My Grandmother Had Parkinson’s…
by Abhinav Kukreja
You couldn’t spot her if you looked carefully. Middle Aged, grey hair, a red bindi bisecting her forehead and a stout figure. She hid in plain sight. There was nothing special about her. She wasn’t the kind of people who build a legacy and are remembered by the ages to come. She was the kind who slip into the vortex of oblivion as soon they pass away.
You don’t write about people like her. You cross them in the market, and you forget about them as you pass them by. They are the insignificant details that you brain flushes down the memory drain. No harm done.
But then, she was different than most. She wasn’t a hurricane or a tornado, but she was that warm sunset that you need to see every once in a while.
Truth be told, she was a nomad. She served from one house to another, caring for the chronically sick. This is how she earned a living. I know her because she took care of my grandmother during her last days.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t know the nurse’s name. I never bothered asking.
The doctors had given up hope on my grandmother, and asked as to care of her in the best way we could. So, we had hired a nurse, in an attempt to do the best we could to increase our time left with her. All of us knew that she was in critical condition, and all of us knew that the nurse could not help in any way. But, humans like to live in a make-believe world, which is more comforting. Anything is more comforting than reality.
My grandmother had Parkinson’s. I doubt she remembers the last one-year of her life.
The nurse came in at eight in the morning, and left at eight in the night. She came by bus, and left the same way. When she was done bathing my grandmother, she used to help prepare the meals, and with the other maintenance of the house. Slowly, she fit into the family, and became an indispensible part of our lives.
She told me how she’d been in several houses before, and all of her patients had passed away.
It’s funny. We use that euphemism regardless of our age. Humans don’t know how to deal with death. We’re hardwired that way.
But, she was different. Or at least, we thought she was.
She told me she didn’t form affectionate bonds with her patients. I believed her when I realized that she never looked into grandmother’s eyes, while she was feeding her, or giving her her medicines.
‘She has been a nurse since many a years. She must be used to taking care of the sick. She might get reckless. Always keep a close eye on her. She doesn’t love your grandmother.’ My father used to say.
She served my grandmother for a little longer than three months, after which, my grandmother decided to stop facing the pain, and gave in at a private hospital a few minutes from our house. We were sad because we were facing death for the first time. The nurse, however, didn’t seem to mind. For all she cared, this concluded another meaningless episode in her life.
She served for a few more days, until all the post-death customs were over. My mother decided to let her go, and frankly, none of us thought otherwise.
And so she left.
However, I remember how she came into my room the last day, and stood near the door. Her arm was resting on the wall, and she was smiling, oh so sympathetically.
‘Are you leaving?’ I asked.
‘Okay, thank you for all your help’
‘It’s my job. I’m sorry I couldn’t save your grandmother’
‘It’s not your fault’ I said.
Satisfied with my response, she turned back.
But as she closed the door, I swear I saw her shed a tear.
Life wasn’t one meaningful encounter after the other, after all.
She was humane, after all.