Page 36 - seniors today August issue
P. 36

First Person
        The taste of green peas

        When children forget how to love and care for their elders, what does one do?
        By Vickram Sethi

                                                               Shakuntala had decided that she would retire
                                                              at sixty, and both husband and wife would go
                                                              around the world on, as most Punjabis say it,
                                                              a “world tour.” It wasn’t easy to shut down her
                                                              hospital, but slowly, she reduced the number
                                                              of patients and passed them on to her two
                                                              assistants. Somewhere she fell ill and as a
                                                              doctor she knew that something was not correct
                                                              in her body. After various tests and X-rays,
                                                              she discovered that she had cancer, and from
                                                              that day, she shut her practice and moved to
                                                              Mumbai (Bombay) to the Tata Hospital. One of
                                                              Jagat’s sons was posted in Mumbai (Bombay)
                                                              Arun and his wife stayed with him. Shakuntala
        A true story from the 1960s. Two friends, Arun        realised that the cancer was not curable and
        and Jagat, lived in Delhi around Rajendra             the doctors gave her six months. She convinced
        Nagar. Arun was a civil engineer attached to the      Arun that whatever time was left for her, they
        central government, and his wife Shakuntala           would spend it in Delhi in their own home at
        was a successful gynaecologist. Jagat was a           Rajendra Nagar. It was a slow and painful end,
        chemical engineer, and his wife Kamala was a          but morphine eased the pain.
        homemaker.                                             Once all the rituals of death were over, Arun
         Shakuntala had inherited a flourishing practice
        from her parents, who were doctors as well.           decided to sell the Rajendra Nagar house and
                                                              move in with his boys. Arun and his wife had
        Slowly her practice grew,and she became a             spent a considerable part of their savings on
        gynaecologist in great demand around Patel            constructing and furnishing the houses for the
        Nagar and Rajendra Nagar areas. She kept              boys. He planned to transfer the sale proceeds
        herself abreast of the latest technology and          to the boys so that after his death his children
        helped couples in conception. As the practice         would not have to pay estate duty. Shakuntala
        grew, she had two assistant women doctors             had a large holding of gold from her parents.
        whom she trained and ran a small hospital with        Arun received a central government pension
        10 rooms. Arun in the meantime, retired and           which he reasoned was enough for him, his
        helped in the administration of the hospital.         medicines and his club expenses. He held back
        Arun had two sons. As life went by the boys           the gold. Jagat was dead against this move and
        grew up, and Arun bought two plots of land            reasoned with Arun that after his death the
        600 sq yards each in the new upcoming                 estate duty payment should not bother him
        colonies of New Delhi. With Jagat’s help, he built    since it would come out from the sale proceeds
        four-bedroom houses with a lawn for each of           of the house. Besides Arun had given his
        them. The boys got married and had children of        children enough and an estate duty payment
        their own. Jagat had three children, two boys,        would not be such a big deal. However, Arun
        and a girl. Both his boys worked for the Indian       felt this was a selfish view, and he would be
        railways, and his daughter was married at an          happy living with both his boys six months at a
        appropriate time.
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