As Does the Pain | SPJIMR

As Does the Pain

Sarabjeet D Natesan

Author: Sarabjeet D Natesan

Date: Tue, 2017-12-12 14:05

How and why do we find It in ourselves to be mean, vicious, malicious?  What drives our sense of accomplishments at having done so?  Somehow, to touch someone’s raw nerve, to stroke it, to push it, to hurt and to inflict pain has become the new cool.  Collectively we have changed so much, that the new low feels normal, feels so right and feels so ok.  It is ok to troll, to make fun, to tease, to collectively harass and then so easily move on, unmindful and careless of the agony inflicted.  We are not born with it, we acquire it, some of us lose the un-mindfulness, weed out the mean spiritedness, while others plough on, and make being unkind the backbone of their existence.  Some fortunate ones get a certain course correction and are lucky to have the serenity to accept that, while others due to power or position, pass off being nasty as having a ravishing sense of humour and a sparkling style of wit. 

Under rather unfortunate circumstances I had to bring my parents home to be with me so that I could take care of them.  This also sadly turned out to be the last trip they ever made to visit me.  My father’s cancer has resurged, my mother had lost her eye-sight after a very nasty fall. They both agreed that some measure of intervention was required and since I was a stay at home mother to my three daughters, and my parents loved the calmness Chennai offered and my mother the sea breeze, they agreed to be with me.  I was relieved that they were not putting up their customary resistance, yet I was also very worried and scared; they both required surgeries and intensive care.  I was unsure and concerned about my abilities to take care of their medical needs.  Our apartment was big enough to accommodate everyone and I very meticulously planned my parents' room; closest to my room, close to the dining table, with proximity to the bathroom and place in the room for their meds, I thought of everything that was required and anticipated everything that could go wrong and planned for everything.  Since My father needed more time to recover, his surgery was scheduled first and my mother’s operation second.  I also think that when one puts in so much effort, the entire universe conspired to help and support the cause.

My parents were happy to be home with so many of us, because they were there, and I had put prior restrictions on post-operative visits, a lot of my friends, my husband’s relatives, his parents came to visit them before the medical interventions started.  There was about a ten-day period for blood work, tests, scans, x-ray results etc before my father’s admission to the hospital. The house was full, my daughters were always sitting with them, hanging around, talking, listening, sharing, getting my mother’s walking stick, my father’s reading glasses, fetching them a drink of water, doing their homework with my dad. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of tea and coffee served; my parents would not let anyone go without food and so there was a lot of cooking happening, in short it did not seem like a household with sick people, it was just grandparents visiting and a full house!  Since my mother could not see, and her hearing was not too good also, she was guided by my kids; they would lead her to where ever they wanted her to go and many a times she would gamely play along.  It was also the start of the internet driven communications and I would play my father’s favourite songs by his favourite singer, K.L. Saigal on the net.  I would also make my parents talk to my sisters over the webcam.  My mother could not see my sisters, but she could at-least hear them well if I increased the volume of the speakers. Pre-monsoon showers had set in in Chennai by that time and the big tree by my parents' bedroom window housed a ‘myna’ who would come every morning, perch on the tree branch and sing.  My mother was captivated, Delhi had no such beauty left and she would be up early morning to listen to the bird sing.  The cool air made for good weather and my parents were restful and relaxed.

In the days that followed my concerns were allayed, the test results were not too forlorn, my father’s surgery went off well and he was back home in four days.  Things were looking good and even though my mother’s surgery faced small hiccups, eventually it was done.  The schools had closed for holidays by then and I did not have to worry about pick-ups and drops, about car-pools, about break-boxes, about getting up early to set the kids off to school.   I could not have been happier, it was just perfect!

The human mind is a very small piece of space; physically it is, mentally it becomes small, once we give it importance and listen to it and feed its sense of purpose.  Once the surgeries were done and my parents were both back home and recuperating, I have a feeling that I lost it.  Instead of the vastness of humility and gratitude, I let it come to my mind and heart that I had done something great and that I was a shining example of how things should be taken care of; forgot how it was all a team effort; from the ladies who took care of the dishes, cleaned the house, to the person who delivered fresh vegetables and tender coconut water every morning without fail, to my children who though very young, provided a lot of help by not only taking care of my parents but also managing their work themselves, and my husband who was their hospital companion and my pillar of support, to my sisters who through their phone calls and talks with me, never let the enormity of the task overwhelm me, they and their families spoke to my parents on a regular basis and kept them in good spirits, to my eldest brother in law, who came to visit because my dad told him in passing that ‘I want to meet you’.  My parents’ siblings and friends who checked on them without fail and never let down their sense of belonging, and the doctors who contributed the most in their recovery.  In my heightened and astounded state of activity, I somehow lost my sense of purpose.  My father noticed the change in my behaviour but did not say anything.  I think he was also overwhelmed by the pain and recovery.  But he let me know in small words that the team effort was a lot to be thankful for.

