Tuesday, 16 October 2012

63, RAVIPURAM REVISITED ....

   







It is exactly a year since Thavo, my elder  brother passed away. Ravipuram is the location of cemetery in Kochi city where his body was buried,63 being the tomb number. In fact my first posting 'Adios Chatten ' was published in this blog soon after he died last year.

Expect the unexpected! I did not, when we landed in Kochi in end April 2011 prelude to betrothal of Vinay, our eldest son.We had to get ready for the happy occasion and a lot of arrangements had to be done during the 2 weeks left.Sure, we can cope up within the short time left,I thought since Kochi is my home town plus my brother is always there to support in these matters.But something else was in store for us. Following  pain in the abdomen which was bothering him for sometime,after a series of tests, my brother was detected of lung cancer!!It was confirmed 2 days prior to the event.I  decided not to reveal to him or anyone else till the betrothal is over (except Geetha and Vishal.Vinay, who is a doctor played a pivotal role then and thereafter). 

I had to go through very very difficult days ..although by and large nobody noticed,few close to me asked whether I am alright, could be seeing my facial expressions!Two days like I never went through in my life! During those two days in fact I was planning how to reveal the truth  to my brother and other immediate family members,how to get them(and myself) ready to accept the unexpected situation,how to cope up with turn of events - medically, financially, physically, socially.....The very next day of the event , I did as rehearsed myself - presented the issue and as advised by Vinay  actioned for immediate treatment  with the best expert in the state. He died six months later. 

Curtain was drawn all of sudden,quite unexpected,to our intimate, unique and close relationship as  friends and brothers which spanned for 61 years  on 16 Oct 2011! Some of our relatives and friends used to call us ' aniyan bava , chatten bava ' - 'Like elder brother,like younger brother' after a popular Malayalam hit film.Few musings in this occasion.



What I didn't tell him ....during those 6 months

I did not tell him that he was already in the 4th (last) stage of his cancer when detected.Only  months are left,doctors  told me.Instead I preferred to give him (and others except Geetha, my wife) hope and urged to fight with the disease. He (or others) never knew that the end is near - till the penultimate day of his life. ( Isha , my sister told me later that he was trying to show her on that day a ' bye sign ' with his weak   hand while he was with an  oxygen mask and hardly could speak!)

I did not tell him that I have spent hours and hours in Internet to know  about his dreadful disease ever since it was detected till the last day...searching for any possible remedies and more to find out the state of mind of a patient in such cases.

I did not tell him about the 'helplessness'  I felt myself being beside him in the hospitals , especially when he used to suffer with severe pain ."As if someone pokes on a open wound with a pencil " , he defined his own pain   to me when asked once!I did not tell what he had told me to any of the kith and kin either then.

I did not tell him that I have quit smoking myself on the day his disease was diagnosed and confirmed.Over 40 years of being a moderate smoker I stopped myself overnight.Since then, not only that I did not smoke but I never had the craving till this day!

 I did not tell him that I did notice his moist eyes when he saw me giving out an invitation card for the wedding of Vinay to a visiting relative while in the hospital room since I was running against time .Thereafter I never did that .....

I did not tell him about the sad demise of our common friend Gilbert who went through similar circumstances almost at the same time. Last we met him was in the oncology dept of Amritha hospital when I and chatten were there.I was the lone witness of a meeting of two close friends in a place where we never thought would take place!


What I have learned since then ..

I have learned that anything can happen to anyone at anytime.Life need not be fair to all . In spite of these bare facts , life is still enjoyable .

I have  learned that one of the most difficult things in life is unexpected death of a loved one.I never experienced this before.I  knew about it but never experienced.It is just terrible feeling at times when I realize that we will not meet again!

I have  learned that visiting a cemetery where your loved one lies once in a way is not a bad or mad idea after all .It is just a personal choice ...

I have learned that time will heal everything but can take a little more in some cases , mine being the later case!

I have learned that right interaction,mutual help,transparency .....among the immediate family members  will boost the confidence level of all to face boldly situations like this.  Life can be much better this way .

I have learned that quality of relationship is more important than quantity,if one has to choose.


What I would I tell him first , given a chance again...

"You are a popular man among friends,colleagues,neighbors and relatives . Tested and proven!!"


After he is gone,Kochi,the city where we are born and brought up, continues to change drastically. More and more of hypermarkets, multiplexes,international brands of junk food,fashion products,high rising sky line...the metro in the making ......everything is growing except the basic infrastructure which continues to be the same,more or less, when we were cycling in our school days the town which was then  limited between the north and south railway bridges!Kerala tries to 'emerge' without the basics-potable perennial water supply, uninterrupted electricity,drainage network,good roads,waste management , health facilities for all - like any other state in India !!

One more our common friend has left this world since then, unexpectedly ....

Summer,spring and rainy days have come again to Puthoor,KKP Road... Flowers have bloomed again at home  garden. Sparrows- Adakka kili-  are once again chirping around the house.The 'sherrygoa' mango tree keeps on giving fantastic fruits, if the insects let . Everything is getting back to track once again . 

