By Suma Varughese
Impoverishing yourself will not enrich another, says Suma Varughese
Arpita was having dinner with the Sathes this Sunday. She was a far cry from the rather wan girl you had encountered a couple of issues back (On Your Own, July 2012). She had gotten a fashionable hair cut and her clothes were trendy and stylish. Best of all, she had a visible air of confidence which shone through in the way she sat with her spine straight, looked everyone in the eye and laughed heartily at Avijit’s antics. Here was a happy, healthy girl, and the Sathes were delighted with the sea change. The subject changed to Diwali holidays due soon and Aprita divulged that a friend of hers had invited her to Kashmir to stay with her.
“Wow, how lucky can you be,” shrieked Alka.
“I’ve always longed to go to Kashmir,” said Nisha wistfully.
“Kashmir is a great place. I went many years ago and I still remember the astounding beauty of the place. The bubbling brooks of Pehalgam, the snows of Gulmarg and the gentleness of the Kashmiri people. They won my heart,” said Dad. He turned to look at the accusing eyes fixed on him. “We’ll go soon,” he mollified his family. “We would have gone long back had it not been for the trouble that erupted there.’
Turning to his niece, he said, “Kashmir is an experience like no other, Arpita. You are lucky to get to go.”
Arpita shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Her eyes welled with tears. “Chacha,” she said, “I may not go. You know that Arjun would never be able to go, and I can’t bear to do what Arjun cannot.”
Arjun was her only brother, older to her by a couple of years. The two siblings were very close. A year ago, Arjun, who had been very active in sports, had had an accident while doing a pole vault. His spine had hit the cement ground and shatteringly enough, he had become a paraplegic, confined to the wheelchair.
Arpita had been very much affected by this and while she had been at home, she had been his hands and legs. Although she was now in Mumbai she did not permit herself to do many things she would have liked to, simply because Arjun could not do it. She had not gone on some hiking expeditions she had been invited to, nor had she gone to a disco as yet. Arjun had promised to take her to her first disco and the thought of going without him knotted her up from within. Nisha reached out and held her hand in silent fellowship.
Mom nodded sympathetically. “I understand how that feels, dear.”
She herself had often been in the same place because her sister Geeta was homebound as a caregiver to her invalid father-in-law. Expeditions, even minor outings to see a movie or go shopping, were almost impossible and each time Mom had done any of these things it had wrenched her from within.
“But, you know what,” added Mom. “I never stopped doing any of these things.” Arpita looked at her bemused.
“I realised,” continued Mom, “that my impoverishing myself was not going to enrich my sister’s life. By denying myself pleasures, I was not making my sister any happier.” Arpita looked confused, but unconvinced.
“Yes, but Chachi, how will he feel about my going here and there when he cannot go?” “Have you ever asked him?” asked Dad.
“No, but I know that if I were in his place I would feel really awful.” “You are allowing yourself to get into a lose-lose situation, dear,” said Dad, delighted to bring in his idol Stephen Covey’s concept. “What you need to do is to strive to get into a win-win situation.”
“Win-win?” asked Arpita. “You mean take him along with me? That is not possible, Chacha. He is still in severe pain and movement only makes it worse.”
“Well, here is what I do,” said Mom. “Each time I see a movie that I want Geeta to see, or she wants to go shopping,
|Sathe family fact file: The Sathe family lives in Mumbai and consists of Ashwin Sathe, a trainer and counsellor and Abha Sathe, a writer of children’s books. Ashwin’s parents, known as Aji and Ajoba, stay with them. Ajoba is a retired college professor turned Vedanta teacher. Ashwin and Abha have three children: Avijit (20) an engineering student, Nisha (19) in her second year in college studying Eng Lit and Alka (16) in her class 10. The family meets every Sunday over dinner, where problems are thrashed out and solutions offered. |
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I go and babysit her father-in-law. And once or twice we moved in her father-in-law here so that she and Sudhir (Geeta’s husband) can take a break. Geeta knows that anytime the pressure gets too much for her, she can count on me to help her out. I also support her to make the most of her enforced home stay by encouraging her to take up online courses on cooking, and her favourite subject, philosophy. Plus she has cultivated a flourishing counselling session via Skype. There is lots we can do when we put our minds to it.”
Avijit spoke up, “There are lots of apps that are now available to enable even quadriplegics to use computers. I can help you locate one. Then you can have him follow wherever you go on Skype. He could at least travel virtually with you.”
“That’s a good idea,” said Arpita, her eyes shining.
“Start a diary where you record everything you have done, ate or talked about. Present it to him when you get home,” suggested Dad. “Also think of how to enrich his life at home. Has he resumed his studies?”
“Not yet. He is still in a lot of resistance.”
“Why not get a counselor to work with him? I would be glad to offer my services,” said Dad. “We could set up the Skype facility.”
“Oh, that would be so good. It is exactly what he needs. Mummy and Papa do their best but they are shattered too, you know. Thank you so much all of you. It is amazing how things seem to get resolved when I spend time with you.”
“We aim to please,” said Avijit, sweeping his cousin an elaborate bow.
Everyone chuckled as they drew back their chairs and left the dining table.
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