The 'I' after the 'us'

on coping

The 'I' after the 'us'

Recently, I read a Middle in Deccan Herald titled ‘Mum @ 82’. In that, the author had described how her bereaved mother had preferred to be independent and had learnt new skills to cope with daily life. Having recently lost my husband, I could very well relate to the article as I too had opted for an independent life rather than inconveniencing my children.

Ramu had been a staunch follower of the DIY (do-it-yourself) school.
Leading a happy life as a pampered wife for a period of 55 years, I had to learn, relearn, unlearn many things after his unexpected death. After the initial help from my brother-in-law, I learnt to correspond with air headquarters and to get a hold on my savings and deposits, after which I now deal with my correspondence independently. My daughter helped me to get a debit card. I can now write cheques, operate debit cards and withdraw/deposit cash in the bank.

Security concerns befitting a single lady made me get used to carpenters and masons. Emergency situations made me get familiar with plumbers and electricians. Since his retirement, Ramu enjoyed the process of switching off the pump when the overhead tank filled up; he was averse to fixing a level monitor and an autoswitch for the pump. I got one fixed after his passing away and learnt to deal with its eccentricities.

The necessity to go to Command Hospital every month to visit the doctor and collect my medicine got me accustomed to hiring drivers from an agency to drive me around the city in my car. I also learnt to pay my car insurance, to call the helpline to attend to disastrous situations like flat tyre, run-down battery etc. I relearnt to start the engine and run it for five minutes once every week, after buying a new battery, as my car-washer had left the headlights on for one whole night by mistake, and the battery had run out.

I engaged a chartered accountant to help me file my income tax returns.
 I not only replaced all old electric bulbs with the new LED bulbs bought from BESCOM, but when the bank caused a problem with the payment of my electricity bill, I had to make trips to BESCOM and the bank to get the problem solved. When the old wall-clock stopped working, I ordered one through Amazon and managed to fix it on the wall myself, after removing the old nail and hammering a new one. All this process of learning and coping, with concomitant goof-ups, gave me a good sense of achievement and confidence. Moreover, having opted to be independent, I was not answerable to anyone.

But, I met what I thought would be my Waterloo a few days back. One morning, I saw a lizard in the kitchen sink struggling to climb out of it. I was petrified. Though cockroaches I could handle, lizards and mice had been the sole responsibility of Ramu. Without my hero, I was at a total loss. Some kid seemed to have defined a lizard as a crocodile that forgot to take Horlicks when it was younger! Thus, coexistence with the abominable reptile was out of the question. Oh, how I missed the family exterminator!

Finally, I decided to tackle the problem myself. I anaesthetized my mind, took a duster, grabbed the wriggling thing with it, and threw it onto the street, while my stomach was feeling horribly queasy throughout. I pray to god that I will never be called upon to get rid of a mouse when I am alone at home.

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