It didn’t strike us a big deal. Those were not the days of the internet and our idea of Parkinsons was a disease that goes away with proper medication. Atleast that was mine. Over the years, I have seen the disease take over appa. In a manner that will put any imperialistic regime taking over a small and powerless colony to shame!
It first tilted his stance. Then it took away his voice. And as he fought back with medicines and therapy, it gave him movement – additional involuntary movement of the head. Then it took away his self respect. Now it has taken away his mobility almost leaving him completely dependent on people. He still hasn’t given up the fight.
Although the intensity is wearing off. To me, the fact that he still continues to work is very inspiring. I guess all the years of standing & inspiring students and many others makes him want to do more. Every day is a struggle. Every moment is a struggle. But he still hasn’t given up.
When a part of the body is incapacitated, it is easy to figure out that you cant do a particular chore that is to done by the missing part. If a leg is amputated, obviously walking is impaired. But when a portion of the brain is amputated, well, the effect can be multi dimensional. But he still hasn’t given up.
Now, i wouldnt want to make a hero out of an ordinary man. He was not the most physically active of men. His interest spans were short and would tend to move from project to project, without completion of the first one. He had his failings. But he still is my father. And my hero.
Some years ago, I barely heard appa say, ‘I feel imprisoned in my body’. An involuntary tear escaped my eye. There he was. A fully agile mind imprisoned in a disobedient body. And with the knowledge that it is only going to get worse and not better at all. Life imprisonment for no reason. Genetically preordained sentence. Huh ! But he still hasn’t given up.
He has now, in many ways become a child. The man who lifted many a spirit needs to be lifted by two people to prop him up. He has always been my hero. I turn away, as I cant take to seeing these scenes. He still hasn’t given up. Many years ago, I remember hearing applause as he stood up to speak. Today, I applaud to myself when he stands. He was feared in many a circle for his wisdom & knowledge and today, the knowledge of what has afflicted him causes fear in him and me.
He was a straight, simple and honest man who enabled many a life. Parkinsons is an honest disease that has incapacitated him with no mercy. He still hasn’t given up. Amma, has struggled alongside. Perhaps undergoing a fight far more complex in the taking care of appa and raising us and braving some of the most overwhelming odds. Often she pops the question – ‘Why’. ‘Why us’. I have no answer.
Fighting a disability is cruel enough. Fighting a disability that you are not able to see physically, like a mental disability is even worse. Being imprisoned in your own body, is so debilitating. But, that is life.
Some days ago, i was speaking to a friend, and he popped a seemingly innocous comment. “it could have been worse”. Suddenly, I couldnt help agree with him more. I am thankful for the small mercies.
Atleast, he has not given up. None of us have.