As the sun beats down on VOC Park grounds, a group of students dressed in white clap in unison to draw the attention of passers-by. They are NSS volunteers of Sri Krishna Arts and Science College. A small crowd gathers around as one of them announces, “Today is World Alzheimer's Day. We are here to enact a play on the life of a person affected by the disease. Let's go over to the Ramaiah household.”
The play opens with a scene from a typical Monday morning of a joint-family. Ramaiah, a Tamil teacher is a happy man living a comfortable life with his son's family. But life takes an unpleasant turn when the 60-year-old begins to forget things.
From misplaced glasses to bags and chalks in the classroom, Ramaiah is perplexed at his sudden loss of memory. He walks into the wrong classroom one day and forgets to pick up his grand-daughter after school. He even comes home from the grocery shop without paying the shopkeeper.
Neighbours ridicule him “What's with that old man?” they mock.
“There's something wrong with him.”
With the scorching tar road as their stage and honking vehicles in the background, the students effectively portray how Alzheimer's creeps into Ramaiah's life.
His family deserts him — “Look what you're doing to us,” complains his son.
Abandoned in an old-age home with Alzheimer's eating into his memory by the day, Ramaiah doesn't even remember who he is.
All by himself in a strange world with no reminder of a once-happy life, Ramaiah is an example of what Alzheimer's disease can do to a person.
So, how does one deal with the disease?
The students show how. With the interference of some social activists, Ramaiah's son understands the disease and the extent of the change it has brought about in his father.
Ramaiah reunites with his family. ‘Being there for a person affected by Alzheimer's makes all the difference in the world,' sums up the play.
Initiated by principal Dr. K. Sundararaman, the programme was organised by Prof. A. Alagarsamy, Head, Department of Social Work, Sri Krishna Arts and Science College as part of their ‘Students' Message to Society' programme.
The programme was stared in 2007 and aims at spreading social awareness through mobile phones, email and social networking.