Sunday, 19 October 2014

Child's Health : A story of Fragility

                Being a member of the medical fraternity has given me the opportunity to work very closely with human beings and their sufferings , and to try and alleviate their pains . Any illness is a cause for concern , as it affects the social and economic structure of a household, but nothing affects a family more than when the youngest member falls victim to some ailment. Even though the little one is the least likely to bring about any financial support to a family, he/she is the epicentre of happiness around which a family's aspirations evolve , and dreams are structured , so their illness causes great concern all around. 

               In my internship days, I had faced anxious patient parties in hospital wards , enquiring about the prognosis of their admitted patients , but never did the anxiousness appear more palpable , than when a little child was brought in the emergency , draped in cloth , with the parents in dishevelled appearance . Often , the mother would be crying inconsolably , while the father would be making frantic calls to other family members, trying to bolster their morale by acquiring some peer support. The paediatric ward would invariably have a host of visitors everyday, for each little one admitted , and as the days passed by, with the child improving gradually, the change in emotion among the relatives was more than evident . Family members who would previously tip toe into the wards and peep in apprehension at the little ones cradled in the cots , would walk in more relaxed , with broad smile on their faces . A smiling child returning home after a bout of illness, waving bye-bye to the health care providers, was the best gift that a parent could have , far surpassing the joy that any amount of bounty at workplace could afford . 

       We as junior doctors had to devote the maximum time at the bedside of these little kids , and we could sense the plethora of emotions that a mother of a sick child went through , as she lay curled in the small cots , with her child . So , when the children went away cured, we were thanked profusely , for our services ,and we felt as if one of our own family members had been cured! 

        However , long before I had become a doctor, it was an altogether different scenario in my household only. Being the first child of my parents, i was a source of great joy for them . But, from birth, I had been a sick child, getting admitted to hospital twice , within a lifespan of first 6 months . True , that I don't remember my infancy, but from the stories that I've heard from my parents , and other family members , with me, it was always a case of walking the tightrope for my parents ! If I was doing fine, our flat in the doctors' quarters, right in the midst of the North Bengal Medical college ( my dad is a doctor as well,from that college) ,  was a hub of happiness, songs , games . Dad's juniors would come over , and sing , play cards , and all the time , I would sit in their midst , soaking in the fun , staring wide-eyed at the proceedings. But if I was ill, the same flat would resemble a Silence Zone,as people came to pay courtesy visits , to check how I was doing! When those juniors of my Dad see me nowadays ( all of them are now senior doctors themselves), they are incredulous , that I've grown up so much , as they still remember how I regulated the usually jovial atmosphere at my home, long back!

     Hence, it is the health of a child, that determines how the environment within a house would remain it is paramount to ensure that children stay safe , and happy ! 

My Diwali : A Trip down Memory Lane

A Rocket on its way up

               The earliest memories of my Diwali celebrations that I recall are after coming to Kolkata from Siliguri. It was our custom to troop to my grandparents' home for Diwali. For a elderly person , my grandma was an exceptionally agile personality , who took the lead on how to light the firecrackers . Dad had a penchant to bring home the finest crackers from the Baazi Baazar , being held at the Maidan in Esplanade area of Kolkata. We, the kids diligently spread out the Crackers in the sun a day before Diwali , so that they didn't get damp. Many of our cousins came over at the grandparents' house, and it became an epicentre of fervent activities. 

Diyas on sale in Kolkata
     From the very early stage, I had a dread in my mind about chocolate bombs, the crackers that went off with a large sound. The crackdown on sound crackers hadn't come into effect in the early 1990s , and those were still in rampant use. In order to shed my inhibitions about the bombs,once, my youngest uncle carried a wailing me in his arms to the roof on the afternoon of Diwali , and tried to burst a few , so that I grew out of the fear. But one of them burst so close to us, that my eardrums nearly went pop. It didn't help the cause at all, and due to my crying, the other elders gave a severe telling to , to my uncle! 

