By Aparna Bandyopadhyay
Contributory Author for Spark Igniting Minds
Seema came to the temple of 'Maha Gauri' at eight am today. Every year on her birthday she visits this temple to seek blessings not just for herself but for all the twenty elderly residents of Ashray Senior Citizens Home. Today she offered a box of sweets to Mother Goddess and took the prasad back to the home for her family.
In the absence of her own family, these twenty men and women under her care were her own family. Her elderly parents passed away when she had just finished her high school. With a little money she had inherited she did a degree on nursing. The day she passed she decided to care for the old, having cared for her ailing parents throughout her last years of school.
The love she received from the senior citizens always filled her empty heart. She felt rich with their Love and tenderness. For the past 10 years, she has been their nurse cum attendant with two helpers to look after the residents, along with a cook and kitchen boy who worked for the home.
She went around to various residents distributing her birthday sweets, till she reached Room number 9. Here the 92 Year old gentleman, Mr. Sujit Das was cantankerous to the point of harassing the staff. He barked at her when she knocked and went in. He looked angrily and asked her not to disturb him. She smiled and went ahead with her box of sweets. He always blessed her whenever she touched his feet despite his rude demeanour. She said it was her birthday and she just wanted his blessings. She observed he had some laboured breathing today. She then went ahead and wiped his face and neck with a wet cloth and made him comfortable to start him on his regular Oxygen. He continued to grumble and refused to take the sweet. Seema left behind a sweet on his bedside table and said she had brought God's Blessings for him.
He came from a wealthy background and his children were all abroad. He moved himself to this home eight years ago, when things were difficult to manage alone. He always said his children and grandchildren would one day come back home. His lawyer and accountant would come once in two months and he was as alert as an youngster when he spoke to them.
Seema, smiled and left, telling him that she will come in a while to make him comfortable after the oxygen support was over for the day.
She went around with her duties and went back to room number 9 before lunch. There she found him with laboured breathing. Having gone through this ritual in the past, she took all his vitals and didn't hesitate to call the doctor who arrived within the hour. He took care of the problem and told her to continue the oxygen throughout the day. Seema sat beside him for a couple of more hours when Mr. Das shushed her and gestured for her to leave him alone, he was angry with life. A Life of dependency. She continued smiling and massaged his hands and feet.
He seemed comfortable. She then went around checking the others and went back to him in an hour. This time when she went back he seemed feeble but gestured to her to open his cupboard and take out an envelope. He placed the envelope beside his pillow and then slept off. Seema sat by his bedside ministering to him.
As the day rolled into dusk she found him fading away and breathing feebly even with oxygen. The Doctor had said earlier with his COPD and failing heart, it was just a matter of time. She sat down beside his bed praying and held his hand till she felt he was no longer with her. As per his instructions there would be no resuscitation or any invasive procedure to prolong life. She called the doctor after ascertaining that there were no pulse or pressure. She called all the staff to offer prayers beside his bed, though Mr. Das was neither religious nor spiritual. She called up the Doctor and informed the lawyer too.
Waiting for the Doctor she thought of the irony that life is finally that one moment of leaping into nothingness leaving behind all that we pursue in a lifetime. She handed over the envelope to the lawyer when he arrived. She sent messages to the children of Mr. Das and asked her Main Office to complete all formalities pertaining to a resident's passing. The lawyer called her aside and opening the envelope handed over a letter to her.
The letter stated that Mr. Das was leaving behind a sum of 10 lakhs for Seema Chaudhary for being a daughter to him despite his angry outbursts, a sum of 50 lakhs to see that Ashray Senior Citizens Home always has a steady income and 50% of the rest of his property both movable and immovable to be used by his children for setting up charity and the remaining for their own use.
Seema started crying as Room no. 9 became her manna on her birthday even beyond death.
About the Author
Aparna has been a physics teacher in various Air Force Stations and Private schools in civilian areas, whenever stationed at a place. She has written articles and poems in Air Force magazines and regional publications.
She is now focusing on methods to make the environment green and safe. Her motto is to keep learning from young and old alike, there being no end date to learning.