Courtesy Calls – A perception

Is it essential to pay visit to someone who is recovering from sickness or an accident in a hospital when you know that you can’t go and that the ‘someone’ is being taken good care of? Someone with whom you have a relationship that goes beyond social obligations. You know the person will understand. And if they don’t happen to understand, as I learnt last month, you know that they were never close to you! An eye-opener moment!

Not one, but many such hospital-related moments occurred in the last one year which eventually, to be precise last month, made me change my perception completely.

Episode 1:

My father underwent a leg surgery early last year, followed by tongue surgery in August and then radiotherapy in October which meant he had to stay and also make many visits to the hospital. I happened to be with him in the last two where the tongue surgery and the radiotherapy took place in the city I live. Mum flew to be with him in the first one – the city where he works.

In all these three times, my brother, who lives in the UK, couldn’t fly down. He had in fact met all of us back home barely a month before my father was diagnosed with carcinoma in August. I kept thinking in my head, why is he not flying down immediately after hearing this shocking news! And over the weeks, the thought persisted in my head, why can he still not come? Should he not be coming? Is this how a son should be? I was a bundle of nerves then and overlooked the practical side. While I was trying to play a dutiful daughter by giving company to my father, my brother was calling up his sources and finding the doctors and hospitals that were best for my father – keeping distance, his age and every logistics in mind. He was doing the spade work. Convincing my thick-skinned father on why he should be getting treated in an ABC hospital and not XYZ is a task.  In fact he got everything lined up and kept me on my toes too by making me coordinate with the doctors.

Episode 2:

A few months ago my friend was relating a marital dispute between her sister and her husband and how the sister was upset that the husband didn’t stay back in the hospital at nights when their child was hospitalised. The emotional side of her had overpowered the practical side, just like me. The husband was working all day long so that the child could get the treatment in the best of hospitals! It was not as if he was partying while the wife stayed the nights in the hospitals.

Episode 3:

Last month when I was in Goa for a few days, a friend happened to visit me. He called me one afternoon telling me that he fell off a bike while riding it. Though he had escaped with minor scratches he was in the hospital getting himself checked. After asking if he wanted any help to which he refused, we decided to catch up later in the day which never happened. And when I did see him the next day, he was all upset. He was in no mood to talk and in that half an hour we had become absolute strangers. A decade long friendship was over in no time. We haven’t talked since.

I had to be on both the sides of the fence (hospital in this case – as an expected visitor and expecting visitors) to finally understand that formalities such as courtesy calls are meant for acquaintances and distance relatives. A relationship with a person goes beyond such calls.

My brother’s love for our father and vice versa would not grow any less. So would the love of my friend’s sister’s husband toward their child and vice versa.

As far as the episode with my friend is concerned, it is such a pity that it took us a decade to realize that our friendship was superficial. It didn’t transcend beyond social norms. Sigh!

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