An NIIT center in the 80s, was a beehive of frantic activity. Young people manning the reception would be counselling potential students who were just a few months or a few years younger. Potential students would be scattered on sofas and chairs, completing forms or taking aptitude tests. Employees would be in and out of the front office area, coming and going from customer visits, or classes. So there was never really a quiet moment in the building from 6.30 am (when the first class started) to 9.30 pm (when the last class ended).
On one June afternoon, in the blistering heat of summer, my father, Anna, arrived at our Safdarjung Enclave centre and asked to meet me. The four members of the front office team were so busy that they called out for help from Piyush.
A Complicated Process
Anna was perplexed with this turn of events. He had worked for the government from the start of his career. He had especially been used to offices where guests walked into a reception and asked to meet someone. They then filled a register with personal details, and were given a pass – after which they were escorted by a peon to the relevant room. But here, he was confronted with what looked like chaos.
Piyush asked Anna his name and whom he wanted to meet. Anna said, “I am Mr. Murthi. I want to meet Sangeeta Murthi”.
Piyush subsequently sent an office-boy up the stairs to the third floor, to look for me. In those days there were no intercoms.
I was facilitating a class at that time, so the office boy stuck his head into the room and told me, “Mr Murthi is here to see you.”
I said, “Ask him to wait” and went back to the exciting world of COBOL (actually, I hope it was the session on “Using Tables /Arrays in COBOL”, my favourite!)
Anna waited patiently for some time, and then re-started the cycle by asking again to meet me. The counsellors called out to Piyush, and Piyush to Mahesh. Up the stairs went Mahesh, only to return with the “Ask him to wait” message. I must have been teaching “Using Tables /Arrays in COBOL”!!!
‘They Only Asked for My Name’
It seems that this sequence was carried out a couple more times, till Piyush, who withered under the piercing eyes of the counsellors and a slowly-getting-impatient Anna, ran up three flights of stairs and insisted that I come down to the reception.
As we descended the stairs I asked Piyush, “Who Mr. Murthi?”; “What does he want”; “What is his full name?”
“How should I know” retorted Piyush, who obviously had no idea who this man was and why he was here. Piyush was just doing a good deed for our over-worked counsellors!
As soon we reached the ground floor, I peeped into the reception to see Anna. “Oh My GOD”, I said to Piyush, “He is my father!!!!”
When I asked Anna why he did not tell people that he was my father, he looked at the people milling around and said quietly, “But everybody only asked my name!!!”
(After working in corporate India for over 29 years, Sangeeta has taken time off to look after her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008. Sangeeta hopes that these authentic stories will help patients and caregivers understand and appreciate the impact of Parkinson’s Disease. You can follow Sangeeta’s blog here.)
Related Links in the Series
How my Father, the Parkinson’s Patient, Aced the Spoken Word
The Six-Day Merry-Go-Round
The Story of How My Father Learned to Swim
My Father’s Love of Sweet Things Knows No Bounds
From a Real Life Piku: Looking After an Elderly ‘Child’
‘Anna’: My Father’s Tryst With Speed
Dealing with Dependence: A Daughter’s Tale of her Father