Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Today is women’s day. For some strange reason, I am in an expansive mood and so not in a frame of mind to contribute my mite to the gender war today. Ever since I came out of my illness, I slip into these euphoric moods and I find myself thanking those forces which decided to give me another lease of life – not once but twice. Today is one of those days when I feel I have won the battle against the killer disease. And I celebrate life - -

When I sat in the balcony reading the newspaper over the cup of tea my Anita made for me, I felt blessed. I could without help perform my morning ablutions despite the wrist pain, which was and is doing everything in its power to distress me. I must admit that when brushing my teeth became a painful exercise, I was shaken - briefly. I was relieved when the scan showed that the pain did not belong to the onco department. It’s an ortho problem, probably the side effect of the treatment. Yes. It did distress me. Is this the shape of things to come, I wondered. Am I going to be dependent on people to even brush my teeth? Yes, I did have a few angry moments – but then that blew over. I found my own way of dealing with it. Wristband, bandage. And then of course accepting what couldn’t be wished away. I decided to will it away. Do you know accepting difficulty – even if it is physical pain- can make the difficulty ineffective? Yes. It’s true. Just don’t let the stupid pain get you. And the battle is won!

Am back to my normal self – despite the wrist pain. You know it takes some humility to accept aches and their fallout. That’s a discovery I made. ‘Listen’, I told myself. ‘What if you have to depend on others? That’s not the end of the world. Cos you are still around on this planet. You can walk, sing, listen to music, watch movies, eat drink, have fun with family and friends, be at your computer for hours, practice music (with the wrist band on) to your hearts content, read newspaper, attend the women’s meeting in the condominium, go shopping, go to the grocers and the cold storage, bake cake on Sunny’s birthday and make Chicken Maryland and Chinese chopsuey and payasam(all with help – so what?), run my home, go out for dinner with friends and family, visit friends and relatives, do Trivandrum –Kochin trip by road or train and and and. Hey, why on earth did I indulge in self pity when this wrist of mine tried to act smart? I have so much to thank God for and I crib about one small irritant!

My elation I guess is fed by all this - and the people around me. The small and big things my family does to make life easier for me. The infinite care with which Anita, my help, does things for me. (How much she has done to make every minute of my life comfortable post disease! How easily she became part of the family after she walked into my apartment four years ago asking for employment! How she lends dignity to her work! How much I have learnt from her about how to deal with life’s problems!) And her anxiety about how I’ll manage when I leave Trivandrum for good three months from now.

I wish I could come with you, she said one day.

Doesn’t matter, I told her.

How will you manage? Will you get someone there who will take care of your diet the way I do?

Don’t worry Anita. God will provide.

And I get propped up by advice from friends - both acquaintances and my net friends who came to know of my illness through my blogs. I get mails with suggestions to fortify the mind to fight the disease. These friends give me books or recommend them - and all have proved to be excellent ones for they convinced me that I am in control.

I know this is a rambling piece. Do forgive. It’s just an effort to understand why I feel elated today. Why, instead of expressing concern about the predicament of women on this day, I am celebrating life.

Celebrating life. That’s what I do. That’s what all should do. We who have a lot to celebrate. We should not wallow in self-pity for the little we don’t have. To have a sense of deprivation is part of human nature. If that is not controlled, it can spread and eat into the human personality - like cancer. The only panacea for this disorder is the age old remedy: When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed/When you are discouraged thinking all is lost/Count you many blessing name them one by one/And it’ll surprise you what the Lord has done.

We should be able to celebrate life if we are to genuinely reach out to those for whom circumstances are not congenial for such a celebration. A discontent soul reaching out to the suffering humanity cannot do a good enough job of extending a helping hand or going that extra mile. our discontentment would chill the hearts causing insensitivity to set in. The hand extended to offer help would hurt by the roughness of its grip. The extra mile would be grudgingly travelled, and the worn out heart would make us snappy and morose.

It’s only a happy soul with song in her heart who can hear and listen to “the still sad music of humanity”.


  1. I had guesed some time back that you were suffering an illness,didnt think it was that serious.Glad to know that you have recovered.Life is full of uncertainties,as a healthy and happy life is suddenly disturbed by the news of a dangerous illness.But it is always good to remember,you are not alone.And there are others out there,who are in worse situations,sometimes,not even able to afford treatments.Not that it eases the pain,but will make you look thankfully at the blessings you had.

    As a doctor,when I say that all healings come from God,some people frown at me.For all the good and bad things that happen to me, I have learned to say" Not on our merits,but on His grace".That gives me a peace of mind, hard to describe.I wish you the same.

    Ultimately, whether it is dealing with illness or life in general, it is the individual’s ability to face and accept reality, and live in it as consciously and gently as one can, that really matters. The journey, after all, is the destination; and perhaps how we live is a more profound experience than how long we live.

