DEEP WITHIN – V

Mr. Vikram stared at Mr. Sharma eye to eye. He stood up from the chair and walked out of the conference room.

Shobhna recollected herself, but she could not agree with how Vikram is questioning her abilities to perform the duties as a mother. She is worried about Punit. He is at a delicate age where he needs guidance. Vikram keeps himself always busy, so, expecting that he might be able to be that “friend” Punit needs now did not sound right. “Should I really consider quitting my job? Is Punit behaving this way because either of us were not able to give him time? Is it all my fault?” – breaking her thoughts, the phone rang. She answered the phone, but before she could speak, Punit bang opened the door and rushed to her.

In an authoritative voice he said, “Mom, what you said makes no sense. I am Punit Shah, son of the Vikram Shah. Till date I have never enjoyed being his son at the Academy. Dad always treated me in similar way he treated others. I do not even take the liberty to call him ‘Dad’ in meetings, he is always ‘Vikram Sir’. When Dad started his career, was he not supported by anyone? Did he grew his empire all on his own? Mom, being in this sports Academy for a few years now, I can assure you it is not easy to fight all those internal politics and become successful. Now, it is my turn to outplay these politics”

Shobhna asked Punit, “What politics are you talking about?”

These politics where they did not choose me as Captain because I am the son of one of the directors in the board. I don’t think I am incompetent compared to Aman. I am a well established and successful batsman like him. I have also demonstrated leadership skills whenever there was a need. Of course, I did fail at times but those are lessons. Aren’t they? I want this captaincy Mom and that’t it. Please talk to dad and request him to influence others“, Punit said in a requesting voice this time, tears rolling down his cheeks and fled out of the house.

It was Mr. Vikram on the other side of the phone call, but the call got disconnected. Shobhna tried calling him back but there was no response. Mr. Vikram had wet eyes after listening to what his son had expressed. He composed himself and started walking back to the conference hall.

Meanwhile, in the conference room, Sharma was clueless of what was happening. More than 10 minutes have passed by and it was pin drop silence in the room. While Sharma was still contemplating whether to speak or not, Anjali, one of the members shot a question at him, “Mr.Sharma, You must have done all the analysis, before you made this proposal. Are you really confident that Aman would be able to handle the team considering he may be opposed by some of the team members as the captain?“. Some others nodded in agreement. Sharma understood the deeper meaning of Mrs. Anjali’s question, she was inferring that Punit may not co-operate. Well, Sharma was aware of that, but he has not really thought of how to deal with that yet.

The conference room door swung open and it was Mr. Vikram Shah. Without noticing this Sharma continued, “I understand the concern, but we cannot put future of this team in the upcoming series at risk because we fear some of our players may not agree. Aman is more composed and stays calm when making decisions on the field. Also, he is well respected and has good relations with many team members. He also understands the nuances and weaknesses of opposition players. He is very good at observing the on field strategies of other players and acts accordingly. He is exactly what we need now”.

Who is your second recommendation?“, asked Shah from behind. Sharma startled a bit before answering, “Mithun“.

Shah: So, you think these are the only two competent players for captaincy?

Sharma: Yes, Sir.

Shah: You also think these players are going to uplift spirit in the team and have better chances in the tournament with this change?

Sharma: I am positive Sir

Shah: Good, then, let’s vote for the best candidate.

Sharma: Sir, you have not read the complete proposal

Shah: Is there something I should know before I can vote?

Sharma: Sir, Sir …. (murmuring)

Shah: Let’s vote

After going round the table, most of the panel voted for Punit as the new captain. Everyone clapped for the new captain which ended the meeting.

Shah: Mr.Sharma, I trust your decision making. I walked out of the room because, a part of me was blaming the father in me. Maybe, I completely failed to teach Punit about the importance of hard work and putting forward a fight for what we want. Nothing comes easy in life, Punit should learn that. I am glad you’ve put the future of our team as the top priority. Thank you!

Mr. Vikram returned Shobhna’s call, “I am coming home in half an hour. Can we talk?

DEEP WITHIN – IV

Aman was walking down the footpath to the bus stop lost in his own thoughts. He was thinking about Punit’s little drama. 

“It’s not even official yet and Punit is behaving like this. He is surely going to make my life difficult as a captain. How do I tackle him. He is one of the star batsmen. If he revolts then surely there will be a split in the team. Why is he so headstrong? I should try to talk to him once again.”

