"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Rest Assured…

Yesterday I visited my aunt in Kottayam.
My arrival coincided with that of a charming cardiologist from the USA.

“Auntie” was delighted with his attentions,
especially as this courtesy visit was 
combined with an unofficial cardiological assessment.
Something her daughter had skilfully brought about.

Auntie has been feeling tired, which is perhaps understandable for a woman in her late eighties.
But what struck me was that her favourite and most trusted member of staff was absent.
The young woman, who usually sleeps in the house with her, is taking a holiday.

When Anu, my house-boy, takes time off to be with his family
– a well-deserved break –
my home suddenly seems enormous,
the hours of darkness almost interminable,
and sleep strangely illusive.

My solution is simple.
Now, whenever Anu takes his holidays,
I go away on tour with a good friend.

An option that physical infirmity has made sadly impossible for my aunt..
________________


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Picture of Lake Vembanad taken at dusk on the road back from Kottayam.

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6 responses

  1. I was going to ask if she was really your aunt – but then thought that it doesn’t really matter. In India anyone older that oneself is referred to as “uncle” or “auntie”. I loved that those terms of endearment were really ways of showing our respect.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

    • Yes, it’s a very nicely judged tradition, combining respect with affection.
      My house-staff started off by calling me “Sir” but now tend to use “papa”, which again I find quite charming!

      January 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

  2. Toffeeapple

    It must be very sad to be old and alone. I hope that Auntie won’t be alone for too long.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    • Her relatively solitary life in later life is the consequence of choices she made. Choices, I can understand and sympathise with. I am setting myself up to follow the same pattern, should I live that long!
      Most who reach old age, and have no wish to be institutionalised, must invariably cope with diminishing mobility and increasing solitude..
      But the situation is being actively addressed by all her family,

      January 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm

  3. “Auntie” must have a very caring family to respect her choices and yet think of ways to provide for her needs.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:30 am

    • Her family are extremely caring and visit very frequently.
      The whole issue of caring for the elderly has only recently become problematic in India. With the vast diaspora of educated, professional Indians to settle permanently in the West, but the reluctance of elderly parents to follow them, it will be an ever-increasing source of worry.

      January 5, 2012 at 7:50 am

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