Flick of a Switch

Mind is a funny thing. It’s what makes us who we are. And just by the flick if a little switch, it changes the very essence of us. Everything you signify, just vanishes. You become someone you never thought about, someone you would never want to become. It makes me realise how insignificant all of our petty worries actually are.

Knowing 2 people suffering from mental barriers, I know how gut wrenching it can be. The person afflicted slowly fades away and the people next to them, helplessly lose a part of themselves along with the vanishing soul. Dying every single day, bit by bit, as they see the person they loved stop being the same.

Nana (My Grandfather) is one of my favorite person in the world. He is fighter. Was in the army once. Then was a very successful businessman. All through his life, he has fought not just for himself but us too. In fact, if it wasn’t for his will to fight back, I may not have even met him.

I don’t know all the details, but he suffered a hemorrhage which resulted in full body paralysis. Doctors didn’t have a lot of hope. But he got up. Regained control over one half. Learnt to live.That too, with dignity, passion and care most can only aspire to. What a life it was! Standing up every morning, laughing at the illness, laughing at all the thoughts which said he couldn’t, and convincing each one of us that he is stronger than all of us will ever be. 20 years! Every hurdle was just another challenge. Never making anything hinder his daily routine, walking miles and miles at a stretch, running a house with utmost ease. It was beautiful to observe such grace in his effort ridden movements all across Jodhpur.

But time gets the better of everyone. The old age caused his corroded body to further wither away. In the past year, things look different. What seemed like a routine now looked impossible. Many complications started to pop up. Just standing up took him more effort than all the exercises he ever did. He needed to go through surgeries. In a short span of 6 months, he was not the same person anymore.

Even his immense will, began to fade. For the first time in 18 years, he couldn’t recognize me. He is unable to understand what we say. He doesn’t know who is who. And as i see him slowly ceasing to exist, a part of me follows him to oblivion. A part of me wishes to see him, to see that smile, to see that pride which is no longer there. It has been replaced by a certain helplessness, quietness, uneasiness and uncertainty. I always used to give him a tight hug and say I will see you soon Nana when I left his place and he would smile and say he will wait. Now, he breaks down and all I can do is promise to come soon knowing that the person I come back to, may not be the person I leave.

Choti dadi (Cousin Grandmother) has Alzheimer’s. She is slowly forgetting everything. Her husband. Her daughters. Her life. And sadly, herself. It just seems like yesterday when she used to greet me with that warm smile and doze off on the couch whenever she came to our place. Those are the little moments are etched into my mind. She was an integral part of all the festivities. It was just a very certain thing. I didn’t expect that to change. And even if I did, then not in a way that it did. She was always described as a little drowsy on more than her share of occasions. People thought it was just because of old age.

Then she was taken to the right doctor. And he asked her some basic questions about her life and she couldn’t muster an answer. All she did as a defence mechanism was giggle and laugh. She couldn’t tell the time. She couldn’t name her daughters. I was shocked. We hadn’t been that close but she was one of the people who was always there. I didn’t anticipate things to go downhill so quickly. In the span of just 8-10 months, she has forgotten mostly everything. Collecting trinkets to take to her room. Tying knots on the clothes she wears. Forgetting every tradition which has been ever present in my life. She still makes some wonderful tea from what I have been told. But that sums it up.

They are a constant reminder of the harsh reality. As i see them, I see a truth. We may move the world or have the will power to do so. We may be the best at what we do and churn out beautiful memories for everyone around us day in and day out. What we shouldn’t forget is that there is an inevitability to our departure. No matter what we accomplish, we are just a bunch of self aware cells with a false belief that we are actually in control. We know as much about our future as the day we were born and it will stay the same till we live our last. I may feel like I know tomorrow, but I don’t.

All it takes, is just a flick of a switch…..


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