Aman boarded the bus. And someone called out his name. He turned and saw his elder brother Manan and his friend Mudit sitting in the back seat. They were coming back from their tuition classes. Manan was 2 years elder to Aman. He was studying to be a CA. He was quite good at his studies. Both Aman and Manan were talented and hardworking. They were well aware of their father’s financial condition and knew that to improve it they will have to work hard and take the family out of this condition.

“Hey Bhai! The coach is considering my name for the Captainship of the team.” Shouted Aman excitedly even before he reached the seat. There was a hoot of joy from them and a round of Hi-fives… Aman settled in the seat in front of the Manan and Mudit and turned around. He rattled off the morning’s happenings.

“This Punit sounds like trouble.” said Manan. “Be very careful of him.” were the wise words of the elder brother.

“Ya! What the hell does he think of himself. If he is the son of the trustee of RPCA does he think he owns the whole academy. He is nothing but a rich brat… very arrogant… How dare he call you slumdog? I don’t trust him one bit. These kind of people only know how to climb using their surname. He should be thrown out of the team” added an agitated Mudit making a disgusted face. 

“Easy easy… Mudit you sound like you are getting ready for war.” laughed Manan. “Don’t be so biased. He is after all an exceedingly good batsman. He will remain in the team.” added the level-headed Manan. 

Aman was looking from Manan to Mudit and wondering what a deep muddle he had got into and how was he going to get himself out of it.

Meanwhile Coach Sharma was getting ready to submit his recommendation of the final list of players to the board of trustees. He was sure he had made the right choice and that it was the best team they had put forward in the last few years. This team would really go a long way in the coming tournaments. Hopefully they will win the cup too.

Coach Sharma entered the grand conference room of RPCA. It was a huge room with wood panelled walls and a long oak table reminiscent of the grandeur of the British era when this building was built.  All the twelve trustees were seated at the table. After all this was a very important meeting, the team was being finalised today. Mr Sharma passed out the copies of his dossier to all the members and waited for their response. At the head of the table Mr Vikram Shah opened his dossier and had a grim look on his face…

DEEP WITHIN – III

A storm passed in Punit’s room but his heart is not yet at peace. Shobhna entered into his room silently, silence which was only camouflaging her inner turmoil as she already was hinted by the maid. Punit’s behaviour was always a matter of concern for Shobhna. Trisha was a mature person despite of the turbulent atmosphere in the family. She was a clone to her mother in maturity.

What happened Punit? Why are you upset?” Inquired Shobhna in an intentional meek voice.  But Punit was all flaring up in rage  “Don’t disturb me Mom, I am not in a mood for your preaching. I don’t understand what’s wrong with you all! That loser, good for nothing coach is overlooking me, The Punit Shah, son of Vikram Shah for that Slumdog Aman for captaincy. I’ll show them all that they are nothing and team is Me” and he continued spitting venom while Shobhna heard everything in utter silence and a hint of disgust as she was witnessing a outright selfish, self obsessed, arrogant person in making and thinking whose fault is this.

As Punit paused Shobhna took the chance to speak her determined mind “this is no way to speak to anyone or about anyone, I hope you received some etiquettes as a child, haven’t you?  You have to calm down first“. Shobhna had a calm demeanour to her voice as she was arranging the storm hit room and meanwhile trying to infuse some sense into her son’s disoriented brain and she continued “your problem is not your coach or Aman but your own attitude that makes you think that you are above all. Stop taking yourself too seriously dear“.

Punit stared at his Mom fuming as she settled besides him.

Shobhna: “Look, let your talent and hard work speak for you. Don’t use your surname as your passport and don’t let your bad attitude be your signature. It’s high time before you mend your ways.”

Punit: “I told you already don’t give me lectures about on ethics, etiquettes, values.  I am grown up for this nonsense chatter of yours. Do they know who am I, I will show them.”

Shobhna exhaled sharply, nodding in disbelief, posed one question “Do you know who you are? Try to prove your identity as Punit, not as someone’s son. Do you have that courage? Can you be the one who you desire to be without all the luxuries holding your back?”

And she left his room leaving the ball in Punit’s court.

DEEP WITHIN – II

Punit turned back to face none other than Aman. Wearing his serene smile as always, Aman said, “Punit, please don’t feel bad about Coach’s decision. Cricket is a team game, after all. Let’s join hands to ensure that our team wins this time. Its not about ‘you’ or ‘me’; its about ‘us’.”

Punit shoved off Aman’s hand with a jerk and stomped away fuming. He was determined to get the Coach to reverse his decision. No way was he going to play under somebody else!

He got into the car and banged the door shut behind him. The driver understood that Punit was in one of his fierce tempers and so silently drove him homewards.

