Indian in England

Musings of a student

Friday, August 13, 2004

Is there life without hope?

IN the southern corner of India, quite close to where my parents live, there is a small town called Thodupuzha.

This past week I found my thoughts drifting there. To a particular house that serves as an ayurveda hospital.

My friend Anjum, who suffers from stage IV cancer (see April 17 post), was there. He and his wife Patcy had travelled down from Mumbai for a two-week treatment under one of Kerala’s reputed specialists, Dr S.

Thodupuzha was salvation for Anjum. Despite a major surgery and seven draining rounds of chemo, his oncologist in Mumbai had nothing positive to tell him. Dr S -- and this little town next to mine -- was Hope.

“Finally someone is telling him something positive,” Patcy said. “It’s nice to hear that, you know.”

It was also nice to hear what Dr S privately thought. “Anjum is standing in a vast emptiness now,” he said. “But I think he will pull through.”

A year of battling cancer had sapped even Anjum. He had lost about 10 kilos. His haemoglobin count was alarmingly low. He had trouble breathing. He was depressed.

Once in Thodupuzha, his outlook improved. The first four days saw him feeling ‘better’. Then his blood pressure climbed. He felt restless, couldn’t sleep.

Things improved by the eighth day. The BP was under control. Though feeling weaker than ever (expected, Dr S said, since the medicines were the ayurvedic equivalent of chemotherapy; he would feel worse before he felt better), Anjum began looking forward to the improvement promised to him in another two weeks.

Home in Mumbai now, Anjum feels drained. He is so tired he can’t sleep. So breathless he can’t speak. And as he continues Dr S's medicines, in his mind is the question: was he better off without this treatment?

But also buried in his mind is Hope. Borne out of the faith he has invested in Dr S, out of his will to live.

Hope. Is there life without it?


PS: I just got this text from Anjum: 'The only fight we lose is the fight we abandon. What's abandon? :-)'

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