Eswar talks about the suddenness and finality of death. He shares a slice of his life, where he saw critical patients being wheeled in the hospital. He talks about his grandmother, who held his hands and talked to him and then the news of her death reaches him or a person sharing his grief with the writer. After his mother’s death in 2012, he felt, “I had seen death close, affecting my loved ones. I had to help such people.” He began working as a volunteer for the Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camp. This is how he became an activist of Tibetan Rights, the author says, in this piece, as a prologue to his weekly column, in Different Truths, beginning this week. It was a day after heavy rainfall. The roads were flooded, water was being pumped out from many apartment complexes. I was at the hospital casualty. Standing aside the bed my father was lying down, waiting for the stitches to be removed.
The downpour started bringing in casualties. The staff were on their toes receiving commands. They were attending to a very serious situation, blood oozing out from mouth of a patient, who was just brought in an ambulance. It was like a war zone.
Within minutes arrived another ambulance. A frail dark skinned man was brought in a stretcher. I was waiting for the doctor. I could feel it. Death was around the corner.
It is now over eight years, but the memories of the day is still fresh. I had just shifted my residence to Tripunithura1 , a temple town in Kochi, Kerala; a place I had spent part of my childhood. My mother had come to help me settle down.
The day was a holiday and I had invited my maternal grandmother home. It was the day when ‘Vaikunda Ekadasi’2 celebrated, a day considered auspicious as per the Hindu tradition. A day when I had gone for a discussion with my CEO and got a pay raise; happy and elated I returned home.
My brother came with his family, en route their trip to Trivandrum. My cousins came with prasadam3 from Sree Poornathreysan Temple4 .
I was outside buying electrical fittings and it was late evening by the time I came back. On my way back, I saw my grandmother going back in an auto rickshaw. She asked the driver to stop the vehicle. She held my hand and told me how happy she was.
A couple of hours later we received a call. My mother and I, with the help of my cousins, rushed to the hospital. I saw my grandmother in the casualty. It was like a war zone, the nursing staff on their toes. An hour later I was sitting in the ambulance taking her mortal remains to the mortuary.
After my mother’s death in 2012, I started volunteering for the Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camp5 . I had seen death close, affecting my loved ones. I had to help such people. The medical camps were held in Kochi, Kerala, once, every month. Volunteering selflessly is an experience that words can never describe. There was a change of heart and soon I became a Tibetan Rights activist.
It was around 11.30 pm, I received a call. I wondered who it was. The call was from a participant’s brother. I could feel a flow of emotions, but he managed to talk without tears. He said, “Eswar, it’s all over, she left us, she left us. I just felt like talking to you.”
I was at a loss of words.
I still remember the day, a day of casualties. The camp was flooded with vehicles and ambulance and it went on till late evening. Mohan6 from Palakkad was a regular face in the camp. Always a smiling face, he came with his mother, who was suffering from Cancer.
During his previous visit he showed me photos of his daughter who was just a few days old. This time his mother was in a serious condition. The doctor informed me that it was a difficult situation. Later, I came to know she passed away later that night, after reaching home and spending some time with her grandchild. Life is so uncertain!
Pix from Net.
1 Tripunithura : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrippunithura
2 Vaishnavism culture believes that ‘Vaikuntha Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to Lord's Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaikuntha_Ekadashi
3 Food that is religious offering, later consumed by worshipper
4 Situated in Tripunithura, capital of erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sree_Poornathrayeesa_Temple
5 Conducted now in Alleppey, Kerala, organized by Friends of Tibet Foundation for Wellbeing. www.friendsoftibet.org/wellbeing
6 Name changed