In a couple of weeks when my mother’s eyes began to heal, and she was back to walking a few steps with her new walker, she told me that she wanted to see and talk to my sisters. So, I called up my sisters and set up a time to webcam with them. It was decided that we will all talk at 7-7.30 in the evening and have a little party, cut a cake and each will have a piece.  So accordingly, a cake each was bought for Chennai, Delhi and Dubai.  Knowing how much my parents loved ‘pakoras’, I even fried onion, potatoes and eggplant pakoras and made green mint chutney.  At 7.25 pm, I set up the call and called out to my mother.  I could have gone to get her, or sent one of my kids to bring her, but I just sat on the chair and called out to her to come and join us.  My mother got up with great difficulty, she was wearing post-operative dark glasses and using the walker she was not too used to, came out of her room and unfortunately got distracted and instead of coming straight, turned left and went into the dining room.  I don’t know what came over me, I started to laugh uncontrollably and said to my sisters that mummy has lost her way and that I should have put a traffic signal in the house. Of-course, no one reacted.  My father was so hurt and upset that he quietly got up, went to my mother, took her hand and led her back to their bedroom.

The party was cancelled, the cake uneaten, the pakoras cold and the entire house was crestfallen.  My father called me to his room and in a very upset, and for the first time, a very angry voice told me that what I did today was completely wrong. And with that one remark, I had undone all the respect, care and love I had shown them.  And how I was totally off my moral tracker to make fun of someone who has lost her eyesight, and for that matter anyone.  I had celebrated my 40th birthday that year, but standing in front of my father, I felt like a 14-year-old.  I had made one mean, insensitive and uncaring remark.  And I thought I was being funny, witty and clever.  I was so devastated by my father’s tone that I apologised a hundred times over.  My mother had no clue what had happened, for my dad told her that the connection was very bad and that’s why the call could not be completed.  I said sorry to my mother and she just smiled and said that I can’t be blamed for bad telephone connections.  I regret my behaviour and words to the day and apologise for them even today, even though my parents are long gone.  Many a times, in my mind, I replay that scenario, I don’t call out to my mother, I don’t even ask children to get her.  I set up the entire webcam and the party and I go and get her, a mere fifteen steps, I bring her to the computer table, I sit her down, we all talk, my parents cut the cake, we eat the pakoras, I even make a cup of tea, we laugh and joke and then we sign off.  And then I wake up.

And the lesson stays as does the pain.




Whatever has come, shall all pass away, through the love of duality, all suffer in pain. False is the body, false are the clothes; false is beauty. It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.

What a captivating, delightful, and solemn read, Prof. Sarabjeet! Every word you wrote brought a plethora of emotions, satisfaction of having served one’s parents, pride of having managed everything so smoothly and lastly, the remorse of a child who has let her parents down. In a subtle way, you have pointed out how your father noticed your shifting behaviour but refrained to make an issue of it. And when did the bubble of this pride burst? When the damage had been done beyond repair. Isn’t it a norm in today’s world - hurting others without giving a second thought to what they might be experiencing? Do we ever make an effort to create a nurturing environment for others? We live in a world of good and evil, with many gradations in between. Sadly, we find ourselves reverberating with the evil on a deeper level. To be fair, people aren’t mean for the sport of it or because they are against us; everyone is fighting their own battles. People are mean to cope up. Let me elaborate with an example - all of us have received the calls of telemarketers at one point of our lives. We shout at them, scold them for calling at an unearthly hour, even if it’s the lunch hour, make fun of them. But, do we ever pause to reflect upon our actions? They are fulfilling their professional duties. It’s not imperative of us to buy services or products, but that does not give us the moral obligation to inflict pain and our superiority complex upon others. One minute of gloating and fun can sometimes leave behind years of yearnings to correct it. The following two lines perfectly sum it. Zindagi ka koi bharosa nahi..itna guroor lekar kaha jaoge? Aaj hun toh guroor karlo, kal kya laasho ko guroor dikhaoge?

An emotional read. The title created a fear through the whole article that something wrong would happen at last. With everything happening well, sense of pride came a sense of guilt. Very rightly said, we are not born with a tendency to tease or make fun, we acquire it. It has become a trend. But we naturally acquire it by seeing others. A trend originates when a person starts it and people follow. Why not follow the people who do not follow the new cool? Let’s start this trend and be the originator. Definitely, Wit & Humour bring liveliness to the conversations but not when we are unmindful of the agony inflicted with our remarks. We often think of it when we are at receiving side of such remarks but tend to neglect thinking it is normal and incorporate such practices in our lives as well. There can be remarks which do not affect the receiver but we never know when and what affects a person’s feeling. We do not have the ability to reverse once the damage is done. The article very well brings out how one action of ours can bring all our efforts to zero. How hard we try, we can’t correct the mistake done. We can definitely admit it, learn from it and do not repeat it. There is a dire need to bring the trend. A Trend where one think before acting rather than feeling guilty on the mistakes, a trend where one cares of others feelings. It is our moral responsibility not to make fun of anyone on their weaknesses. Not just weaknesses but anything which puts the other person down. Let’s create an environment of supporting each other rather than putting down. With so many things coming back in style, why can’t Morality be one of them.

