“Harshu, you come come with me to the hospital” ( Harshiith, our son is fondly called as Harsh, Harshoo, Harshi in the family ).

“Yes, I will…. but pa( that’s how my son address me) I have an inter-college swimming competition today morning and I’m a part of the team representing the college. Divu has his exams going on, he too can’t come.

“A simple yes or no would do beta! No problem. You carry on, I will manage.” I shot a calm cold response

My tone was a mix of positive and negative, concern and sarcasm. I didn’t want him to miss the competition, I was happy that he was representing his college yet I was hurt that Harshu gave this competition more importance than my medical situation. To ease out the tension of surgery, I had made jokes about how minor it was,  plus I told them about the operation only the previous evening, so his denial was justified.  

I had agreed to get my ankle operated almost instantly after all efforts to heal the wound, and arrest the infection through medication had failed . X-ray showed that the pin implanted in the ankle 2 decades back had turned by 90 degrees, creating the trouble, not allowing the wound to heal. As soon as my doctor asked “When would you like to get operated?” I replied instantly, “Tomorrow”. 

Back of my mind, I had many thoughts running through; 

  • No point in delaying the surgery. It’s inevitable. I need to get over this pain and be mobile, Can’t limp anymore. 
  • One day should be enough to make the arrangements and to get the insurance approval.
  • I will have to remove the water bottle to ensure not to drink anything 12 hours before the surgery. 
  • To get the items I would need pre and post surgery, like clothes, toothbrush, books, phone, charger etc. 
  • To get the previous test results for reference. 

The one thing I missed to plan was who will be with me during the surgery and the hospital stay. 

Harshu asked “Can’t you take ma with you? In his eyes, I saw a factual practical concern. 

“No, I don’t want to risk her catching COVID, especially at a hospital and she is required more at home to take care of you kids.”

Acting brave and down playing the whole situation I booked a cab and went to the hospital by myself. Sharp at 7 AM, I was admitted. At 10 AM, as I was ushered into OT  for the surgery, the head nurse asked who was along with me to take care of the running around required to get medicine, food, etc.  I told her that I will manage it—some assisting staff can get the medicine from the hospital pharmacy, and as far as food is concerned I will order it. (What was I thinking, that I will be able to order paneer paratha and pulav from swiggy to the hospital ward?) Head nurse insisted that I should call someone. Left no choice I had to ask my wife to come over. 

She too was very practical and grounded. She asked me to call after the surgery was over so that she will have enough time to prepare food for kids, and she can bring some for me. Fair enough, I thought.

Two hours later when I was moved out of the operation theatre, the pain was at its peak, insurance approval was in a denial stage, no one was available to get the medicine, my wife was yet to start from home. I had to be on call with the insurance agent, my wife, ,and on mail with the insurance company. While it wasn’t a great situation, I had anticipated rather created it knowingly, so somehow I wasn’t cribbing about it. 

And then things began to turn…. His grace began to flow. It was as if Swamiji uttered, “I have seen your plans, its my turn now!!”

I opened my eyes and there was  Harshu standing beside my bed. I was surprised. 

“How come??” I was bewildered and worried that he skipped his competition to be at the hospital. 

“My competition was at this venue which is walking distance from the hospital so I just walked in after the competition finished.” Harshu replied casually. 

“Pa, how was the surgery? Are you okay? When can you start walking? Have they taken out the rod and wires?” A concerned son, asked me, with the same look he had in the morning. This time in his eyes I saw concern, care, compassion. He got the medicine, the food, ran the errands and sat quietly by my side for the rest of the time before I sent him back home as he too had deadlines to meet. In between the surges of pain, I was happy to have him by my side. I probably had a hint of smile all along. 

Then the insurance agent called and confirmed that the insurance firm had waived the requirement of documents pertaining to 20 year old surgery. The claim was finally approved. I took back the payment I had made to the hospital.  Though in pain and alone, now I was happy and relieved. 

Couple of hours later, my wife entered the room. It could be minutes but in pain, time appears to move very very slowly. Her wide eyes were staring at the bandaged leg and they had this expression asking me, how was the leg….even before I could say anything all my in-laws entered the room one after the other. they made the environment light, full of jokes and smiles. Later my parental family members joined. There were moments when I forgot the surgery, the hospital, the pain.. We were a happy lot, joking and pulling each others leg. It was family time in the most unusual setting of a hospital with a bandaged leg. 

Why did it have to be a painful surgery that brought the pleasure of having the whole family together? A simple yes or no was what my mind was looking for but sometimes it’s not that simple!!

“A simple yes or no would do,” that statement I had told Harsh in the morning flashed in my mind. His no was not a no, it had a yes to many of my wishes of him being a good all rounder. It’s not that simple!!  Speaking of yes and no, I am reminded of Mulla Nasiruddin’s story.

He was famous for his wisdom and his eloquence.

Once he was arrested and presented in the court for trial. His argument puzzled the magistrate so much that he ordered “Mulla, you are a wise man and your arguments are confusing , so speak very little by answering the questions with either a  “Yes” or “No.”

Mulla argued, “My Lord!! you gave me a vow to speak the truth. Free me from that vow and then I will answer with Yes or No. Until I am under the oath, I will have to explain in details.”

Judge argued, “What is this, Why can’t you just reply with a “Yes” or “No.”

Mulla argued, “No, its not possible.” They were at loggerheads.

Then Mulla proposed, “My Lord!! Let me ask you a question  and you reply with either a “Yes”, or “No” and then I too will respond with either a “Yes” or “No.” Magistrate agreed. 

Mulla asked: From today, have you stopped beating your wife? Now , Magistrate was stuck. If he responded with a yes, it would mean that he had been beating his wife all along and no would imply that he beats his wife. 

“Answer, its either a “Yes” or a “No.”.” Sometimes its not that simple!!

My chain of thoughts broke when my wife protested to my brother -in-law’s praises of me daring of a surgery all by myself. “Don’t take his side, Don’t!!” She protested, turned towards me and asked ” You will never listen to me, right? Answer….  अब बोलों ….”

I could not say “No, I will not”. And dare I say “Yes, I will not listen.

अरे मियाँ !! This is how a बेगम (wife) can shut you up, and then blame you for not speaking up. Don’t break your head, wife is always right !!   

A smile began at the corner of my eyes and slowly spread across my checks as I deeply gazed at her. She was looking at me  and then I winked at her. She was conscious of the presence of the family members.

As she blushed, question…. flushed,

As love gushed, logic….. hushed . 

Answer Yes or No is….. shushed!

As a caring touch … brushed!!

Sometimes it’s simple….. that much!!

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Vejay Mehta

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