     The evenings of the Diwali were a time where busybodies scuttled through the house with urgency , as we prepared to light up the whole house with candles and diyas. Adorning the veranda that overlook the street was a matter of importance , as , decorating it in an eye-catchy manner would ensure more people looked up at our decorations in awe. It was an undeclared battle with our neighbours , as to who could put up the best show as darkness set in. We, the kids , were allowed to handle matchboxes only at this time of the year. Many a time, hot molten candle fell on our tender skins , but the burning sensation was drowned by the sense of purpose that surrounded the event.

A Tubri in full blaze

     As sunset occurred , and the last tinges of Orange faded from the sky , thus began the endeavours of our locality to simulate daylight once again, as every household dazzled with lights ,and crackers went off left, right and centre. We had our Rong-moshals, tubris, charkis, tarabattis, that were ignited simultaneously , putting up a spectacular show. The rockets that were sent up with great fanfare ,burst with dazzling colours . Some households in the neighbour brought specially customised rockets , that went up and burst into ignited messages . One such I remember was in 1996, when a huge rocket was sent up from one of the neighbouring buildings, which burst into the words , TITAN CUP CHAMPIONS INDIA , hailing the Titan cup victors , the Indian cricket team . Also sending us kids into a tizzy , were the parachute rockets , which , after bursting ,came down with a single twinkling light, attached to a small parachute. 

     After a mega spell of bursting crackers , we went in a huge group to visit the local KaliPuja pandals . Since the puja time was at late night, at most of the pandals, there were a lot of people , and we, the kids stared , wide eyed at the huge , angry figure of Goddess Kali . Our parents told us never to tread the wrong path , or else Goddess will get cross and punish us , and we believed them , fearing her wrath . Coming home after the visits , Diwali dinner was traditionally grand in Kolkata , with our favourite "luchi-mangsho" , served in huge amounts!

          One of the most hilarious incidents occurred in the 2000s, when veteran Tollywood actress Shatabdi Ray became a neighbour of my grandparents' . Her window opened directly in front of our roof , and so, my cousin , called her out , "Shatabdi Aunty, won't you come out and see us bursting crackers?"  She immediately agreed , and perched herself on her window . She was quite jovial , and didn't have the air of a celebrity , despite being a very popular face in the whole of Bengal . But as luck would have it, our rockets for the night were all from a rotten batch , and started 'misbehaving' from the onset. Instead of going up, they carved out zigzag paths rather horizontally , and their directions went awry . The first couple of rockets bamboozled us quite a bit , as they went just above our heads and died prematurely. But the third one was the naughtiest of the lot , as it went straight at Mrs Shatabdi Ray's window , and burst at her window grills . We were terrified , and Aunty got the shock of her life too, thereby shutting the window to go into the safety of her room . Afterwards, we all had embarrassed laughs about what had just happened!

         The celebrations continued for two nights , but then , with the immersion of the idols, they died down gradually . In Bengal , we have the Bhai-Fota, or the Bhai-dooj event that followed Diwali , but that really marked the end of the festive season for us . The cleaning up of the cracker remains , and scrubbing wax from the grills was a job that took a lot of time, but we did them , with a belief that the celebrations would be even more grand the next year. Our school holidays used to get over thereafter , and we went back to school , with a lot of stories to share! 

LED Lights Adorning a Neighbouring House

    Nowadays , Diwalis are much quieter , which i feel , is apt , as it is essentially a festival of lights, and not sounds. Although i agree that sound crackers are burst ocassionally,  the extent has come down, due to the restrictions in place. The onus is also on a much clean Diwali nowadays, with pollution being a major problem in the cities. LED light bulbs are in vogue as the principal decor in most homes, as they are cheap , and provide lots of variety, and are environment-friendly. These days, I derive pleasure in seeing happy children bursting crackers ....they remind me of my own childhood. The craze around having to ignite many crackers by myself has gone down  a little (am i getting old??) , and the pleasure on seeing others bursting is quite prominent. That is perhaps explainable, with the first strands of silverware making their presence felt on my scalp, but i still enjoy holding a tarabatti, or making luminous shapes with them , by waving them around!!

