Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Changing roles of a wife

(Written in 2005)
A Sanskrit Sloka spells out the various roles to be played by a wife, exhibiting qualities ranging from the sublime to servitude. In his inimitable style, Bernard Shaw sumps up the same with only three stages- as mistress when young, as companion in middle years and as a nurse in old age.  If being a mistress means being seductive and attractive to the husband, I have tried my best and the fact that he has not gone ‘astray’, seeking greener pastures, proves it!  As a companion, I have participated in all his activities including attending boring Golf parties where the only conversation revolves around teeing and Birdies (whatever that means).  Now, I wear the mantle of a nurse cum mother to my husband who has brain cancer.
“Is everything ok baby?”  I asked my Neurosurgeon son as he studied the MRI reports.
“Everything is not ok Mom” he replied as he gently broke the news about the deadly tumor nestling on his father’s speech nerve.  As he explained the repercussions of the growth and its one way track of its journey in the brain, I sat stunned.  That was a year and two major surgeries ago.  Since then, my husband Srivatsa who was my rock of Gibraltar for 39 years has become my third child.
I still remember the feeling of numbness that surrounded my heart when I slowly digested what my son told me.  My first reaction was ‘why Srivatsa’?  And then realised that God has no obligation to answer such questions.  Maybe He had a grand plan of His own and chosen us to fulfill that.  Surprisingly, I did not feel pain nor anger-just bewildered that a tsunami hit us so suddenly.  That is when my listening to Joyce Myer and Swami Sukhabodanda for the last 2 years helped me.  I went to my pooja room and cried for a while and then sought God’s help to cope with this.  The uppermost thought was Srivatsa should not suffer any pain.  That is the only boon I ask God.  I now feel at peace with the situation, as I know God will do what is best for Srivatsa.  All I can do is shower him with the same love and affection that has been the foundation of our marriage.
I sit by him silently, reading a book on the Karma theory, sometimes watching TV or just remembering the lovely years we have spent together.  He holds my hand in a tight grip, unable to express what he feels, falling into a deep sleep and occasionally surfacing to flash a weak smile.  Humming “Teddy Bear Teddy Bear brush your teeth”, I move the battery-operated toothbrush coaxing him to say “aaaaaah” while I do Dishum dishum with the germs.  Bathing times are fun as I train the hand shower pretending he is a plant and I am a Gardner.  Getting him into his clothes, buttoning his T shirt and dabbing baby powder under his arms, I plant a peck on his cheek as I tuck him in for his morning nap while I rush to make his breakfast porridge.  I love spooning food into his mouth, cajoling like I do with my grandchildren to show me a “tiger mouth”, wiping a morsel hovering around his lips.  Every day is a new dawn of hope that he will say something new, each gesture is a challenge to be interpreted the right way.  I make him recite Jack and Jill and clap when he gets it right.  He was my management Guru at one time, teaching what leadership is all about by example.

 No more parties…no more dancing to old melodies on Saturday nights…no more hanging out with cronies at the club…no more shopping sprees or short holidays…PERIOD.  But no regrets.  Those halcyon years as mistress and companion were hectic, exciting and fulfilling
Now, as he sleeps unconscious, breathing gently, biding his time to reach his heavenly abode, I play the final role of a wife as nurse cum mother, putting a flourishing signature to the end of a fragrant, romantic letter.