Photos don’t talk, Mummy

It’s been a while since either of us posted. Eid followed by labor day weekend threw everyone’s schedule off a bit. Now the workweek has started, routines are back to normal, and posting can continue back on schedule.

Mummy has had good days and not so good days since then. A few sleepless nights, followed by drowsy days and agitated moods. Anis said it correctly when he said, “It’s like a child who hasn’t napped, he starts getting cranky.”

We took Mummy shoe shopping yesterday. Papa, the sales attendant, and I brought shoes to Mummy, while she tried them out and took them for a test walk. She wore a pair of simple dark brown sandals, and said, “These are good, I like these.” Success! She came home happy with her shoes and couldn’t wait to wear them. Ahh, retail therapy can do wonders for a woman!

Today, Papa was on his laptop doing some work and Mummy was next to him. Papa’s desktop wallpaper is a picture of his grandkids, Zaid and Sara. Mummy saw the picture and started talking to it. Anis was watching from the other couch, then finally spoke up and said, “Mummy, that’s a photo, it doesn’t talk.”

Mummy was confused and insisted that she could talk to it.

Anis tried explaining it once more, but then realized there’s no point in explaining it to her, she won’t get it, so he stayed silent, and watched quietly.A couple of tears rolled down his cheek.

“Have you eaten your dinner yet?” Mummy asked her grandson in the photo.

“Oh! You haven’t? Eat a little bit. Eat a little. I’ll eat too. Try some! Just a little….”

Mummy went on having a conversation with the wallpaper of the computer screen, smiling as if her grandkids really were there, and she was really talking to them. She touched the image of their cheeks, as if she was really touching their cheeks, and brushed her hand over the image of their hair, as if she really was patting their head.

My attention was diverted to Anis. He quietly wiped a tear from his cheek, and closed his eyes, trying to convince himself this wasn’t happening.

It just made him sad. This woman has a Ph.D. in chemistry for crying out loud. She has written research papers thicker than the dictionary. She has translated high level works from Hindi to English. Yet her mind has turned into that of a 14 month old, where drawing circles and squares are considered as a high level of difficulty.

Once in a while, it’s easy to forget the disease. Instead of looking at her as a patient with a technical named disease, we look at her as someone whose personality has completely evolved and done a 180 from what she was before. From a confident, career-focused, strong woman, we now see before us a crushed, de-spirited woman who has lost all confidence in her self to the point where she has to ask somebody to walk her to her room from the living room because she can’t do it alone.

Once in a while, all the medical jargon goes over our head and in one ear out the other. All we think of is The Before and The After. We even use those terms, before and after. Sometimes our jaws do an imaginary drop on the floor at the new deteriorations that we see spring up. We think we’ve seen the worst, then we’ll witness her having a conversation with a photograph, and our minds just can’t fathom how this happened.

It doesn’t get better. New things come up everyday. Sometimes we’re ready for it, but sometimes it catches us off guard.

Today was Anis’s turn to be caught off guard. Tomorrow, who knows. Maybe it’ll be Papa’s turn. Maybe mine. Maybe we’ll be ready for it. Maybe we won’t.

One thing’s for sure….we can only take it one day at a time.


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