Let there be light ....more light !!
Happy Diwali everyone!!

Used Tubris lying post Diwali celebrations

Monday, 6 October 2014

Vicious Circles


Read the previous part of the story here : Questions That Demand Answers

 Tara's search for the note in the room Shekhar was sleeping in with Roohi turned futile. She overturned every thing to see whether a gust of wind had blown a small handwritten note somewhere . 'Shekhar must have left some clue to me , before leaving', she told herself! 
    " Leave it, Tara, it was just a guess on my part", Aryan came and stood beside a panting Tara ....." If Shekhar didn't really want you to know where he was going, he might not have left a note at all!" , and looked directly at Tara.
      " am I fighting a lost battle with myself here?" , Tara pondered . The thought waves in her brain were not synchronising with each other at all, and diverse concerns were trying to make themselves heard simultaneously. She desperately tried to make herself understand that Shekhar could not have been more evil than she had already known , but Aryan's eyes were making it obvious , that with every shocking revelation , it was getting harder for her to defend Shekhar. "why? Oh why am I being made to suffer this ", Tara's conscience was crying out . " can't I run away from all of this , so that the stench of this murky affair doesn't reach me anymore ?" , Tara was losing her wish to fight . She didn't feel she could sustain her efforts to save her family . If life was all about getting to drag a chronic defaulter husband back every minute, this life was as good as over . Tara didn't wish to live this life any more. She lowered her eye from Aryan's gaze. 
    Roohi turned in her sleep. Hope knocked once again at the door of Tara's distressed mind . If anything was worth living this life for, it was Roohi . She was innocent , she was her pet . The child didn't deserve to lose her mother at such a tender age . The negative thoughts making their way into Tara's brain faced an abrupt halt . " I'm doing this for Roohi", Tara told herself . "I'll make sure the little child doesn't get singed by the fire of sin all around her !"
        "Tara! Tara!......", Aryan tried to gain the attention of Tara . She was taken out of her trance , and blinked twice before saying , " sorry Aryan , I had lost myself ....."!
 "That was evident ....  It was perhaps the seventh time I was calling your name from two feet away ", Aryan smiled , but only just . 
    " I'm sorry Tara , but you see Shekhar has dug a hole larger than he can fill , and I can't promise you that I will be able to save him from getting a lengthy sentence once this thing gets sorted . Without his active involvement in the dealings, this could not have gone so far .", Aryan went on in his business like way.
     " Aryan , you do your bit .......I only care for Roohi . I don't want her life to be rotten for what her father has done ! ", Tara wiped a solitary tear from her eyes.


