Indian in England

Musings of a student

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Dust to smoke

AND now my thoughts are with a girl, a young girl…

…who lit her husband’s pyre this morning in a strange city, a city she had brought him to be cured -- lit it with her heart breaking, but with no tear in her eye.

…who sat immobile in the morning sun watching the smoke curl up lazily and said, quietly, “Look, amma, there’s Anjum going.”

…who sat on his cot and held his hand and prayed and prayed and prayed he would wake up once more -- just once more -- so she could “tell him again all the things I have told him so many times.”

…who, when living became too painful for him -- unbearably painful -- and yet he fought on, had the courage to say, “Quit any time you want... it’s okay.”

…who, before death smothered him in a coma, had only a single prayer in her bursting heart, “I just want his pain to be less… he is suffering so much.”

…who dried the tears of his parents and was a tower of strength for them at the final farewell… because… “Because he was like that, no?”

On Sunday, after dispersing the ashes of a full life, she will fly back to an empty house, an empty city, an empty life.

I don’t have enough thoughts for her. Spare a few, if you can.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

He still lives, motherfucker

DEATH, be not proud.

He lives, motherfucker, he still lives.

He wins.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Live it!

EVERYTHING, every darned thing in this world, has a peak.

And everything, every darned thing in this world, offers a slope after the peak.

Ordinary mortals collapse on their way up. The extraordinary carry on.

You, as you have proved many times over, are beyond extraordinary. Way, way, way beyond.

For a year they have said you are dying. You are still with us. Not because of the wonder their drugs did. But because you want to live.

This is your peak.

Live it.

I have always felt you will walk down that slope. Today, after I spoke to you, after they all said you will die soon and you still told me in a hoarse gasping whisper ‘I will pull through, I will pull through,’ I know you will.

You die when you give up.

You, my friend, will never give up.

Because you know, better than me, that there is no such thing as a peak without slope.

PS: Sorry, won’t be able to make it to India in November. But will certainly be there for Easter.

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? :-)'