Friday, July 20, 2012

Manipal Blues

Charlie Chaplin, that maverick Genius, once famously proclaimed, “ I love walking in the rains so that no one can see me crying.” Though I am an unabashed fan of this versatile comedian, I do not agree on his this philosophy. Grief is an intrinsic part of a human life. It is that curse which one has to carry; an albatross for having being born human. If we can share happiness and joy, why our grief should be hidden. What is so macho about not crying? I like to wear my emotions on my sleeves. Perhaps it is this openness that encouraged many youngsters to come and share their problems with me. The range of pathos was incredible. I heard some of the most absurd to the most heart wrenching tales. I do not know if I succeeded in providing any solace to the troubled souls. If I failed, it was definitely not for want of trying. Manipal has its share of tragedies every year. Many students die of accidents or suicides. Accidents are sometimes unavoidable but suicides are definitely not the solution for any problem. I remember two students who were underperforming in their academics and betrayed suicidal tendencies. That they chose to change their mind was more credit to their inherent courage than my persuasion. If they happen to be reading this, I once again tip my hat to them. A human being is capable of absorbing any tragedy however serious. Time is the balm which eases the severity of pain. I saw two profiles in courage which make me proud but still makes my throat go wet whenever I think of them. One morning we had barely opened the store when a couple walked in with a ten year old son. The dine-in staff is never happy to see anyone that early. It upsets their rhythm. One of them was about to tell the family that there was still one hour for us to open when I noticed the child. He was in crutches and was helped by his father on a wheel chair. I called my staff and told him to continue with his cleaning and I would handle the guests. They told me that they had come from Bangalore for their son’s operation. I asked them to have a seat and handed them the menu. The mother was apologetic and said they could come back later. I offered them soup and sandwiches as they don't need oven. As their order was being prepared I chatted with the kid. I was surprised that they had come all the way from Bangalore. But the father told me that the Manipal Hospital is one of the best. The kid was handling the pain with admirable dignity. As they were finishing their food, I offered the kid a complimentary truffle cake. His smile brightened the store. “Uncle tomorrow is my operation. will you come to meet me.” Like Sheldon in ‘The big bang theory’, I have an aversion to Hospitals. I am quite healthy and whenever I am sick, I try to manage self medication through Google, not a very healthy practice I must say, but quite effective for me. But I heard myself saying, “Meet you? I am going to be there all the time while they operate you inside.” He gave his signature smile once again. Sadly, his operation was a failure. His parents were dejected. But he was all sunshine. “We shall come next year again. I shall then be able to walk without crutches.” I waved them through teary eyes. Today when I close my eyes, I imagine him playing football, the game he dearly loves. An optimist like him will definitely win the odds. Another time, a young girl studying commerce in a local college in Udupi, came with her old grandmother. The old lady was diabetic. She had multiple allergies and was a high blood pressure patient. But she was insisting on eating all kinds of foods. “ I am not going to live long. Let me eat what I want to.” She kept on saying. We carefully planned her menu within her choices. She wanted to try mint mojito, our most popular drink. The young lady was worried about the impact. I am not an expert but I knew that all carbonated drinks were not good for her. I had a brain wave. I asked her if she would have lemon tea with me. The old lady said that she couldn’t find it in the menu. I winked and said we keep it for special people. I went to my apartment and brought the tea bags. As the young girl excused herself to go to the wash room, the grandma conspiratorially winked and said she wanted her tea with sugar. Again she repeated that her family doesn’t understand. She won’t live long. I joked that she could have sugar if she promised she won’t die here in the store. I don’t want cops to arrest me for murder. She laughed naughtily and told me she had a half pastry in the afternoon. We had a great time and regaled each other with funny stories. While paying she wanted to pay for the tea as well. I told her it was on me. After a week the young lady came and informed that the old lady had expired in her sleep. Her last real meal was the one she had in Pizza Corner. While dying she remembered me and asked her granddaughter to thank me for the tea. It was a poignant moment. I looked out at the bright sky and pointed to the star that was twinkling the most and said, “That must be your grand ma.” She smiled and squeezed my hand. Her eyes moist, she said, " Thank You."

1 comment:

  1. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs.
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