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Ramesh Babu was a classical singer. With acknowledged achievements, this Padma awardee had turned 60.

One day after returning from a performance, he changed into casual clothes, switched on the fan and lay on the bed. After a few minutes, he found something strange happening. While sleeping on one side, in a recumbent position, all of a sudden he could not hear the sound of the movement of the ceiling fan. Thinking that the power must have gone and the fan must have stopped, he turned into a supine position. But he could see the fan moving. He shook his ears. But he could not hear anything. Wondering about the problem, he fell off to sleep.

The next day morning, when he awoke, the sun had risen high. He wondered why he did not wake up at the usual time for which the alarm was set. He sat upright and called his wife. She came close to his bed and said something. He could not hear her.

“Why don’t you speak clearly? Why are you just murmuring?” Ramesh Babu said.

Sita Devi answered something.

Again, Ramesh Babu could hear nothing.

Realizing some problem, Sita Devi brought the slate of her grandchild and wrote something on it.

Ramesh Babu read the scrawled words: ‘Why are you shouting? Why are you speaking so loudly?’

“But I’m speaking in my regular tone,” he said. “You’re the one speaking so inaudibly low.”

Sita Devi understood. Ramesh Babu was getting deaf. She took her husband to their family doctor. who confirmed that Ramesh Babu had indeed turned stone deaf.

Visiting an ENT specialist, they got the report that Ramesh Babu’s hearing system had failed and there was no solution to it.

Ramesh Babu in despair returned home. Now only the written sentences were the communication method the others had to use to convey anything to Ramesh Babu.

Within a few days, the family members got used to this method. Ramesh Babu would carry on his regular affairs. He would continue singing Riyaz in the mornings. He could read a daily newspaper and could use his mobile and laptop. The entire life cycle with a bit of modification was accepted by Ramesh Babu and his family members.

And days passed into weeks.

One day in the afternoon Ramesh Babu, in a choked voice, called Sita Devi.

“Sita, my vision is failing me as well. Everything I see is looking blurred. I tried using both eyes closing one after another. But on both occasions, I could not see images clearly.”

Sita Devi, shocked, consoled Ramesh Babu, “Don’t worry. We will go to the doctor in the evening. At the most, you may need to use spectacles.”

In the evening, Sita Devi took Ramesh Babu to their family doctor. He directed them to an eye specialist. Their son, Satish, took an appointment with the ophthalmologist.

Before the specialist could analyse the cause, Ramesh Babu’s vision had completely gone. He could not see anything.

One after another, specialists were consulted but Ramesh Babu’s vision could not be restored. After his impaired hearing, now even his sight had failed Ramesh Babu. Both the channels of communication were shut for him. Luckily, he could still speak. He would continue his Riyaz of classical singing without knowing its performance.

Ramesh Babu was in complete distress.

When Ramesh Babu’s disciples visited him, whatever they said to him, could not reach him. He could not identify any of his disciples. He had to shake hands with theirs and they drenched them with tears.

A few days passed. Sita Devi could not bear her husband’s sinking into isolation. She wanted Ramesh Babu to open out to his disciples. She developed communication signs with her hands on his hands and tried to convey feedback to him.

Slowly, Ramesh Babu could identify his student by pressing his hand. Ramesh Babu’s right hand was used to tell him something. His left hand was used to make him speak. Sita Devi had made some finger presses to tell him about the visitor. When Rajan had come to see him, he shook hands with him. Sita Devi pressed the small finger of the left hand, and Ramesh Babu could tell his name. Rajan was extremely happy to hear his name from his Guru. Then Ramesh Babu asked some relevant questions and Sita Devi using the fingers of his right hand conveyed to him whatever Rajan answered. To this, Ramesh Babu responded by using proper words.

In the darkness of the distressed life of Ramesh Babu, Sita Devi provided glittering lights by being the communicator.

One day Sita Devi organized Ramesh Babu’s recital of Raag Kirwani for his students. There were around a hundred disciples listening intently to him singing.

A program of nearly an hour was a thundering success and was appreciated by all his disciples attending the recital. They all were thrilled to hear Ramesh Babu’s wonderful presentation. Their appreciation was conveyed to Ramesh Babu through Sita Devi’s code language. He wholeheartedly thanked all of them for their wonderful critique.

Sita Devi could feel the extreme happiness that Ramesh Babu expressed over their detailed feedback.

The happiness that the program brought to Ramesh Babu lasted for a long time.

Once again Sita Devi arranged for yet another concert. This time some of his students arranged for live transmission of this unique rendering. And this high-calibre presentation was not just appreciated by audiences all over the country but there were demands for many more programs.

Sita Devi got busy organizing various performances.

Ramesh Babu was extremely happy with Sita Devi’s communication method for him. That provided an ineffable joy for his otherwise gloomy life.

But one day another sadness descended into his life. Sita Devi passed away leaving her beloved husband alone to fend for himself.

Ramesh Babu’s son, who was often very busy, arranged for a caretaker to look after him.

The paid service was quite helpful, but Ramesh Babu missed his dear Sita Devi.

The brightness of the light that Sita Devi was providing to the dark life of Ramesh Babu was missing. The fire-flies of the paid service could not match the warmth of wonderful Sita Devi.

Ramesh Babu was getting into despair very fast.

One day, when his disciples were visiting him, he was certain that his most loved disciple Rajan was with him all alone.

Ramesh Babu said, “Rajan, I have never asked anything from you so far. But now I need your help. I don’t want to live this meaningless life anymore. I can’t listen to music. I don’t have my wife. I want to depart from this world, too. Please bring me cyanide.”

Rajan could not communicate anything to Ramesh Babu. He held Ramesh Babu’s hands and profusely drenched them with tears. In the process, the small finger of his right hand got pressed. That indicated ‘NO’ to Ramesh Babu.

“Rajan, don’t say no to this. I need it very much. Please do not leave me helpless.”

Rajan wept uncontrolled.

When the caretaker came, Rajan left the room.

The next day,  Ramesh Babu left this world even before sunrise.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Vijay Likhite

The author is a B.E. (Electronics) from Mumbai University in 1971. Owned a manufacturing unit. A few science and technology based articles in Marathi were published in Sunday Edition of local newspaper.

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