Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Little Squirrel ... Kannan

Kannan woke up to a lot of noise. He walked down the steps to get the voices more clear. It was Venki Mama, Swami Mama, and a few others who were with them. They were walking in with luggage and the he heard Asokan, the assistant from the Hospital who was instructing a nurse.

"Careful... careful... hold her still... let me close the door"

Kannan saw Ammamma being helped to get out of the car. The house was full of people. Amma was busy taking care of them. There was an air of tension and concern everywhere. Venki mama was trying to get the medicines from the bag from those kept in the corner of the room, Swaminathan mama was trying to get the bed ready. He was getting the pillow to support, the sheets to change and the blanket to keep her warm. All that Kannan knew was that Amma was taking care of Ammamma and she was home for treatment. She was not well. 

Kannan peeped into the guest room where Amma helped Ammamma to bed. She was not looking as she used to. She was not laughing, smiling or singing as Kannan had seen her all these days. The shining face with the radiant smile that Kannan knew was missing and instead he saw a pain stricken face. The smiles were missing on the faces of Venki mama too. Kannan's heart was beating fast. Fast with concern... what he can do to make her smile again. Or what else needs to be done... He was running around like the squirrel who wanted to do his bit for Lord Ram when the Bridge across the ocean was being built by the monkey  

Kannan heard Ammamma's frail voice. It did not have the energy as he knew she had. 

"I am feeling.... thirsty" said Ammamma
"Ok... I will get you water" said Amma

But she was trying to get things organized in the room and also had to accommodate Venki Mama and Swami Mama. Little Kannan in his red stretch shorts and chequered shirt, had the sleepy morning face covered in concern... thinking what he can do for Ammamma to be alright. He rushed to the bedside. Held the lifeless arm of Ammamma. The hands that served so many with all the delicacies of the world remain motionless. There was a tear in his eye, which was waiting to flow off his eyes down the cheeks. His worry was so evident in the eyes. Ammamma saw Kannan and tried to smile. The smile hardly reached the lips when the tear rolled down the eyes of the grandmother and grandson.

"When will you be alright ammamma" Kannan asked innocently

Ammamma said nothing but smiled. Kannan saw her dry lips trying to say something. Dry as an arid land Ammamma said a few words which Kannan barely could hear her words. But he understood that she wanted to ask how he was and talk to him to see him smile. Kannan saw her lips sticking to each other and and felt her love in the unsaid words, thought for a moment and dropped the hand he was holding and ran to the kitchen.

"Where is Kannan" asked Amma to Venki Mama
"He was here a minute ago"

Kannan pulled the stool in the kitchen and opened the Kitchen cabinet after climbing on to the kitchen worktop. He searched for something and heard Amma ask Venki Mama. He took the white container and climbed down. Pulled the stool towards the gas stove and took the black vessel with a handle and switched the gas stove on. Clicked the lighter and was up to something.

Amma was busy with her brothers, and suddenly heard a cry from the kitchen. A loud scream... and yes it was Kannan. Amma rushed along with Venki Mama and Swami Mama to the kitchen, where the scream came from. Ammamma wanted to get up and run as the scream seemed to pierce her ears and enter the heart, but could not. Amma saw Kannan on the floor writhing in pain with hands covering his eyes. He had not stopped crying. Venki Mama rushed forward and lifted the little boy in his arms and ran out of the house towards the clinic. He did not bother to wear his footwear nor was he concerned about what was  
happening all round him. Amma ran behind Venki. Swami Mama was perplexed but rushed back to Ammamma's room and started pacifying her.

"It's nothing, they have gone to the clinic... you don’t worry" said Swami Mama to Ammamma.

The tension in their face was evident as Dr. Varma, Ophthalmologist rushed into the room and started trying to pull the little hands which kept the eyes covered. Somehow he managed to move the hand from the right eye, which was the one bleeding along with the tears. The nurse dabbed with cotton to wipe off the tears mixed with blood. The eyes had turned red and Kannan wouldn’t stop crying. The doctor took his black gadget and looked into the eye carefully when the crying was slowly ebbing away. The loud screams died down to tiny sobs. He took a tiny forceps and carefully pulled out a whole cumin seed from inside  
the eye very next to the pupil. He took medicated drops and poured a drop into the eye. Kannan stopped crying, but the weeps were inside him.  

Doctor turned to Amma and gave her the cumin seed from the forceps and smiled. 
"It's okay. He is very lucky" said the doctor "Nothing to worry at all"

Amma let out a sigh of relief. Venki Mama smiled at Kannan. Kannan smiled back, wiping his tears mixed with blood with his shoulder, on the shirt. 

"Don’t touch or rub your eyes ok?" said the doctor to Kannan
Kannan smiled wiping his nose with the hand.

As they walked back home, neither Amma nor Venki Mama asked him any question. Kannan was silent too. After walking a few steps he spread his arms wide and wanted Amma to pick him up. Amma lifted him with all the love and walked hugging him, with his head resting on his shoulders. Amma and Ammamma had by then prayed with offerings to at least a dozen temples for his safety. Amma took Kannan to the bedroom, switched the fan on and carefully put Kannan to bed. The exhaustion put Kannan to sleep for some time. 

He woke up to Amma sitting next to him and Appa was looking at him from near the bed. Kannan smile

"What were you doing in the kitchen" Appa asked softly and caringly. Kannan could sense the concern and love in his voice.

"Ammamma wanted water to drink and I have heard from Periyamma that Water with cumin is good for thirst... and ... was trying to make some for Ammamma... I roasted the cumin and blew it and don’t know how it went into my eyes" Kannan narrated his mistake with eyes wide open and the right one still red with the seed attack.

Appa ran his fingers through the hair and smiled. Amma was smiling at him too. 
"Did you give ammamma water... she was thirsty"
Amma smiled and shook her head in affirmation and said
"Little squirrel building the bridge for Lord Rama ..."

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