Day Five: Hospital updates

Tushar’s surgery was over in two hours and went well. I hadn’t told TB about the enema because I wanted it to be a special surprise. Hypochondriacs love medical surprises. Remember that during birthdays. Things that did not happen:

1. The doctor did not ask about me.
2. I didn’t run dramatically alongside the stretcher.
3. I didn’t look expectantly at the surgeon when he came out of the OT.

What I did do:
1. Read the paper while sitting on the floor of the balcony that opened to the sea.
2. Smuggle in the fried fish my mama brought and eat it in the room.
3. Find a route into the hospital when only one relative is allowed.

Tomorrow, I’ll blog about my shoes if I don’t find inspiration.

Aajila sangiin

In midst of all this unfurling of my loss, I realised many of you haven’t had the chance to meet your grandparents. I offer my grandmother’s home remedies. To do them justice, these are written in my mother tongue, Marathi.

Remedy: Kapus lao
English: Put cotton on it
Intrinsic meaning: Light a silver lamp using home-made ghee as fuel. In case you don’t have home-made ghee (you must be a very lazy home-maker. Tch. Shame on you. Wonder how your family survives. They are probably riddled with lice and eat off the floor), use Samantanche (Samant’s) sazook tup (pure ghee). Burn the cotton, blow off the flame and while the embers are still glowing, press it on the wound and leave it there. Have the men of the household hold the victim down.

Remedy: Pinzar lao
English: Apply lead-oxide solution
Intrinsic meaning: Make a solution using sindoor powder and soak small piece of cotton in it. Ondva kar; chaddit ghal (Turn the child over and put it in the underwear. Precise translation: SHOVE IT UP THE ANUS. Leave it there)

Bad language
Remedy: Zhara/kaltha lao
English: Apply spatula
Intrinsic meaning: Heat a steel spatula till it turns red and let it make contact with the offender’s lips.

Fidgety hands
Remedy: Chatka de een
English: Will burn you, slightly
Intrinsic meaning: Will heat kitchen utensil made of steel and burn you slightly.

Remedy: Kanpadhat maar
English: Slap him/her
Intrinsic meaning: Hit strategically behind the ear so as to tear the ear drum. A slight variation of kanakhali lagaun dein (will apply unbearable force with speed under your ear) or kana khali petveen (will light one under your ear).

Severe disobedience
Remedy: Pankhyala ulti tangune  khalun laal mirchyanchi dhuri de een
English: While hang you upside down and make a bonfire of dried red chillies underneath and force you to inhale the fumes
Intrinsic meaning: Didn’t have the opportunity to find out.

Refusal (to do something because of health or religious reasons)
Remedy: Tangdazch todun theveen
English: Will break your leg
Intrinsic meaning: Think you’re well enough to go to work? De-mobilisation will crash your assumptions. Won’t get married because your heart is broken? A broken leg will speed you to the mandap. Refuse to give me grandchildren? Want a broken leg?

Tan, pimples, psoriasis, ugliness, scarring and other facial skin related diseases
Remedy: Snow lao
English: Apply snow
Intrinsic meaning: Afghan Snow gave all cosmetic-derma creams the generic name of Snow. The one my grandmother was talking about is Vicco Turmeric, which is not a cosmetic. We are not vain people. The tube is yellow and the cream is a pearly yellow so it’s obviously got turmeric, which means it’s medicinal. Not only medicinal, it’s Ayurvedic. Repeat after me: Vicco Turmeric, Nahin Cosmetic. Vicco turmeric AYURVEDIC CREAM.

Malaria, fever, cancer, depression, physical handicap, AIDS, mild international conflict
Remedy: Sudharshan kadha ghya
English: Take the tonic called Mahasudarshan (a bitter, foul tonic that looks like tar and smells like cat vomit).
Intrinsic meaning: None. Ata goli pan milte, hanh (Now available in tablet form).

Signs that my life has changed

A colleague shot with Milind Soman while he was exercising and together, we sighed about the shortness of his shorts, the meatiness of his thigh and the allure of his greying hair. It’s the closest I have come to understanding Baywatch.
At a particular shot, we stopped, peered and discussed if that was his *chaddi. Indeed it was. And it was red.
So thrilled I was by this close sexual encounter that my IM status message said: Tatya has looked up Milind’s shorts.
And then Madhu Sapre came online.

