Sunday, September 30, 2012

The vagaries of life, and the mysteries of afterlife...



Yes, it’s been quite a long while… the result of a fair amount of travel. In today’s digital world there are no excuses for not blogging or tweeting on a regular basis… it’s all up to the individual as they say… you keep learning all the time. I’ve had my fair share of lessons… and now that my daughter has gifted me an iPad, things should improve…

Over the past few days, I’ve been ‘texting’ a friend of mine quite frequently. She is in Calcutta, my favourite city… Her mother is in the Peerless Hospital ICU; she’s been there for some days now. Most of her organs are not functioning. She is on a ventilator, yet she is alive to things happening around her, motioning her daughter for a drop of water, her ears open to all that is being said. Now that her kidneys are not functioning, the doctors are recommending dialysis, but they aren’t quite sure whether it will help resuscitate her. She is 77.

My friend, her brother and others (myself included) wonder whether dialysis will help at all and whether the old woman will be able to take its rigours. The family is in favour of just letting her be, letting her pass away into the sunset instead of artificially propping her up. Most of us would agree with the view. The old lady seems to be holding on though. For how long, nobody can tell. These are the mysteries of life. Even the so-called state-of-the-art technology comes a cropper against what is purely God’s will.

There has been unhappy news on the health front the past month. A senior colleague lost his wife to an unpronounceable disease (sounded like a Czechoslovakian name)… a disease, he says affects one in a million. He tried his best, even bringing home a Tibetan doctor from Dharamshala, Haryana. In the end, nothing really worked. Her end was sudden and peaceful. Only a few months ago, I had met her at a breakfast talk show. She was her usual chirpy and gentle self. Many times when I called him, she would pick up the phone and enquire how I was before passing it on to her husband. It’s a void in his life unlikely to filled even by Time.

Yet another senior colleague is going through hard times. His wife was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and is undergoing treatment at the Cancer Institute. She is a brave woman and knows what she is going through. Unlike many I have known, the family has not made it a secret. The husband has been quite open about the illness, has sought varied opinion and, as a result, there are many praying for her. My Calcutta friend says she doesn’t quite believe in prayers, but many do, especially when driven to the depths of despair as I’m sure this senior colleague has been.

In life you must be prepared to expect the unexpected. How many of us truly are? Both the women struck by grave illness would have least expected it to overtake them. In the first case, the woman was reduced to a vegetable, immune to the presence of anybody in her room. There were two nurses looking after her 24/7… it all ended in the course of a year. In a way, she was luckier than others. I have known of people who have been in coma for years, one an army major in his 50s. He was fed through a nasal tube for more than four years. He was a family friend. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Often, I wonder where people go to after death. Is the person immediately reborn as somebody else (insect, animal or human being) in some other part of the world? My sister says she loves England and wishes everyday that in her next life she be born there some where… as an Enid Blyton character because she so dearly loves Blyton and her books. Does God listen to our prayers and will He meet out aspirations? If only we knew! Afterlife seems such a surreal mix of fact and fantasy. And no wonder as we grow older, many of us turn to spiritual books for some hope, indication, solace… and strength. I see myself heading that way soon...


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