Kith, Kin & Atrocities is a short story which narrates the atrocities by friends and family in a hospital while a man is admitted in ICU. The story is written from the standpoint of his son mixed humor well with philosophy. If you like dark humor or black comedy, then this story is for you!!
Have you ever seen god? But I have seen many times!
Now my father is doing absolutely fine but few years ago, that morning around 5.45 AM, I got a phone call from my cousin who said my father is sick. What could happen to a person with whom I talked hardly 6 hours ago. He was fine then.
Must be "Heart attack" I guessed much before her confirmation. "We are yet to talk to doctors but we want you here as soon as possible" she alarmed the situation. It's quite common in our place that an average youth after his graduation migrates to the nearest metro for survival (job) and I am not exceptional too. I live in Chennai and my parents and relatives live in my hometown Coimbatore. I know there was a train to Coimbatore from Chennai central by 6.15 and I had less than 30 mins to catch it up, only then I would reach Coimbatore before 2 PM.
Without stop checking the updates from my cousin over the phone, I changed my cloths, while buttoning the shirt, knocked my friend's room in our studio apartment, signaled him who opened the door in half sleep to get ready and he did much quicker than I expected. I confirmed my cousin that I would reach Coimbatore before noon and rushed my friend to drive as fast as he can. I boarded the train just 20 secs before it's wheels started rolling over the track.
Around 3 AM that morning, my father felt a minor pain and now he is admitted in a private hospital in Coimbatore, that is all the information I got from my cousin. The train was overcrowded and I had no other choice other than standing at the very little space left near footboard. With heavy heart and pond of eyes I passed the information to my colleagues and friends balancing myself among the bunch of people around me.
When the train almost reached Katpadi station, my cousin called again and said "Angiogram is in progress, may require Angioplasty, it costs around 75K.........". Before she finish the passengers who had to get down at Katpadi station flooded the exit pushing me behind.
"Nevermind about money, let the doctors do whatever they want, I want my father to stay healthy, take care of my mom, ask her to eat something, stay strong, I will be there in few hours" I said wiping my running nose with bare hands.
A fat guy among the crowd intrrupted my phone call and shouted "you nasty fellow!! Don't you see that dirt in your hands".
I guess that was such a rare moment. I am a scary goat afraid of anything and everything. But that moment I shouted back furiously "what's it to you b*stard. Don't you see those tons of people standing there ready to get off the train? Don't you see them blocking the way to wash basin? Is everything here neat and clean?".
He didn't dare speak a word and the fat meat walked off the train as soon as it stopped at Katpadi station. My father says often "anger incurs nothing but loss", but I believe the only shield I have to protect myself from wicked people is anger.
I reached Coimbatore and then the hospital veranda on right time where all my relatives were gathered. I don't know why but I cried like a baby until doctor summoned me to his room.
The doctor granted me special permission to ICU to see my father. My father was sound asleep with lot of wires running across his chest, a small panel to his right which displayed his heartbeat and I think, it is ECG to his left which measured his pulse in waves.
I couldn't stop my tears when I saw the man who thought me many things in life. The doctor touched my shoulders and guided me to his bay before my tears drenched my chin.
The doctor showed me the scan report in 3D on a TV like device and explained "this is an Angiogram report. The medical term Angiogram is not a treatment but diagnosis method. There are nerves which carries blood to heart. Angiogram is dye like substance injected into nerves and this will highlight the blockage in color".
He pointed to a blue area in the report and continued further "Your father has 40% of block in one of the veins. If the block would have been little higher, we might have needed Angioplasty — a treatment of breaking the blocks with a help of a balloon like device sent through nerves. If the block is in multiple nerves, then we need by-pass surgery. But you must thank god, he can be cured with medicines. We need him here just for 5 days, he will be alright then. Cheer up" — the doctor tapped on my shoulders.
With the boost from doctor, I came back to veranda where all my relatives are gathered. My family is a big family, you can form a little army with all my relatives. Every 4 hours is a visiting hour in ICU. I don't know why but this little army and my father's friends would visit (disturb) him every session without fail.
