Mother tried to reduce my irritation. ‘‘I am sorry that you are Asthmatic.If I had a choice in gene transfer, I would have asked not just for good health for my Kavana but you , my dear girl would have been a combination of Kiran Bedi's courage, mother Teresa's kindness,Sarojini Naidu's poetic rhythm,Medha Patkar's stubbornness, Indira Gandhi's acumen.
Father butted into amma's soliloquy with ‘‘why do you want such a straight jacketed daughter. Add some colour by asking for a few naughty qualities.‘‘With all these heavy GOOD genes my little girl will be so precocious that I'll be constantly in awe of her." Jokes apart, Asthma is a terrible chronic condition that makes life miserable for the sufferers.Airways to the lungs get sore and swollen. This makes us cough and sneeze and wheeze through the night. We are always short of breath. Chest pain is a constant companion.
Allergens,irritants ,emotions ,food ,weather, exercise,anything can set off an attack Inhalers,nebulisers,dilators medicines have to be carried to school and every where else. In their anxiety to find a cure, my parents have turned me into a Guinea pig. Allopathy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, siddha, all kinds of home remedies that just about anybody suggests have been tried out. We have even visited the Goud family that has been treating asthma since 1845 in HYDERABAD. Can you imagine the discomfort of swallowing a 2 inch long, live, Murrell fish with its mouth full of a strange tasting paste. It squirms inside you for several minutes. What torture for the fish and for me. If I ever became a powerful adult, I'LL stop all research and inventions that pollute the atmosphere with obnoxious gases causing endless suffering to me and my elk, I declared to no one in particular.!
Ajji came on a short visit to her son's house. I confided in her,"I wish I could die rather than suffer night after night son, send Kavna with me. I live near the coast where the air is much cleaner than Bangalore. There is a decent school near by. May be the child's health will improve. ‘’To me she said ‘‘death is inevitable and ugly. Don't ever think or talk of it.Life is beautiful. Find ways to enjoy being alive.’’ Ajji’s house is a sprawling THOTADA MANE near Mangalore, full of swaying arecca and coconuts. I liked my new school and the rustic sincerity of my classmates. Ajji’s cook Maria escorted me to and from school. We had to walk through a fisher men’s colony to reach school. “Don't smile at them. they are urchins, vagabonds scum, not your class” admonished Maria. ‘‘Nonsense ’’ retorted Ajji."the kids are loitering around because the parents are too lazy to send them to school. ‘‘Kavana is going to change all that. Just wait and watch.’’ said Ajji. Grandma is full of energy. She belongs to several church groups as well as mahilla mandalis.She is so busy that she has no time to complain about her age or her aches and pains.
The moment had arrived for her to cast me into the same mould. Her empty cow shed was cleared of scrap and painted a cool blue. Mats,cups and plates were brought in. Fill their belly before you fill their mind was her mantra.
A t.v. and a c.d player were shifted into the cow shed from the main house.
‘‘I will bring the kids in with my cooking, keeping them here is your job.You are clever and you have imagination.Use both to lead the young ones to a better quality of life. No 3 R’s. Talk about hygiene,banking, ills of alcohol, gambling and other such relevant topics ’’ urged Ajji. Thus our experimental school took off. I became the god mother of the young ones.
I had so much of work on my hands that I forgot to complain about my asthma even to Ajji.