Ms. Bhushan Sharma
My father suffered a massive brain stroke, hemorrhage, (at the age of seventy) and he was in coma for more than a month. As per doctor’s advice, we brought him home. The spill was acute and that may or may not recover or at least would take a long time as the healing is a slow process and needed only care and nursing.
We brought him home, transformed his room into a special room with patient’s bed, water mattress, nebulizer, diapers, medicines, Dettol bottles, sanitizers… For more than two and a half months he was fed through a pipe and hardly showed any activity. After that, he could open his eyes but could make out nothing…no memory and no speech…no ability to swallow…no movement.
With the passage of time, after more than a year, he was almost towed and made to sit leaning against a support. Now he could take the oral liquid diet. But how to make him remember and communicate was the main problem? I kept on discussing his state with the ones around who could give additional guidelines. One of my friend Dr. Vidhushi Sharma suggested me,
“Bhushan, you need to work with him as a mother does to her child. Teach him word by word. Give him practice in speaking.”
I did exactly the same as I used to do with my daughter.
Whether she understood or not I used to talk to her, not in the language of a child but in a mature language. And she picked up everything very fast and more efficiently. In fact, she had been always ahead of her age. Following the same treatment, I started working with my father. Leaving all things aside… or whatever doctors said… brain…memory…damage…, I kept one thing in my mind that “I love him”. I will do my part.
For the first time, I started with the daily routine of his favorite prayer Kamal Netra Satotra.
As I began reciting…a miraculous thing happened. He showed his first body movement… his relation with this world. For the first time, his pointing finger showed some movement. Till I recited that Satotra, his finger kept trembling as if he remembered his ‘japamala’. This was a big ray of hope for me. Since he was a saintly kind of person all these things were still treasured in his crushed, distorted memory.
I was residing about fifty-five kilometers far from my parental house in a university campus where my husband is a faculty member; my daughter was studying at DPS and I worked in the same school which I left soon after, keeping in mind not to overstress myself and following my priorities. I could visit him only for Saturday and Sundays. But I had in my mind to render him my daily services as helping him gave me satisfaction. Like a child, he could recognize my voice and wait for my paath. Then I fixed the timings and made our daily routine. I would switch on the speaker of my mobile phone for him. Our daily interaction made our bond and understanding stronger.
Then I started giving him practice in speaking…word by word… but only from the Kamal Netra Satotra as he seemed to be more interested in paath than learning rote vocabulary like a fan, table, chair etc. All these things seemed meaningless to him and he showed no interest in this learning. But for paath he exerted more than he could. Then after giving him practice in listening, we tried speech practice. Again I followed the same routine as I did with my daughter to build her reading habit. I used to ask her to spell the first word…identify the alphabets. Her yearning to listen to the bedtime story made her follow my directions. Then two words…gradually first line …and then whole para. She developed a habit of reading at a very young age.
The same technique I followed with my father. In fact, I learned this from him, my father. To improve our reading he used to ask us to read aloud to him. And now the roles were reversed. But with a difference. He was sure his children would learn but today there was a question mark. Could he?
But I kept on with my efforts. In the initial days I made him repeat 2 or 3 words only…then a line…as per his capacity. He used to have frequent choking problems. Who could tell what nerves were affected in his almost paralyzed body? With the passage of time the left side of his body showed improvement. He could hold the mobile in his left hand and attempted to speak. I used to hug him often and my frequent use of single sentence brought a smile on his face, “Daddy, I love you.”
Word by word…line by line…para by para…days…weeks, months and then a year. We worked relentlessly. He relearnt and was able to recite the whole Satotra of three-hundred words in one go. He was able to communicate as per his need and we understood him fully. Then almost after five years…he was not able to sleep…medicines also could not provide him relief. Again the only thing which provided him the solace was paath. It’s still before my eyes… midnight…I standing beside his bed, we both reciting the prayer…minutes…then almost an hour… his voice changing. I gave him a few drops of Gangajal. But did not know that was his last time.
Life is tough in today’s world. We all are short of time. But if our parents are in need we should try our best to reach out to them. Though we cannot change their destiny, we can give them solace and get their blessings. Today my father is in god’s abode, my only daughter has got admission in the best NIT, and I being a resident of university campus have a new start to my life. I have again pursued my studies as a Ph. D. scholar, meeting intellectuals, learning and widening my horizons again.
This life event has taught my many life lessons.