I will be the first to enter because that's my responsibility and the little army would follow me, would even advice me "we should not talk to him or let him talk, just watch, enough!!". Having said that they themselves asks questions to my father without any courtesy or mercy that he is in ICU.
"3 AM I felt paiiiin, vomited, neighbour house saravanan took me in his bike to neaarest hospital which wassss closed, searched for med'cals, alsso closed, came hereee, they gaveee an injection, blacccked out", my father with medical wires across his chest narrates the whole incident to visitors which was around 12 to 16 people during every visit.
The nearby beds and patients are free and calm, only my father's bed is crowded like the train I traveled that morning. Every time the head nurse shouts at the little army grumbling, they will keep quite for a while after passing mutual advice "quit! quit! don't let him talk". Soon after a pause, they will forget the warning from head nurse and start asking questions again and again.
Such atrocity continued until I told one of the guy who asked "How is the pain? How it feels exactly". This time it was not my father, it's me who answered. I said "you will get to know when you get heart attack. Please wait until then".
The guy felt insulted but who cares. It's a nuisance you know, if a patient is in ICU, doctors will take care of him. As friends and family we should stand by patient's family. They need support. Our job should be in hospital veranda not inside ICU.
But what to say, same story continued for 3 days until my father was shifted to general ward for 2 more days of observation.
But useless questions and brainless visitors continued there as well. One of his cousin (for me, aunt) asked me "why is he here?". She meant it to be joke but that wasn't funny."Our home is full of mosquitoes! so we shifted" I countered back.
Another lady advised him, "Did you come in bike, how dangerous! Next time you call ambulance". "What next time? What do you mean? Shut up you b*tch" I shouted straight to her face.
Then came a group of 5 men. They were different but not good though, they asked questions only to me followed by throwing a formal greeting at my father.
"Now a days it is like a fever. In a home at-least one have underwent by-pass surgery. Why is it happening?! What are all the causes of heart attack" one gentle man asked me as if I am a doctor or scientist.
I said "primary causes are smoking, stress at work, lack of proper sleep, alcohol".
One man stopped me and disagreed "alcohol does not affect heart directly but the fried food items as side dish does. But we cannot say so, there are plenty of men out there who drinks day and night but walking healthy".
"Yes! Yes!" I said. No other go, they are all old men, in my society disagreeing elders' thoughts is considered as disrespect. Better not to commit that sin, I agreed to his point voluntarily and pointed out "could be smoking?".
Another man jumped in this time and said "no no.... ladies are getting heart attack. Do they smoke?! What you say for that?".
"Yes! Yes!" I said and hinted "could be oily fat food, coconut oil is rich in fat".
They disagreed again "no no, in kerala everyone is using coconut oil. No problem at all there!!".
No alcohol, No smoking, No oil, then what is left to blame for the cause of heart attack? Stress at work! Can we ask people to stop going for work and sit at home taking care of their heart. Even if I say so, these men anyway would disagree. So, I asked them "what could be the cause?".
"What could be the cause?" they asked me back and concluded in chorus "we don't know".
They don't know, they don't know what are the causes of heart attack! for that these men talked for hours. So, their objective is to keep the place noise but nothing else. Thank god I didn't get heart attack before my father is discharged to home.
He was healthy and handsome, bright and beautiful so as before, so as ever when we reached our home.
After sometime, the neighbor house Saravan came to my home, greeted my father. He is the only man who was missed in the visitors list at hospital. He is the man who took my father on right time to the hospital. He is the man who gave 10K to my mom for medical emergency and dropped her at hospital. He is the man who saved my father, my life.
I repaid the money and said "don't look at it as money, I am always indebted for what you did".
"Ha ha! Don't use big words. It's all man to man help. Tomorrow if something happens to me, won't you stand by my side?!" he asked casually while counting his cash.
"I got to go. See you later Bro!" he told my father before leaving my home in hurry.
Yes! I have seen God!
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