When I say pulse, I am not sure about what exactly am I trying to say, even within myself. It could rather be interpreted as some ‘symptom’ of life! Or, in more contemporary terms, the pulse of something is the essence of the thing itself. Essentially, breathing and the beating heart and the neural throbbing symbolises the pulse of life and staying alive. But, often, we come across mannerisms and habits (aka compulsive obsessions) that let you know they sure are alive nd kicking, beyond the inhale-exhale routine. And most of the time, its mockery upon people’s OCDs. But at once, I realised there’s some fact in this.
As on most weekends, we set off to meet our grandparents (mom’s). But this time at my aunt’s place, as they had come over there. By the time we reached, grandpa was sick. Low sugar. He was exhausted and lying down. Everybody got worried, stuffing him with as much ‘sweet’ness as they could. Mom went uber crazy, under pressure, which used to be typical of aunt. Hustling around, I thought people were nnecessarily making a fuss there. After all, thatha (grandpa) is old and he’s used to be of a weaker health for the past decade. But he’s always strived and came out good. So I sat down on a chair, across the hall, facing him. Everybody was still standing, and I went WTF in my mind! It’s not like I loved him any less. Perhaps I’d say, I am the one who loves him the most, second only to ammammai (grandma). May be that’s not true from somebody else’s perspective, but definitely for me. So it was not like I wasn’t concerned. I was just sure its all gonna be fine. But then I notice something. I saw his hand, awkwardly clenched, like he has no more control over them. Could it be a stroke? Is his mouth slightly awkward too? Did he just get paralysed to his right? Infinite questions and my head would have just exploded. I got up (calmly or in a mad rush, I don’t remember) and went over to feel his right hand. The reflex he showed surprised me and soothed me all over. He held my hand, not too tight, not too gentle, as always when we depart, and we shook hands and he managed a slight laugh. I laughed too. Did I everyone else in the room too? I was too soothed to notice. I left him, with the still-concerned daughters and sons-in-law! I went over and continued the conversation with lechu (the cousin, as most of you know by now!). For now, we had made a pact over the handshake! And we’d made our peace to eachother.
And later on, as my uncle reached, thatha was still not stable. He was dizzy and disoriented. It was evident he hardly understands his environment. So then, mama (uncle) tries his usual prank on thatha. “Appa, ethra manikku serial thudangum? Rathri ennathu? Bhairavi thaane?” (Dad, when does the TV series begin? What’s it tonight? ‘Bhairavi’ is it?) And thatha prompty responds, ” Aamam, Bhairavi. Serial pathe kaalukku thaan” (Yeah, it is ‘Bhairavi’. The series begins at 10.15 only!). Mami interrupts, “Appakku ellam sheriyayachu ippo!” (Dad is all good now!). And now, the silence in the room breaks into laughter, as everyone’s sure thatha is fine, that he now grabs back on to his biggest OCD ever – Tamil TV series!
But to me, it was the unique handshake that told me he’s fine. It was never the usual handshake. Back then, he used to chide me and accuse me for trying to steal his ring, as we shook hands. Later at some point, he perhaps thought I am too grown up for that prank. But we still continued the handshake ceremony, even if we never talked the whole time. It grew into an OCD between us and I was immensely happy to see that he related ‘our’ thing to my casual touching of his hand. A while ago, mom had called to check on him. He’s fine expect that he has no memory of us coming to see him today. But I guess, the OCD would work anyway. That’s how it works!
Life is that. From interests, to cravings, to yearnings, to obsessions. Things that you wouldn’t let go until the last breath. Things that certify, that you’re more than a piece of breathing flesh. Things that define you and your existence. Things that you are hated for. Thing that you are loved for. Yet the same things that you are identied with. Things that make life, and help you live beyond inhalations and exhalations!