Carry on, my Wayward son

by - October 19, 2008

I see omens.
I wish I didn't. I wish I could convince myself they were all coincidences.

2 weeks ago, I left the operation theatre at 3 am, heading across the darklit streets to my room for a well deserved rest.A premature baby had just been delivered and against the odds, had cried. He was in the NICU, nonetheless, as the odds of his living were still iffy.
As I crossed the street, I was stopped in my tracks by a tableau taking place in front of me. A young sparrow, a little more than a fistful, was lying still in the road. I wished to God it were dead, seeing it's pitiful state. Crows hopped around , their gazes devouring the sparrow already. As I came nearer , I realised the little one was not dead. It was bleeding from various spots where it had obviously been stabbed by the crows. I had delayed the inevitable by walking the road at the moment of time.

I want to tell you that I took that bird in. I cleaned it's wounds. Nurtured it these 2 weeks and watched as it grew stronger and flew for the first time. How it flew away yesterday, leaving me teary eyed and praying for it's safety.

But that would be a lie. I turned and walked away. I didn't have the heart to face any more deaths.. not even of a small creature. And not at 3.30 in the morning. But I could hear the warning bells that were sounding in my head. Death was nearby. And I knew who it was going to be.

4 hours later, after a 'sound' sleep and having refreshed myself for a new days work, I entered the NICU. I waited to hear the sister's words telling me the infant had not survived the night. But again, I was wrong. He had. I wondered if I had got it wrong. Was I reading this wrong ? In this world where they say, the flapping of a butterfly's wings can affect the course of history in another part of the world, could it be that the young sparrow had traded places with the infant ? Had I witnessed , not death, but the miracle of life getting a second chance ?

I entered the operation theatre ,wondering how I always tend to see the negative omens. Maybe it was because I was just not looking for the positive omens that exist all around me if I just open my eyes to them. Was I, with my doc eyes, dismissing the miracles of life and accentuating the darkness of death's deeds ? Could it be...

"Hey, Rosh. Did you hear ? Dr B's dad passed away today morning. Heart attack. It was sudden." R said as I passed him by.

And suddenly, I knew what the sparrow represented.

You see, only the previous day, Dr B had opened up to us.. on how he'd become a success in life, how he had struggled to move out of his dad's famous reputation and try to carve a place for himself in the city's medical society. How, over the years, he had succeeded in his aim, while simultaneously, breaking bridges with his father. How perhaps, it was time to start mending those bridges now. How the fights to assert his individuality back then, seemed so trivial now. His dad's birthday was coming up. It was a good time for a son to show his dad how much he really loved him. It was a good time to make up for lost time.

The baby sparrow had not been the infant in the NICU as I had imagined. It had not been as literal a sign as that. The omens seldom are, I find. It had been the dreams and hopes of a doctor trying to return back to the family he loved and turned away from years ago. Dreams which would remain forever dreams.

Throughout the death rites and the cremation, I admired the poise of this doctor. His knowledge had impressed me earlier... on that day, I watched a man with a lion's heart. The world saw a son coming back to perform his duties to his estranged father. I and R alone saw the man whose hopes were shattered, maintaining a dignity worthy of an armyman.

Later, in my room, I pondered, on how often, as life progresses, we take our parents for granted. We spend our young lives impressing our peer groups, later on our girlfriends and seniors. Our parents get sidelined as we rush ahead in the ratrace. The hand that held the bicycle when we were 5 years old, now does not even warrant a wave of the hand as we drive by in our fancy wheels. They rejoice in our success, wish we were nearer by,wished we'd call more often... or atleast remember them more often.

And one fine day, it is too late to undo all that we've done.

As I beat myself up, wondering how bad a son I too was, I sought solace in the company of friends. But there wasn't any that night. The terrible mobile service I have ensured that I couldn't call up my parents too.
But then, solace is a funny thing too. You find it in the least expected place. Late that night as I decided to retire to bed, I decided to watch an episode of 'Supernatural'. The lyrics of the song that appeared at the start of that particular episode ( the last episode of Season 2 ) stunned me and I sought out the full song.
"Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more."

It's "Carry on, my wayward son" by Kansas. The video too is apt for this post. It depicts the 2 brothers meeting.. and then losing their dad. The lyrics and the guitarwork are par excellence.

Do me a favour. Don't delay what you wanna tell your parents. Time is a lot shorter than you think sometimes. If you can find the time to spare for that girl who laughs at your silly jokes, surely there's time for the hand that fed you little 'rice aeroplanes' when you were a kid and waited for you to come back from school... every day. Because while you may have grown too old for those silly rice plane, somewhere there's a mom and dad who'd love to feed them to you again. For old times sake.