*Underwear. Only more bhangya.

The last one about death, I promise

I have many merry stories for you, people of the Internet, however I seem to have lost my jomo. So lets take this in uncoordinated steps, and maybe I can put it all together later and pretend it’s a dance.

When my dog died in February, there were too many things to do. Disposing off the body for one. My dearest merlin was with me, and afterwards my mother said she was surprised he stepped into a Hindu cemetery. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t. If he were to bury his graphics card in his community’s cemetery, I would be there to beat my chest.
We went to the local crematorium and discovered they didn’t have an electric oven. The caretaker suggested we bury her in the section meant for children.
Unfortunately, it was a very small plot of land, which meant that she would be dug up later to make place for a new tenant. We decided to spare a thought for grief-stricken parents who would unearth the skeleton of my mutant child (“Look at that jaw!”), and burn her.
Also, I had heard how dead animals are sometimes skinned and sold for leather, and if anyone was going to wear a cheap pair of shoes, it would be me.
So while the logs were being arranged, we sat about in the crematorium. My dad, who was waiting in the car outside, decided to take a nap.
A nap. With the windows rolled up and the AC on, with my dead dog in the boot. When everything was arranged, we tapped on the windows and unloaded the precious cargo.
After lighting the pyre, my dad called our attention to a log of wood, which, he said resembled the face of a dog. What his keen eye missed was my dog’s burning ear right under it.
Forgive me for laughing hysterically.
I thought it would be romantic to carry some of Cassie’s ashes with me, but when I brought it home, it got misplaced and was never found.
That dog never liked me.

I was even busier when my grandmother died. This time, veterans were disposing off the body, and everyone who came through the door would find a close family member to fling themselves upon and cry.
It was a good turnout. My grandmother would have liked it. People I hadn’t seen for years came to say good-bye. Most found the time to say I’ve put on weight. Thanks! Would you like to meet the body now?
After they left, I sat on her side of the bed with it’s array of bed-side accessories. This how the side of her bed always looked — Tiger balm, stick-on bindis, Drakshasav (which is wine, but she always maintained was medicine), Amrutanjan, Moov, hairpins, a comb and other half-full jars of ointments. Also a bottle of Sudharshankadha — her ramban cure for headaches and AIDS.
I thought I’d go home and have a nice sore cry about her and Cassie and get on with life.
But at home there was laundry to do and songs to be sung (You don’t fool me! Those beady eyes! That crazy smile! Mama said be careful of that Boo!). So I got on with life instead. Like everything else, I have grieving to catch up on.
But then I walked into the ATM today, which smelled of disinfectant. Like a hospital. Maybe the hospital my grandmother went to so often. And I had to stop. And take a walk in the city that has been inseparable for me from my grandparents and my mama-mami.
And then I proofed a page.

Not grief-stricken enough to not notice

She died before the mango season began. If any Alphonsos go suspiciously missing, it’s her.

Two relatives are competing with displays of grief near her body. Her sister arrives and sets off full throttle. SMACK DOWN. That’s how it’s done kids.

They cremated her in a green saree; she hates the colour. Someone’s going to pay.

Everyone kept saying, “Bhagyawaan hoti. Savasheen geli. (She was lucky. She died a married woman.)” So did my grandfather. Erm? Better you than me?

The body is moved into various positions. Even made to sit up for a while. There is no dignity after death. It’s also a bit like a Joe Orton play.

Cookie, the dog, says fuck all this. Wanders down to the sixth floor and into someone else’s home.

There is a brief tussle about which saree she should wear and where. The one from her maternal home or marital home. Upstairs or down. I have a feeling she doesn’t care. Must be because she offers no resistance. But by all means, go on and complicate this.

I am chided more than once for not wearing a bindi. Sorry, I didn’t get up in the morning and dress for death. Don’t take it personally.

