Friday, June 23, 2006


It's my 53rd -- the same number as my birth year. Weird, isn't it? I never thought I'd make it to 40 never mind beyond fifty! Amazing.

Well, the main event of the day was taking my Mum to the hospital to get her stitches removed. The hero of the day (and of the surgery) was my cousin Khi, who made the appointment, arrived at our house with her driver and her Hyundai at 1.30 to collect Mum, Mum's day-girl attendant and moi. Apollo Hospital is an extraordinary place, a cross between a railway station, a 3-star hotel and an asylum -- there are crowds of crazed people milling about and noise but ... the floors are clean and the place functions, despite all. We had only a ten minute wait, and then another ten minutes before Mum was out again.

She wore a sari for the appointment, the first time in two months and looked fresh in her crisp cotton burnt-orange ensemble. She was tense all the way, until we had arrived and she saw that there were wheelchairs right at the entrance to the hospital, with young attendants always on the hop to transport new arrivals away. She had no fear of the procedure, having had enough surgeries to know that this is the least of the problems. When she was done, the young doctor attending to her told us that the wound had healed well -- it was a small incision, a key-hole -- and that she needn't return for a month. So we went home feeling a great sense of accomplishment. She wanted only to lie down, and of course all movement is slow and painful but ... it's not the pain that wracked her for two months before the surgery, so she's very grateful.

And moi? Well, for some years now, I've been following an idea that no-one else is interested in, of not taking birdies very seriously. I mean, sure: I'm thrilled to acknowledge another anniversary of my existence! But I don't mind or care very much if no-one else is, or if it's forgotten. I'm glad for what there is in the way of good wishes and gifties -- I got a great one, this time in spite of my efforts to fend it off when it was suggested to me earlier: a new cellphone which all but brushes my teeth for me! I tried to resist it, saying I had JUST bought a new phone, like three months ago, the day of my departure to the US (because my previous instrument was a terminal case and it is precisely while arriving/departing on journeys that one wants one's instruments of communication to wurk!) and though it was the India's Best model -- i.e., super cheap -- it worked very well and -- and --

What can I say? It's VERY NICE to have a cutting edge model -- oh, of course NOT the fanciest, most expensivest one! -- which is yet within the range of mere mortals, with a wee camera and a radio and COLOUR ...

So yes, there was that, and there was much cake too -- one baked by my sister G, who alas was not in Madras for the birdy, but left for Bombay early in the morning and another sent by M, a lusciously chocolatey one, fresh from the Chola Sheraton! And flowers from my sister S, all the way from the US (of course the flowers themselves are local) -- pink roses and cream-white orchids -- and good wishes from various friendly corners of my world, including, most thrillingly, from VERONA in Italy! Where an intrepid friend/nephew Sumant is currently enjoying the staging of Midsummer Night's Dream for which he created a fabulous set.

At night Mum, my brother-in-law GCD and my niece M and I had a pleasant dinner downstairs, of aloo-ka-paratha and cake and red wine (a very smooth and likeable Merlot). MaiTai, my little niece-let was buzzing about industriously, and Mum's night-nurse, her cook and the upstairs cook were all having a small get-together of their own, watching the downstairs TV and eating their cake.

It was good.


Amrobilia said...

Happy Splurge Day To You! And congrats on your new phone...did yu see my prev comment?

Amrobilia said...

...and, ofcorn, Rohinton's 'A Fine Ballantine...very good.

Marginalien said...

Thanks Amro! Funny how these gadgets become like little personalities ...

Yes I saw the previous comment -- great that your parents are so well. It's painful (for me, here) to watch the struggle for dignity, independence and self-control gradually slipping -- slipping -- ALWAYS slipping.

This may sort of explain why I feel the need for moderation in all expressions of celebration. It's been a theme for some time, not just in reference to birdies. Most people, for instance, in response to my talk of travel, say "Oh! So -- did you have a great time?"

It's hard for me to answer that one. I know the only response is supposed to be, "Yes! Outstanding!" Because for some reason we're only keen to hear good news.

But reality for me has become a constant awareness that whatever I'm doing, I am aware of my mother marking time, doing her best to be brave, fighting the Inexorable -- and so long as I know that, it doesn't matter how brightly the sun shines overhead, there is a corner of my mind that is forever in shade. And that's just ONE instance. There are so many millions more ...

I am not, in any sense, suggesting that we should be continuously morose -- I certainly am not -- but boundless pleasure seems out of the question too. I feel grateful for what I have and that's ... all.

mp said...

Happy Birthday!

And I thought I'd let you know that you're listed in the Kerala Blogroll. I don't know how I came across your blog, but it must have come with irrefetubale proofs of some Kerala connection. (Now don't break my heart and tell me that you are as much connected to Kerala as I am to Trinidad and Tobago!) Apparently your blog was added on the 5th of last July, so that's another anniversary coming up for you.

cheers (and best wishes to your mom),

Sharanya Manivannan said...

Happy belated birthday! (My silly admission is that I saw your post, thought I would come back when I had something clever to say, then forgot). :P

Behroze Shetty said...

Hi Manjula!
This is Behroze Shetty (nee Oomrigar) from Michigan, USA.My dad Bomi Oomrigar worked with Girish Doctor at Bradma Ltd. in Bombay. My parents, Khorshed and Bomi, were friends with Girish uncle and Geeta aunty-using the past tense as both my parents are now deceased.A while back, looking thro my mom's stuff, I found a letter from U.Girish and A.
Geeta.Tried to phone them to let them know that mom had passed away but have not been able to get thro to them so far-maybe its an old no.
Would appreciate it if you would send me their address &/or tel nos(with their permission of course!)-would love to communicate with them.My

Anonymous said...

heh mp! happy birthday! long long ago, i met a rishi by the banks of ganga who told me (after imbibing some of the favourite i was carrying!) that b'days are a day of mourning really - as it shows you've got one year closer to your stay on planet earth. best wishes nonetheless!! gt

Marginalien said...

Thanx (for birdy greetings) Sharanya and gt -- or as gt's swami-by-the-banks might prefer, HAPPY MORGUE-IS-CLOSER DAY greetings!! Whatever.