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21 comments

  1. Yes Rosh. its so very important to let parents know that they matter.My mom does not live with me--I call her up and speak to her very often.Every single day.Sometimes twice a day.
    A very moving post.

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  2. i remember once in college that i texted my mom n pop separately that i loved and missed them.. they immediately called up to ask was anything wrong, i was talking weird, i never said anybody that i loved them, least my parents.... but i could sense the happiness that i did say them....

    is Dr. B's dad the one who u mailed me abt???

    and yes.. i expected u to save the Sparrow.. dunno why but a teeny weeny part of my heart wanted u to do that exactly...

    hmmm.. anyways as d text i just got says, if u cant fly,run; cant run,walk;cant walk,crawl;but watever u do, just keep on moving forward....

    Good Day Rosh...

    PS # i see no change in BMI scale... Doc Endhu Pathi

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  3. touched...
    its not just our parents Rosh... our friends, siblings, colleagues and every one else who has touched our lives... i recently counted how many friends from school did i call up in the last 3 months - well, 1 called me to invite for his marriage! and how many from college did I call up in the last 3 months - 0! Guess thats the 'moving on' part! we make friends and we move on!
    But yeah, parents are different.. the look on my mom's face whenever i leave for work after a short visit makes me wish that i could just leave everything and be with her... but still, i dont remember the last time i told my parents that i loved them! maybe i should... and i will... soon..

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  4. Touching!
    I had been struggling with an extremely hectic fortnight and was looking forward to yesterday's rest. Was called home by mom for some of her 'whims' that were grueling for an already tired me. Came back wasted, but knew in my mind that I'd do it again...and again!

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    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely post...

    This is the problem of life,you just cant break bridges then and there and plan to repair it later!

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  7. You just left the little sparrow to be pecked to death by those heartless crows? Roshan, that's unlike you, whatever the reason might be... :(

    Parents - I can sense how sad they are when their daughter stops visiting them once a month because she moved thousands of miles away to a different continent. Though she talks and shares all with them every other day on phone/webcam, it still doesn't feel the same.

    Am trying to get them to visit the US in few months. Hope all the visa process goes smooth. * Fingers crossed*

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  8. the rat, yes, B was the one I mailed u abt... as regards the BMI scale, if u knew me well, u'd know it's a miracle the fat guy ain't running back the other direction!!!

    swashbuckler, true. it applies for friends too

    meira, good for you.

    hi richa, thanks a lot. will mail u in detail.

    thank u sumana

    ap, as always, u're right on the mark.

    aishu, scarily enough.. I never thought so.. abt it being not like me. i guess I've slowly turned into the dreaded 'realist'. all the best on the visa front

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  9. that was so moving.... beautiful.

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  10. My first time here and I loved this post. You are right, time is very short and we should communicate our love as often as possible :)

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  11. true arpita.. and thanks for stopping by..

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  12. Your posts always strike a chord with me.I have never really told my mom how much i love her..I don't think I can tell that to her even.Nevertheless I'll try to show in my own small ways how much she means to me..

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  13. Roshan jus lost my MIL..yes we often don`t spell out our affection sp for our in laws..having lived with her fr nearly 16 years its been a big blow..at times i wish she would come jus fr a few minits and i could tell her how much i miss her and want her to be with us...so true say it cos u never know what is goin to happen next..

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  14. there are so many things and words left unsaid at the end of the day...

    this is an apt reminder...

    beautifully written Rosh

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  15. PS, went back to your comment after your message. My mom always calls even for trivial things.. But you know what? In hindsight it isn't the trivial things so much as knowin how i and my bro are doing, i guess. Ours isn't a family big on pda... This is her way of showing she loves us.

    Illeen, lik you, i too struggle to show my love for my parents. It's only in recent years that I've started takin baby steps in that direction.. Small things lik suprise gifts via courier, surprise visits home.. That kinda thing. As for actually sayin the words... Hmmm.

    Myspace, sadly, that is exactly what i'm tryin to tell / warn people abt. Sorry for your loss.

    Gazal, put the reminder to good use.. If even one person who reads this post actually does that much, i'd feel I've done my bit.

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  16. Went through couple of your blog posts randomly searching blogosphere...

    Posting just to tell u

    how good it feels to read
    "Someone Conveying every person's feeling's they have kept inside"

    great writing

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  17. thanx man.. thats all I really ever aim for...

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  18. Very interesting post.. why dont you share this with the medical community at meraMD.com.

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  19. anupam, the thing is though im a doc, most of my posts are on other stuff,, very rarely do i post doc posts...

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  20. *Nods head in agreement* Doc, this is such a reality check.

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