I was so close to breaking down, I was so close to losing my mind, I was so close to crying out loud, I was on the brink of despair…
My dad, my adorable, philosophical, supremely talented and most of all the most loving dad ever born, suffered a silent heart attack- one of the resident evils of modern day fast paced corporate lifestyle. The irony is after years of nonchalant disdain, neglect, utter disrespect for his body, he was finally coming around, he was finally trying to ring about a positive change in the way he lived his life. He had all the vices of a stressed out leader who dished out advice, who implemented long term strategic growth plans for a billion dollar company, who made headlines in business papers, and yet, did not have enough sense to make small changes in his own life! A hardcore non-vegetarian, a chain smoker for over 35 years, a worshipper of the unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, he simply refused to grow up! No amount of emotional blackmailing by me (and I am a pro at it, given that I have practiced it since the age of seven) could make him quit that cigarette. During my occasional Bombay trips I would drag him out for a walk by the sea, but then it was always back to business: late hours in the office followed by dinner at fancy restaurants and a bulging tummy as a legacy. But this year, he decided that it was finally time to wake up take care of his long-neglected health. He quit smoking, hit the gym, went for long walks, exercised, kept his diet under control, and then when he looked and felt ten years younger, out of the blue, he started having chest pains and ended up in the hospital.
Freaked, panic-stricken and anxious, I made my third trip in this month (the third unauthorized trip) to Bombay- I rushed to the hospital straight from the bus stand in the pouring rain, only to find his hospital room crowded with investment bankers, phones ringing and my dad actively discussing debt-financing and EPS dilution. For all I care, it was just another full-fledged meeting: only that it was being held at Bombay Hospital, and my dad was dressed in white hospital attire. So it was only after being ignored for the next two hours until the nurse shooed away the visitors after visiting hours were over, did I get to talk to him. He seemed to be in the pink of his health, and we were both convinced that nothing was wrong with him. But the next morning we discovered much to our horror that he had a 99% blockage in one of his arteries, that he has suffered a small heart attack and he had to get an angioplasty done right away. I have forgotten the last time I had felt so vulnerable, so helpless as I waited outside the OT, biting off whatever remaining nails I have, alone and irritated with the numerous phone calls that were pouring in. The very sight of a stretcher and doctors and nurses in starched uniforms and my sedated beloved father was enough to overwhelm me- and during the one hour of the surgery, I went over and over again thinking about how I could have prevented it, that I should have taken better care of him, that I probably shouldn’t have put him through whatever stress I did and immediately I became even more vigilant: god, what if he found out about the tons of other things that I did do but never told him and even more convinced that after a certain age, parents should be spared the minute details of what their children are upto, that may be white lies weren’t so bad at all!
Anyways, the good news is that everything is fine again, he has been released from the hospital and he back to doing what he enjoys the most: negotiating with banks! But for a split second, it gave me the shock of my life, to imagine that even my parents aren’t going to be healthy all the time, that it won’t be my last visit to a hospital… quite a sobering thought!