Battling the demons. The fight is on.


I have been a strong believer in optimism. Certain incidents in life made me see the power in optimism. Although, the same incidents have also scarred me in an indelible way. Despite my countless shares on how optimism is a great food for soul, I too am bothered at times. Just because I share a lot of good anecdotes from my life, it does not mean I am free from pessimism. And, when I talk about negativity, it does not concern others but, myself. This storm of negativity comes in the form of panic attacks, anxiety, ennui, a feeling of going no where, and some times, feeling the emptiness when there is nothing more creative left to do. Yes, there are such cloudy days too amidst the dollops of sunshine moments. It is on those days especially, I crave for the Sun to come out of hiding and tell me –“Hey! Everything is going to be fine! After all, you are my baby sunshine!” There have been countless monologues between me and the celestial bodies while I was growing up. Yes, those were the monologues I could hear myself as much as the Sun, the Moon and the stars and all the existing planets could hear me. And I thought, I couldn’t hear them…..

But that is not what triggered me to write this post which is a cross between the rant and the vent. And, venting does a better job than ranting. Doesn’t it?

Off late, I have been going in and out of “I don’t know what is wrong with me” syndrome. Not that I am turning into a off-putting person, but I do get the strong urge to run away from reality rather than facing it. Especially when health issues crop up, panic attacks return reminding me of some terrible times I had in the past. And then, I look at the surroundings, the plants, the trees, the insects, the strays, the simians, the birds and all the normal happenings that make the everyday grind. All are perishables. But they are living the life they have been gifted with. And, so should I – says Mother Nature. And, when I look at my parents, I am awestruck! Both have countless health issues but, they are so driven by their duties and work routine that they barely get time to worry. So, am I as busy as them? Perhaps, no. But, am I as busy as I should be. Yes, I am. If yes, why am I not relaxed? That is perhaps because I have created a 100 horrible scenarios in my head and, am constantly worrying about them.

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Worry – it is a hurdle I stumble across quite often. It is quite difficult to explain my state of mind to someone who could probably advise me on how to lead a healthy life, how to be free of negative thoughts and how to keep oneself busy. The point is, I am busier than busy! I can’t catch enough time for myself. I do the household chores like mopping the floors, cleaning the kitchen, working from home (full time), taking care of son’s studies and, my own too (off late, my study part has gone for a toss).Dawn quickly becomes noon, noon quickly becomes dusk and, dusk becomes night in the blink of an eye. And, I am like a busy bee trying to find a chunk of my time to de clutter my thoughts. If someone were to ask my schedule, it is insane. It has been a while since I spoke to someone on phone. And, I turn to social networking not because I have time, but because I want to gather those tiny inconspicuous words of wisdom left like bread crumbs by people I know and, know not. Yes, I need to read. And importantly, I need to write, besides my professional writing gig.

On certain days, I dread if my work gets over quickly! Because, the moment it does, the stark reminder of how I have and had let my health fail me makes me feel miserable. It is also strange that I don’t like meeting people a lot these days. Maybe, I am seeking frequencies that are difficult to find. Should I tune my frequencies? No, I am not willing to. Something in my nature doesn’t allow it. I cannot pin point what it is. But whatever that is, I am sure, has more often than not, saved me from a plethora of Pandora boxes I have intentionally tried to open! But now, I need a bit of a change. Maybe, I just want to move away from the daily grind for a while. A vacation, perhaps? I am banking on the possibility now.

Another thing that has been bothering me off late is travel phobia. I am not even sure when I caught it. But it has been bothering me for a while now. I love to travel a lot. But, the beginning of a journey no matter what puts me in jitters, for reasons I know not. Yes, it is a fear without a reason, perhaps with a reason that stays in the oblivion.

Fear – It is the joker in the deck of cards played by destiny. How will it play for me? How do I will it to play for me? Maybe I have the choice to toy with it. Do I? I have been a strong believer in the power of fear too. Many may not have comprehended this. But, I have discovered that fear is a facade for courage. It is like the glass that gives you a choice to look through but does not necessarily propel you to break it. Sometimes, when the view gets clearer, the glass is broken. It is a gossamer sheath of terror that also becomes the trajectory of courage when that sheath pushes the self to the wall! It is a strange emotion. It is a negative emotion. But, it also gives you a choice to either dwell in it, or break the film and move past it!

