Then yesterday's surgical strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) shows me a glimmer of my father that I haven't seen in some time.
Anna has been slowly recovering from his 20-day hospital stay. His stamina and humour have not returned to what they were earlier. Incidences of disorientation and hallucinations have increased. As has his slurring and inability to find the right word for things he wants to express.
When I meet Anna in the evening (after my painful evening shot of Amikacin), I find him looking blankly at the TV as NDTV re-plays the news on the surgical strikes on terrorist launchpads in PoK.
Me: Anna, did you follow the news on the Indian Army's strikes in PoK?
Anna (looking at me, confused and worried): We are at war with Pakistan?
Me: No-No, Anna! We are not in a full-scale war with Pakistan.
I snap my fingers to get him to focus. And then point to the TV. Look at the TV, Anna.
I pause while he focuses his eyes on the screen. See the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against terrorist launchpads in PoK, early this morning. It was very successful.
He watches the news for 10 mins, mildly interested. And then falls asleep.
I do some household chores and then wake him.
Me: Anna! Anna!!
I am greeted with a beaming smile
Anna (making a victory sign with his hand): Congratulations!
Me (confused): Congratulations for what, Anna?
Anna: We won the war!
Me (huh?): What war Anna?
Anna (excited): We won World War II !!
Me: Anna, you can't drink champagne.
Anna: We should celebrate with something. Pause. Champagne or coffee.
Only my father can equate champagne with coffee!
I then spend many minutes explaining the surgical strikes, restating slowly what has been playing continuously all day on TV. This time he seems to understand.
Anna: It's good that we are in Bangalore
Me: Why, Anna?
Anna: Pakistan's nuclear warheads can't reach Bangalore.
Me: But Anna, we are in Delhi.
As soon as the sentence leaves my mouth, I Gibbsslap* myself!
Anna (now worried): Pakistan will fire a nuclear weapon at us!
Me: No-No Anna. They won't. It is easier to say that, than to actually fire a nuclear weapon.
Anna: All they have to do is load a 747 with nuclear warheads and bomb Delhi.
Me (not sure it is so easy to load nuclear warheads onto a plane): No Anna. I bet the other nuclear powers are already talking to Pakistan to prevent the use of (nuclear) weapons.
Anna (really worried): They are saying that they will use nuclear weapons!
Me: Anna, that is only sabre-rattling by the Pakistanis. They won't really use nuclear weapons.
This goes on for some time. I tell him, with a great amount of assumed authority in my voice and tone, that the US, Russia, China, and France are all talking with Pakistan to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. For some reason, he believes me.
I know he has calmed down when he tells me that he wants to sleep. And does. In the blink of an eye. The threat of nuclear war put to rest.