Saturday, April 25, 2020

Angioplasty at Rahu kalam

“Get up from the bed, you sleepyhead. It is already 6.45 am and very late,” Shamanna shouted as he shook his son Guru.
“He went to sleep only at 12. What is the hurry?  His school is only at 9am?” asked his wife, Ashwini.
“Don’t you remember today is Monday? He has to leave by 715am before the Rahu kalam commences at 730am,” explained Shamanna
“Fie with your outdated beliefs. I cannot allow Guru to stand outside the school gate for nearly two hours, replied Ashwini with some acerbity.
“Today is his Maths examination and he is already weak in the subject. You send him in Rahukalam and he will bring a big zero,” replied Shamanna angrily
“What non sense you are talking? If he is weak in the subject, teach him well. Beating Rahukalam is not going to fetch him marks. I am ashamed that you go by such old-fashioned ideas. Let them stop with your father,” she said irritably. In anger he hit the boy who was still sleeping and ordered him to get up.
“I am not making any breakfast at such short notice,” she said with a finality
“To hell with your breakfast. We will have at Kamats.Guru be ready to leave at 7.15am,” he ordered his son and stomped out of the room.
You cannot fault Shamanna as a superstitious guy if you consider his background. He was born in a family that was traditional and still clung to old values. His father Kuppanna Ganapadi was a respected purohit and astrologer in the town. He was trained in Veda patasala and was also taught Jyotisha sastra. This enabled Kuppanna to supplement his income as a purohit. People came to him to prepare and study horoscopes, for comparing horoscopes for matrimony and to fix auspicious times for various functions. Almanac reading was a science for him dealing with planetary movements and their timings much like the study of celestial planets by astronomers. He declined to argue with skeptics on the subject and plied his business silently only for those who sought his assistance.
 Shamanna, though a post graduate and a Sales Manager in a repute company, had learnt in his younger days, some rudiments of almanac reading by observing his father. Busy with studies and later the job, he could not devote time to gain a mastery by proper study under his father. Brought up in such traditional surroundings, he strongly believed that the outcome of any endeavour one took would be good only if done at the propitious moment favoured by the conditions prescribed in panchangams(almanacs).
He also set much store by omens(shaguns) before starting any work. If a cat crossed his path when he stirred out of his home to get something done, he was very sure he would fail in his endeavour and would return home immediately to sit down and only to leave a little later after drinking some water! To Ashwini it was irrational unbecoming of a well-read modern man.
She was also a post graduate in science, coming from a different city and a family of bureaucrats and engineers. She was shocked initially to witness her well educated husband with antiquated ideas and had much difficulty in adjusting to his curious ways. She tried her best to change his ways of thinking but to no avail. So deeply ingrained were his beliefs. He would never do any important work or even leave home for ordinary errands during the inauspicious Rahu kalam and Yama kandam times even if it meant some financial loss, discomfort to himself or inconvenience to others.  To add to her frustration, he wore rings made of several gemstones to bring good luck or ward of bad luck.
Strangely if he came across a dhobi with unwashed dirty clothes, he considered it a good omen while a dhobi with clean washed and pressed clothes was deemed bad! He could offer no valid reason why it was so except sheepishly smile. There are many such queer shaguns he believed in that you may laugh at but he took them seriously in his day to day activities. He would tell you that if you encounter a human corpse being taken for funeral, it is a good omen, while a single brahmin coming opposite to you is not! One could never predict what he would do the next moment.
Once when Ashwini got a call from a hospital, where her aunt was admitted the day before on an emergency, asking her to come quickly as the lady’s condition was worsening. She ran to Shamanna who was playing a game in his mobile and said, “I got a call from the hospital that my athai(aunt) is sinking and that I should rush immediately. Please take out the car. I will change my dress and be here in a moment,” and ran up the stairs.
On coming down, she saw him still in the same place continuing his game with mobile. Angered, she asked,” Are you not a human? I told you my athai is in her final moments and we had to rush. Is your mobile game more important? Have you no consideration for me””
“Don’t start fighting. I will go to toilet and be back soon,” he said as he rushed in.
He did not come out for more than 30 minutes and she could hear him listening to some song. She banged the door and screamed, “Stop that wretched music and come out. Don’t you ever understand the seriousness of the situation?”