And, as I write this post, I know I am trying hard to remove a chunk of my disoriented thoughts on the space assuming it would give me some space to rejoice. Every time, I look back at the struggles I had (a difficult pregnancy, a brush with a life threatening condition and, the nightmares that continue to follow of which I never spoke much to anyone), my faith is restored with the fact – “If I have come this far in life, I can still go way ahead“

And, in the cloud of darkness that I battle to disperse, I know how blessed I am to have the most understanding hubby, an adorable and loving son and, very inspiring parents. And importantly, I know now I have to be strong. That is what I keep telling myself every time. I have to be strong for my son, hubby and family. I was given a second lease of life in 2013. Now, I have to guard it against all the negativity, come what may. The path ahead could be tough. If run I cannot, but walk, I will. I am sure, I will.

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Amen.

 

A chronicle from the 1960s.


Kindness is God’s way of telling you – “Hang on there! Hold on to that flame of hope and, trust me with all your faith. You are just a wee bit away from crossing that burning bridge!”

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Circa 2002

That year although was the beginning of my dream to fly, it did have more important reasons to be remembered for. Because that year was not just about finding my wings, but it was also more about the empty nest syndrome that hit my mother for the first of all times.

empty nest syn

My parents have in a very amazing manner, balanced walking the tight rope of parenting. At any point of time, one of them would be as cool as a cucumber. However among the two, I remember my father having predominantly played the cool parent as compared to my anxious mum. But it all changed once my twelfth grade ended. Mum wanted me to go out of the state and study. Whereas, my dad who had helped me give countless entrance exams wanted me to stay within the known realms of the state. Finally, I joined a college in a place that was three hours from home and, it made all three of us happy, for different reasons though. Talking about Mum, she was prepared for the part, that I was leaving for college. However, she wasn’t prepared for the part that came later,“A home that was deafeningly silent”. In months that followed, I could sense her leaning towards depression. We couldn’t talk much during the first week as I was yet to have my first mobile. Standing in a queue to speak through the payphone was the only option and, given the fact that there were many like me, it was impossible to have a decent conversation. Yet, I managed to visit home once or twice a week. She was vocal about my absence and, I for one did not know what could ease her pain.

A few months passed. And one day, I got a call from her – “Hey! You know our neighbour’s daughter – Chutki. I am planning to teach her Maths.” Oh yes! I remembered my lovely neighbor Pinki Aunty’s beautiful daughter Aashka who is fondly called – Chutki,  who was in class 7 then. The enthusiasm in my mum’s voice was the answer to her own pain. In that moment, I felt it was God’s way of showing the way.  A couple of years later, she was teaching 5 – 6 children, a variety of subjects like Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and sometimes, History and Civics too. Having handled and mentored a difficult child like me, she was so much at ease handling and teaching the other kids in the neighborhood. She had found her happy place. But what made me more proud of her is the fact, she taught purely for fun and, not for money. When I asked her what made her take tuition for free, she narrated a beautiful incident from her childhood and, it has stayed with me forever.

This is as narrated to me by my mum:

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Circa 1969:

“There are times when you are lost, when you are blinded, when you are overwhelmed by the feeling of having been left in a jungle blindfolded. And then, all of a sudden a stranger takes your hand and leads you the way from darkness to light. That stranger at that time, is God to you.”

