Laxmi Natraj



Laxmi Natraj


The Sleeping Pills ( Part Ii )

The Sleeping Pills ( Part Ii )

10 mins


(Story so far-- The Retired Professor Venkat was too lonely and bored, decides to end his life, gets the Sleeping pills. While returning from his last visit to the Temple, he collapsed on the road and on opening his eyes in the hospital realizes, that he had lost his memory totally, and cannot even remember his name. Now read on)

The next morning doctor came with a young lady. He said, “Sir, this is Sudha, who brought you here. I think you may be suffering from a temporary memory loss, because of the blood pressure stroke. It may take some time, but one or another day, you will definitely regain your memory back. You don’t have any memory, neither did we find any ID from you, after your accident, But if I discharge you from the hospital, where will you go now?”

He looked on pathetically, with a deep guilt feeling. He cannot even pay the doctor’s bill now, as he does not have even a name! Sudha, standing near the doctor, stepped near him and said softly, “Uncle you are like my father to me! Why don’t you come with me and stay at my house, until you become normal? Is that OK for you?”

The doctor also joined and said, “Yes Sir, This seems to be a good idea. Otherwise, where will you go now?”

He hesitantly said, “But doctor, your bill?” The doctor smiled as he answered, “Don’t worry, for the time being, Sudha has paid your bills. You can repay her, as and when you could find your name and identity”

Venkat came to Sudha’s house. The well-furnished, modern house reflected affluence. A room was kept ready for him even before he arrived. After settling him in his room, she said, “For the time being I am keeping Ramu here, to take care of you. If you need anything else, please let me know! ”

He said, “Sudha, what about the other members of your house? Will it be Ok, for them, if I stay here?”

Sudha smiled and said. “Uncle don’t worry about that part. I live all alone in this house. No one else stays here with me”. After briefing Ramu about the medication etc., she left the room.

The next day Ramu helped him to walk to the breakfast table. He had breakfast with Sudha. Later she said, “Uncle I will be going out and will return only in the evening. The cook will serve your lunch. Anything else is needed Ramu will help you”

Ramu helped him to the bathroom where the hot water was kept ready for him. When he dried himself he was surprised when Ramu handed over a fresh Kurta and the South-Indian variety of Dhoti. As he looked up amazed, Ramu said, “Sir, Madam has brought four sets of dresses for you, as you will need them, ” He had no words to talk.

Evening, Sudha came back and had bought a bunch of journals and magazines for him to read. They had dinner quietly and he noticed that Sudha did not talk much.

The next day, with the help of Ramu, he walked around the house. He saw the front room had several framed pictures. One of them was Sudha, and an elderly person, looked like her father, performing in a large musical concert. There was one very large picture, in which a bunch of four men and one single lady were smiling broadly.

Ramu said, “Sir, this is the Madam’s husband her father, brother along with her in-laws. Just 3 months back, all of them were killed at the same time, in a car accident and it was such a shock for Madam to lose everyone at the same time. She was married only six months back”.

Venkat's breath stopped, and he stared at Ramu. All loving ones at the same time, only 3 months back! He stammered, “Ramu how could Sudha take all these..?” He dare not finish his question. Ramu replied, “Madam is such a divine person. Just one month after the accident, she had started attending her father’s office and had adjusted herself for life”

Evening when they had dinner together, Sudha was kindly enquiring with concern about his health, medication, etc. He was feeling a deep pity for her and found it difficult to talk normally. As they finished Sudha said, “Uncle whole day sitting alone in the house may be a little boring for you. Why don’t you join me, when I go to the office tomorrow? You need not stay for the whole day but, by lunch, I will get you dropped back in the house. So what do you say?”

He nodded his head and walked back to his bedroom. He talked to himself, “What will I do in her office? Ok, I can see what type of office or business she is managing”

The next morning as their car entered a huge compound the big signboard outside surprised him. The name said, “A loving nest for babies and grandbabies”

As they were just getting down, a dozen children, playing in the garden came running towards her shouting, “ Amma has come” As they jumped on her, she hugged them all and said kindly, “ Go and play, I will join later with you”

Just he was recovering from his surprise Sudha said, “Uncle we have to check the kitchen. If you like you can come along”

What was there in the kitchen to watch? But still, he nodded and said, “Yes, I will come along” But when he entered a long hall bursting with a loud noise of laughter, he was hardly expecting this.

Across a long working table, men and women sat on either side of the table cutting vegetables. Some were pealing the peas while some were chopping vegetables. All of them were very old senior citizens, with white hairs and wrinkled faces. But what was so surprising was, that they were all shouting and giggling as if they were schoolchildren.

