My Father and I Belong to Delhi – Don’t Drive Us Out on Diwali

Delhi might not have Bangalore’s breweries or Mumbai’s spirit, but we definitely do have a heart. Don’t we?

Updated
Health News
3 min read
As Delhi winter comes closer, allergies are playing up, nebulisers that were tucked in are swiftly being placed in bags and soon enough more white masks will be visible on the roads.
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I'm dreading Diwali this year.

Appa has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – in simple words, only 30 percent of his lungs function.

The air is getting denser and infections are hurting the most vulnerable of us. Colleagues and friends have taken leave for congestion-related issues.

As Delhi winter comes closer, allergies are playing up, nebulisers that were tucked in are swiftly being placed in bags and soon enough, more white masks will be visible on the roads.

Summer Offered Respite, But Winter Is Here

From being on a ventilator last year, starting 8 March, we have definitely come a long way.

Dad was on three breathing machines in the beginning of this year. One was a BiPAP machine, the other was his nebuliser, and the third his constant oxygen machine. We also procured an oxygen cylinder for when he goes out of home – he needs a constant supply of oxygen. Someone walks with it behind him as he walks haltingly, gasping for breath.

Now he doesn't need the BiPAP anymore.

Every Breath Is Hard – Harder with Smog

Our lifestyle has needed adjustment, it has come slow and with resistance. For starters, it isn't normal to see your father with an oxygen pipe all the time.

I think I used to talk to my father a lot more earlier. He would get me packets of chips, cold drinks and sweets after school. Take me to the most expensive stores to buy stationery. Pick me up from school if I was sick.

I don't talk to him as much as I used to, appa isn't much of a talker anyway. Keeps to himself, smiles and comes across as mostly shy. But, he doesn't smile as much as he used to. I'm worried conversation is a burden for him, that he’d rather use his energy better.

As I write this, I realise that even after I stopped talking to appa as much, he has continued to call with the most mundane questions.

The change in lifestyle has come at a cost, but a cost only my father understands the true extent of. He can't do the simplest of things anymore.

Like, not being able to wake at 4:00 am and make yourself a cup of tea, appa used to do that a lot. He rarely asks me to, I guess he feels guilty about waking me up that early. And on the days he has, I’ve woken instantly, but irritably. The thankless daughter I was, I’ve walked to the kitchen reluctantly.

Struggling for Air

I wish Diwali wasn't just a week away, I don't like seeing my father like that. Who would?

I still remember the dread in his eyes last year as the smog stayed static in the house for 4-5 days. I couldn’t believe then, that this is what some crackers could do to him. The smoke coupled with Delhi’s winter has proved to be a lethal combination for the vulnerable. The fog ensures the smoke becomes smog and stays around like an uninvited guest for days before you can see through it clearly.

I'm worried as I fear the smog will set his treatment back by months.

Can you imagine what a month of static smoke would do to him? Choked and breathless isn't just a saying when it comes to appa. It is exactly that, it is someone looking through the air in front of them and struggling to find a fleeting second of fresh air.

Leave Delhi and Go Where?

Well-meaning people have offered the advice of leaving Delhi. But it isn't that easy.

My elder sister is getting married. People need to be invited, food and stay needs to be arranged, the cards need to be printed — the list is endless. Appa’s mother, who is a widow, needs her son in the city. To his credit, he tries to put a brave face forward.

But he shouldn't even have to contemplate leaving the city, you know? It is his home.

I hope you can, even if temporarily, prioritise my father’s health over your desire to burst crackers.

I’ve lived in Delhi all my life and I wouldn’t want to live in any other city. I’m proud of its heritage and grandeur, the drives and the food, the metro and the opportunities. My life is here and so is my appa’s, don’t suggest that we go. Not yet. 

Delhi might not have the breweries of Bangalore, or the spirit Mumbai boasts of, but we definitely do have a heart. Don't we?

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT in partnership with #MyRightToBreathe to find a solution to pollution. Send in your suggestions to fit@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

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