THE PACEMAKER

The story heading seems straight out of a Harold Robbins novel, doesn’t it ?

 But, it  doesn’t have the remotest connection to the fast paced and steamy novels which most people my age now( *sigh* well into middle age) surely stole from their parent’s collection to read .

Rather, its about a small device that is placed in the chest to help control abnormal heart rhythm. It is about how this small device has led to such big changes  in my world.

It needed much coaxing, cajoling and finally outright threats – of the ‘no single malt & kebabs’ type–to get my Dad to agree to  a cardiac check-up at AIIMS ( All India Institute of Medical Sciences), New Delhi ,this August. Despite the long queues and tiresome waiting, it is always the doctors at  AIIMS that I trust with any health issues of  my loved ones . It is here that the finest medical brains with an impeccable commitment to the noblest profession of all, work tirelessly.

Daddy’s cardiologist, since the last five years, has been Dr Ambuj Rai. I really have no words to praise him , so I will turn to Shakespeare  for help :“His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him, that Nature might stand up, and say to all the world, this was a man “. The immense faith I have in Dr Rai’s professional brilliance as well as approach will possibly be echoed by all his patients and more importantly by his patient’s families.

Well, all these years, just some minor hitches in Dad’s  splendid Leonine heart and little up-downs in the blood pressure were indicated. In August, the doctor after a thorough check-up, said that it was time to install a pacemaker.

I remember my Dad’s face when he heard it. A myriad emotions flitted across. The dominant one was that of denial. He refused to accept  that now he would need a machine for his heart to beat properly. He could not believe that age had caught up with him despite his exasperating/melodramatic  taunts to me and my sister about ‘his sunset years’.

And , let me confess, I was devastated too.

The father -daughter relationship is a very special, very beautiful bond.

Adriana Trigiani in the ‘’Big Stone Gap’ says  “I’ve made it my business to observe fathers and daughters. And I’ve seen some incredible, beautiful things. Like the little girl who’s not very cute – her teeth are funny, and her hair doesn’t grow right, and she’s got on thick glasses – but her father holds her hand and walks with her like she’s a tiny angel that no one can touch. He gives her the best gift a woman can get in this world: protection.”

 I realized that my Dad had become  old . That it was a time for a role reversal . That it was I who needed to protect and care for him. So Adriana Trigiliani says again “And all the things that the world expects from women – to be beautiful, to soothe the troubled spirit, heal the sick, care for the dying, send the greeting card, bake the cake – all of those things become the way we pay the father back for protecting us…”

Oh, let me hasten to add, he doesn’t look his age. At 79, his hair hasn’t greyed, his back is ramrod straight, he has a bounce in his walk and his smile still gets the ladies all weak kneed ( much to the annoyance of his Scorpion wife).

But, who can beat age ? It is inevitable.

So the pacemaker was installed.

I was a wreck on the day of the surgery. Foolish tears crept into my eyes when he was being wheeled into the operation theater. He looked a little lost and helpless.You see , I had never seen my Dad, in any situation in which he was  not in command. From a very daring young SP ( Superintendent of Police) to a highly respected DGP ( Director General of Police), I  had seen my Dad totally and always  in control-unflinching in his dedication to policing and the people of his beloved home state, Odisha. And yes, facing  many difficult/delicate/desperate times with an arrogance that comes out of impeccable integrity.

Those few days in the hospital marked the start of a new phase in my relationship with my Dad. While he still treats me as if I am still fourteen and not forty, I have turned into a benevolent despot. I watch what he eats like a hawk, his medicine timings have been fed into my mobile,his walks ( which he hates) are closely monitored,the air conditioning and room temperatures  are regulated for his comfort etc etc. All this , of course, is complemented with the occasional butter chicken, long discussions on music,  a late night movie on TV and me ,.meekly accepting his tirade against Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram. ”All this is criminal activity”, he rages thunderously when my mobile pings 🙂

And I realize, that it is these tender moments of love, laughter, silly fights and half-hearted tantrums that will stay on with me ,till very long-perhaps till the time when I might require a pacemaker.

Life doesn’t stop for anybody.

So go hug your Dads,guys.

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2 thoughts on “THE PACEMAKER

  1. ,superbly written. Remembered my father while reading this, as he too went through this operation. I am sure uncle quality of life would improve.

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