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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrating Life ..

PS: Do not read if you hate Narcissism 

It is time to reflect back on my life today, as I celebrate my birthday. Has life been worth living? Yes off course! Unlike a few years ago, today I take pride in who I am and what I have done with myself. There are no more regrets in my life regarding where I went wrong. Today, I happily wish myself “Happy Birthday” and add “May you have many more” because there is so much in life to look forward to.
 ‘Be a woman of substance. Be a real woman. It is difficult to break down a real woman because she will learn from her mistakes, gather her strength from her struggle and overcome the obstacles courageously.’ – Unknown.
So true are those words when I connect them to myself, because, today I stand here on my feet, strong, unbroken, wise with the lessons life has taught me and gathering strength from my experience withcancer, bringing up special needs child and social, communal restrictions.
If you ask me to make a list women of who have stood against all odds to emerge triumphant from group of the women I know; the list would grow inexhaustibly like Hanuman's tail.  My life has been touched by many such ladies who have made a big difference to the course of my life.
At the same time I feel compelled to pat my own back, because I am one of those women who have refused to be tied down by any kind of bondage.

I have overcome the hurdles thrown at me like caste, culture, marriage, gender discrimination, disability, III stage infiltrating breast cancer, special needs child and many more to stand strong and confident today, ready to fly. I have not been the person who has aspired to touch the sky but always felt inspired to go beyond the limits of the sky.
Many eyebrows would be raised as they would consider it sheer narcissism by a simple woman who considers herself an achiever in the world of women who have made a place for themselves in the field of science, technology, arts and politics. What do I do? I blog, earn some income through freelance writing in addition to doing online counseling and mentoring students at Banjara Academy. Not many people consider me to be an ambitious achiever. But for me, this means a lot, as I know how tough it has been for 'me' to be where I am today.


 Even when people say they admire me or respect me, I notice an odd trend in them and feel it is all for the wrong reason. Most of them respect me and applaud me for surviving cancer, when they should be applauding my doctor for having done a great job on me. Did I have a choice of not fighting bravely against cancer? If I did not fight against the demon than I would have died at a young age of 29 leaving behind two small kids aged 1 and 5 years, motherless. Besides, I did not fight for someone else. I fought cancer and survived because I was greedy for life, I wanted to be with my kids, I wanted to live and achieve something before calling it an end. I wanted to reach for the skies before being shut in a grave forever. There, I was totally selfish and greedy, but people respect and applaud me for being a survivor for 17 years now, even as they sideline my real achievements.

Some say it is the attitude with which I have fought cancer that is inspirational to them. I was talking to a friend and mentioned to her how people consider my surviving cancer or bringing up a special needs daughter to be inspirational for them. What have ‘I’ actually done? Nothing much! I had to fight cancer and survive and I did. I could not give up on my daughter, so I love and care for her like any mother would. What is inspirational about me?
What my friend said when she answered my question rang a bell in my mind. She said what happened to me was just life and how I handled it, or precisely how I reacted to it was inspirational. It was not letting things pull me down, instead use it as a spring board to soar higher than I would have in normal situations.

Fighting cancer was easier when I was dealing with it myself, but it was tough losing my Mom, Sister and friends to the same disease that I survived. Dealing with the guilt of surviving something others have lost their lives to, is another hurdle I have jumped over. 

I was born a second girl child with a prominent club foot. It was tough walking with my right foot fully twisted and looking upwards. But it could never hold me from competing in sports or running long distances. I had never been able to consider myself a handicapped person, at least not until I tried to apply for drivers license. This is when my disability finally caught up with me at the age of 47 years, where I was asked to get certificate from Doctor ensuring that I have enough strength in
my leg to hit roads on a two wheeler. I was kind of surprised when I heard it, as I have almost totally forgotten that I have a disability. LOL.The dialogue between me and lady inspector went something like this:
Inspector : Do you have any problem in your leg?
Me: No. I just have a club foot.
Inspector: You mean you have disability?
Me: What? Is club foot a disability? It has not behaved like one so far.
Inspector: You mean, it does not bother you?
Me: No way. I have even carried my daughter until she was ten years old.
Inspector: Unfortunately, here I have to follow a protocol. You will have to undergo certain procedure before I can give you permission for the license. 

