Monday, November 08, 2010

Down the memory lane - 2

I was upset when I heard that my good friend Prema’s older brother Raju passed away. No, he was not young nor did he leave behind dependents. He was schizophrenic and in the care of another brother who himself has retired from his services in the Railways. So, in a way it was good that he did not suffer from any prolonged illness and died a peaceful death. The news of his death took me back in time when Ramu, the main supporter and bread winner in their family died an untimely death just 6 weeks after his marriage leaving behind him his wife who had waited for 8 long years to marry him, his ailing mother and a schizophrenic brother. That was 26 years ago. His death was a shock not only to his family but to all of us who had bonded with them. The other brother had married a colleague and their marriage was not very well received by the family – at least not initially. Prema was Ramu’s right hand as long as she was unmarried but at the time of his death she was trying to adjust with the customs of the family she had married into and could not be of much help to them – neither financially nor emotionally. His wife was inconsolable and her anger was unjustifiably directed towards the family who she accused of having hidden the truth of his illness from her. That was however an entirely different matter and deserves a separate post.

My husband was present at the crematorium when Ramu’s body went up in flames. If anyone else had narrated the story I would have rubbished the entire episode. My husband is a serious minded person and would never have repeated what happened in the ghat unless it was authentic and this is what he said –

Those were days when Jamshedpur did not have an electric crematorium and wood was used for the purpose. It seemed Ramu’s body was taking very long to burn despite the huge amount of wood that was being used. People who had gathered there were surprised since his body was frail and wasted on account of his illness. Someone suggested that Ramu’s soul was not prepared to go since he was worried about his mother and schizophrenic brother and his brother G, working with the railways should make a promise that he would look after both of them. It was an emotional moment for all present when G spoke with tear filled eyes. He said –

Ramu, please leave in peace. I promise to look after amma and Raju in the best possible manner as long as they live. This is a promise that I‘ve made in the presence of so many witnesses and will always strive to fulfill it.”

Having said this he broke down.

Twenty six years have gone by and I must add that G did keep his promise to his older brother. He took his mother and older brother with him to the place of his posting. Ramu’s widow laid claim to his LIC and provident fund contributions refusing to consider the plight of his mother and brother. One could hardly blame her. She had not bonded with the family and she saw this as a means to settle scores with them. She had a job and parting with at least a part of his settlement money may not have mattered. However, the choice was hers and she chose not to have any consideration for them. She also took away anything of value in their house saying that all of it belonged to her. Ramu’s mother died within a year of his death and it was the responsibility of G to look after his brother.

And did he keep his promise. Fortunately for him G and his wife took good care of the mentally challenged brother. They saw to it that he was given his regular dose of medication and treated him as normally as possible. They involved him in household chores and encouraged their daughter to bond with him. She is now doing her Ph.D in Kolkata. Uncle and niece would have long telephonic conversations. He would tell her that he planned to buy her a gold chain.

And how would you get me the chain?’ she’d ask. “Do you have the money for it?’

In his naivety Raju would reply – “I have put aside money from the money your dad gives me as spending money and I’ll buy you a chain as soon as you get your degree.

Unfortunately for him, he did not live to see the day.

Prema told me that it was not easy dealing with Raju. He would get aggressive at times and refuse to listen to anyone. G and his wife would be at wits end not knowing how to deal with him. But they never complained or asked any of his sisters to look after him for a change. I can only pray that the Almighty showers His blessings on their family because they have done their bit without a grudge.

My faith in the goodness of mankind takes a beating when I hear of scamsters and conniving politicians. It gets restored when I hear about the likes of G and his wife. They are just middle class people with a modest income but they are large hearted and that is what matters in the long run.


radha said...

Some people are truly selfless. They restore our faith in humanity.

dr.antony said...

It is not possible for a person who isn’t ill to understand the internal experience of a schizophrenic.
Although disconnected from reality, people with psychosis also experience true sadness and depression. People with schizophrenia truly suffer from their illness. Their sadness is a natural response to being trapped in a terrifying and isolating situation.They live their life “ like a caterpillar in a cocoon, never going to get the chance to be a butterfly.”
Having a mentally ill person at home, affects the lives of everyone in the family. Insanity is still a taboo. They don’t get the sympathy or attention that people with other illnesses get.
It is good in a way that Raju left the world without getting crippled or chained for long. Caring for a sick brother and spending part of life for him is a real sacrifice. Hard to find these days.
If they are not blessed, who else would be?

Sandhya said...

I salute Mr G and his family for taking care of Late Raju. It is indeed commendable that they coped with Raju's illness without complaining. In an age where people can only think of themselves and nothing beyond them, people like Mr G continue to show us what selflessness means.
May Raju's soul rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Dear maam

Kindly allow me to introduce myself.I am Anuradha. I had come across your blog as a link from Artnavy.

I love reading your writings every time there is an update.

Ending with warm regards

Hip Grandma said...

radha:you are right. The world survives despite of all odds due to them.

dr.antony:thanks for your informative comment. i too understand that it is difficult to deal with schizophrenics but did not know that they too had their moments of insecurity and loneliness.True, we should be glad that God took Raju away without adding to his suffering by giving him a prolonged illness.

Sandhya:It was indeed very kind of G's wife to stand in support of her husband particularly when their marriage was not initially well received by his family. I have met her and find her very kind and compassionate.

Anuradha:That was very complimentary. Thanks. Do you blog too?

hillgrandmom said...

HHG, that was truly touching. What a good man Mr. G is and special kudos to his wife, for it was because she was a real partner to her husband that they were able to look after him for so long. I know of a lady who looked after her ill brother-in-law, long after her own husband died and when even the BIL's own child was unwilling to look after him.