Thursday, November 20, 2008

Diwali Drama

I know I have been an absolute slug for the past few weeks and have not posted anything at all - but there are good reasons for that.

It all started the week before Diwali when I went out for lunch and dinner on the Monday, I had a ladies lunch at my house on the Tuesday (potluck) and then proceeded to go out to lunch or dinner every single day for the rest of the week. By Thursday night (1am) my stomach was in full blown revolt - cramps that were worse than contractions (I kid you not!!) were just the start. I thought I was having a heart attack - the pain from below my waist, such as it is, that shot up to my chest and radiated to my arms, neck and back. I was totally doubled over. Then came the next wave of misery - dash, dash, dash every few minutes to the bathroom. I thought I should just spend the night sitting up on the loo, but the cramps threatened to knock me off in a most undignified manner!
Now not to put too fine a point on it, I thought this was the worst of my agony - boy was I mistaken. I remember morning sickness (actually all day sickness for 7 out of 9 months, in both pregnancies) and I do not remember it fondly. Let me say that this was a million billion times worse. My whole being was retching and wretched! I do not recall EVER being this sick. Finally - My Darling, who was lying in bed observing my chronic behaviour but unable to do a damn thing asks if he should call a doctor, or take me to the hospital!
I refuse on both counts as it is now nearly 4am and I am hoping that as all my insides are now outside, there is nothing left but peace and calm. Wrong again! Incredible what the body can dredge up to chuck out when it knows you can't stop it!

My Darling watches me collapse onto the sofa (which is curiously more comfortable than my bed) and sits with his laptop to cancel our flights to Bangalore. We were going there for the Diwali break, and to see M-in-law who is pretty poorly in her own right. Also, my parents and The Angel (my sister) were flying in from London for 5-6 days to spend Diwali together as an entire family for the first time in 17 years. However - they were all in Bangalore and the four of us were in Chennai.

Nikh was furious and frustrated at having to wait and The Ray just thought we had the days mixed up. The Doctor (Rhea's paediatrician) is a Godsend. She prescribed stuff over the phone, told me what else to buy in case of various eventualities coming to fruition while in Bangalore and generally made it possible for me to fly after 48 hours. I can honestly say that I have never taken so much Imodium for such a length of time, in my life. I resented the fact that I was with my parents and The Angel, and could eat nothing but curd rice (bletch!!) and drink nothing but soda water. Plain water made me gag - my best mate left me some Propel before she went to the other side of the World, and I think this helped but it is all gone now! It took another two weeks before my ribs (yes they do exist) stopped aching every time I coughed or laughed. It was even longer before I ate anything but curd rice (bletch!) and I lost nearly 3kg. So there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

So after going through hell and barely making it out the other side, we came back to Chennai to find that PYT has been knocked down by an auto as she went to visit her sister in the hospital. She was damaged quite badly but still struggled into work knowing we were coming back. The Cook had barely made it to work. "Rain makes road bad, madam" was the reason for trudging in at 11.45 or 2.30pm day after day. More than that, she fell asleep on the bus on the way home one night and some kindly soul lifted her cell phone from her fingers! So late everyday and incommunicado - when she walked in (IF she walked in) it was a happy surprise!!! Everyday a new excuse for not coming on time - a lorry broke down in front of the bus, a man fell out of the bus, there was a riot and she threw up in fear and had to go to the nearest hospital for an IV, there was traffic, road bad madam .... need I go on?

She cooks delicious food, or she would be long gone! Both the Cook and PYT want to move in with us, but my servants' quarters are sparse and used as my junk store. Their bathroom consists of a commode and a large tap. They manage, but I am not sure I want them here 24hrs a day. So PYT has not come to work since the 3rd week of October and the Cook comes for a couple of hours every afternoon.

This means I clean, launder, iron, shop and cook - yes I know I used to do this all day everyday back when I lived in the real world, but you would be shocked at how much time is taken with purifying and preparing fruit and veg here. Even the eggs have to be purified in their shells. Anything that comes into the house from the shops needs to be rinsed with dettol/water so that if anyone drinks straight from a bottle or a can they don't get some deadly disease from rat/cat/dog/cow/cockroach etc urine or droppings which may have been deposited in the open 'go-downs' (equivalent of a warehouse - but an open air sort of a basement).

Cooking is not a joy - I have 3 gas rings that work, sort of. One electric ring that doesn't work at all. One electric oven that is defunct. I have a table top oven that holds one cookie tray or one lasagna pan at a time, but only heats in one back corner, so I spend my time rotating the food every 7 minutes! I have a microwave that chooses when it works and when it rests. Mostly it rests!! So Nigella, if you can smile and gush about the 'intense earthiness of the turmeric' while cooking and purifying in my kitchen ... I'll eat my hat!!

So my dramas finally subside. The Ray picks up the baton and sprints with it. Temperatures nearing 105, a burning body, a throat so sore, tonsils so swollen she could not utter a single word (let alone swallow water or meds) and had to simply suffer in silence. A terrifying croupy, hacky cough which led to a continual vomit, and a listlessness so unlike my little determined, hot tempered dynamo that I considered taking her to the Emergency room. Believe me - here where IV's are as common as having a drink of water, where operations happen for the most inane conditions and where the children are not particularly treated as equal beings - the situation had to be pretty dire for me to even consider going to the hospital.

A good week later, her temps came down to 102 / 103. But this was a vast improvement so we thanked whichever God was watching over her and prayed for more help. A few days later, she started to recover, but she has lost a lot of weight and her appetite. I am trying to cajole her to eat ice cream, apples, bananas, watermelon, papaya etc - anything just so she eats!

Finally today we are all healthy and eating well. PYT comes back to work tomorrow and the Cook has been getting here at 10.30. I am still ironing, but not as much. I am still shopping but not as much! I am trying to clean the house - again ... but am not really inspired!

Oh well, need to check my Facebook page, check my email and write to a few good friends!

Life goes on!