Ma, Me & Boxing Day Oh my fragile Ma, at 88+ you left us this Boxing Day - a decade ago - without showing any signs of departure. Post your hip surgery, ceramic ball replacement in your hip joint, you gave an impression of convalescing. You never disclosed the real reason that caused fracturing of your hip-ball-joint excepting the dubious version that you had fallen from the cot. A month and a half prior to surgery, you were agile busy during the Navarathri festival exchanging betal leaf arica nuts and gifts among your numerous friends in the neighbourhood. Yes - on Saraswathi Pooja Day Monday, September, 28th, 2009 early morning, you had gone out freshly attired in your favourite yellow silk green bordered saree with already packed sundal in dabba in your yellow cloth bag to seek blessings of a senior sumangali lady in her nineties. It was heavily raining but yet much against your DIL’s wish , you proceeded out to attain your goal ; you managed to go and later I heard that you rode pillion with another friend on pot-holed and slushy road made of red sand. You returned around ten o’clock with sundal ( a preparation of pre soaked overnight kabuli channa steam cooked) and lovingly shared it with dad, DIL, me & your grand children. You were slightly limping which you attributed to ‘gas’ at knee joints. You relaxed on the cot closed to dad; a while later, complained of pain in the groin and on the outside of the hip. Spouse & I, noticed discolouration in you left thigh. We called ambulance and in few minutes on a stretcher you were trundled to van proceeded to nearest hospital ‘Rakshit’. Spouse reminded me to gather all your medical files including the one containing details reports of ‘pace maker’ that was implanted a decade before. You heard me and spouse asking with concern several questions to doctor about implanted pace maker. You also heard orthopedic surgeon, holding an x-ray against illuminated box, lectured about the site of fracture and immediate need to carry out a surgery for replacing the broken hip joint with ceramic ball. After a while you know a local rep of ‘pace -maker’ supplier & pulmonologist associated in further discussions with doctor. Next day, at 5 am an orthopedic surgeon exited from operation theatre with his team, shook hands with me announcing successful implant of ceramic ball in your left hip-joint. From time to time I fetched from blood bank located afar, fourteen bottles of blood for transfusion. You were shifted to ICU and your consciousness returned to you by late evening. You looked at me & spouse softly winking with enormous kindness while a tear-drop running off your cheek. A female nurse took from my hand the orange juice in a tall glass and began to spoon feed you. Two days later when you were shifted to the deluxe room, you were made to look bright, cheerful and resplendent by a nurse tending to your rich black and grey mixed tresses tumbling over your face and treated you to a towel bath. Your countenance was aglow, voice exuding confidence. You were wheel-chaired to physio-thraphy lab for exercise twice a day for next three days. In presence of doctor and I, Physiotherapist exercising great care and support, made you gently take baby steps from room to other end of the lobby and return. Though it was seemingly tough, yet you did manage to walk exercising will power for which you were known always. I remember your smile then, when orthopedist , I and spouse clapped or hands. Ma - For three weeks, your DIL and grand son and I were alternating as attendant in shifts running between home and hospital, moving up and down in lift numerous times to fetch medicine, food, juice etc. Your bosom friend’s daughter in New York was calling from her hospital at midnight when you were asleep. She enquired of your progress but promised to call again. While her remittance reached the hospital to your account, her call never came. But that was the night you frightened me in your mid sleep by throwing your legs & hands violently in air. You did utter my name repeatedly. For three more nights you continued to frighten me. Thank goodness. It later vanished. During their visit you regretted to my sambandhis ( parents of son-in-law) & son in law your inability to join in the celebration of impending (தலைதீபாவளி) Deepavali; and advised me the celebration should go on as per convention. But sambandhis keeping in view our plight, politely excused from celebrations. But on the day of Deepavali, an affectionate and loving Son in law called on us with your gran-daughter, and fed you in presence of spouse and dad with great patience in tiny quantities a whole of banana. It was well appreciated by our maid - domestic help. In a few days from then, you began turning cheerful strong in spirits but weak in flesh. Spouse draped you in you cotton maroon saree. She stuck on your centre forehead a medium size maroon sticker dot; and packed your medicine, dresses in carry bags. I settled hospital bill & Collected discharge certificate and receipts and brought home in an ambulance. While nurse Parvathi was whole time deputed to take care of you at our residence, we turned our attention to dad who was shaken with your and our all these days. With concern, you were discussing plans to celebrate dad’s centenary which was few months away. There were numerous friends and well wishers visited you & dad with basket of fruits and biscuits seeking your & dad’s well being & blessings. That night, Parvathy was looking after you & dad in downstairs, we left to upstairs to sleep. It was about to be dawn. Mobile rang. It was Parvathy. She shocked me announcing “ma - you are no more”. Merry Christmas & Happy Holiday Season to all IL’ites.