As usual, Punit did not find his parents at home on reaching. The housemaid opened the door and took the cricket kit from his hand. Punit flung the kit towards her and tromped up the stairs to his room.

“Leave him alone. Another of his mad days . . . wooofff . . .”, whispered the driver to the maid shaking his head.

Vikram Shah, the perfectionist business tycoon had worked hard to set up his business empire in the position that it was. A workaholic, he seldom had time for his family. Though his business was in expert hands, his dreams of spreading the business to other countries and experimenting with new ventures kept him away from home on most days. He had married Shobhna, his college sweetheart when they were twenty three. The initial years were those of financial struggles, but their love for each other kept them well-bonded.

As the business flourished, there was no dearth of luxury at home. However, there were frequent squabbles often turning into bitter exchange of words between the couple.

“When do you have time for me and the children these days?”, Shobhna had screamed just a few days before.

“Quit your job and stay at home. You will get to spend time with the children. Let a man do a man’s job. Your earnings are peanuts compared to what flows in from the business. Who needs that money anyway”, retorted Vikram as he walked away leaving Shobhna in tears.

Shobhna sat on their circular bed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she recalled a conversation of twenty five years before.

Vikram: “We need a lot of capital, darling. Where will I get that much money from? Who will trust me to loan the money? I’m a new entrant into the world of business with absolutely no experience. I don’t know what to do. I work hard, but without capital investment there is no way I can succeed”, Vikram had told her one evening dejectedly.

Shobhna: “Don’t worry. I’ll take up a job and be a security for the loan you take.”

Vikram: “Are you sure? I had made so many promises to you. I don’t know whether I will ever be able to keep them.”

Shobhna: “Don’t think too much. Two is strength. I am with you.”

And so, Shobhna started writing a few exams and was selected for a banking job which made it even easier for Vikram to get a loan for his business.

As Vikram’s business prospered, Shobhna’s career graph progressed too. She was the General Manager of the bank now, where she had joined as a Probationary Officer one day. She loved her job and had never thought to quit when Vikram’s business started flourishing. It gave her an exclusive identity and earned her respect.

Today, Vikram seemed to have forgotten everything. Yes, he was a man of principles – but his principles applied more to his work than his personal life.

Shobhna had begun to feel lonely most of the time. Trisha, their 22-year old daughter and 17-year old Punit were witnesses to the frequent arguments at home that only worsened over the years. It was impacting them. Even the driver, watchman and housemaids were aware of the constant conflicts between the couple.

DEEP WITHIN – I

“Sir, how can you choose that slumdog Aman?”, Punit asked his coach disrespectfully.

Mr. Sharma made a quick reply – “Why not Punit?”

“Sir you know very well that Aman can’t afford to lead these….”, Punit smirked.

“Stop your speculative argument Punit, it is none of your business”, Mr. Sharma said with an air of authority.

 

This argument between Punit and his coach Mr. Sudhir Sharma, did not go down well with the other players. Mr. Sharma noticed it too. But he knew that it was nearly impossible to calm down Punit. So he quickly made his way towards the field to help the other players.

 

Seventeen year old, Punit was a die-hard cricket fan and was desperate to become a superstar cricketer. He always addressed his fellow students with an authoritative voice. His peremptory attitude was deprecated by all. In other words, he was the only pugnacious member of the R.P. Cricket Academy. The reason behind Punit’s behavior was that he was the son of a famous business tycoon Mr.Vikram Shah. Mr.Shah was a man of principles and he was adored by everyone around him. But it seemed that Punit had not inherited any of his virtues. Moreover, Mr. Shah was the trustee of RPCA, So Punit enjoyed his own reign in the academy.

 

On the 1st of November every year there was an inter-city cricket tournament. Punit was always chosen as the captain of RPCA even if there were other deserving candidates, just because he was the son of Mr. Shah.

 

Punit was actually a good-for-nothing captain. He used to pick up fights with the other teams and only for Punit the entire team of RPCA had been disqualified, many a times in the past three years. Mr. Sharma had had enough of Punit and this time he wanted Aman to lead RPCA. Aman, unlike Punit was like by one and all. He had won hearts by his humility and his mind-blowing cricket tactics. He had amazing leadership qualities as well, which lay hidden because he had never been given an opportunity.

