Intuition8 mins 402 8 mins 402
They all stood gazing at the old man while a nurse was busy fitting the face mask and setting up of iv fluid.
The eldest son, Ramprasad looked at his younger brother, his son, wife, daughter and even the servant all standing with worried looks and contemplated the next move.
He knew that the old man has to be shifted to the hospital as soon as possible but he was waiting for the doctor’s advice. The doctor, who lived almost 20 kilo meters away was expected any time.
Ramprasad looked at his father, Shyamprasad who celebrated his 92nd birthday last week and thought that there was a slight movement of his right hand. He brought it to the notice of the nurse who also saw it.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Shyamprasad tried opening his eyes. All the family members moved closer and Ramprasad indicated to nurse that she may remove the face mask.
The old man’s eyes widened and he appeared to look at the faces around him, though, not appearing to recognize them. His left hand was injected with the iv needle. But his right-hand fingers moved slowly and with great effort, the old man tried to lift his right hand.
Ramprasad moved closer and spoke. “Papaji? Do you want something?”
The old man’s hands rested on his chest for a while. Then slowly, he raised his hand and indicated something with his middle finger.
All the family members, now standing very close in a semi-circle, looked at the hands and then looked at each other questioningly. It was obvious, that none of them understood what the old man was indicating.
Anil, Ramprasad’s son looked closely and went and whispered in the old man’s ears. “Dadaji? Do you want something to write?
Immediately, the old man’s eyes widened and he appeared to move his head a bit as if to indicate a yes.
A writing pad and a ball pen was brought immediately by Ramprasad’s younger daughter and Anil took the ball pen and made the old man grip it by wrapping the old man’s fingers around the pen and held the writing pad close so that the old man can write.
The old man’s hands moved ever so slowly even as all the family members watched, holding their breath. The fingers holding the pen could not withstand the weight and the ball pen fell down.
Anil, once again wrapped the fingers of the old man around the pen and this time, held it ever so slightly so that the old man could write.
The hand moved slowly and old man wrote something and the strain of holding the pen appeared to be very heavy as it fell to the ground, again.
The old man closed his eyes and the worried nurse went and checked the pulse. It was there, though, very weak.
Anil brought the writing pad and looked at it even as the family members came closer to have a look at it.
First it appeared that the old man has written, what appeared to be a letter. Ramprasad took the pad from his son’s hands and looked at by turning it upside down and exclaimed. “It is alphabet “L” see here? there are two lines one perpendicular and the other horizontal and he made effort to join them though it appears like two separate lines, it is alphabet L”
“But, what does L stand for? And Papaji was not an avid English reader or speaker though, he knew it. So why would he write anything in English?” Exclaimed Ramprasad’s wife.
All other members nodded their head in agreement while the servant, Lakshman who himself was close to 80 and has been a faithful companion of more than 70 years thought it could be something else. “Ramprasad beta, pappaji never preferred English as I know him for such a long time. Is it not possible that it could be something else? Can we ask him to write once again?”
Ramprasad looked at Lakshman and then looked questioningly at his son and spoke, “that also rules out your name Lakshman chacha, is it not?”
Doctor Rajneesh walked into see all the family members surrounding the old man; his arrival was not even noticed by them. He went to Ramprasad, tapped on his shoulder and a visibly surprised Ramprasad welcomed him and lead him to his father lying on the bed.
Doctor Rajneesh checked the old man thoroughly and spoke in low voice to the nurse enquiring the treatment provided so far.
He turned towards Ramprasad and spoke.” Ramprasad, I think you should take your father to a hospital in Lucknow as here in your village we don’t have facilities to treat him. He needs to be in an ICU. How fast you can shift him? I will write reference to a hospital and they will take good care.”
Ramprasad looked at Rajneesh and then towards his family members. They all nodded in agreement even as his son, started calling a friend to arrange for an ambulance.
Meanwhile, the nurse called out for the doctor. “doctor, patient is opening his eyes and trying to speak. Can I remove the face mask?”