Except him!Sooner or later he also will be forgotten. So also me, when my turn comes, whenever it is ...paving the way for the next generations. "That's Life", as we used to say  on certain topics , while strolling at ' Mangala Vanam' at times, place  I have not visited since he left! 

Ramayana says " Life and death , joy and sorrow , gain and loss....these dualities cannot be avoided . Learn to accept what you cannot change" . This is exactly I am trying to to do now .....



                                                                                   
                                   

My brother has been an ardent fan of western  music - jazz , pop, rock , folk , instrumental - since his teens , a rarity among Indians those days. Elvis Presley , Cliff Richard, Englebert Humberdinck, Credence Clear Water Revival......  Beatles , Monkeys, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix , Bee gees , Bony M ....Michael Jackson , Madonna, Spice Girls ......to the latest of 2011, could be  Gaga , Rihanna, Adele !

Now I dedicate this song...Some day I will see you again....by Westlife.



Bye Bye..Captain !



Monday, 1 October 2012

" SELL ONLY AFTER 5 PM "

Kerala is a unique state in the country ( India ) by many standards . Most of them are good but few are pretty bad . Most literate state , the state having the best Human Development Index ( a measure for the quality of living), state having the best economic productivity, the state having least communal frictions .... the list can be stretched with further sobriquets. Paradoxically it is also the state where maximum suicides take place, and now Kerala is in the top of the list of drunkards as well -  with the highest per capita consumption of  alcohol in the country !!!

Serpentine queues in a ' no queue state '

I and Geetha had to drive on the last Thiru Onam day from Trivandrum to Kochi . Onam is the harvest festival of the state and regardless of religion all keralites celebrate it with fervor . Climax of the celebration of Onam is to have the vegetarian  lunch on the plantain leaf , rice with a lot of traditional curries , desserts etc eating along with all others in the family.



While travelling , seeing lengthy queues in each small town which we passed , we were curious . In Kerala , in spite being the most literate state none will practice any queues in public places. Whether it is to board a bus or train, whether it is in hospital, bank or on roads it is the same attitude. Not only now , but from the time immemorial . But while living in another state or country we will be the first to queue up!! (Sorry, we are like that ). Now coming back to queues which we saw , we could notice that 'all the queues lead to liquor shops'. Town after town it was the same scene . Even on Thiru (main ) Onam day at noon around 1 pm , men are patiently standing  in orderly lenghty queues!!! Poor family members , I dont know whether  they have to wait for him to have the lunch at 3 pm  on a Onam day !!!




 Interestingly such queues can be seen all the days through out  the state. Come the evenings , men from mostly blue collar , white collor or no collar  working class (or retired) will be there to spend a portion of their wages (Again highest in India  , almost on par with what they can earn in gulf states  - an unskilled worker is paid Rs 500/600 plus while skilled is paid Rs 700/ 800 plus !! per day)





 Such queues are not restricted to festivals or holidays , every day  esp during evenings . Regardless of religion/ community , all people , through out the state 'participate' in this operation !Unfortunately Kerala has reached the level of  problems more than due to 'social drinking' , a state of ' rain or shine we shall have wine' !

Monopoly by Govt

Liquor business is monopolised by the Govt run corporation - Kerala State Beverages corporation .Through 340 sales outlets , it operates from 9AM to 9PM , 7 days a week , 365 days a year (except on 1st of each month - Govt thinks of the welfare of salaried people! ) ! Other than this ,there are 600 privately run bars and 5000 odd toddy shops ( local palm wine)!! Coming to Toddy shops, toddy is made of coconut palms . It is a fact known that toddy shops are selling many times higher than what actually could make out of all the coconut trees in the state meant for the purpose, for which the fingers point out to adulteration with synthetic toddy!!

Boost to economy

Alcohol helps Kerala Govt to run its economy . Booze boosts  the otherwise 'remittance economy ' Kerala is famous for , it seems . 40% of the revenue of its annual budget comes from selling booze.

'Sad statistics'

Kerala has topped the list with eight litres per person per year while the national average is less than two litres. Poor Punjabi is now a far second .The  'intelligent' malayali now spends almost 3 times for liquor than for their staple food rice in the state ( Rs 7500 crores for the booze, Rs 2800 for the rice !!).

Who will bell the cat ?

Everyone in the state knows that the situation is pretty bad . Each Govt wants to make drastic changes but falls short of it each time foreseeing the huge loss of revenue without which state cannot run now .  Social and religious institutions are loud and clear on the subject . National media has covered  the subject widely. International media such as BBC has run stories on the subject. Sensing the danger the state may fall into , High Court of Kerala has recently suggested that the sale of liquor to be allowed only after 5 PM ,while considering an appeal by the Govt !!
Sadly undeterred ,the self styled ' most literate' , ' most intelligent' , ' most cultured' malayali keeps on drinking ..... other than learning how to form a queue, everything else is bad in this case !

courtesy :photos - google images.