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Recently I read a ‘middle’ in Deccan Herald-“mum @82’”. In that, the author had described how her bereaved mother had preferred to be ‘independent’ and had learnt new skills to cope with daily life. Having recently lost my husband, I could very well relate to the article as I too had opted for a single and independent life rather than inconveniencing my children.

Ramu had been a staunch follower of DIY (DO IT YOURSELF) school.

Leading a happy life as a pampered wife for a period of 55 years, I too had to learn, relearn, unlearn many things after his unexpected death.

After initial help from my Air Force brother-in law, I learnt to correspond with Air Headquarters and to get a hold on my savings and deposits after which I now deal with my correspondence independently.  My daughter helped me to get a debit card. I can now write cheques, operate debit card and withdraw/deposit cash in the bank.

Security concerns befitting a single lady made me get used to carpenters and masons. Emergency situations made me get familiar with plumbers and electricians. Since after retirement, Ramu enjoyed the process of switching off the pump when the overhead tank filled up, he was averse to fixing a level monitor and an auto switch for the pump. I got one fixed after his passing away and learnt to deal with its eccentricities.

The necessity to go to Command Hospital every month to visit the doctor and collect my medicine got me accustomed to hiring drivers from an agency to drive me around the city in my own car. I also learnt to pay my car insurance, to call the helpline to attend to disaster situations like flat tyre, run down battery etc.  I however relearnt to start the engine and run it for 5 minutes once every week after buying a new battery as my car-washer had left the headlights on for one whole night by mistake and the battery had run out.

I engaged a Chartered Accountant to help me file my income tax returns.

I not only replaced all old electric bulbs with the new LED bulbs bought from BESCOM but when the bank refused to pay the electric bill for my first floor, I had to make trips to BESCOM and the bank to get the problem regressed. When the old wall clock packed up, I ordered one through Amazon and managed to fix it on the wall myself after removing the old nail and hammering a new one.

All this process of learning and coping, with concomitant blunders and goof -ups, gave me a good sense of achievement and confidence. Moreover, having opted to be independent, I was not answerable to anyone.

But I met what I thought would be my Waterloo a couple of days back. One morning, I saw a lizard had fallen into the kitchen sink and was struggling to climb back. I was petrified. Though cockroaches I could handle, lizards and mice had been the sole responsibility of Ramu. Without my hero, I was at a total loss. Some kid seemed to have defined lizard is a crocodile which forgot to take Horlicks while young! Thus, coexistence with the abominable reptile was out of question. Oh! How I missed the family exterminator! Finally, I decided to tackle the problem myself. I anesthetised my mind, took a duster, grabbed the wriggling thing with it and threw it on to the street while my stomach was feeling horribly queasy throughout.

I pray to God that I will never be called upon to get rid of a mouse when I am alone at home.

cartoon -courtesy Sunday Herald