Friday, March 22, 2024

Footprints On The Storm

When the storm came to me, I didn't flee,

I boldly faced its fury, determined and free.

With every step, I left my mark behind,

Defiant and strong, in body and mind.

Through trials and tempests, I pressed on,

Facing each challenge until it was gone.

In the heart of the storm, I found my might, 

Leaving my footprints as symbols of my fight.

For I am a warrior, resilient and brave,

Conquering adversity with every wave.

Though the storm may rage, I stand tall and true,

Leaving my footprints as proof of all I've been through.

And though the storm may have roared,

Leaving scars and wounds unexplored,

I looked it in the eye and took up the fight

I was not turning back and taking the flight

With steady steps I walked with courage,

Moving forward boldly through its rampage,

One step at a time, forward, I moved on,

And I proudly left my footprints on the storm.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Living My Dream Of An Inclusive Preschool


There was a time when I dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist. The inspiration was Carl Sagan and his television series ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’. That dream was lost in space and gone forever when I dropped out of PUC and got married.

My dream of being an independent career woman was forgotten as I got busy trying to please people, win their appreciation and take care of my children and family. I couldn’t connect or recognize myself, as days went by.

This is when the wake-up call came in the form of Breast Cancer when I was 29. Relationships that demanded sacrifices crumbled like a house of cards when I endured the harsh treatment. I can say that I had no other option but to start a career and take care of myself financially. It was not easy but not impossible either. I had to start very small.

Throughout my life, I had enjoyed teaching. Giving tuition was a hobby, but now it became a part of my income along with making and selling soft toys, stitching clothes, and many odd jobs. I was surprised that even when going through chemo, I could pick myself up and start earning. It gave a big boost to my confidence which has never wavered since then.

As years went by, with encouragement from my son, I studied again. I completed my graduation and post-graduation and started my career seriously with all new fervor. I loved the lost and found again financial freedom.

It was at this stage that a dream was born out of the pain which can only be experienced by a mom of a special needs child. My teenage daughter with special needs was referring to the regular people, including me, as ‘YOU’ people and those with special needs as ‘WE’ people. It was very painful for me to see that my daughter was feeling that she was different from me. Her feelings were based on how we treated her.

Getting out of the blame game vicious cycle

I could blame society, our fate, or injustice and take some comfort in playing the blame game, or I could think of doing something about it. Thus was born the idea of creating a preschool where inclusivity would be a norm. I

know that it is not possible to include every child in a regular school due to the different challenges they have. For example, a child with severe ADHD in a regular environment may harm other children in the school. Autism is not well understood even by special educators, hence, it would be a challenge for regular teachers to handle a child with autism. Intellectual challenges, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, learning disabilities were easier for inclusivity.

Doing my homework before I undertook this

Having done my M.S. in Counseling and Psychotherapy I understand both the physical and emotional challenges everyone would face in an inclusive environment. I was not going to jump blindly into the project without doing my homework. But I knew, there was no testing this water without getting into it. I gave up my job and started an inclusive preschool. It was a huge risk for someone who started a career very late in life, but a dream was born and I couldn’t stop myself.

In the initial year, there was a rejection of the idea from parents of regular school-going preschoolers and the parents of children with special needs. One set of parents was afraid that the special children could be dangerous and that their children would pick up their behaviors. The other set of parents was worried their special child would be discriminated against, ignored, and hurt in a regular school environment. Admissions were rare, but they did happen. That was encouraging enough for me. Slowly people around me developed trust in my ability to run the school and admissions started picking up.

In 2020 when I was stepping into the profit zone, Covid19 forced me to close down the school. It was a big shock and setback for me. Being in the rental premises hurt my business more. There were people who took advantage of the situation and caused losses to me, but there were also people who stepped in to support me. I had to close down the school and sell most of my materials. It was tougher than giving up my breast when I had to fight cancer.

I restarted with my dream in 2022

In 2022, when I came across an old building and the dream was born again. I had found a good job during the lockdown and was in a comfortable place once again, but Giggle Garden had the magic of pulling me into it once again. With encouragement from a few parents, I restarted my school.

Fortunately, my struggling days were over. Admissions were not as difficult as it was in 2017 when I had opened the school for the first time. Though I was late in getting the premises ready and starting the school, there were enough admissions to almost cover the running cost every month. I am steadily moving forward with my school and daycare.

We have children with challenges and parents have learned to respect my idea of running an inclusive preschool. Many ask me why not follow the normal way of inclusive education which starts at the age of 6 years and above for children, why preschool?

As we can observe and understand, in the initial years of schooling, the needs of the special children and regular children are almost the same in school, though some extra help may be required based on their diagnosis. Inclusivity in the early years is easy compared to the years when academics take importance and special children will have different needs.

In the picture above, we can see that regular and special needs children can work side by side without any special effort from monitoring adults. Parents are being more supportive of the cause as we are growing in experience.

I may not be able to make a huge difference to many people, but I am sure I have already made a difference to a few children and parents. For me that little achievement is a dream I would die for.

I wish to own a place that I make physically accessible to all people and create an environment where every child can smile and grow. I wish to be the ‘smile farmer’ in ‘Giggle Garden’ where I could grow smiles of all children.

Published on Women's Web

Monday, January 29, 2024

Sanjeevani - Heroes of Hope

Sometimes I wonder whether I really went through all that. From the comfort zone I am in today, the struggle seems far away, but I know I wouldn't be who I am without them. 

