The evil eye has fallen on Anna! Go grab three red dry chilies, some rock salt, and mustard seeds. Close your fists and rotate your fists over Anna’s imaginary head. The right fist clockwise and then the left fist, anti-clockwise. Repeat to complete three sets. Then burn the contents of both fists on a hot tawa!! Don't tell me if it smokes and stings your eyes or not! I will just assume it worked.
But jokes apart, let me tell you why I said that. Since August this year, I have been unable to take Anna out for coffee every weekend as I used to. Not because Anna or I don't want to. It’s because he is lethargic or sleeping on weekends. So 2-3 weeks can pass before I manage to take him out.
So this December, after a couple of weeks of trying to take Anna out, we finally manage to go to Saket Select Citywalk. I've been prepping him for days. Telling him about our planned coffee outing, reminding him of the cookies and muffins he likes. The attendant spends the morning telling Anna again and again that we are planning to go out. I know this may seem like a lot of planning and enthusiasm for a coffee outing, but it is a big thing.
Anna is bright and awake. We park at our usual place in the P1 handicapped parking area. I ask Anna if he will walk or does he want to be driven in "his BMW"? (Anna affectionately refers to his wheelchair as his BMW). Anna says he will walk. We shuffle-stop-shuffle-stop-shuffle slowly into the mall. I chatter on about the sights, from the mundane (the trophy case) to the exotic (decorations). I am just trying to keep him involved (and awake).
Anna is very interested and curious. He notices everything. We stop after a few shuffling steps for him to catch his breath and converse.
Anna: What are those small windows?
Me (looking at the new Google phone and tablet display in the atrium): Anna, those are not windows, those are phones on display.
Anna: Very large phones.
Me: Yes, Anna.
Anna: People can build muscles using the phone. Two benefits for the price of one.
What??? We shuffle some more.
Anna: This floor is so bright.
Me: Bright Anna? Pause. Yes, it is shining.
Anna: Bright and shining. Means the same thing when we talk about a floor.
Me: Yes Anna.
Anna: I have to be careful. Pause. I may slip.
Me (referring to me and Anna's attendant): Don't worry Anna, you are being supported by two people.
Anna (referring to Mahatma Gandhi and his grandnieces Abha and Manuben): How Gandhi-esque!
What??? I don't want to get into the controversy surrounding Gandhiji and his grandnieces, and hence encourage him to walk (shuffle) some more.
Me: Anna, you are walking a lot today. Aren't you tired?
Anna: No. I can walk more.
Me (impressed by his stamina): What did you eat for breakfast today?
Anna is confused by this statement.
Me: Anna, if you talk a lot, then people ask if you had alphabet soup for breakfast. So if you walk a lot, I ask what you ate for breakfast.
I think this is too convoluted for Anna. It is. He just quotes a poem he and his brothers were purportedly taught for an entire semester in junior school.
Anna: One foot up and the other down, that is the way to London town.
Me (not even thinking of the dichotomy of London Town referring to an US Company's brand!): That's right Anna. One foot up and the other down.
By now we are nearing Starbucks. What a feat!!! For a man who walks barely 100 metres on any given day.
Me: Anna, can you see Starbucks?
Anna (tilting his head a bit): No. Where?
Me (pointing to Starbucks, which is just ahead): Anna, can't you see the green logo?
Anna (squinting a little): Hmm! It doesn't matter if I can see the logo. I can smell the coffee. That is most important.
It sure is!!
The smell of coffee propels him to Starbucks and a table (they still do not have tables that are wheelchair-friendly). He sits with a loud sigh. And then goes on to demolish a oatmeal and raisin cookie after drinking a cappuccino.
Caregiving sure feels like endless days of "one foot up and the other foot down"!
(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:
From a Real Life Piku: Looking After an Elderly ‘Child’
My Anna Holds on to his Bata Sandals, Even as He Loses his Memory
Who Knew That Nutella Would Convince My Old Dad to Take his Pills?
For a Dad with Parkinson’s, I’d Get Him All the Junk Food He Wants
Pray, Why Does My 87-Year-Old Anna Need an Aadhaar Card?
When Anna Forgot the Words for Pain & Medicine & Suffered Quietly
I Have a Dad With Parkinson’s (& Here’s What I Don’t Need to Hear)
A Dialogue: The Day I Saw My Dad For the Feminist That He Is