I realised who my soulmate was when I carried her ashes in our car to the beach. It was 17th of June 2016, 3 PM in the afternoon. My mother is dead. I had just spoken to her about the problems I was facing in the workplace 2 days ago. As I was conducting experiments in my truck 400 km away from home, I received a text from my father that she’s met with an accident. It took me 6 hours to reach the hospital. She had third degree burns in 83% of her body. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t think. I rushed to the ICU after those sanitization procedures to find my mother under induced coma. I wanted two things then. First, I wanted my mother to die. There is no way she can bear that kind of pain. Second, I wanted to say “Sorry”. My father knew about this. He then came to me and said that even he too had a lot to apologise for and that men really are stupid creatures. I had to console him. I remember telling him that I am going to treat people, the way she wanted me to: with kindness, admiration and devoid of judgement. I swore that I would live for the women in my live and make their happiness my life’s purpose. As I read this write-up, my smartphone screen started getting blurred. The tears were out. I am really happy that you got an opportunity to apologise. The pain is manifold when you never get to express how sorry you are. There were lessons learned, value constructs built and way of living altered. The crumbling weight lingers as the pain never seems to fade. Please don’t mistake me as someone who needs counselling. I am unfortunately strong. It is this strength that kept me from comprehending how delicate my mother was. I can move on if I wanted to. Carrying around this pain is my penance. Thank you for the time.

Hi Ma’am, it was such an overwhelming read for me. As I read the blog, instances flashed in front of my eyes like it was only yesterday, that they took place. How have I been mean to people and how did I feel when I was on the receiving end. The ease with which we humiliate people have risen several folds. Humiliation has a substantial influence on human conduct. We run the victim card so often that we break to see the consequences of victimizing others. The society thrives on breaking others down and using it as a stepping stone for their own success. One can’t even recall the numerous times one has mocked someone they know such as a colleague or a friend just because they fumbled up on stage, had an opinion that didn’t match theirs or even as small as wearing a dress that they loved. This is something where people do not fit into cultural norms. We feel good when someone fails or appears weaker than us. On a more personal level, the stakes are a lot higher. It's all about power. The power of feeling superior. There have been numerous instances when I have been mean to my parents and mostly in one way or the other related to technology and gadgets. There’s this sense of superiority while having a conversation with them regarding the same and it soon turns into a mean comment. How can I expect them to be well versed with latest innovations when even I am not? Rather than being supportive towards the people we love and care, we end up being the hinge that thwarts. The recuperation from a bruised body is not even comparable to that of a bruised soul. “Someone’s worst humiliation is only our momentary entertainment”

Pain - or call it a device that makes us learn how to value happiness and good times. Well, it depends on the gravity of pain - whether it will stay long with you or would it be just like a passing affair. I read the blog, “As Does the Pain”, by Dr. Sarabjeet D Natesan and its hard-hitting. You can never give complete justice to a writer’s mindset and this written piece is more than just a state of mind. It’s about that one mistake that changes the whole scenario. “Somehow, to touch someone’s raw nerve, to stroke it, to push it, to hurt and to inflict pain has become the new cool,” wrote Sarabjeet. I do agree with the fact that if you have to give someone a deep jolt, you have to hurt a person - but at times it does go wrong - it becomes more of a selfish move. The very same happened in the case of the writer who has penned down a story that inflicts on the fact that one mistake that you do tarnishes the good doings that you have done. To say, hurtful words do the damage that you can’t fix and leaves a lifelong dent. As I was reading the whole blog, I understood how that pain within can affect a person. In this piece, the blogger got her sick parents’ home and she does everything to comfort them - but her one mistake of trying to become a little funny and witty changes the whole outlook of her parents perceiving her. She wanted to undo her mistake which was not possible and hence the title, As Does The Pain, makes full sense to me. I totally agree with her notion - her intentions were not wrong but the way things panned made her look the evil one. The author also added that we have changed so much that the low feels normal.   We say hurtful things and then take it so easy that we forget what impact it will leave on others, be it our friends, relationships, or even parents. Sometimes we are forgiven and sometimes the impact is irreversible. In a nutshell, pain, in a way, is a lesson that is necessary to understand the value of human relationships and life.

Add new comment

Bhavan's Campus
Munshi Nagar | Dadabhai Road,
Andheri West | Mumbai - 400 058, India
Tel:+91-22-2623-0396/ 2401

Delhi Centre
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Campus, 3rd Floor
Gate No. 4, Copernicus Lane
Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi-110001
Tel: 8130545577, 011-23006871, ext-871