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Good evening from Mumbai

Here I am in another hotel very near the airport and so far it’s a good one. We’ll see whether I have an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which would be nice for a change. All I need is for those drums floating up from pavement level outside, celebrating Ramadan fast-breaking perhaps? – to stop in the next hour or so.

I haven’t got a huge amount to say tonight: I took my leave of my mum this afternoon with the usual mixture of regret and satisfaction that she is being well and nicely cared for at Dignity.

I try not to over-dramatise things but I always wonder if each time I take my leave of my mum is the last time I’m going to see her. I’m pretty sure this is not the case now that her health seems entirely stabilised but it’s only 15 months since the poor thing was parked on her Shortlands sofa riddled with infections, her dementia on a steep downward trajectory and when I popped in in the morning I wondered whether she would make it to the afternoon.

But what does she think, my mum? She doesn’t seem to be aware of time: when I saw her yesterday she was under the impression that she had just arrived at the unit that morning. I’ve popped in to see her three or four times on each day I’ve been there and she never remembers my previous visit. Minutes, hours, days, months, all time seems as nothing to my mum. Considering how much I rely on marking my days with this abstract concept, I can’t get my head around this at all.

There are times that she’s fairly lucid and can almost hold a reasonable conversation for a couple of minutes. Since she’s almost completely deaf, and apparently refuses to use her newish hearing aids, these conversations are carried out by me writing short, clear sentences on a notebook in English and her reading them and replying in Marathi. So far she can still read but I’m not sure how we’ll manage to communicate when that power fails her.

At other times my mum will repeat the same question over and over again at intervals of a minute or two. She was getting to be this way when she still lived in the UK and her Wednesday afternoon visits were excruciating. In those days I became frustrated and angry because I didn’t feel she was listening to me. Now I know that it’s just the disease: she has lost almost all of her short term memory.

Once in a while she might refer to her family or a poem learnt by rote decades ago but this is less and less common. I think she has little long term memory left now.

From time to time the sounds coming from her mouth are garbled burblings but the staff at Dignity all treat her kindly and indulgently really, teasing her from time to time as one would tease a three year old child.

So I shall return calmly to my bombsight of a house tomorrow and book my flights for the next India trip, planned for mid-September. I’ve heard tonight that my kitchen might even be finished by then. Who knows It’s just as well I didn’t go ahead with the joint birthday party we’d planned for our new kitchen and garden. The way things are I expect we’ll have to do the Indian thing and celebrate 51 instead.