"Shekhar , I don't know why I've called you again after all this mess", Samantha looked visibly shaken ......." but I don't want to get you killed !" 
       Shekhar did not know how to react . Here was a beautiful , but evil lady, a past flame of his , breaking the news of his impending murder , but he took it as another passing comment. The path he had trodden for years was dark , but to be very honest , Shekhar himself had never really been a murderer . His brain worked like a machine, but he could never think of himself as being able to take someone's life in cold blood.      
              He thought , how Percival as his accomplice , used to call him , the softest crook in India . The killed dogs were the only things Shekhar plotted that ranged close to a murder . In their dealings, a few human casualties weren't much to be concerned about, but even then , Shekhar didn't like to get involved in the plans where these details were chalked out . He loved the money , he stayed on the wrong side of the law, but he dreaded the police , more than anyone in his business. Shekhar had thought about this vulnerability of his mind ,often , when he was actively involved with Percival , but at most times , this soft portion of his trait acted as a defence mechanism of his psyche , that told him that he was a human being after all, and there was at least some good sense remaining in himself . He knew he was a criminal , but he also wanted to repent . But the love for money was his constant scourge . 
  " Shekhar , go away to Mumbai , or do what never you wish ....but don't get killed ," Samantha tried to reason with him!
 " how can I run away now? I don't think I'd be allowed to flee in any case. Tara has come to know almost everything . I doubt she'll believe me . I doubt Cyrus will believe me ! And as for you , it's surprising that you're alerting me now. I thought you'd not lose the opportunity to kill me yourself !", Shekhar frowned . 
   " Listen Shekhar , I never planned to get you murdered . I needed your house , and there was a war with Percival over the acquisition . You'd know by now for sure , that Lallan double bluffed Percival , when I paid him higher to avail of his services , and rope him in my side . But he's very difficult to contain , and he's ruthless . Hiring him was my idea , but I didn't realise that he would usurp my authority , and try to dictate me !" , Samantha went on .
 " Shekhar , I would like to see you live !", said Samantha , and moved closer to him . Taking his face in her hands, she whispered , " i cannot see you killed Shekhar !This is for old times' sake"! Their eyes met , and Samantha intently asked," ..........can you love me again like you once used to Shekhar ?" 
     When an old flame re-ignites , it gets difficult to control. Human beings are inherently attracted to what is to be inhibited , and they are servants of their instincts . Shekhar did not wish to hold himself back from Samantha 's embrace . The past memories of their whirlwind romance came flooding back , and he wanted to drown in the shower of Samantha's seductive prowess. " Am I an infidel?," a question arose somewhere in his mind. Before some other part of his brain could answer that, he was lost in Samantha's body . Samantha was all over him , and he savoured every bit of the passion that drove them, after so many years. 
     "We can kill Lallan together , can't we Shekhar ?", asked Samantha , with her lips touching Shekhar's ears . "Yes.....yes, I think we can ....." , Shekhar didn't want to disrupt the proceedings . Samantha dug her nails into Shekhar's back . Shekhar couldn't think of the future , he was too engrossed in the present .......and he couldn't stop himself . 

        " Once Shekhar Dutta is done with , the old hag Samantha can be dealt with ....." , Lallan wondered aloud, as he poured some more wine into his glass. " but there should not be any mess up with this bitch . That wimp of a husband that she has certainly did not manage to do anything with such a trophy wife, but would certainly stir up the whole of New Delhi , and might also involve the Parliament into this. The bitch cannot be killed ......she needs to be silenced somehow .....", He swirled the amber liquid in its crystal clear glass.
     " ah ! Jenny final assignment for her would be Samantha .", Lallan relished the prospect, " Then , she can be taken care of either way ! I can try to get her framed and make it look an accident while she flees the scene ! Dutta's wife can raise an issue , but my ........she has such a terrific body ! " , Lallan raised a toast to Tara! Savouring the lingering taste of scotch, he wished, " oh Shekhar Dutta, how I'd like to lay my hands on your lovely wife !! " 
        " I feel you should surrender your fate to Aryan .....I do feel he'll understand your plight and arrange for something so that you're saved ", Cyrus lovingly stroked Jenny's hair off her face . 
    Jenny looked distraught ," Cy, I don't wanna spend the rest of my life in jail ", and buried her face in her hands.
    Cyrus consoled her , " no Jenny , you'll not ....the law will definitely take everything into account . "
           Jenny suddenly sat up straight . She did not look frightened . It was as if she had been infused with a renewed vigour.
 " Cyrus??", she asked!
"Yes, sweetheart?",Cyrus was inquisitive.
Jenny asked, "can I do one last crime ?" 
Cyrus looked up aghast , " Jennifer ......?? Are you mad ?? What are you talking about ??" 
Jenny's eyes had a glint , " what if I get rid of Lallan ?? Won't everything end once and for all?? " 
   Cyrus' jaw fell open ! 

Read the next part of the story here: