Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Thursday, 5 July 2018

That Wonderful NHS

That Wonderful NHS

In the Spring of 1967, I was in pieces. There had been a family tragedy, which felled me to the floor. And we were leaving Eastern Nigeria for good. The Biafran civil war was getting closer every day to Enugu, where I lived. I was glad to get out.

   The journey, however, was a nightmare. My one-year-old daughter was running a high fever and nothing would bring it down. Airline problems forced us to spend three days in Amsterdam on the way to England where we were headed. Three days keeping up in the night feeling the fever in Manju's body, petrified that her small body would be burnt out.

   So, when we finally got to England, my first task was to get my daughter to a doctor. We had found a bed-and-breakfast place on Edgeware Road and the nearest hospital was Paddington Green. 

   It was another three days before the doctors diagnosed urinary infection and put Manju on medication. I was worried that the hospital bill would be an enormous one, which we would struggle to pay. No one had discussed with us what the daily rates were, what the treatment would cost.

   Maju and I stayed in the hospital for a week till she recovered. The hospital provided a room for me downstairs to stay the night and be near her. That would add to the bill. When Manju was finally discharged, I went to the cash-counter and asked for my bill, with some trepidation.

   'How much is it and will you take a cheque?' I asked.

   The receptionist smiled. ''No bill,' she said.

   I was an Indian citizen passing through England, but the NHS had taken care of my daughter with grace and goodwill. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

   What a service, and how wonderful that Britain had this -- hospitals, doctors, medicines and all else needed for the care of the needy -- on tap, for rich and poor, even for 'air-rush' immigrant like me!

   I would do anything, pay any amount of tax, stagger along in protest with my walking stick, whatever is needed to make this Tory group of imbeciles who govern us see the light.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Rainbow Hues of Love

Love is definitely many-hued and 'many-splendoured.' It's Roopa, our writing group's amanuensis, scribe and editor who made me think. Apparently next months news letter is on the theme of love. All in twenty pages in between agendas, updates, accounts...

   I am watching my cat Booba on the lawn shaking her arse and fluffing up her tail, which resembles a feather-duster anyway, before she pounces on the squirrel at the bird-feeder. Not a hope, I think and she knows it too. I 'love' my two cats and my silly dog Lily-lala.They bring sanity to this household in between bouts of football mania and the Brexit saga.

   My children of course make me in some way complete, so that when one goes away, I am amputated, looking for that lost limb. This kind of love is unconditional. I look for the self-interest in it and find very little. And where can you start in categorising what grandchildren mean? They are in a class of their own.

   I am thinking of all the ways in which I have 'loved.' That succession of young Kerala boys who caught my brief, wayward attention and disappeared in various directions -- I was certainly infatuated with them. A whole two pages of my memoir are devoted to those many fleeting passers-by. And then there are the slightly longer- lasting two or three (??), who lingered a few weeks more in my young imagination. They also went leaving feather-light memories behind, with all the colours of a monsoon rainbow.

   I loved my father with a deep devotion all my life and think of him almost daily, though he died in 1983. And all the women who cared for me when my mother disappeared. I have no mental picture of my mother who died when I was two years old. Among my many cousins who came and went like the seasons in Thalassery, I loved some and held some in contempt. So many different kinds of commitment.

   My friends from my wanderings in Africa -- they lent colour to my life and I enjoy their company whenever. The Net has made it possible to keep in touch. And that diversity of cultures makes me who I am.

   I am beginning to come to the conclusion that with married (or unmarried) love, men and women should be allowed to choose what and who they want to 'love.' It is especially appropriate today with the LGBT legislation coming through that human beings should be able to love same or opposite sex, as a matter of course, without comment. Sometimes same-sex attractions are towards a particular individual who somehow 'fits.' rather than to all the other folks in the same broad category.

   I often think love has passed me by-- or I have not recognised it when it appeared in front of me. Then I remember in flashes the euphoria of being in love, however briefly, how the world lighted up and each dawn was a wonder. How it was suddenly so important to touch, the way my whole self bent towards that person like the sunflower to the sun. Pathetic??? Profound? That was magic.

   Now in my old age, the only love I am giving up is for possessions and wealth -- almost. Not quite there, but I am winning.