Being torn between what I want and
my loved ones want from me is tough
Though I was living in a village until a few months ago, where you cannot tell one woman from other when they belong to my community, I have made a mark for myself. Yes, I did walk around there totally covered with my black robe, where only my eyes were visible. I was commonly addressed as ‘Bibi’ when I visited offices, hospitals or any public place. The darkness is strong enough to overwhelm people and swallow them whole like a python.  I haven’t allowed the shadow of my cloak to overshadow me, I have found light and shone my colors through it. It may have swallowed many people like me, but I have escaped it clutches and I have discovered the real me. It is hard, it is dangerous and it takes a lot to hurt your own people, especially when you love them. I have felt torn between what I want to be and want my loved ones want me to be, not just once but many times. Finally, I am listening more to what I want to be rather than being what others expect me to be.

 It is tough to question what everyone around you believes in. I do not like be censored or dictated. I had the courage to stand up and say what I really am. Not until you are there will you know how it feels to be an ugly duckling among the chickens. 



After passing the milestone of 40 years, I have taken life with great enthusiasm. Instead of regretting about giving up my studies, I have completed my graduation and bravely shifted to a city like Bangalore. From a small depleted house, sitting in my small room, where my tall brother cannot stretch himself, I have reached out to the world and stretched myself far enough, nearly touching the skies. I have fallen down only to get up with more vehemence. 
When everything was fading away in my life, I picked up the leftovers and started to prepare a new dish to relish. I reached up and caught the rainbow of my dream – pursuing my education again at the age of 43, even with big obstacles strewn on my path, I am living my dream. At the moment I am further pursuing my ambition of completing my P.G. which is running smoothly so far. I have completed my first year of M.S. in counseling and psychotherapy and I am quite excited about the second year right now. I feel so relieved and happy to know that I am pursuing my dream. It is not easy at my age to sit down like a school kid, prepare notes and study for the exams. What with children, house work and my health issues distracting me. But I did. I studied hard enough to score first class passing marks in my graduation, and, the jewel in the crown was my scoring 92% marks in Psychology. It is something when you do that with your chemo brain. My brain is not what it used to be in school days, where I could memorize pages within hours.


I have never allowed anyone to treat mydaughter differently or without respect. I have been strong and fought to get her the love and respect she deserves. No one dares to fool around or mess with her. Bringing out this kind of behavior from people who were not used to it is something I have achieved.

 I have learned everything about internet and computers, surrounded by the walls of my room. All the help I got, was an instruction how to switch on a computer. Today, I am kind of computer repair person. I can almost fix my computer all by myself, install windows, create pages on web and win blogging contests.

My blog is something I feel proud about. It is not easy to share your problems, miseries with the world. Some say, pouring my heart out on the blog can take away my pain. Only those who haven’t lost a breast, been worried about the future of their child, lost dear ones to cancer or suffered as me can say that. Easing pain is not that easy. Even if I write thousand of blogs and millions will read it, the problems and pain will stay. For me blogging is leaving behind a part of me for everyone to see, even when I am no longer here. When I was supposed to be quite and walk in shadows, I dared to go ahead and share a part of me with the whole world. I received a lot of flak for posting my personal details, pictures and other information on my blog, but I decided to live my life my own way. It is not tough when you are independent financially and healthy person. For me, being a rebel meant a great risk. I did not have a job that could support me, neither was I highly educated. I lived in  fear. The recurrence of cancer which looms on my head all the time. These restrictions were pulling me strongly towards the gutter where I could lie, rot and be lost without trace after a few years which I did not want to happen. That is when I decided to jump and check the depth of the well. I survived and found a new way of living. Today, I am free from the chains that I believed to have bound me. I have learned to appreciate my achievements and efforts. This is something I would pat my back for if I could just reach it….
When I win, or achieve something- it could be a small victory for me, but a great victory for those women who are lost in the shadows. My problems, my disabilities do hold me back; distract me when I sit down to write a blog, do my work or even when I am on the road, but I fight back and bring myself out of the cave.
There was a time when I was quite angry and hated myself, but now times have changed. I love, respect and appreciate myself, because I know for sure unless I do that, how will others love, respect or appreciate me?

I am a person who doesn't want to touch the sky but want to go beyond it. I want my soar to be limitless. 

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