May 24, 2017
The accident took place on 26th March. I was admitted in the hospital for 19 days after that. The doctors thought I should be admitted in the general ward, as it would be easier for people to reach me in case of any emergency.
I was whining about it at first. I wanted my privacy. I did not like the people there. They kept talking. They kept making sounds and worst of all, everyone just kept on asking what happened and how it happened. They seemed very curious, interested and or I should say very nosey. But I should admit that they were very helpful. The moment they got to know me, they started talking to me every day, they were ready to help me with whatever I wanted. And when I saw these people helping my mum out with stuff, I decided to stop whining and just stay there as moving to a private ward would not be really the best for my mum. It wasn’t really difficult. I got used to the place fast.
I would say it was a very good decision. The place taught me a lot in those 19 days, learnt a lot about patience, about solitude, about the kindness of strangers, about time, about the value of it, the value of conversations, relationships that mattered, people who cared, people who didn’t and a lot of other important things. I learnt a lot more in those 19 days than what I had learnt in the past couple of weeks.
The most important of all, I learnt about love. Surprising. This is something that I was really glad I learnt. Love had recently been a very confusing emotion to me, I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. But I got the slightest idea of what love actually might really be. These days changed my whole perception on love. What is love? What are relationships? What are marriages?
I met a lot of people who taught me all these, showed me all these. I met a 70 year old granny who was taking care of her 78 year old husband. This sounds really normal but taking care of a person in the hospital isn’t really the same as just taking care of a person. I was feeling like a pain in the ass to the people around me already. And I saw her clean up his shit after him, literally. I saw her helping him walk when she herself couldn’t walk properly. They were from a city called Karaikal. The old man had had a spinal surgery. He kept crying of pain, all night. And every night, she stayed up the entire time just to make sure he got his painkillers properly. She walked around the ward at nights to check whether any other patient needed any attention. The man got discharged 2 days prior to me and I saw the smile on her face. She was shining brighter than the man himself.
There was one more patient who had a surgery on his spine. His 12 year old daughter was taking care of him. She gave her dad a bath every day. She helped him shit. She helped him piss. And she was almost the only support he had in there. His wife visited every morning to drop off the food she had made them for the day.
An old man who wasn’t able to walk properly due to some reason had been admitted in the ward for more than a month. They came to Chennai after treatments failed in 3 other places. His wife was staying with him and I came to know she had a severe diabetes because she just kept telling that to everyone. Their son visited them every three days. He was a very sweet guy to me. He asked his mum to get home and take rest for some days while his wife could take care of the man. The old lady refused. She said nobody can take care of her husband like she does. The hospital wasn’t really a place anybody would like to be in, especially not for over a month. But she did. Even though she always kept whining about how slow the fan spins and about the amount of sugar they add in the coffee, she liked the place. She wanted to stay there with her hubby till he got completely alright.
I saw a lot of incidents like these. I met a lot of people like these. Most of them were couples. The love they shared with each other was nice to see. Unbelievable I must say. Love meant something different to me after all that. Relationship goals weren’t holding hands and posting pictures of it. Relationship goals weren’t printing couple t-shirts and wearing them to malls. Relationship goals weren’t sending long messages every night and exchanging expensive gifts every month. Relationship goals weren’t flowers and chocolates anymore. Of course, all these things are a part of it but these are the last things that love is.
I realized relationships were far more than what I thought they were. Love was everything that I didn’t realize it was. Love was more than all this. Love was pain. Love was patience. Love was trust. Love was perseverance. Love was love. Love wasn’t all beautiful anymore. In fact, love seemed like the most difficult thing to handle. You could easily buy chocolates for someone and post pictures with them on Instagram. But to love someone, it seemed difficult and complicated.
These people were being relationship goals, without even realizing it. Everything they did, they did it so effortlessly with a smile on their faces, like it was being done every day. They didn’t know they were great. They didn’t know they were an inspiration. They didn’t know they were inspiring me. And I did not tell them as I know what the reply would be. They would probably look at me like I am weird. “Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be anyway?”
As I saw all this love pouring around me, a sudden sense of fear took over my mind. This kind of love just seemed so unattainable to me. “I am I ever going to have a good married life? I am I ever going to be loved this way? Taken care like this? I am I ever going to find the right person for myself?”. My mum often says that the current generation lovebirds can never be as loving and caring as the oldies. She said that we will always be willing to express love through materialistic stuff and financial support but we will never have the patience to express love through physical presence when someone is in need of support. I used to tell her to change the narrow mindedness. But deep down, something made me feel like she was right. Something scared me. Relationships these days have the shelf life of a banana. They break like twigs and people heal like the wolverine. Are we ever going to have strong married lives like our parents or grandparents? Why are the divorce rates always higher than the previous year’s? I was already hopeless. This just made me lose hope completely.
As time passed and I thought more and more about it, something hit me. Something refreshing. It was never about finding the right person, it was about being the right person. With these couples, it was never about expecting things, it was never about taking. It was always about giving. And when you are ready to give, you are ready to get. You get.
After that moment, it wasn’t about finding the right person to love me, to take care of me. It was all about getting ready to be that person. It was all about getting ready to start giving. And something I usually quote was the first thing that came to my mind. “Greatness attracts greatness”.
I do not know if any of us would actually be able to attain that stage. I don’t know if I will ever grow hopes on love and relationships. Still don’t know whether I would have a good married life, whether I would be able to love. But I now know what love is and what it isn’t. And as quoted by Cecelia Ahern, “Life has a way of getting what it wants when it really knows what it wants”.
May 24, 2017
May 24, 2017
Stories by Sathya Kumar