By some miraculous coincidence, exactly one year ago, my small family started seeing better days, after years of gloom and doom
Almost to this day last year, my general practitioner (GP) told me to get admitted to a hospital ASAP. I requested him for a few more days, for two reasons: One, an ageing, widowed paternal uncle wanted to introduce his one and only son to us (they were staying in Mumbai) and they were coming to stay with us for a day or two. Two, Narendra Modi had won the Lok Sabha elections and I wanted to see his swearing-in ceremony.
Over the weeks and months, jobless and penniless, and with that sinking feeling, I had been watching Mr Modi’s march with scepticism. I had also written an article a long time back in an online news portal that Mr Modi is destined to be the Prime Minister (PM) of India.
My son, then 16, was having his electrical and electronics diploma exams, but would follow all the news about Mr Modi, in the newspaper and online (TV was banned). My wife, a homemaker, was not interested in politics as much as she was in taking care of our house, her children and her husband. Yet, from my room on the first floor, she used to listen to Mr Modi’s speeches that I used to play live from my desktop, while doing her work in the kitchen or in the garden, where she grew a lot of vegetables.
As the political developments reached a crescendo, the excitement in our house was palpable. My son used to tell her the daily development on the Modi front. He even went to a meeting about 65kms away when the man came there. (We still have a cap as a memento: Funny part is that it is emblazoned in Gujarati and distributed in costal Karnataka!) I had issues with him going to the party rally, but my wife overruled me and allowed him to go there. It was, after all, a grand outdoor picnic, a break from his routine…
My daughter was never interested, nor bothered. Thank god for small mercies!
But my wife, truly the typical Hindu, middle-class housewife, more bothered with the early dawn to late night household chores who never, ever liked to gossip with even the next-door neighbours, slowly started developing an interest in the politics of the day.
A post-graduate teacher by profession who had to leave her job to pay attention to my small whims and fancies (a typical misogynist rogue that I was!), she was socially active. Call her for gossip and she would find ways to be excused. Call her for help on any subject on earth, including first aid, she would try and help. She used to hate garbage that people used to throw on the roads. Much, much before Mr Modi’s Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan, she was bowled over by Munnabhai MBBS. She tried to convince the neighbours, but when they did not respond, she took the broom and the tray and cleaned the roads near our house herself.
And she tried to inculcate this habit among our kids.
She enjoyed doing all the social work, yet we were leading a life of gloom and doom. Mainly because I was jobless, in huge debts, and health wise was going down.
Therefore, on 27 May 2014, after my relatives had left a day earlier, and the day after I had watched Mr Modi’s swearing in, I got myself admitted to hospital. Hospitals were never new to me. From 1993, when I first had an heart attack, in 1994 when I underwent a multiple bypass surgery, in 1998 when I suffered another attack and when it was discovered that three of four grafts had failed and doctors had given me two-four years. Also that I had hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia, and then subsequently frequent hospitalizations after coming to Manipal.
At first, it was three days followed by two weeks of observation. Then again, hospitalization and I started deteriorating. By the end of June, I was reduced to being a skeleton.
During this period, I needed something more than medicines: the daily juice in the form of news. In the hospital where I was admitted, getting an English newspaper was yet another trauma for my wife, and the only newspaper locally available was in Kannada, in which I am a certified illiterate. Those were dry days for me, almost every other day.
My condition started deteriorating; my vital parameters were indicating alarming ranges. Two packs of blood were infused for which my wife had to undergo an additional bout of trauma in other hospitals to arrange for it.
Yet, on 30th June /1 July 2014, I collapsed. Here, they could not help me and in the middle of the night, shifted me to the Critical Care Unit of a corporate hospital. That night an x-ray said it was pneumonia; the next morning they said it was multiple organ failure.
Whenever conscious, the journalist in me saw doctors handling an emergency accident case and a woman who was apparently sexually assaulted. Sitting by her bedside, there were a couple of cops—including a female constable—talking to her. I could not get up from the bed.
Meanwhile, the doctors told my wife that they can only keep me under observation and were pumping a lot of drugs into me. She was worried because we had no money. Every few hours, they handed over huge list medicines to be purchased from their pharmacy. Once during a few minutes of consciousness, she told me the doctors’ analysis. I told her: I want to die at home.
Two days later, my brother-in-law consulted as very senior physician in Mumbai. He said that if I can survive for more than 72 hours, then I “had a chance”.
I was incoherent, my brain was functioning sub-optimally and I had gone back into my childhood: to GoldSpot and what not. My kids were asking, what is GoldSpot! I was thirsty for GoldSpot.
But then, I started getting my juice: News!
And also news about Mr Modi!
And my Achche Din began…
Today, I am almost as active as I was about 35 years ago, when I began as a trainee journalist with Mid-Day in Mumbai.
I still berate my son for following too much of Mr Modi. His Facebook ID starts with “NamoV…”
My daughter, 13, is still not enamoured with Mr Modi, thank god again!
My wife also is savouring her Achche Din. She claims she has three Gurus. The first I will not name (who she believes gave me back this life along with our Kuladevata (family deity) Holy Mother), the second is yours truly and the third person is one Mr Narendra Modi!
By the way, the wife has found new avenues and now handles the front office of a 3-star hotel. These days, apart from editing stories for Moneylife magazine, sending a free daily events and panchang (almanac) mailer to a large group of community subscribers (this I had been doing for years), I also spend time at the hotel, suggesting ways to improve customer relations.
However, the overall sentiment in our family is this: despite all the problems we still have, the sense of gloom and doom has lifted, things are moving north and we are seeing better days. Sometimes, receivables are slow…
Yes, in our home, we do believe in Achche Din!
(Shrikant N Shenoy has been a journalist since 1980, having worked in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dubai. He launched a news portal and an online Konkani language channel from Manipal, Udupi, but ran out of money. In 2011, he successfully launched an English newspaper with five editions simultaneously on a shoe-string budget. He tweets as @udupinet