Mom's hospital jaunt

She could put social media sites to shame by the ease with which she made friends.

My mother is a community bird. I call her a parrot because of her ceaseless chatter! Wherever she is people congregate and she gets involved in a lot of activities.

At 78, she’s vice-president of the Old Boys’ Association and is actively involved in the Citizen’s Wing; she teaches in a school for the blind, conducts summer camps for slum school children and teaches housewives knitting and tatting. For as far back as I can remember, our house has been an open house. People would stream in and out – some for dosas and sympathy, some to learn something from her and some just for a chat. 

For such a person, getting admitted to hospital was not a daunting prospect as it gave her a whole new opportunity to expand her social network and make new friends. She could put social media sites to shame by the ease with which she connected with nurses, ward boys and doctors.

Pre-surgery she was getting bored in her room and decided to check on a patient in the next room. Initially, he was taken aback, but soon he began narrating the story of his life. Later, when reprimanded, she replied, “But his room door was open, so I walked in!”

We switched off her mobile to stop the constant ringing. But the fallout was we became call centre operators responding to global enquiries about her health! Immediate updates were asked for from family and friends. Almost everyone who called wanted to come and visit. I had visions of starting a tourist bus service to the hospital! 

When she was shifted from the ICU she was exhausted, groggy and grumbling about the tubes. Seeing her like that, I thought her recovery would be long and painful. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within two days the tubes were removed and she was telling the young nurse about her six -decade-long friendship with a family from Kerala, their children, grandchildren, what they were doing etc.

The nurse on night duty would come to check on her and sit down for a chat about her marriage plans or affinity for fancy earrings. In turn, my mother told her about how she taught the Chinese game of Mahjong to the Yelahanka ladies and how they play it every week now. When one of the nurses asked how the game is played, I was worried my mother would pull out the tiles from under the cot and begin the east wind round! However, in the process the nurses became friendly with me, too. When I walked up and down the corridor, they would join me till duty called.

Soon, mother started joining us in the corridor, where doctors would stop to talk to her too. Her doctor had said, “Walk more, you are not a patient.” When she mentioned that the stitches were hurting, “What stitches?” he asked and pulled it out in a jiffy. We were eager to leave the hospital and soon my sister completed the discharge formalities. A nurse remorsefully said, “Oh, you are leaving!” Mother thanked her and wished her all the best for her wedding.

Now, I know why the parrot is a popular bird. Mother knows that whatever the profession, every person looks for acceptance and affection.

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