Brigade Metropolis in Bangalore was quite a maze for newcomers. Given that Sunita had moved in only last evening and was walking around the complex for the first time today, her German Shepherd Tim didn’t give her any respite at all. When she stopped to tie her shoelaces, which had come untied, Tim managed to free his leash from her hands and bounded away in the distance. By the time Sunita tied her shoelaces and looked up, Tim had jogged quite a distance and she had no option but to run behind him shouting out “Tim, Tim, come back here, sit, sit!!!” attracting more than a fair share of curious stares from her fellow walkers in the 7.00 AM mist in the misty October Bangalore weather.
That was when she first saw him. He was the only person who actually did anything to help her out. The old man in his grey track suit briskly walked up beside Tim and grabbed his leash which was dragging beside him. He then went down on one knee and started scratching Tim below his chin and started talking to him. It turned out that Tim had taken a liking to retired Col. Stephen after all. By the time Sunita caught up and took Tim from him, the German Shepherd had started wagging his tail and was playfully running around the old man’s legs.
The colonel with a broad smile handed over the leash to her and asked her “Are you new around here? I am quite sure I wouldn’t have missed out on petting this wonderful friend of yours here all these days.” Sunita smiled and introduced herself – “Hi, I am Sunita, and yes, I moved in just yesterday.” The colonel took her outstretched hand, and with a firm handshake of a military man said “Retired Colonel Stephen Gonzalves. Welcome to Brigade Metropolis”.
That introduction was the beginning of a wonderful friendship between the single freelance technical writer, Sunita who worked from home all the time and the Colonel who also lived all alone. As luck would have it they were in the same block, although on different floors. However, it was convenient enough for them to drop into each other’s places every now and then to spend some time together chatting about common likes, watching World Cinema, cooking and eating lunch together and taking long walks in the lovely landscaped gardens of their integrated township.
For an ex-army man, the Colonel was fairly easygoing in nature. Although he did have a schedule that he liked to stick to, he wasn’t such a stickler to it. Every now and then he would break his own self-imposed rules to have a little fun on the side. And the fact that he didn’t take himself too seriously endeared him to Sunita quite a bit. For someone like her whose parents had died in a road accident when she was just 5 yrs old, he easily slipped into a fatherly figure and filled in a long-standing void in her life.
The Colonel himself had become a widower around 15 yrs ago when his wife had expired after a prolonged battle with cancer. He didn’t have any children, due to the fact that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer when she was barely 25 yrs old and the side effects of her treatment had affected her fertility. Despite that, they seemed to have enjoyed quite a fulfilling life, evidenced by the old photographs that he had kept in his apartment. In fact, staring at these photographs and playfully ribbing the Colonel was one of Sunita’s favorite pastimes whenever she came to his house. Although he couldn’t be classified as having Greek God looks, he was still handsome in his own way even today, and his old black and white photographs were strong evidence for the same.
One day when Sunita rang the bell, the Colonel opened the door and gave her a blank stare. It was almost as if he didn’t recognize her. At first she thought he was just playing a prank and she walked right into the apartment. He just blankly followed her into the living room and sat on the sofa. Almost a couple of minutes later, in which time Sunita had walked into the kitchen and started making some tea, he spoke up “Oh hi Suni, how are you?” She thought it was quite a funny joke and started laughing, and then forgot all about it.
And the frequency of similar incidents increased. Invariably she would find him searching for something or the other at home like his glasses, a particular photograph, the newspaper. And then she also started finding things in the funniest of places at his apartment like the day she found his Nike sneakers kept on top of his fridge. When she asked him about it, he seemed as surprised as she was and didn’t quite know how his shoes got there. By this time, she had also noticed small quirks in his behavior, the blank expression that he had on his face at times, the complete silence with which he used to stare into the distance at times.
At first she thought that the forgetfulness was due to his old age. What Sunita didn’t realize was that the Colonel was slowly but surely walking down the path of losing himself to Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.
On September 21, 2013, she noticed an ad in the newspaper for Alzheimer’s Action Day 2013 and read the symptoms. It was only then that she suspected that the Colonel might have started walking down a path which had no end at all.
Image courtesy : dreamstime.com
This post has been written for Alzheimer’s Action Day 2013 which occurs on September 21, 2013. Requesting all readers to please go through the Wikipedia entry for this disease and equip yourselves with information about it.
This post has also been written for the latest Three Word Wednesday prompt where the post had to include the words, easygoing, fact and handsome and that is the reason that these words are specifically highlighted in the post.
This post has been selected as one of Blogadda’s Spicy Saturday Picks on 12-Oct-2013.