31 January, 2011

Knitting hearts together...

This my friend, is a true story. Where, what, how - I'll tell you. The hero here (and always) is my father. No heroine, no villain. Just a boy who was small and then grew. To read on I'm gonna make it sound like a story. My dad will be called Velu (sans Swamy) and the boy will be called Karthick. It goes like this...

Velu is sipping his tea at the New Year Celebrations. In his hand he is holding a paper that has a printed version of his speech. Velu is the present Governor of the around 26 clubs in the district. The celebration is for all those 26 clubs. Velu's logo for his governing year is of two people hugging - the logo is made to look like a single heart, beautifully divided to make it look like two people. His slogan for the year is 'Knitting Hearts Together'. He took charge in June 2009 and ever since has been on his toes with a lot of work.

Minutes to go for his speech, Velu walks to the dais and joins the gathering once again. There is a loud applause for the speaker at the podium. The speaker beckons Velu to go ahead and address the gathering. There is a huge applause as he walks to the podium. He clears his throat and begins. He begins with thanking the previous speaker and then moves on to summarize the district's achievement in the past six months. There is applause for every achievement mentioned and every award won. Velu thanks his fellow club members and opens his speech for Q&A. No one has questions. Velu repeats that he is open to any questions regarding the club or any activities.

A hand rises among the audience. "Yes, you", Velu says. There is a gasp from the audience. Heads turn to see who it is. Just another member, of course. The woman rises and asks "In our previous meeting we had asked you why you selected the slogan "Knitting Hearts Together". You said you would answer that question in the next meeting. It is the next meeting now. Would you tell us now?". Velu smiles. He says "Yes, I will tell you now."

He begins "Do all of you know the graveyard behind Mangalam road?" Heads nod and a few answer in soft volumes saying 'yes'. Velu continues "About 3 decades ago, that graveyard used to be my cricket ground. I along with a bunch of other boys used to play cricket over there every Sunday. We used to meet up after breakfast, play on till late noon go back home, bathe-refresh and come back in the evening to discuss about our game. This was my Sunday. I used my bi-cycle to get there every Sunday. On one such Sunday, as we were playing we saw a group of people running towards one of the streets there. All of us gathered to see what was happening. A woman had lit herself on fire. People were trying to put out the fire. In no time the fire was out but the damage was done. I quickly ran towards that house and got into the crowd. I went forward and in no time there was a car arranged to take the lady to the hospital. Three men carried the woman and I ran to help them. We carried her and lay her in the car. The car sped off towards the closest hospital. As I saw the car leave, I heard one of the women cry saying the woman had no right to do this hen she had two fatherless children. I quickly walked into the house to see a boy aged around 8 and a girl aged around 4. The boy was carrying his sister in his arms and crying. I couldn't bear that sight. I called the two of them and sat them on my bi-cycle and cycled to the hospital."

The audience was hooked. Velu continued, "I reached the hospital and guided the kids to the department were they treated burns. The place was dingy and crowded. Among the three men who carried the woman with me, one was the woman's brother. The kids ran to their mama. The boy was at that age where he could understand what was happening. People present around started to give their blood samples to donate blood if necessary. I did so too. After a couple of hours, a nurse came to the crowd and said that the woman didn't make it. She had died while they were trying to treat her. I swallowed a lump down my throat and looked at the kids. The boy began crying. He hugged his mama's legs and cried. Poor thing! I can still remember how he ran towards his mother and cried. He was not allowed to hug her cause she was covered with a banana leaf. He couldn't cry on his mama's shoulder because he was carrying the boy's sister. All he could do was look at his mother and cry so loudly. I immediately ran towards him and hugged him. He constantly said 'anna, anna' and cried on my shoulder. The body was given to the family in an hour and we took her back to the house in the same car. The sad thing about this Sunday was - it had changed two children's lives in an afternoon. This Sunday had orphaned two children."