 

Somehow Punit learned that Mr. Shah wanted Aman to lead the team. He became furious and confronted his coach. But, it yielded no results. The very thought of Aman leading RPCA got on his nerves. He was determined to castigate Aman. “If I inform Dad, he will tell me to relax and try harder next time. Huuuhhhh!!! No, it’s of no use. I’m almost 18, and I can handle my problems, I don’t need any one’s help”, Punit angrily murmured to himself. He clenched his fist in anger and violently swung his arm with the intention of throwing his bat. But just as he was about to release his grip, he felt someone’s hand on his shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAPTURING LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL

Someone said –

“Airports see more kisses than wedding halls. And hospital walls have heard more prayers than church walls.”

Indeed! Each of the hospital beds and walls has hidden many heart-wrenching stories. If we start jotting down such stories of our lives at the hospital, it would show us the real picture of human life.

Jotting down a couple of my hospital experiences:

While in high school, I met with an accident in which one of the nerves of my brain was badly damaged. This caused memory loss for a few hours and later on resulted in a severe headache. Mom took me to consult the Neurosurgeon. While in the waiting hall, a 70-year-old man was sitting by my side having the same neurological issues. But his condition was worse than mine. His head was twisted completely to the right and he had lost his speaking ability. His screams of pain were terrible. Honestly, I have never seen any human in such horrendous pain. Those screaming sounds and the scene is still alive in my mind.

After a few years, the second terrible experience I had, was seeing the death of my only younger cousin sister. It was the late night of 5th January 2010. My only younger cousin sister was on the ventilator. She was breathing with the help of a machine. We, as a family prayed for her fervently as we waited in the hospital. Mom asked me to go to the washroom to rinse a tiffin box. When I came back from the washroom, all of a sudden I saw that my beloved only younger sister stopped breathing. I ran to the doctor, but the doctor just covered her facing telling us ‘sorry’. She was the closest person to my heart and my secret keeper.

Though I have never been hospitalized, yet everytime as I try to recapture my hospital experiences it always reminds me of a Bible verse –
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over, it vanishes, and its place remembers it no more.”

As we look at life through these stories the question that we need to ponder upon is –
“everyday we proceed to our graveside and we have no guarantee about our existence tomorrow, so think –
“FOR WHAT DO WE TAKE PRIDE OF OUR LIVES?”

I AM SCARED OF HOSPITALS

“I am scared of hospitals”

I get really anxious when I have to go there. Actually I shouldn’t be feeling such things. The two times I got hospitalized and operated upon it was a joyous occasion, as it was for the birth of my two children through C-Section. I don’t have any bad memories of that time everything went smoothly and I went home happily with my babies.

But still whenever I visit someone who is in hospital my heartbeat increases. I shudder inwardly. I still haven’t been able to pin point why this happens. Maybe it is the atmosphere there, or the distinct smell of disinfectants or the endless wait for the doctor to come and pronounce his verdict. Most probably it is the pain of seeing your loved ones lying on the hospital bed and at least one or if not multiple tubes attached to him.

When my father-in-law was hospitalized I was a newly wedded bahu in the house. My mother-in-law understood my discomfort with the hospitals and gave me the duty to take care of the house and the small daughter of my sister-in-law at home, while all the other family members were taking turns to be in the hospital.

But it is not avoidable always. When my husband was in hospital for a unique combination of dengue and malaria, I had to stay overnight in the hospital with him. And at times I had this insane urge to remove all the tubes and just tell him to run out with me and go home. My brain told me it’s insane to even think like this but the urge was definitely there.

When a person is in hospital he or she is in a bad condition and is suffering. But here I try to bring the spotlight on the family members who are sitting outside waiting, hoping, praying. They too are suffering. Trying to strike a balance between making things normal at home and waiting outside the ICU in an usually uncomfortable seat. Waiting for hours for the next round of the doctor and who will come and give some news about the patient. The feeling of helplessness that a person gets because all they can do is wait and pray for good news.

When my nephew was born he was diagnosed with sever jaundice and was put in neo natal ICU. The mother had to sterilize herself, change clothes, wash hands etc to go inside and pick up the child and feed him. Everybody else in the family used to helplessly just look through the glass and see the baby.

Recently my uncle got brain hemorrhage and is in ICU fighting for his life. When my family and myself met the doctor we had a huge list of questions. Is he out of danger? How much time for recovery? etc etc. There was a barrage of questions directed at the doctor. After patiently answering a few of our questions. He effectively silenced us with only one answer. “I won’t be able to say the words you want me to say right now. We will have to just wait and watch.”

So our family is again facing an endless wait. My uncle is fighting a battle inside the ICU and the family is fighting a battle outside in the waiting room.

But there is only one thing that makes this wait bearable .HOPE. The hope that the patient is getting better slowly and steadily. Hope that we all will go home hale and hearty and life which had paused for a while will again be back to normal.