|Anna fast asleep in front of the TV|
Anna is slowing down. He is sleeping more and walking less. Most days when I go to his apartment in the morning (before work) and in the evening (after work), I am never sure if he is going to be awake or asleep. A couple of weeks ago, I reached his apartment at 7am after my morning walk. My signature double-tap doorbell ring normally announces to Anna that I have arrived, so I am not surprised to see his eyes are open when I lean over his bed.
Me: Anna? Are you awake?
Anna (looking at me, but not really looking at me): mumble...gurgle....mumble
Me: Good morning!
Anna (still just looking straight at me without seeing me): mumble...mumble....mumble
Me: Anna, I can't understand you. Wait a minute. Let's get you up so that you can drink some hot water.
We lift Anna so that he is sitting up in bed and he drinks a full glass of hot water.
Me: Anna, did you sleep well?
Anna says something to me in Tamil. I don't understand.
Me: Anna, I can't understand Tamil. Say it in Kannada.
Anna continues to talk in Tamil. I understand only a few words. Something about boys and playing and football and thirst.
Me: Anna, what happened? Tell me in English.
Anna (in a complaining whiny voice): He hit me!
I am instantly worried. It is almost a physical reaction. I have always feared that I would be unable to prevent Anna from getting hurt or worse still not even know about it, as I am not physically present in his flat all the time.
Me (concerned): Who hit you, Anna?
Anna (still looking at me, straight through me): He did.
Me (thinking it is best to wake him up with coffee to get a more cogent response): Anna, do you want to get up and have coffee and tell me about it?
Anna (in a voice that should be accompanied with a pout): I don't want coffee. I want milk.
Whoa! My father does not want coffee? Now that's a first! I am really surprised.
Tairas (his housekeeper) gets him a warm glass of milk with Ensure. I hold the glass to his lips for him to drink and he gulps it down thirstily.
Me (after he finishes): Anna, you sure liked the milk. You were telling me about getting hit. What happened?
Anna (singing): Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!
Me: (laughing): Whose birthday is it Anna?
Anna: mumble....mumble. His eyes start to close.
I tuck Anna back into bed and wait till he closes his eyes. I finish the chores in the house and walk home letting the morning's events run thru my mind.
Half way home I realize that I don't hear Anna's voice. I hear a little boy's voice. Maybe the little boy he was.