Not far from home

4 Jul

So we were discussing Michael Jackson’s condition, which led to a discussion on cardiac arrest.

Dad brought up an incident of a neighbourhood friend who died early, due to what they believed was cardiac arrest. I recalled vague memories of the house that stood there, and curiosity arose to explore more behind that memory.

The death happened even before I was born. Late 1980’s. The man was a friend of the family, and known to dad since his younger days, probably owing to the fact that he was a neighbour. He was scholarly, studied in a top college, followed by a law degree. In college, he had been a fabulous orator and a top public speaker and debator. He settled into professional life as a solicitor for a reputed European firm. His job involved a lot of travel, in India and abroad.

His death was sudden and unexplainable. The doctors were utterly confused. What people did know was that he became extremely paranoid about cleanliness, a few months before his passing. He’d wash his hands incessantly, and be utterly paranoid about his surroundings. All in order to avoid any possible illness. AIDS precations, anyone?

Naturally, that set of this thought at the back of my head. I began to probe further, as inconspicuoucly as I could.

Did he have a family? He did, a wife and two children. The second child was born a month before his death. Were they still alive? Very much. That implied that neither the wife nor the children were HIV positive, meaning he must’ve gotten it from outside.

I didn’t have to probe further; dad pretty much confirmed my suspicions. “He had a funny way about him. People often mentioned it… a gay-ish demeanour.”

The family made all attempts to conceal the reason for his death. Dad said that there was almost no awareness about HIV/AIDS back then, an unsurprising fact.
This was in the late 1980’s, before or around the time I was born. In a home 3 steps away from mine.

A wife widowed, children orphaned. A young, talented and loving man/husband/father, having led a life of fear, secrecy and occasional but short-lived liberation from his double identity, succumbed to a disease that he could’ve never known, never fathomed and never protected himself against.

Miraculously, the wife and children escaped and are still alive today. Alive and healthy. And hopefully not ashamed.

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13 Responses to “Not far from home”

  1. Rani July 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    thats sad isn’t it?

  2. BlueMist July 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Awww this made me sad 😦
    Hopefully the new change brings in happiness to all people they are looking for. it is first step yet; hopefully it gives courage.

    • unsungpsalm July 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

      It’ll lay the foundation for a long-delayed evolution of civil society.

  3. v July 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    yes its 😦 80’s was different ,but as we evolve INDIA per se ,all the laws being passed are for a greater good,its better safe then to be sorry and not be ignorant…..

  4. chandler. July 4, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    fags always make awesome orators 🙂

    • unsungpsalm July 5, 2009 at 4:41 am #

      Exactly what I thought when he mentioned that the man was a brilliant orator.

  5. Firebolt July 5, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    This made me very sad. Coincidentally, I am listening to Queen right now. Strange, isn’t it? This man, Freddie Mercury and millions others are dead and gone having fallen prey to this deadly disease.

    • unsungpsalm July 5, 2009 at 4:42 am #

      It’s extremely tragic. What a legend he was, too! Amazing music, with an extremely unique voice…

  6. Jay July 6, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    Umm…as far as I know, people don’t randomly die of AIDS. It’s more of a degenerative disease that eats you out (rather visibly) over a period of time. But yeah, maybe he went through all that, but confined himself to his home, so nobody noticed. Sad, really. It always is.

    • unsungpsalm July 6, 2009 at 10:36 am #

      AIDS kills your entire immune system, so the smallest of infections that go undetected can be the end of you. I don’t know what exactly killed him, it was such a long time ago. But basically, as I’d mentioned, he became paranoid about cleanliness and would wash his hands several times a day to avoid contracting anything.

  7. Rakesh July 6, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Back in the 80’s, when there was so little information about HIV/AIDS and much less treatment, people died suddenly. One day you see them just fine, next day they have a fever which turns to pneumonia or TB, and in a week they are dead. If you look up statistics, these deaths were almost never categorized as HIV deaths by the government, but the rate of deaths due to pneumonia and TB shot through the roof during that period, which says a lot.

    • unsungpsalm July 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

      Sigh! Half my education in the past 1 year has come from you, Rakesh!

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