“I studied in Muncipal school till class Seven. And you know how those schools are. Not much was taught. All play and no work was the deal. And then, when I reached class VIII, my father put me in Avinash Lingam School of Coimbatore. I was enthralled and at the same time scared when I saw the sprawling campus of my school that also had colleges pertaining to various disciplines. While I was still mesmerized by the ambiance of the new school, my father led me to the principal – Hema Prabha Maam. She looked at me in the eye, wished me and then said to my father, “She has to pass an entrance test. Only then I can confirm her admission.” The entrance exam contained questions of all subjects in English and, I came from Tamil medium with very little knowledge of the language. It felt as though I had landed in a foreign country. No, I did not know English well. And, I did not attend any question in any of the subjects. However, I did write a poem that I was taught in the earlier school. Later when I was inducted, I asked my father – “How did they take me in such a school when I did not even know a single answer to a question?” And he said, “Seems you did not leave the entire paper blank. You wrote some poem in your paper. What has impressed them is the fact that there wasn’t one grammatical error in that whole poem and that, your hand writing was beautiful. Anyways, you are in a good school now. Time to shine and make us proud!”

I adored my father and I missed him a lot. Mostly because he was in a job that demanded transfers once in two years. Hence, we (my mum and my three siblings) were stationed in Coimbatore whereas, he was moving around making tough adjustments in life to provide us with a good comfortable life. And so, I was determined that no matter what, I would not fail his expectations from me.

However, the first day at Avinash Lingam had already decided to challenge my verve. I reached my class and, I saw myself surrounded by girls who were taller and far stout than me. Yes, they were clearly intimidating as their body language said it aloud – “What is a girl from a Municipal school doing in our school?” And just as I thought about the way I was to get ragged, our class teacher Rajathi Maam appeared. She was the first kind soul I met in that school. She introduced me to the class and, vice Versa. There were occasional mumbles and jumbles that were laced with giggles. That day felt like being choked! I did not understand a thing! And, I felt like a misfit! Besides, the feeling of not being accepted in a place where you have just landed as a newbie is not a good feeling. A few days passed.

Since, I had joined a month late in the school, I was advised by Rajathi Maam to take down the missed notes from someone in the class. As I went about asking, I noticed that there were cliques in the class – the toppers, the sports players, the fashionistas and, the average ones. I did not fit in any of them as, I was as blank as a clean slate. As for the notes, I did not get much help as none that I asked was ready to lend. Many wouldn’t even speak. So, just as I felt that the new school is a big mistake and that, I was letting my father down, a long hand with some notebooks came forward. I looked up and saw a girl smiling at me. She said, “Hey! Take my notes. You can return them once you have copied them down.”

Her name was DP Usha Rani, the second kind soul in that class. I remember her vividly and, I remember the name. My happiness knew no bounds as I thanked her profusely and, promised her that I would return the notes ASAP. That whole night, I sat and copied the notes down. I returned the notes next day as I had promised. Later I learned, she was one of the few secluded toppers who was unaffected by cliques. And, she was my inspiration to learn. I wanted to become like her.

It took me three months of sheer hard work and determination to come within the top fifteen ranks in the first quarterly exam. And that determination sprung from the one and only fact that, someone in that class was kind enough to help me in the first week. I could not let that kindness down! When the results came, everyone including the teacher was surprised pleasantly. As for me, I was thankful to God for helping me in that hour of need through that kind soul – DP Usha Rani. Needless to say, not only did I earn respect, but a few good friends later.

Coming to Present……

Do you know why I am narrating this incident to you? When Chutki arrived for her tuition on the first day, I saw myself in her, a girl who needed help but was not getting it. She clearly felt lost just like I had, in the year 1969. And, it was like lending a ear and hand to a version of myself. And within a year, when she eased herself in tuitions, I discovered a very intelligent girl within, who preferred to reach the depth of a concept than, simply reading it for a test. With her, I felt more connected with myself when we went through the brainstorming sessions of understanding subjects like Math and Physics. And even though she is stark opposite to you, she reminded me of your school days too! It gives a great inner peace in helping someone especially when you realize you have been through a similar phase in life.”

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As I look back, I realize how times have changed. Yes, in the schooling years, mum and I have had countless differences and arguments, given the fact that, I was a rebellious child. Today, we chat as siblings, shop together giggling over our idiosyncrasies and, watch every cookery show together. And, when she narrates about her childhood, I feel ecstatic about chronicling them. It is like taking a peek into the 1960s and, wondering how life was both easy and difficult in different ways as compared to the present. And yet, we have a lot to learn from the yester generation. And the one thing that I learned and, importantly  what propelled me to write this post was – “Kindness is rewarding. Always.”

kindness

HIM, HER AND THE DISTANCE – COURTSHIP CHRONICLES ~ From a Nomad’s diary


He: “What time is your bus for home?” 
 
