do? Every other day she begs me to take her out of the hospital, to our home, in Keylong, but seeing her condition doctor says no and dad listens to doctor's words. I tried talking with him many a times. But what he says also makes sense, given her behavior, it’d be difficult to tackle her in the house. I hoped that I could take her on the pretext of not being able to pay fees, but even that wouldn’t work as dad wires the money directly from US, and he has paid in advance.

Just as they were talking Arun came, but he was not alone, beside him was an old man, with a prominent bald head that suited him very much. He wore a characteristic sweater, which fit him so smugly as if custom made. He was talking to Arun, and sadness was evident in his voice, with an edge of anger.

Anu stood up and hugged him.

“It’s ok, Anu beti, it’s ok. Everything will be alright.”

“Thapa uncle, this is Ganga, Amma’s nurse. This is Thapa uncle, Ganga.”

“I actually came here to give this,” He gave Anu a key, “Anand sahib told me to. And as discussed I’ve secured it. I’m to put the package in his bedroom the day before their wedding anniversary.”

“What’s this? What’s the package Thapa uncle?”

“I don’t know Anu beti, I was actually to call Anand sahib after getting the package. He said it was very important. I think a gift to Aisha beti, for their anniversary. But Anand sahib’s phone was always switching off and no one bothered to tell me that my sahib died. But, of course, I’m just a servant.” At this point he burst into tears.

“Thapa uncle, please. You know my family for generations. You’re only one to my grandpa from his life before Aisha. Please understand. It had been very difficult. Same day grandpa died, Amma went into a comma. It was very rushed, admitting her in the hospital, my parents coming from the US, the funeral. It had been very difficult for all of us,” said Anu, looking at her feet, as she now felt guilty of not calling Thapa for the funeral. But part of her consoled it was really rushed, as she herself has not taken part in those rituals because she was the only one who could calm Aisha.

“Sorry beti, please don’t cry. Old Thapa, getting senile and talking all nonsense, but did you say Aisha beti had gone to comma?”

They all went to Aisha’s room where she was resting. Thapa did a double-take, having trouble believing that cadaverous lady on the bed was Aisha. He asked Anu how all this happened. Anu told him all that happened after they came to Delhi, and how Aisha has been blaming herself for Anand’s death.

“Anand sahib is a very good human. I’ve known him since I was a little boy. My father was one of the waiters at the inn. But his granny was always nice to me, she even goaded me to take education. But I could never make sense of any of those numbers, not like Anand sahib with whom I studied few classes. He was a bright student and went on to take a very respectable job in Indian Airforce, took family Inn business to a new height, with the help of Aisha beti of course. He raised a worthy son who now is in foreign and also raised you like a princess you’re,” said he stroking the hair of Anu, “Although I’m sad he died. I’m sure he had no regrets. He had seen it all and experienced it all, riches, love, son, granddaughter, and a very fulfilling life indeed. There is no point in Aisha beti blaming herself. We all die. We are old. All that matters is what we leave behind. And Anand sahib has left behind a good name for the family and gem-like for descendants.”

“Yes, grandpa had a smile on his face when he died. But whatever we do amma won’t listen.”

Ganga came to them and said, “I might be wrong, but I have an idea.”


“Amma wake up, look who has come,” said Anu tapping Aisha lightly on her shoulder.

Aisha woke up and rubbed her eyes, “Thapa!” she sighed, eyes full of cheerfulness, after so long.

“Don’t get up, Aisha beti. I’ve brought sweets from our inn, and beti our inn has become even more popular these days.” Aisha took those and immediately started eating them, relishing in each, and her home, and her inn.

He sat on the chair beside the bed, “Aisha beti, sorry for your loss. Anand sahib is more than a friend to me. He was like a brother. I’m really sorry, but all of you should have been more careful, particularly with Anand sahib’s weak heart.”

Aisha stopped eating and looked at him intensely, “What do you mean weak heart?”

“He had a wonderful and sensitive heart, but you all should have been more careful after his first heart attack. I pleaded with him not to go Delhi, but he wouldn’t listen to me.”

“He had a heart attack?”

“I’m sorry he made me promise never to tell you all this. But just before he retired from his duties, he had a stroke while he was in Raj — Rajasthan, on an army job. He said doctors advised him to stay at home.”

With shock written all over her face, Anu asked loudly, “Grandpa had a heart stro—”
Aisha didn’t let Anu complete her statement, though still weak, suddenly with a newfound energy she grabbed Thapa’s collar, swaying wildly with sudden emotion and with a shaking voice, “Why didn’t you tell me about this? How could you hide it from me?”

“I’m sorry beti, but Anand sahib asked me not to tell you this. Even now, I didn’t want to tell, but I slipped it.”

“How could you hide it, Thapa? How could you do this to me?” she wept, shaking him holding his shirt collar. And she suddenly let him free and shouted, “Get out!”

Thapa flinched at Aisha’s accusation, “Forgive me, beti, I’ve always done what Anand and his family asked me to. I always wish the best for your family. Take care.” Saying which he left, rubbing his own eyes.

After sometime Aisha, Arun and Ganga came out, to the reception area where Thapa was sitting lifelessly.

“Thank you, Thapa uncle. That was a big help. Sorry, I made you lie, and made Aisha hate you. I'm extremely sorry — ”

“That’s ok, Anu beti. I understand why you did it, it was necessary. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her, she was just bones. She will forgive me later. I do what is best for the family that has been feeding us for generations.”

She gave him a big wad of money, “Take this and stay in Delhi for a while before returning to Keylong and call me if you have any need. I’ll take amma home today.”

He refused the money, “I’ve some money. Call me when Aisha is no longer angry with me.”


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