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   Chapter 4 Grandpa

Episodes That Pervade My Heart By Sundaram Characters: 9029

Updated: 2021-01-09 05:20


I look back. I recollect. It was long ago. Maybe I was two years old. My mom was plaiting my hair. It was unusual for a boy to have long tresses but my mom wanted mine as she had no girl child at that time. One day my grandpa sat reclined in his easy chair and was watching. My mom had difficulty in keeping me sit for the hair-dress. I was naughty and restless. They promised chocolates and I sat. Suddenly I sprang and reached for a doll near me. Mom pulled me in a reflex and sat me on the floor not aware of a glass bottle at that spot. There were shatter and a high pitched clink. My mom had hit the bottle unwittingly and sat me on a piece of glass. I cried out like hell as a splinter got lodged into my scrotum and grandpa fell with a thud on the floor in his attempt to catch me. It was all a momentary incident. My grandpa dashed his right temple on the floor and fell unconscious. I wept and was in a pool of blood. The bold lady that my mom was and we were rushed to a nearby hospital with the help of neighbours. The dreadful evening turned into night. They stitched my cut duly removing the splinter and my grandpa was treated for his fall though he had no bleeding injury. Two days later we were discharged. I gradually got healed but grandpa started feeling unhealthy. They thought it was his age. He was in his fifties. In spite of the medication, he continued to be unwell. The severe headache tortured him all through the day and it persisted long making him go for tranquillizers before going to bed every night. The local doctor advised us to go to Madras Medical College in Madras and take appropriate treatment. The year was 1952. Madras was not this Chennai that day. But it had many green landscapes and not congested apartments and tenements. Now it is all a concrete jungle, over bridges, high rise buildings, MRTS and moving of several automobiles with never-ending spewing of smoke. My grandpa started his career as a foreman under the British regime. He was there all through the construction of Stanley Reservoir in Mettur. He was in service then. The British Engineers came to know of the plight of my grandpa. They acted at once. They made arrangements with the Government General Hospital at Madras and sanctioned advance medical allowance and a leave of absence for two months. The grandparents packed off, first to Salem by bus and on to Madras by train. They had no difficulty in reaching the GH attached to the Madras Medical College as it stood opposite to Madras Central station. The next week was a routine in GH. They had a room in the special ward attached to the Neurology department. At the instance of the British Engineers, my grandparents received the best of treatment. Grandma remained by the side of grandpa in the special ward. Grandpa was operated on on the third day for his jammed nerve at the right temple. It was a successful operation. Those days, one would deter to hear words like chloroform, operation etc. Thank God, the British legacy was upright. The Indian Neurosurgeon who performed the operation advised my grandparents:"Well, Mr.Ganapthy we got you alright from your persistent headache. The operation was a success and we owe it to your cooperation. However, you'll need to be under clinical observation for a few weeks. You may choose to be put up at Madras for a couple of months before you return home with the best of convalescence, Ok?""Doctor I'm at a loss for words to thank you and my engineers at the bridge site at Mettur Dam. I believe none other than the God almighty had transformed into you and saved me. I'm indebted to you all till the end of my life, " said my grandpa amidst tears and overwhelming gratitude. My grandparents then set foot in Triplicane searching for one Mr.Murahari, a long standing friend of grandpa. They found him easily and started living with him as paying guests. The host Murahari lived with his wife, grown up children and grandchildren all numbering to eight and the count rose to ten. My grandpa had told me about the hospitality of Muraharis. I had learnt these while I was in my teens. Back to Madras- it was the period of convalescence. It was a period of my grandparent's city life also. The host treated the guests not as guests but as relatives. My granny was known for her culinary skills. While grandpa rested, granny cooked for the entire household- all the delicacies. The Muraharis were happy in the company of Ganapathi's. With love and affection, they took my grandma every eveni

ng to different places, like Marina beach, Egmore Museum, Pantheon theatre etc. My grandma had told me never-ending stories-trams, electric trains, zoo, beach, lighthouse, buses, rickshaw and rickshaw pullers etc. The delight the young boys get on hearing things of the past from a person like my granny is something no words can explain. My mom, brothers and sister would never feel bored when granny started detailing how she outwitted a chain snatcher and how she managed to get into the corporation bus all by herself and made for the market. It was funny when she spoke in the tone of the rickshaw pullers and vegetable vendors. Granny thought it was an adventure to commute from Muraharis to GH, especially a woman like granny, totally a villager doing well in a city like Madras, must be bold and courageous. She had always declared none could have filled her place. I take pride in talking of my grandparents. From childhood to boyhood-school days to college days, their affection for us always outflanked. They were my mother's parents. Today mom is gone, pop is gone and so are grandparents. These people had no grouse about their children. They ate after we ate- they changed seats for sorrows and sufferings. They shared or spared their pleasures for us. Today I wonder how people could be so patient. Most people slip into thoughts while at the dining table. I am no exception. My diversions range from official programs to private activities. The eating is done mechanically. Many wives hate their men going into reveries while at the dining table. That way the nice foods they cooked go unacknowledged. The good food always deserves to be appreciated. May be that was in vogue those days. Good eating was good acknowledgement. My granny was all happy and pleased when her preparations were taken for granted and consumed limitless. Her impression was that one would never go for a second spoon unless food was good enough. Even to this day her recipes of appam, paniyaram, idiappam and the side dishes are a miracle. My wife could only be the runner as granny was always the undisputed winner. My grandpa was also smart. He dressed elegantly. With hat and shoes he was almost a Briton. He was planned in everything. Once in every month, he bought groceries, rice and oils. He never was on credits. He paid and bought. This practice I acquired from him. This is one activity not all people follow. Buying in peace meals will only be more expensive and varied in quality. Grandpa would be very furious if you cut the classes; otherwise he was such a nice and balanced person. Towards the evening of his life grandpa often remembered the past. His reference to the doctor at the Madras GH was always sentimental. Grandpa had told me but for the doctor he would have been dead then. Grandpa's reference to this neurosurgeon always brought him to tears. He was every inch a perfect doctor; the kindest and the best in his field. His whole family is in medical service. Half the patients' ailment ceased at merely meeting the doctor. My grandpa was with us till he became eighty. The senile disability and the loneliness troubled him a lot. Since grandma predeceased him he had no one to attend on him. The young, nowadays, caring for the old is very rare! One day grandpa suddenly vanished! He left the house in the early hours when everyone was asleep. The only gold in his person, a ring and a few thousand rupees he gave away to the children the previous day. We should've been careful but destiny would never fail! Grandpa went away unnoticed taking nothing with him. What happened to him or where he went remains unknown. Reckoning by the time, he must be dead now. It is all strange with great people. I salute and kindly nurse the memory of the times gone by. One morning I was getting ready to go to the office. My wife rushed with the newspaper in her hands. "Ah, Dr.B.Ramamurthy is dead!""What's it you said Devi?""Well, the doctor who you said treated your grandfather at Madras is no more."I snatched the papers from her and glanced at the boldly bordered obituary message. Dr. B.Ramamurthy [DOB: 31.1.1922] passed away on 13.12.2003 in Chennai. Survived by: Dr.Indira Ramamurthy, Dr.Vijaya Ragavan Dr. Ravi Ramamurthy, Neurosurgeon

Mechanically I got out of the dining table and headed for the car totally overcome by the message. While driving to the office I couldn't help going down memory lane. Whenever I pay homage to my grandparents I do remember the great doctor invariably.

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