The phone rang. It was Rangan who said “Do you know Raju Mama has been admitted in Apollo hospital last night? I hear his condition is critical. The doctors are planning for an open heart surgery which may be tomorrow itself. I thought I should tell you since you are very close to him.”
“Who told you? Was there any call from his house?” I asked. My thoughts went to Raju Mama, my mom’s youngest brother. An extremely pleasant and jovial person, he had a special liking for me amongst his many nephews. Possibly it could be for the reason that I resembled him or played cricket, a sport he loved very much. We used to attend cricket matches together and often differed violently on many matters relating to the game and players. He had strong likes and dislikes with a regional bias that colored his judgment. Be that as it may, this common interest brought us close.
I was greatly concerned about the news. He was in his fifties but enjoyed good health with no complaints of blood pressure, sugar or cholesterol. Nevertheless, heart attacks are silent killers giving no advance warning and coming when most unexpected. He had young children, some still school-going and one daughter to be married. I did not think he had saved much nor had any paternal property to fall back upon.
When I rang up his house, there was no response. This gave me worry. I contacted another cousin. He also mentioned that he had heard it from his niece and that in all probability the surgery could take place the next day. He added for good measure that he heard the surgery was a major one with fifty percent success rate, and that mama was in intensive care unit.
It was 3 pm and I decided to rush to the hospital immediately. I started praying that Mama should come out of this ordeal unscathed as he had huge responsibilities towards his family. As I went inside the sprawling and jam-packed lounge of the hospital, I saw Vignesh talking to someone with a cup of coffee in his hand. He was laughing and showed no sign of anxiety. I rushed to him asking “How is Raju Mama? What is the latest news?”
“What happened to Raju Mama? Is he here? Any problem? I came here to meet a colleague,” he asked in bewildered tone
I could see none else known to me there. When I approached the admissions desk, they could not locate any Rajagopalan in ICU.They said one by the same name was in room L418. When I rushed there, I saw Mami standing outside talking to someone.
“Mami, what happened to mama? Why did you not seek my help? Is Mama free from danger? How is he now and when is the surgery?” I bombarded her with questions.
“What are you telling? Mama is fine. He had this problem for a long time and was suffering silently. When it became unbearable, he went to the doctor. He said surgery is the only option and it is slated for tomorrow”, she said.
"Who is the cardio vascular surgeon and who is the cardiologist attending on him,” I asked anxiously.
“What are you blabbering? Why cardio-doctors for piles operation? It is very minor one and he will be sent home very soon. Go and see him inside. He is ordering all sorts of dishes from the canteen and enjoying himself”
When I went inside, the TV was blaring. He had a plate full of Molagai Bajjis and heartily welcomed me. “Nanu, don’t be upset with me. I didn’t want this piles business to be known to all. My children have all gone to Coimbatore for a marriage. So I chose this time..Mami stays here with me. Please don’t publicize this,” he said.
“Mama, I was greatly scared when I heard you had a serious heart ailment and was to be operated. tomorrow”
“Which fool told you? I told a few days ago one of my nephews I forget the idiot’s name readily, that I had heart-burn after eating molagai bajji (Hot fried delicacy made with chillies). When he perhaps heard that I am in the hospital, he must have embroidered on that news to, graduate the heart burn to heart surgery. May be in two days someone would have told you that I had kicked the bucket!”
Much relieved at the happy turn of the incident, I smiled when Raju mama offered the bajjis saying “Eat them. They are so delicious here that one must get admitted to the hospital only to savour this”
Most rumours have no legs to stand upon. So many relationships are broken for believing what we hear without checking the veracity of the rumours given as news