Saturday 23rd November

The family have had a scare. Bapuji woke Ba at around midnight last night, complaining of chest pain. It is unlike him – his heart has worked steadily and without pause (as far as we know) during his ninety-something years. But that is of no comfort, especially in the middle of the night. The two of them sat up in the dark for hours, waiting for something else to happen. In the morning Indira was horrified that she had not been woken and utterly relieved that her father was still alive. She asked all the right questions: had Bapuji’s breathing been affected, had he felt clammy, did the pain radiate to his neck or arms? What to do next? Thankfully the ECG done in the outpatients department of the city hospital today was reported as being normal, and antacids helped to ease the pain. Bapuji was lucky this time.

I can’t imagine being here, in the UK, waking in the night with chest pain and thinking twice about going into A&E. Perhaps even calling an ambulance to get there pretty quickly and noisily: nee-nah. I am biased, but the NHS is pretty damn amazing, and our acute care services are way up there with the best in the world. To be fair, if Bapuji had been taken into hospital last night he would have been fully assessed, and I wonder what stopped him. Fear is such a strong emotion, and I have seen plenty of people who didn’t seek help soon enough because they were scared of what might happen. There are plenty of elderly people who just ‘didn’t want to bother anyone’. I wonder how slowly the minutes passed for them last night.

Bapuji and Ba are in good shape, considering their years. Bapuji still works six and a half days a week, and Ba beat her diabetes with a will of steel and a great diet. They put it down to their lifestyle: deep breathing exercises and yoga at dawn, fresh lemon juice with breakfast, no alcohol or smoking and the occasional strange concoction of turmeric and vegetable juice. Judging by that, I am likely not to live so long. I will, however, raise a glass of the red to my awesome grandparents.

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