Loveson’s father was laid to rest on Saturday, April 29th. As someone who followed a healthy lifestyle which included exercise, walks in the mornings and evenings and a diet strictly monitored by Mummy, his sudden demise came as a shocker to us. We also realized the perils of being thousands of miles away. In addition to the direct grief that it pronounced, Loveson also had to deal with the stress of missing his flight and losing his baggage.
I explained to Adith that his Appappa was no more and that we wouldn’t see him during our next visit to India. He understood as much as a five year old could. I decided to write a post about the little things that I remember in connection with Daddy and Adith so that he could read it when he is old enough.
Unlike in the US where the gender can be known at the 20th week scan, it is only when a baby is born that parents in India know if it’s a boy or girl. Adith was the first boy in his generation and Daddy was quite pleased that there was someone to carry forward the family name. Loveson’s sister used to remark that he is the young karanavar ( patriarchal head of a family).
Traditionally in India, the mom-to-be goes back to her parents house a few months prior to delivery and stays there for a couple of months after delivery so that the new mom and baby would be well taken care of. So I was in Kerala for delivery though both me and Loveson were working in Hyderabad at that time. Before returning to Hyderabad, I stayed in Loveson’s house for some days. Daddy and mummy took me out for shopping and bought a new salwar for me. When I asked about it, he replied ” njangalkku oru Adith mone thannallo!”. (for giving us a grandson).
I returned to Hyderabad after 6 months in Kerala. My mom also came and stayed with us for a few days to ease me to the task of taking care of Adith. When it was time for me to return to work, Daddy and Mummy came over to help us with Adith. They took great care of Adith and Daddy finally had the courage to hold him. I was amused that Daddy was so scared to take an infant even though he was a father of three! In the evenings, Daddy would stand outside the house with Adith and show him all the happenings. Children and people walking on the streets, construction workers building new houses and so on. They stayed with us in Hyderabad for a few months and was a great help to us.
Around that time, Loveson had an opportunity to go to US from his project. And thus in August 2012, one month before Adith turned one, we landed in the US. My mom visited us here in December when she came to help my sister with her delivery (my sister is in North Carolina). She immediately felt that Adith had trouble alerting and responding to his name.
She mentioned about this over phone after she returned to India. I knew she was right because I had already doubted it. Loveson however did not think anything was wrong and Daddy and Mummy also felt the same. Daddy insisted that Adith alerted to the sound of bikes while in Hyderabad and he just needed some more time.
Me and Loveson did some checks at home like calling him from behind, knocking on the door etc and it was evident that Adith simply did not hear us well. A simple test at the hospital confirmed our fears. Everyone in both families were deeply saddened by the news. He was soon fitted with hearing aids and started therapy. We did not know anyone with hearing loss who could talk at that time so it felt like entering a dark tunnel. Adith was named after Daddy and it was particularly hard for him to accept that something could be wrong with Adith’s hearing.
After his second birthday, me and Adith went to India for vacation. It was at this time that I went to AIISH with my parents to experience the therapy over there. We were adviced to stay there for a few months to get some benefit from the therapy. This was something we had not planned but nevertheless, we decided to give it a try. We stayed at a guest house initially and searched for houses for rent. After a few days, we settled upon one. It was only 10 minutes drive from AIISH and was spacious enough. There was a cot and 2 built in cupboards for furniture. However, to stay in a place for 3 months requires us to buy a lot of things. We went to a big store and bought all essentials – I was reminded of how we bought things before my first hostel stay: bed sheets, bucket, mug, soap, mirror, washing powder, string for drying clothes,plates, cups, glasses and so on.
There was a small kitchen but we had no gas cylinder so had food from outside. We had an induction cooker and used that to make coffee. Meanwhile we got mattresses from Amma’s family friend who was also in Mysore. Appa slept on the cot while me, Amma and Adith slept on the floor on the mattress. Adith was enrolled for therapy sessions thrice a week. We bought additional things for the house as required and also went to Bangalore one weekend.