One of them was shouting “Hey Rukmani! Don’t cheat. I know you picked up some peas from my shelled ones” The women shouted back, “Yesterday you pinched from my pealed onions right? So this is the punishment for this” Everyone burst out laughing. All were talking something very loud and every time there were peals of laughter. A large number of vegetables were piled in the center of the table and everyone was picking up at random, freely. There was no fixed schedule and everyone was doing what they liked.

As one of them saw Sudha, they all started cheering, “Hi Sudha, why are so late today? Another one shouted, “Oh a new member of our club?”

Sudha talked something sweetly, to every one of them, and later they moved out. They entered Sudha’s cabin Venkat waited silently as she efficiently handled some files and so many assistants one after other and attended telephone calls in between. Soon a bell started ringing.

Sudha said, “Come uncle, it is lunchtime. Let us go for lunch” They entered another huge room, where many children and elders were already seated. The seating arrangement was circular, so everyone could see others. The surprising fact was that every child was seated between two elders. As the lunch proceeded, the kids and the elders seated near were constantly talking and enjoying.

After tea in the evening again the elders and kids were playing together in the garden. Even the old fragile lady was playing run and catch and kids playing with her purposely ran slow pretending to catch her.

Like the sunset, they returned home. On the way, Sudha explained, “My father had started only an orphanage for kids. As a large amount of vacant land was available for us to build, we thought of this idea. Most of these elders are people, who had retired from high posts like police, Judges, or professors. Spending time like this together with kids is very satisfying for both. The kids are getting the love of grandparents, and the elders are getting the love of grandchildren. Doing some simple physical work fills them with satisfaction. Most of them return to their houses in the night, while some stay back if they like to stay. It is totally left to their choice”

Venkat sighed deeply and with a mild querying voice said, “I do not have any words to express my gratitude, for your father and you, who had put other’s happiness before your own comfort and had brought happiness to so many lives” Sudha just smiled.

The next day when Venkat awoke from his sleep, by habit, he put his hand out to search for his cell phone. Since he could not find it, he got up and sat on his bed. Then in a flash, he remembered everything. This is not his house. He was living in Sudha’s house. Like cloud burst, all the memory came gushing down. His last day in his house, his preparation with sleeping pills, his visit to the temple, and collapsing on the road. He looked at the date calendar. He realized that 15 days had passed. He sat too amazed at how his life had changed in these 15 days.

As he came to the breakfast table he was bursting with excitement. Just as he saw Sudha he burst out, “Sudha I got my memory back. I can remember everything now”

Sudha smiled and said, “Very good uncle! So now he remembers that your name is Venkat, the retired IIT professor?”

Venkat looked at her with an open mouth. Then he stammered, “Sudha, you knew that my name and that I am an IIT professor and all…”

Sudha still smiled and said, “Yes Uncle, and I also know about the piled Sleeping pills on the plate at your house”

Venkat sat heavily on the chair and just stared at her unable to talk anything. Sudha said, “I will tell you the whole story uncle. Once I admitted you to the hospital, I took your purses and keys which were found with you. I went to the same place where you collapsed on the ground and asked a shopkeeper your address, which I found from your Driving license. I thought of informing your family members about your as they may be worried. The security at the gate told me that you live all alone, and are going to Pune in the morning, but now not at home. I used the key and opened the house thinking of collecting some dresses etc. for you. But once I reached the bedroom I saw the piled-up pills, your suicide note. So I decided not to pick up anything from your house and came back to the hospital.

The hospital I admitted you belong to my uncle, who treated you. When you were unconscious I told uncle everything about you, and your sleeping pills at home. Together we thought of a plan for you. We purposely kept you highly sedated and made you believe that you have lost your memory. Since I noticed the change in your attitude after visiting my children’s home, yesterday we stopped those pills for you. That is why you can clearly think today”

The eyes of Venkat welled and he blankly looked at Sudha, unable to talk. Sudha placed his purse and keys on the table and watched him silently. He could not speak. Here was a young lady, who had lost all-- her newly married husband and all loved ones, her future, at one stroke, but still she stood so bravely, picking up the threads of life. He with all his comfort in life was too selfish, only thought about his happiness.

Sudha asked, “So uncle what is your plan now? Shall we?”

Venkat wiped his eyes and said, “Sudha, let us first eat our breakfast. Then we will go to the “Nest of love for kids and grandkids” and join the group for play and cutting vegetables. Maybe I will choose to live there”

They started their breakfast talking happily about the new plans they can implement for the “Nest of love”

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