She: “Why do you ask?”
 
He:Do you have to throw a question at me for every question I ask? What time is your bus?”
 
She:It should come to my stop at 10:30 PM. usually, it is never on time. By the time, I board the bus; it is always 11:30 PM. And of course, I am curious…..why do have to know all of a sudden??”
 
He:What time will you reach your home town?”
 
She:“hmmm…..maybe around 8 in the morning. But, you haven’t answered my question and you are throwing a handful at me!!”
 
He: Ok! I will see you off. Be ready at 09:45 PM.”
 
She:  “For what joy? I mean, why? I have already asked my colleague to see me off.”
 
He:  “A good friend, I suppose?”
 
She:Yes. But I have called him only because he lives about 10 minutes from here. You will have to ride 15 kms on your bike from the city to see me off, which I guess is terrible, looking at the city traffic!!”
 
He: “You don’t have to worry about that!!”
 
Click!
He hung up, annoyed. The time was 9 PM and he was about to have dinner at the mess near his home. Somehow, the appetite had died after the conversation. After fifteen minutes of smoking oblong circles into the nippy night air, he threw the cigarette down, crushed it under his feet and then took his bike and rode off. He was going to see her, for sure.
She was surprised and confused at the same time. It had been more than two months since she knew him. They had met through a common friend and after weeks of cold war, jibes and darting glances, a strange friendship bloomed. They talked almost every day since the day, the first sms of ‘kalai vanakkam’ arrived in her message box. Yes, it was just friendship until this day opened up a new chapter of unspoken love that only soul mates seek in each other. She was overwhelmed. As she sat down to make a call to her parents, his number flashed again.
She:Hello…..”
 
He:Listen, I am already half way through. I am coming to seeing you off. Spare your friend off his brotherly duties today.”
 
Click!
 

 

And then, he switched off his mobile. He smiled. There was no way she could refuse, now. She sat there, staring at her mobile screen for a long time. After heaving a long sigh, she grinned. Needless to say, ear to ear!

HIM, HER AND THE DISTANCE!! ~ From a Nomad’s diary


For a minute, she thought she was flying. There was a brimming exuberance in her, which she thought, was going to burst into sparkles. The man on the other end of the phone had swept her, off her feet with those words! Not a question, not a proposal and definitely, not a request! Those words were an order, “Marry me!” 
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A year later, they were married in a traditional TamBrahm ceremony, where the young dashing man in Olive Green tied the ‘thali’ (mangalsutra) around the neck of his bride, as she looked on, coyly. The day marked her, an army wife.
After two weeks of honeymooning, he was back on duty at some inaccessible station; she was at a new home, in a new neighborhood and with a new job in hand. Most importantly, she was stationed in Pune, a city she knew very well. But despite having supportive in-laws and amicable neighbors, she missed him terribly. At times, she felt lost too. Nonetheless, she immersed herself in her new job as a professional writer, which was to be her shield against her loneliness. 
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Soon, it was two weeks since he had left. And then, he suddenly called, “Hey little munchkin! What have you been up to?” The moment she heard his voice, she thought she would choke. Then, realizing that she was in office, she snapped, “You devil! What took you so long?”
  
Later, the calls came once in six days and lasted for exactly 50 seconds, each time. Gradually, she became an expert in conversing crisply, unlike in the past, when she yapped with him, all night! Then, followed days of uncertainty with no calls from him. 
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The routine continued and it was already past two months. She was home from office, earlier than usual. She thought she had a headache. But it was not merely that. He had called her and said, “Hey won’t be able to come today on leave, as planned. Cancel my flight tickets. Something has come up! Won’t be calling for a week!”  The call ended abruptly without a bye. She had been waiting for this day, for long. She had even applied for leave in the next week. She had gone through all his favorite recipes in the head, deciding what to prepare which day. She had made a list of places to go around, in the three weeks’ vacation he was coming for. 
 