He came out in a couple of minutes and asked her to get the car key that must be on the table. She could not find it and shouted back that it was not available. He wasted more time on the pretense of searching for the key and finally took it out of the pocket of the pant he was wearing.
When they were driving towards the hospital, he said softly, “It was Yama kandam and that is why I delayed. We will be there in ten minutes,”
She had lost an hour and just as she reached the hospital gate, she got another call from hospital that her aunt had passed away. Her loathing of his irrational and impractical ways and anger reached its limit that she broke down crying inconsolably. Thinking she was crying over her aunt’s demise, he put his hands on her shoulder to comfort her, when she screamed “Take your hand off me. I detest you and your sight.”
Sadly, his penchant to avoid inauspicious times did not stop where only his personal jobs were involved but also extended to even official matters. He invariably consulted almanac before planning his official tours to check whether the day of departure and direction of the destination were auspicious. As a Sales Manager he was required to make frequent tours. He would often be asked to proceed urgently to some place for some meetings or conferences but his reluctance, to start where the dates clashed with almanac, made his bosses upset with him though he was considered an outstanding marketing executive.
In one major customer conference chaired by the Chairman of the company, dealers from Shamanna’s region raised a pertinent question relating to marketing policy. When the Chairman looked at the Marketing Director who in turn was looking for Shamanna frantically. After some embarrassing silence, Shamanna was seen, much to the consternation of all present, leisurely entering the conference hall after the Rahu kalam had elapsed oblivious to the dicey situation in the hall. It is another matter that he could explain the company’s stand very clearly and patiently to the satisfaction of all impressing the Chairman with his ability and communicating skill that Shamanna’s delayed arrival was overlooked.
It was 9 am on a Friday morning. Shamanna was about to leave for office when he felt a shooting pain on the left side of the chest. He sat down for a few minutes when there was another shooting pain. It looked unusual, burning in nature and started coming in quicker intervals. He was perspiring profusely and sank on the sofa. Ashwini, a cool lady sized up the situation and rushed him in his car driving herself to ER of a big hospital nearby. When he stabilized after some medicines, the cardiologist and his team rushed him to Cath lab for a procedure. When Shamanna saw the big clock on the wall opposite to him showing the time as 11.10 am, his face turned suddenly pale losing colour   and was drenched in fear. He started mumbling incoherently. The worried team looked at the vital parameters and also at Shamanna staring at the clock in dread and shaking his head sideways.
The cardiologist who was putting the gloves could not understand the abrupt change in Shamanna’s demeanour and rushed outside the theatre to ask Ashwini,” Is any matter bothering your husband? His face lost colour on seeing the wall and the vital parameters like heartbeat, pressure have started fluctuating haphazardly.”
Shrewd to guess the reason, Ashwini asked, “Is there a clock on the wall opposite to him? He is highly superstitious and goes by Rahu kalam which is actually at its peak now. That must have scared him. Can you delay the procedure slightly to begin after 12 noon.?”
“No, it is highly risky. We have no idea when the next attack would recur if the suspected block is not cleared. I will manage. Do not worry.,” he said as he turned back to Cath lab.
On entering, he winked unseen at his assistant and said, “We are late and must start immediately. We cannot afford to delay,”. Turning his head towards the clock, he shouted, “Look at this clock. The time now is past 12,15 pm and this clock is running very slow. Take it out now, set the time correctly past 12.15 pm and fix it immediately.”
The assistant doctor immediately arranged the clock to be removed and brought back in a jiffy on the wall set at 12,25 pm. The cardiologist loudly said, “It is almost 12.30 pm and let us start,” even as he patted Shamanna. The smile and the colour returned on Shamanna’s face as he looked at the clock.
An hour later the doctor came out to say to Ashwini, “It was a minor block. We did an angioplasty with a stent done and he should be back to his normal self. Lucky you warned me about his fear of Rahu kalam or whatever, though doctors are to go by the emergencies and not on basis of a panchang. I had to employ a small ruse for him to get over his fear before commencing the procedure.”
“Thank you very much. He never understands. It is sickening when someone is impractical but I cannot find fault with him being son of an astrologer. Personally I go with the dictum that it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves,” replied Ashwini.