    As Treya Killam Wilber, who survived cancer , says in the book Grace and Grit: “Because I can no longer ignore death, I pay more attention to life.”

    Wishing you healthier days ahead.

  2. "Celebrating life. That’s what I do. That’s what all should do. We who have a lot to celebrate. We should not wallow in self-pity for the little we don’t have. To have a sense of deprivation is part of human nature. If that is not controlled, it can spread and eat into the human personality - like cancer. The only panacea for this disorder is the age old remedy: When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed/When you are discouraged thinking all is lost/Count you many blessing name them one by one/And it’ll surprise you what the Lord has done."

    I'd say this a perfect example of how everyone should live life because it seems to me nowadays that there are too many expectations of how life should be lived..and I very much agree with you on all this because I think the same. For me, I learned that everyone will be happy if they just be themselves and enjoy what they enjoy, rather than trying to be someone or something they are totally not..whether it is to fit in a group or to meet the requirements expected by others. It's also easier to get along and create a bond with each other people, no matter what obstacles you come across or what you lack. It's all on how you respect each other and being non-critical of others. Be yourself, love yourself, respect yourself..and again, respect other people for who they are as well. By the way, I'm very awed on your English writing..are you an English teacher, author or anything related? Because I can say for sure, that your writing is much better than mine...and I grew up in the States where English is my native language!

  3. the post is very uplifting. Teacher you are such a positive person and i think we all have enough reasons to celebrate life, but we have to recognise them..just like you did.
    it is funny, I did a post today about 'do we mean when we say Life is not fair'...
    Hope you feel better soon teacher. God bless
    note: throughly enjoying the Novel!

  4. @ j
    i understand what you are trying to say. yes. live and let live should be the policy.
    yes. i retired as an english teacher.
    am i a writer? i write but may not fit in the definition of a writer. i havent published enough to earn that label. if not for the blogsphere, all that i had to say would have remained in the kingdom of silence:-)
    yes, i am seriaiising an enovel on the syrian catholic community of kerala here's the link.

    @ shy
    thanks for reading my blog and novel.
    cant access your post. can u pl send me the link?

  5. I understand your situation. It was only a few days ago that I finished Lance Armstrong's book, " It's not about the bike". His shadow dancing with testicular cancer at the very young age of 22 or so.And his admirable survival to reach the pinnacle of success.
    You may have a valid point when you say a resurrection demands extending our hand to the less privileged. And as for the official observation and celebration of "Womans day", well it is superficial.
    I got to know early in my life that respecting one's mother and caring for her means one respects women.Though I have not been to temples or churches since the age of seventeen pleading my case and for largesses, I have since that age woken up each morning thinking and praying to my biological mother. Yes she is mortal and helpless like any of us. But that is my celebration of woman. It happens every day!It lends me peace in the heart and soul.

  6. Why do we have to count our blessings and compare ourselves to those less fortunate in order to achieve a sense of happiness and contentment? Is it inherent in human nature to require this or can it be achieved without reference to others' fortunes or misfortunes?

  7. madam, i have not come to your blog for more than a week, because i like reading only when i am not burdened with tasks to do. this is an extremely beautiful piece. you write from your heart and with such dignity and intelligence. i think i understand your elation. this is a beautiful life when you open out to the outside in a different way. then we start seeing everything and are full of compassion. i can feel compassion flowing from you. you are a blessed woman.

  8. @ anil kurup
    you are truly blessed - to have a mother whom you think of and pray to every day. a beautiful concept!

    @ p venugopal
    thank you sir. am so happy you've understood the spirit in which this was written.

  9. lovely post ammai. unfortunately dont get to visit this space as frequently as i'd like to. it's amazing how anita has become part of your life so much, i know she will be missed in cochin.

    loved the part where you say "god will provide". sometimes we have no idea how things will work out, but choose to say that. just because we know, that behind everything there is a plan. i guess in the end this is what keeps us going, believing that everything has a solution. and even though we can't see it right now, we believe we'll see it... in time.

    we, who have a lot to celebrate :)

  10. @ cj
    yes, chandy, it's the internalisation of the knowledge of an extra terrestrial remote control by a just force that gives us peace.
    nice to see you here after a long time, busy man:-)

  11. teacher,

    i'm moved by the love you give and more by that you get back. I certainly miss someone like you in my life after my schooling. Thank you for all your somehow heart soothing words.

  12. These are not ramblings kpj. Good to read about your feelings and positive state of mind on this. Thanks for the post and wishes and prayers for you to continue the conquest of mind and body.

  13. Amma

    that was a lovely bit of "rambling". Your attitude through all this is a source of strength for all of us. The one thing that you taught me by example - all my life - is to stand up tall and face adversity and let it know that you have it in you to subdue it. That coupled with your unbelievable faith in God makes you a mother I worship!


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