And then, she rushed out of home feeling breathless as she decided to take a walk in the cacophonous pocket of the city she lived in. And, with all that noise around, she felt deaf. A newly wedded couple walked by, as they held hands together with sweet little nothings transpiring between them. She suddenly felt a lump in her throat and ran back home, in tears. 
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The following week passed slower than usual, with no calls. She never wanted to go back home in evenings. But worse, were those sleepless nights and strange dreams. As she stared blankly at the list of topics to write on, her colleague tugged at her, “Want to check out the big sale in Big Bazaar near your place? Be ready at ten tomorrow!” She mumbled a yes. Girlfriends are soul sisters! Aren’t they?
 
She came back home that evening, washed her face and picked up her marriage album from the drawer and sat down, flipping through it. There she was, in a turquoise Kanchivaram with striking emerald necklace around her neck, and those jhumkas dangling from her ears. Sitting next to her, on that oonjal (a swing for the couple in TamBrahm weddings), was her knight in shining armor. The photos made her smile, blush and cry. She clutched the album tight as she closed her eyes. It was 8 PM….. 
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…..Next day, the door bell rang. It jolted her up from a deep slumber. It was 8 AM. And the first thought was, “Oh God! I am going to be late for office!” But then, she remembered, it was a Sunday. The door bell blared incessantly. “I am going to kill this moron whoever he is!!” And, she froze as she opened the door…..
Her knees felt weak. Her mouth was wide open. And, her eyes welled up! Her ‘bright eyed bushy tailed’ Captain was standing right there, with open arms. She squealed in delight, as he scooped her up and kissed her. A sudden wave of euphoria flowed deep in her veins. She smiled ear to ear as she yelled, “I hate surprises! You nearly killed me!”
 
Her world became normal again. She felt alive again. And then, slowly it dawned on her that, being the army wife, this was to be her life with many unseen challenges. As, she was making his favorite ‘adrak wali chai’, she heard him screaming, “You naughty lil devil! What have you done to my study room?” And her hands flew to her mouth, “Oh no! I never remembered to tidy up his room, after all!”
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Chapter 17: Life is beautiful and there is a reason to smile still….. ~ Chapters from my life


29th March 2013:


As I am sitting and typing away to glory, I know it will take me a while to resume a normal life. I still have double vision. My right eye is still not moving the way it should. But the doctor has assured me, that it will go away in some time, though not instantly. But he said, I can attempt to lead a life that need not be stressful. Dr Garima Sinha, who was my pillar of support in those days, advised me to take things easy in life. Life is slowly getting back to normal. Yes, it is difficult to answer people who ask unexpected questions, not knowing what to ask and how to ask. Some people thought I was attacked by some parasite. Some thought there was some blood infection. And as rumor mills have it, I knew social life was going to get only tougher for me. My case was not a disease but a disorder and people rarely understand the difference. But I do not care any longer. And it does not matter any more. Because it is my life and no one knows it better than I do. The day I was admitted in the hospital, I had fought with God, cursing Him, pleading to Him, cajoling Him, asking him, praying to him, shouting at him and what not. But today, I thank him for this beautiful life. I thank him for the early mornings, scorching noons and cool nights. I thank Him for everything, even the pain because only then have I realized the worth of life. How close a call that was and how He helped me help myself. True are the words that God helps those who help themselves. It is strange that we discover humility in the most susceptible circumstances of our lives. And in those times, we crave for the simplest joys, joys that we often fail to notice in our hyper active existence. Strange are the works of God. And stranger are the ways of destiny.

Yet, Life is beautiful. There is a reason to smile always. Of course, life would never be the same for me. There will be bad dreams, there will be nightmares, there will be fears and there will be dark days. But the bottom line is for every cloud, there will be a silver lining. And it is that optimism that counts in life. For me, getting back to normalcy will take time. But the good thing is that I know that I will. It is just a matter of time as Dr Vyas kept telling me. Yes, just a matter of time.