Everyone went to the bed and doctor indicated that the oxygen mask be removed, albeit temporarily. Even as the nurse removed the mask, the old man looked around and finally, his gaze settled on his son. He tried calling his son’s name but the sound didn’t come. Sensing this, Ramprasad walked close to his father, bent his head and put his ears to his father’s lips in order to listen to the feeble sound coming out.
Ramprasad tried very hard to concentrate and listen to the sound. Finally, he lifted his face and spoke to his son. “Pappaji wants to write something. Bring the pad back.”
Even as Ramprasad held the pad with the shaking hands the old man took the ball pen and wrote again, something that looked like L but this time, the old man laboriously wrote something else across the word L, something that looked more or less like a straight line.
Even as Ramprasad held the pad for everyone to see, all the family members and the servant Lakshman looked with a puzzled look on their face, Doctor Rajneesh spoke in an irritated voice. “Ramprasad, I think you people are wasting time. You need to shift your father to the hospital at the earliest.”
Ramprasad’s son went out hurriedly to speed up the process of getting the ambulance and other family members too went around to get few necessary things packed for Ramprasad and the old man for their stay at the hospital.
Servant Lakshman walked thoughtfully towards the old man lying on the bed, stood close and stared at him. The old man looked at his faithful servant of more than seventy years and tried to speak. Lakshman bent his head and brought his ears close to the old man’s lips. In a voice barely audible, Lakshman thought he heard the old man saying something. He looked at the old man and spoke, “Saabji. What are you trying to say? Whatever you wrote, I know it can’t be English. Is it something else? Please tell me.” Lakshman once again put his ears and a smile crossed his face.
Lakshman called out to Ramprasad, “Beta, I know what Papaji is trying to tell. It is not English L that he is trying to write and tell us, it is actually number 7! I heard him speak just now, he said Saath! Please Beta, I think Papaji knows that he is dying, may be in 7 days. That’s why he trying to tell us not to take him anywhere. This is the house where he was born and grownup, got married and married his sons and daughter. I am sure, he wants to breathe his last here.”
Ramprasad, listened to Lakshman patiently and then looked at his father who appeared to be nodding his head. Even as he was contemplating what to do, his son announced that the ambulance has come and started taking the packed bags one-by-one.
Poor Lakshman who was only a servant at home could not say anything. He was surprised though, when Ramprasad wanted him to accompany him to the hospital. He hurriedly went to his room, took couple of his dresses and put them in a cloth bag and was about to leave when he suddenly noticed that their dog was not to be seen at home. In their eagerness to tend to the old man, virtually, everyone forgot about the dog.
Lakshman searched for the animal which he finally found in the room upstairs normally occupied by the old man; the old faithful animal was sitting near old man’s cot as if to mourn for the impending death of her master. The female dog which was named Ladly by the old man, was very close to the old man and every day, he made it a point to feed the dog personally before he ate.
Lakshman knelt down in front of the dog and caressed it lovingly and spoke. “Don’t worry, Ladly, nothing will happen to your master. We are taking him to hospital and will come back soon.”
The dog licked Lakshman’s hand and looked up; Lakshman thought that the dog’s eyes were wet. Despite repeated requests, Ladly refused to move.
Lakshman pulled himself up and went to the waiting ambulance. He thought he should tell about the dog to the lady of the house, Ramprasad’s wife. But Ramprasad called out for Lakshman saying it was getting late.
The old man was admitted to the hospital recommended by Rajneesh and was informed that he has an infected lung and would need to be in constant monitoring at least for few days.
Days went by; Lakshman faithfully stayed at the hospital tending to the old man by sitting near his bed, despite hospital authorities asking him to stay outside. The old man every now and then tried to speak through his face mask but couldn’t.
The news came exactly on the seventh day as predicted by the old man who desperately tried to warn everyone.
It was indeed 7 days from the time the old man was taken to the hospital that Ladly who had refused to eat anything and refused to budge from her place breathed her last, sleeping in the Oldman’s bed.