My parents left after 2 weeks and Daddy and Mummy came over from Irinjalakuda with a car full of things – Pressure cooker and other cooking vessels, masalas and everything needed for running the kitchen. By then, we also procured a gas cylinder. Before leaving, my father made sure I could drive to and from AIISH. (Though I had got my license at 18, was not much of a driver). Daddy did not drive either. We went for therapy sessions and stayed at home at other times. Very soon, boredom began to kick in. The stay was also hard because there was no TV, fridge, microwave oven or washing machine. I did not have a laptop as well. Mummy cooked just enough for one day since we had no refrigerator to store left overs. We washed clothes in the bathroom and dried them in the narrow balcony that we had. The sleeping pattern remained the same. I had never lived in such a modest environment – even my hostel in Thrissur had a TV!
We were on the top floor of a three storey building with no elevator. On the ground floor was a bakery called Sreeja Bakery from where we would buy milk daily. It was owned by Keralites and we quickly bonded with them. Daddy would go for long walks in the mornings and evenings. He found a park and a play area for kids during these walks which we frequented later. Daddy had no trouble walking up and down the flight of steps for his walks, buying things from the bakery and turning on/off the switch for the motor.
The therapy was thrice a week which sometimes changed as per the exam schedule of the students. (The clinics were given by students as part of their course). The days that we did not have therapy was very tough to while away. We practiced what was taught at the therapy sessions but the days remained long and boring. Additionally, I did not have the confidence to drive further than AIISH which meant we just remained in the house all day long with nothing to do.
Daddy and Mummy adjusted without any complaints for the sake of Adith but I knew it was really hard for them as well. Out of sheer boredom, I finally had the guts to drive beyond AIISH. Daddy was a little worried about going to far off places, especially since he could not help if we had some difficult situation. Often while I drove, if there were cyclists or bikers passing us from the left, he would mutter angrily. He would be very watchful and attempt to shoo away drivers in front of us whose driving he did not approve.
After 2 months, I was quite done staying at Mysore. Though the therapy was fantastic, I could not bring myself to staying there any longer. It was just too taxing mentally. The fact that we were seeing children with even more serious conditions like MR and MS helped little to brighten my spirits. Often, they were also from very poor families and it engulfed me with sadness and guilt. I discussed with Daddy and Mummy and we cut short our stay at Mysore. Daddy always used to remark “ivide vere oru lokam thanneya..” (it is a whole different world out here). I think its only at AIISH that we all realized how gentle Adith’s handicap was. We came back to IJK before Christmas and Loveson also joined before the Perunnal in January. In a couple of weeks, I returned to my apartment in the US which offered all the comforts that I had so badly missed at Mysore. What a relief! I could easily make the decision to come back here because my son was already attending a great school here and I knew he was in great hands here. My heart goes out to all the families who stay in Mysore away from their hometown just so that their child can receive the best therapy possible. I haven’t had such a humbling experience my entire life. I remember telling to Loveson, families who have children without any challenges should actually visit AIISH to realize how blessed they truly are..
In 2015, Daddy and Mummy came here to help us with Nivedh’s delivery and stayed with us for 6 months. Adith had begun to speak a few words and short sentences by then. Daddy and Mummy always tried to make it possible for me to continue to spend quality time with Adith so that his progress would not be impacted by the arrival of a baby. At times when Adith’s behavior irked Daddy, he would say “enthuttu kdavaa ithu..” in thrissur slang.. Every time Adith went near Nivedh, Daddy would be scared and he would say “Unniye nokkanam tta”..(watch the baby). Daddy is someone who takes very good care of his material belongings and he would keep his phone and tablet well out of Adith’s reach. When Adith pressed and poked on Loveson’s phone, Daddy would sigh in disapproval. We visited a lot of places in the US with them. Daddy enjoyed all the trips, especially Niagara Falls and Washington DC and was quite happy that he had the opportunity to witness those sights in his lifetime. Because he did not drive, they were not in the habit of going for long drives or vacations and he thoroughly enjoyed going to places. He would take Adith to the nearby park and enjoyed spending time with Adith.
One thing that I vividly remember is that he would often say “I pray for Adith daily..I pray that he may be able to overcome his hearing loss and be successful in life”. Since the last several months, we often talked over video calls and Daddy could see and talk to Adith. He reveled in his progress and often remarked how well Adith was doing now. Infact in one of the last video calls that we had, he said “I am very happy with Adith’s progress. His speech is so clear!”.We had told that Adith would be going to public school next year and Daddy was so happy about it. Though Daddy has left us suddenly, we take solace that he had lived a great life and has left this world absolutely relieved about Adith.