Lines today: Live life king size. It is never worth to waste any part of your life worrying over things over which we seldom have control. So just go with the flow and enjoy every second. Because the most humble memories will be the one that give the courage to fight the uncertainties of life that often come knocking in the most innopportune times of life. So sit back, relax, take a deep breath, smile……Life is beautiful! Love it, respect it and savor it!

Cheers & God bless…!!

P.S : If anyone you know may feel the symptoms I have felt, do not hesitate to go to a doctor. Myasthenia Gravis is curable with medicines and advanced treatment. Do not doubt yourself but trust your instincts. Life is precious after all.

Chapter 16: The last days in captivity before taste of sweet freedom. ~ Chapters from my life


24th March 2013:

4 cycles of plasma pherasis were over. The final one was due. It took longer than the usual. I came out of the dialysis unit after 5 hours of pain, breathlessness and unstable blood pressure. But then don’t they say, all is well that ends well. There were some moments of relief. The riles tube was removed. And when I saw the length of the tube that was inserted nasally, I almost staggered. My father had to hold on to something lest he fell. Thankfully, my mother did not see the length of the tube. It pained when it was removed. And finally I felt my throat muscles coming back to normal. I was first treated with tea and a biscuit. And I sipped it for an hour, not wanting it to finish. The first taste of freedom is sweet, in my case it was bitter sweet as my throat still ached as it had been in control of an external system all this while. But nothing mattered more than the fact that I was able to speak. I was able to swallow. I was able to drink. I was able to single rhymes to my son. I was able to recite hanuman chalisa to my heart’s content. And most importantly, I was able to thank all those people who had tended to me in the darkest hours of my life. The nurses Sister Vincy, Sister Joby, Sister Usha, Brother Abraham, Brother Abin, Brother Jacob, Sister Jesse, Brother Jaishankar and many more, Dr, Vyas, Dr Bharani, Sister Sindhu, Lab tech Mishraji, Sister Aradhna, the Aayas who sponged me and cleaned me when I was immobile, the cafeteria guys who made sure I got what I liked and wanted, each one of them helped me recover. And for each one of them, I shall always pray for their long life and prosperity.

Besides, my aunt and uncle, my brother Annu, my chitti – chittapa, Coimbatore mama, my parents, my neighbors (N and S) my husband and my son and hubby’s fellow comrades who stood by me every minute, every second, made me realize the power of prayers and spirituality. Till this event, I was not much into the spiritual side. But the sequence of events made me see the light in spirituality. I drew my strength from the Vishnu sahasranam that was played day and night long. It gave me the confidence and courage to overcome the uncertainties that each day got me. Most importantly, I value each day more than before, each moment, each minute, each second that goes by.

Lines on that day: Value of the most important things are often realized when we are deprived of it. Respect for life is the best way to please God, the best way to have destiny on our side, the best way to work with Mother Nature.

Chapter 15: A mother’s gift : the pearls of wisdom ~ Chapters from my life


23rd March 2013

As I recounted the sordid details of whaterver happened with me, I asked my father, “Why did it have to happen to me? Why, after all?”  Despite having got the strength from the prayers and the extremely meticulous care that was showered on me, the question nagged me somewhere deep down within. And this time, my mother replied. And unlikely to her emotional fiery side, she told me calmly, “It is because, you were chosen. God chose you coz you are brave. And indomitable courage springs up in the most vulnerable moments and you proved it. Maybe, you can guide people who suffer silently and know not what is wrong with them. Write about it. Let the world know. Not because you had to endure it. But if anyone faces this kind of a rare problem, what is to be done. Maybe, that is what God wants.”

And then I remembered. Aah, how I missed writing. Immediately I asked the staff to get me a notebook and a pen. Although I had difficulty in seeing, I managed to write a few pages. It was after ages, I wrote on a paper. I felt rejuvenated. And then I doodled for a long while. It did not matter any more what I doodled. What mattered was my mind was active and no matter what, it will be a fight to the finish. My inner strength had returned. I was not going to buckle any more. Whatever, I will be my self again.


Lines on that day: We derive our will to fight back and survive from the optimism that springs from helplessness. It is like the storm that subsides only to give birth to a new beginning…..