The shoe has dropped

Now that she has gone, a strange relief has washes over me. Phone-calls won’t stop my heart and I don’t have to fortify myself against her acts of frustration and watch her waste away in pain.
The picture of her body, on a hospital bed with a syringe stabbed into her neck and another taped into her mouth is not the one that will stay with me.
In the afternoon, I close my eyes. I am six and snuggled against the folds of her ample warm flesh on a diwan meant for one. She’s thumping my head sleepily, but I look out of the window waiting for her to fall asleep so I can sneak out to play. There’s a warm breeze blowing from the wooden window with bars I can no longer climb. The flower she pins to her hair is kept by the sill, with her sticky tikli.
It’s a moment that will forever exist in time as it would in place. It’s where I go to be with her.

I don’t know what kind of girl I am

I saw Juno twice yesterday* and I’m going to have to say that if you don’t completely adore that movie, in every aspect, then there is very little hope of us being friends and you should send all my stuff back. I haven’t liked a movie this much since Little Miss Sunshine and Amelie.
It makes you feel so uncool and old, and simultaneously jealous of such writing and directing talent. Also, the soundtrack must be downloaded — as it is while we comment. I haven’t seen such a positive and realistic movie lacking drama in a long time.
I wish I was edgy. Sigh.
Thank you merlin. You rock my mind.
Also saw Manorama Six Feet Under. Really good and very twisted for a Hindi movie. I always had a crush on Gul Panag and am glad to see she can act. My love has not been in vain.
She is an actor, not a model without make-up trying to prove she can do “different roles”.
For those of you with perverse inclinations, I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry should satisfy. It’s har har bhangya funny.

* I also cooked a complete, fattening meal (pepper chicken and naan) and blogged four times. Apparently, you can get a lot done at home if you aren’t at work. I’m sick and frustrated by my lack of energy.

She calls me Pinka-rani; I say aaji zaadi ai, pun majhi ai


“This is my granddaughter… my daughter’s daughter,” says aaji as she introduces me to a diseased, impoverished-looking woman taking up the bed next to hers.
“Sister of the boy who brought you in?” she asks.
“Yes,” says aaji and turns to me to whisper, “They just brought her in here from the village and left her here. I’ve told the social workers about her and they’re paying for the treatment.”
“And did you see that fair, fat girl when you came in?”
“That woman there?” I ask.
“She’s a girl,” says aaji, “Barely 12 years old. Can’t do the potty. Brought her in and pumped her out. Going to do it again tomorrow ”
On every visit to the hospital, and they have been very frequent in the past year, my grandmother insists on being in the general ward where she can talk to everyone and have an audience.
She suffers from diabetes and a weak heart (three attacks in the past year), and on Monday they invited cancer into her well-loved body.
It has covered 73 per cent of her stomach. The stomach I cradled into; it’s skin we blew against to make farting noises.
My family circus has moved into the hospital and I have varied reports from each member. So far it has been blood cancer, blood tumour, no not cancer, but some kind of tumour, cancer in the pelvic region and stomach cancer.
The tests continue.
Meanwhile, for the first time in 28 years, I can see the grey in my grandmother’s hair. She has always dyed it, in a defiance of age. Like when she danced all night on new years eve in 2006 and had her first heart attack.
She has begun to look like a man. The hands she raised for many a thwack on my back are black and blue with injection marks.
But she still gathers news of people she meets in the hospital, puts on an exaggerated show of pain when people visit and has a small joke for everyone.
Ajoba scans the newspapers for movies and plays he will watch with her when she comes back from the hospital. She has been bed-ridden for a year.
Two months into the new year, I don’t think I have the heart to see it through.

You think your partner has a sweet nick for you?

I'm a mind-blowing Tatya

Mine’s so much better.

Quote of the day courtesy Amrish Puri in Dance Dance

Raja Bahadur A.M Singh [paraphrased]: Mein kala ka pujari hu. Par hum thehre suryavanshi rajkumar. Yeh business karna hamari fitrat mein nahin hai. Hum sirf paisa lagayenge. Baaki sab aap sabhalena.
Binjo [Dalip Tahil]: Hahn hahn. Aap sab mujhpe chodijiye. Mein aapke liye talent ki line laga doonga.
Raja Bahadur A.M Singh: Talent nahiin; talentniyaa…
Binjo: he he he
Raja Bahadur A.M Singh: Waisa aap aaj raat ko kya kar rahe hai?