Dad had a small fall and broke his hip bone. Yesterday was his hip replacement surgery. Kind of runs in the family, Mom, aunt all had hips replaced before they passed away. St.Peter would have had some problem screening and letting them into heaven. Back to Dad. Before the operation Dad was telling my brother about funeral arrangements. Must have been a precaution taken in his usual meticulous way.
Successful surgery done by able young doctors. Not even blood needed. Must have been top precision operation. Dad was more surprised than anyone else to have come out of it so smoothly. Only a day ago he was asking for painkiller. Under similar circumstances Mom was screaming with pain. She was one who could put up with anything.
He seems to be on top of the world just to be alive. Today, just one day after the surgery they made him walk, The doc said its a morale booster dose to make them walk soon as possible.
Dad was so happy to be alive, he started opening up to my brother things we never knew. Kind of 103 year old secrets coming out crystal clear. Kind of Mrs.Cleo Threadgoode in Fanny Flagg’s ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the whistle Stop Cafe’ relating her story precisely to anyone willing to listen.
He was born in a shack like hospital which was behind present day eye hospital within General Hospital complex. It was the only maternity hospital 103 years ago. For a moment I was envious of my brother. I wanted to be the listener.
He was pointing out the irony that the distance between his birth and death would have been very short, the cemetery being just opposite the road. Just 103 years squeezed in between.
He said his childhood was worse than that of sub-Saharan African and yet here he is still around at 103.
He must have been 2 or 3 when first world war broke out. Famine like situation followed.
Aunt Irene nearly died of Typhoid. It was so bad they nearly gave her up for dead. It was some miracle that saved her. He even remembered the first thing she said after she recovered. Her condition was so bad that he went and begged the parish priest to come and give her last rites and the priest, whose name he still remembers, ignored him.
Reminded me of my friend whose dog was sick. There was no vet anywhere close by in the provinces. She has no money to take it far nor for any medicine. Poverty was such that birthdays were happy with a coke and a cupcake with a candle. She just hugged the dog and prayed for death to come fast.
When time came for his first communion everybody was as usual to be dressed in white. But he didn’t have a white dress. Somebody promised him one but did not turn up at the last moment. There was a black jacket at home and he was forced to wear that. So he is asking to imagine the humiliation of this sole guy in black among the sea of white clad children.
There was no food during first world war. So you had to go and wait in a queue to collect the pith of palm trees. This his dad used to do. One had to bring it home and get it ground to flour and make something out of it to eat.
Grandpa died when Dad was 7. The burden of 2 sisters and his mom on his shoulder.
Tony my brother: I was reading somewhere that all Indians have genetic modifications caused by famine during olden days so their pattern of diseases is completely different from those of other people. Even eating good diet cannot change that. Ravages of famine is still visible on some faces.