Friday, November 15, 2013

Love Life in all its Hues

"Hey don't you feel guilty in any way. This is my choice and I don't regret my decision a bit!" It was for the hundredth time that I had said this to her, but she still remained unconvinced. She doesn't realize how happy and satisfied I feel doing this.  She has been the one that held my hand and taught me how to walk, not just my first steps, but she has been there at every step of my life, helping me unravel the many mysteries of so called 'life'. Our love goes beyond the one that siblings share. She is my mother, my friend, my guide, my God. So when my wife warned "it's either her or your family" or my office management laid out the resignation papers in front of me, I didn't take a second to make the decision.
It's true that "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve". These past three years I have lived by this quote. Making sure that each living day is a joyous one for her. That is the only prayer that I have.

I still remember that night when I got the terrible news that my elder sister had met with a horrible accident. The 2 hour drive to the city hospital where she had been admitted is still a haze...the road ahead misty because of the tears running down, the noise of honking cars a murmur as I was cursing the drunk driver who had run over my sister's car. The doctor announced that due to severe spinal cord injury Shree had to be kept under monitoring for a few weeks, before giving the final prognosis. For the first three days, she was in the ICU in a medically-induced coma. When she finally opened her eyes, I couldn't face her. What do I say to her? I for no reason felt that I had betrayed her...for not being there with her that night. I felt guilty...for being the one able to stand instead of being the one lying on the bed. 

That horrible night Shree was driving back from a dance recital of one of her students. She had been teaching Bharatnatyam for the last 9 years to a group of children from her colony. It is proud moment for any teacher when their students outshine them. She was very happy that one of her students was getting a scholarship from the Cultural Resources and Training, Ministry of Culture and it was from that functioning that she was returning. She had pursued me to come but I had excused myself on the pretext of work...

"I can feel the sunshine on my face Ashwin, but I'm unable to catch the sun ray's through my hands. I can't move Sonny", these were the first word she uttered when she woke up. I could see the colour disappearing from her eyes as the reality dawned on her. I slowly walked to her bedside and kissed her forehead. "It'll be okay, Akka", I could feel the hollowness of my words but she cheered up nonetheless. She was like that...like sunshine...her smile lit up the room and I had a new hope in my heart...I prayed that this gloominess would end. The next day however the doctor confirmed our worst fears. Shree would never walk again. Due to the spinal cord injury, she was announced as a C5-C6-C7 quadraplegic, the term seemed to make no sense to me except that my sister was now paralyzed from her chest down and would be in a wheelchair forever. She could still use her hands, although they were severely contracted.

Shree had been dancing for long as I remember. As a kid she had won many competitions both inter-school and inter-state. Grace, beauty, Rhythm, Poise, all these words were second names to her. I always thought and believed that she was born to dance. And now all my beliefs and my life's learnings were being questioned. I am sure these thoughts were troubling Akka too but she didn't express any such emotion. The way she held herself, the way she inquired with the doctor the Do's and Don'ts gave me courage.

"Ashwin, remember that year when I had gone to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival to perform. I was to dance amidst the golden sands of the Thar desert. I was so enchanted by the idea, so very eager to perform but that day we experienced a terrible sand storm. The organizing committee had to pack up everything in just a few seconds. We all were huddled up in one tent. It had gone absolutely dark by 4:00 pm. No one knew that we would survive or not. But we did, Sonny. We did! The storm settled and the next morning as the Sun rose, the sand dunes stood glittering like diamonds. The landscape was not recognizable. The sand dunes had shifted, re-positioned themselves. But they were the same and in fact looked stronger than ever after the ordeal" I silently kept looking at Akka,taking in her words. "What I'm saying is Sonny, this too shall pass. I know it will."

I always knew Akka was strong. After our parents died, she took it upon her to provide me with everything and all our neighbours and near family praised the way she had taken the entire episode in her stride. But wasn't this different? She had lost her limbs but yet she didn't break down. I felt so proud. Akka do you realize that I have stayed with you for selfish reasons. That my decision to stay with you and serve you is purely because I know you are a higher being. That sacrificing the phony life that I had...was nothing compared to the love that I have for you. That these past 3 years have been a blessing to me. Your actions, your fight, your will to live providing me with enriching lessons.

Today, Shree has her own dance school. She has students coming to learn from her from all over the world. She sits in her power wheelchair and dances with her hands and face. Grace, beauty, Rhythm, Poise, all these words are still second names to her. Sure, Life has changed but she hasn't.