"The last rites were all performed by the little boy. His head was tonsured and he was clad in a dhothi. I was shattered to see the boy. The little girl just watched on. She couldn't identify her mother for there was no identification. All she did was watch as her mama carried her in his arms. After everything was over, I went back to our ground to pick up my cricket bat and left."

The audience was speechless. No one prompted out of anxiety or anything. They just wanted to know the rest. He went on. "Then my next Sunday was normal, except once I saw the boy playing with his little sister. I gave him a packed of biscuits once. He took it with a smile. Years went by, I graduated college. I started to look after the family business. I began my printing company. Then I got married in 86' to this gorgeous woman here. We had a girl 3 days before we could celebrate our first anniversary. Five years after that we had a boy. You all probably know them by name than face here." The audience smiled and nodded.

"In April 2009, I had some pain in my left arm and went to get a check up done. I was with our ex-governor when I went to the hospital. I hadn't told my wife or kids anything. The doctor shocked me saying I had 3 blocks in my heart and might need to get an angioplasty done. I came home and spoke to my wife. Luckily, my son's exam had just gotten over that day. So we decided to get the angioplasty done the very next day. Since my daughter had one more day of school, we picked her up on the way and I drover to the hospital. On the way, I asked her to sing for me. As usual she refused for the first 5000 times and then sang. She sang 'Iru vizhi unadhu', a song I loved. We reached the hospital. Hospital. Payment. Admission. Angio. After the angioplasty, the doctor said that a bi-pass surgery was necessary as the blocks were nearing 90%. My wife immediately went ahead and spoke to the doctor to know what kind of surgery and everything. Finally, they decided on April 1 and I was operated then. That morning, my kids visited me in the room before the anasthesea was given to me. They had prayed in the temple downstairs in KMCH and they came with the prasadham. I was then reeled into the operation theater. It was a 10 hour operation. The day was probably the slowest day in my family's history. Once I recovered I heard that several Lion members had come to donate blood for me.

2 days after the operation my kids and wife visited me in the intensive care unit. I was worried that the kids would be scared to see so many tubes in my body. The little one looked terrified on the first day. After a few days, I was brought to a room. Friends, family - all visited me during that one week. One Sunday, a young man walked in to the room. My wife told me that this young man had come to donate blood for my operation. He wanted to donate blood to someone before he left for work to Dubai. He had no reason to choose me. I thanked him and asked him what job he is joining. He replied saying he was going to work for a construction company in Dubai. He also said that he wanted to see how I was doing. I asked him where he was from and he said "Mangalam Road, Tirupur". I looked at him and asked him what his parents were doing. He said his father had passed away in a road accident years ago and his mother was also no more. He said he has a sister who lives in Tirupur. I plainly asked him if his mother suicided. He replied with a sober yes. I asked him if his sister was 4 years younger and mentioned the area of his house. He looked a little shocked and said yes. I then told him that I was with him when his mother passed away. I mentioned his mama and the entire hospital scene. He had tears in his eyes and me in mine. He shook his hand with me and thanked me. He said he didn't remember much from that day but was thankful for what I had done for him. He said his sister had gotten married recently. I told my wife to give him my visiting card. I told him to contact me for any help. He took leave."

There was sniffing in the audience. Some clapped. At the end Velu summarized saying "There was no need for me to be with that boy when his mum died. There was no need for me to donate blood. Similarly there was no need for him to come here and donate blood. But somehow both of us wanted to. I hugged that boy when he had no shoulder to cry on. The design of life is this - every human's decision and acts determines a change in someone else's. My decision to run towards his house and his decision to donate blood were both kind deeds. These two deeds came from our hearts. And that by time and destiny has knitted the two of us after so many years. Every good deed we do, is somewhere and in someway looking frantically to find us when we really need it. That's why 'Knitting Hearts Together!'"

The audience stood up and clapped for what was eternity. Velu thanked the audience and adjourned the meeting for dinner. Many members came our sniffing, mostly the women. There were sobs here and there. Dinner was served.


I heard this from my father when we were on our way to Coimbatore. We had crossed Mangalam Road and that's when my dad narrated this to me. That my friends, is the true story.

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