‘Ugh, ugh, ugh” the old man was coughing incessantly all through the night. The cough syrups did not help. It was pathetic to see him struggling for the last one week.
His son went to his bed and gently rubbed his back to ease the pain.”Drink some warm water, appa (dad).It will give some relief” he said
“Raju, please do not send me away” said the old man and started coughing again holding his chest with his palms.
“Who told you?” asked Raju
“Sama. I am afraid to stay elsewhere and wish to be with you all till my last breath. I implore you, please do not send me away” he pleaded pathetically.
“Appa, Sama is having annual examination. This is crucial. Your constant coughing is disturbing his studies. Our flat is not big. Your condition is also not improving. Please understand that it is only for a short duration and for your benefit”
“I can shift to the rear balcony. It is covered and almost like a room. That way it may not disturb Sama.I cannot tolerate outside food. I am accustomed to your wife Vanaja’s food. Please Raju”
“You are adamant, appa.Vanaja is not able to manage the chores in the house and give the attention you need always. It is for short duration only. I will ensure they give you good food. Do you think I would want you away? But the examination, Vanaja’s poor health and your condition forces my hand. This arrangement is better for all. Please cooperate. We have decided after careful thought. I will be coming and meeting you frequently. Do not worry. Be ready to leave tomorrow by 7am.”
The thought of senior home with many sick in-mates and the indifferent attention he had heard about scared him. He was also worried that the frequent visits of Raju would taper off. He loved his grandson Sama very much and was unwilling to leave him.Vanaja is a nice person taking care of him as a daughter would do. He did not know what brought about the change in their minds. He was cursing his wretched cough. Could it be a mere excuse, he even wondered. He could not sleep the whole night.
As the vehicle entered the big building complex, a wheel chair appeared to take the old man. Everything was spic and span with shining granite floor. He wondered whether a senior home could be so opulent
“Raju, this does not look like a senior home. It is more like a hospital. Are we not supposed to go to senior home?”he asked
“Appa, how did you get the idea that you would be sent to senior home when I am there. Your cough is worsening and I am afraid you have infection in the lungs. The doctors here will take care of you. Vanaja or myself will get food from home. In a week I will take you home. Sama also can study without worrying about you. Your condition has affected him much. I did not tell you wantonly about hospital lest you refuse knowing your aversion to hospitals and the smell of disinfectant”Overwhelmed with emotion and wiping his eyes, the old man said “Raju, forgive me for thinking you are putting me in an old age home. You are a gem indeed”