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The above is a piece of fiction where I have used Hemingway's quote "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve" from 'A Farewell to Arms' - A challenge posted by Write Tribe. Seems off late the writer in me gets inspired only by the many wonderful prompts at Write Tribe!! :) :)

As I was researching 'Quadriplegia' I came across many inspiring stories. I want to salute all these fighters who have won against all odds and have such an amazing will to live. Do check out the below links.
The story of Vivian, a 24 old bright chap who has found new meaning in Painting
The story of (Super)Dan Harvey as told by his best friend
A husband-wife duo who blog at Love Like This Life, who are happily married, wheelchair and all.
Graham Streets, the founder of Mad Spaz Club, whose tagline reads 'Where all the cool wheelchair people hangout'

Thank you all for inspiring!!

I also came across a news article in TOI, where a quadriplegic girl was denied a university seat because she could not climb the stairs. This raged me and again I felt ashamed to be living in this country which fails to treat its citizens equally. There are few foundation in India which are doing a great job to spread awareness on this issue. NINA Foundation  is one such institution.
Remember the movie, Guzaarish, the first movie in India which broached the taboo topics of quadriplegia and euthanasia. Although I loved Hrithik's acting I did not like the message the movie sent out to its viewers. Dr. Ketna Mehta who runs the NINA Foundation holds similar views and shared her thoughts here.

Do you have any such inspiring stories to share? A person who despite their disability/medical condition has always remained positive and has inspired you? Have you loved someone that being with them is the only thing that matters and serving them is your highest reward?

Do share your stories and always remember that Life is what you make of it, so makeitbeaYOUtiful!!

33 comments:

  1. beautifully written story of an inspiring woman.

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  2. very inspiring! it's amazing to read about so many instances which prove that when the going gets tough, the tough get going...hats off to such brave hearts :)

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  3. You breathed real life into your fictional characters. So much so, I had tears in my eyes! Yes, we need to get to a place in society where a disability is nothing more than an aggravation as opposed to the obstacle it is so often viewed as.

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    1. Oh Kim thanks a lot! Disability surely mustn't be considered a obstacle in fact these inspiring stories go on to tell how they become a strength and lead to an enriching life!

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  4. First of all Where have you been Aditi?Writing after so long...
    And The Story is really very touching,My Eyes turned moist..Life is a Roller Coaster ride and those who hang on and keep moving certainly comes out with flying Colors...They became the source of inspiration for others too..They teach us to always look at positive side of the Life..

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    1. I know Harsha long gap ;( just busy here n there! Will try to be more regular... You have become quite a professional photographer I must say! Learning quickly :)

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    2. Yes you should try to be more regular.. :)
      And Thank You,though I am still learning and want to learn forever.. :)

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  5. This was such a wonderful, and moving story. Lovely lovely take on the prompt and an awesome interpretation of the Hemingway quote. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Thanks a lot Jairam...your word means a lot!

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  6. Very touching!
    I like the effort you take on these prompts, so much of originality.

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    1. Thanks Indrani...somehow these prompts lead me to lands far n wide which otherwise I wouldn't have ventured! ;)

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  7. I agree with Indrani.
    Also, some very beautiful pieces of visual imagery up there. Loved the "I can feel the sunshine on my face Ashwin, but I'm unable to catch the sun ray's through my hands. I can't move Sonny". Really!

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    1. Thank u Sakshi...so so glad u liked it! :)

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  8. Beautiful writing Aditi and the message is so touching. A wonderful use of the prompt.

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  9. Aditi the prompt is used so well and the flow of words simply enthralling :-)

    Richa

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  10. A very beautiful and inspiring story of courage and will. It's indeed our thoughts that make or break us.

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  11. Well written.
    Have come across many paraplegic as I was in close proximity with the QMTS in Pune, and the paraplegic from the Indian armed forces are taken care of here next to the QMTS.
    About that quadriplegic girl who was denied a university seat because she could not climb the stairs.... I think if the world bank comes to know about it, they are sure to cut off aid to the particular university.

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    1. I know!! Even I was shocked to read that article!
      Thanks for shopping by... :)

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  12. What an awesome story of great courage. Our attitude determines our future.

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    1. Well said Suzy....thanks for the love!

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  13. Inspiring post. Loved reading it. The way you have described your mother is awesome.

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    1. Thanks a lot! It's his sister though :)

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  14. Beautifully written. Did not seem like fiction. Felt every word of what you wrote. You are truly gifted :)

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    1. Thanks Preethi...really sweet of you :) :)

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  15. That;s such a beautiful and a touching piece of writing!! Good one, Aditi :)

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  16. You made me cry with your beautiful story!

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