Nurturing Children's Health During Winter


As winter approaches and temperatures plummet, it's essential to strike a balance between outdoor enjoyment and safeguarding the well-being of our little ones. While the cold season brings many a sense of joy, it also brings potential health risks, especially for children. Having observed children in My Giggle Garden since its inception in 2017, I have come up with few practical tips to ensure our kids stay healthy and happy during winter.

1. Limit Outdoor Travel for Toddlers

Minimize outdoor excursions with toddlers during the
winter months. The harsh cold can be challenging for their delicate systems. Opt for indoor activities and playdates to reduce exposure to the chilly weather.

2. Embrace the Warmth

Distinguish between hot and warm. Ensure your children are appropriately dressed in layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Dressing them warmly is crucial for their well-being in colder weather.

3. Nourish with Healthy Foods

Provide a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients to fuel your children's bodies during the winter. The cold season demands more energy, and a nutritious diet helps strengthen their immune systems.

4. Shield from the Elements

Protect your child's ears from biting winds by using hats or earmuffs. Additionally, promptly dry them after baths, avoiding exposure to fans immediately afterward.

5. Warm Soups for Comfort

Introduce a variety of soups to their diet. Not only do they keep your children warm, but they also contribute to their overall health. Homemade remedies such as tulsi leaves with honey or turmeric milk can work wonders.

6. Prioritize Sleep

Ensure your children get sufficient sleep, especially during winter. Longer sleep times contribute to a healthier immune system. Establish a consistent bedtime routine to promote good sleep habits.

7. Layer up on Socks

Keep their feet warm by adding an extra layer of socks, especially when sending them to school. Cold feet can contribute to discomfort and susceptibility to illnesses.

8. Positive Winter Vibes

Encourage a positive outlook on winter by allowing children to enjoy the season's festivities. Avoid instilling a fear of the cold by refraining from repeatedly saying, "If you do this, you'll catch a cold." Instead, focus on the fun aspects of winter.

9. Home Remedies for Wellness

Incorporate safe and time-tested home remedies into your winter routine. Tulsi leaves with honey and turmeric milk are excellent choices for bolstering your child's immune system without side effects.

10. Embrace the Season

Look forward to the wonders that winter brings. Strike a balance between safeguarding your children's health and enjoying the crisp, refreshing weather. By following these tips, you can create a winter experience that is both safe and enjoyable for your little ones.

Monday, December 4, 2023

The Broken Wheelchairs in Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens and Ooty Botanical Garden

Sitting and waiting near the entrance has become common for Farheena 
due to the broken wheelchairs in many places. 

Recently, Farheena, my daughter, went through a phase of feeling very low. I decided to take her to new places to make her feel better. I have always strived to enrich my daughter's experiences and focused on her happiness more than her learning or development.  I was excited to take her to the iconic Brindavan Gardens in Mysore and the picturesque Botanical Garden in Ooty. Before going to any place, I check reviews and gather information regarding the distance to be covered, how even the road is for walking (both Farheena and I cannot manage very uneven roads), and whether we have wheelchairs available. I am inquisitive for information after we got stuck in Lalbagh. Farheena somehow walked into the place when she heard that the wheelchair was broken, but returning after reaching a certain distance became tough. 

When I got to know that these places offered wheelchairs for visitors with mobility challenges, I embarked on our journey with high hopes of creating lasting memories with Farheena and my family. Little did I know that our enthusiasm would soon be dampened by the disappointing reality of broken wheelchairs, not just once or twice but thrice.

In an era where inclusivity is championed, it is disheartening to encounter barriers that impede the experiences of individuals with disabilities. Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens, and Ooty Botanical Garden proudly advertise their commitment to accessibility, claiming to provide wheelchairs for those in need. However, the stark reality on the ground contradicts these promises, leaving visitors like us feeling let down and frustrated.

Upon reaching the parks, we were eager to avail the promised wheelchairs, only to be informed that the available ones were in a state of disrepair. In Ooty, we did not find anyone interested in answering or guiding us to check those chairs. This posed a significant inconvenience and raised questions about the commitment of these popular tourist destinations to ensuring a truly inclusive experience for all visitors.

It's disheartening to witness the disappointment on my daughter's face as she struggled to navigate the uneven terrain without the assistance of a wheelchair. The broken wheelchairs hindered her mobility and cast a shadow over what was supposed to be a joyous and carefree day. I felt hurt to see her sit on a bench and watch everyone explore the places. In Mysore, we at least got to move around in an electric car, but in Ooty, they said it is available at 9.30 A.M., but it was not working even around 10.30, so we left. 

Parks like Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens, and Ooty Botanical Garden are recreational spaces and significant public assets. Millions are invested in their development and maintenance, and it is only fair to expect that a fraction of these funds be allocated to maintaining functional wheelchairs. The government should ensure that every place with more than 1000 footfalls daily should have at least 10 working wheelchairs. In a country that has more than 2.5 crore people with disabilities, this is a must if we want to ensure inclusivity. Everyone deserves to spend time in these beautiful places, especially those with mobility challenges. It is tough for them to go on treks or into natural setups where moving around is challenging. 

 Ensuring the availability of working wheelchairs is not just a matter of fulfilling legal requirements but an ethical responsibility to make public spaces genuinely accessible to everyone. At least if we have the knowledge of broken wheelchairs ahead of time, we can make some different arrangements.

The Call for Change:

It is crucial for authorities overseeing these public spaces to recognize the urgency of addressing accessibility issues. By investing in well-maintained wheelchairs and other facilities, they can create an environment where all visitors, regardless of their physical abilities, can fully enjoy the beauty these parks have to offer.

The broken wheelchairs at Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, and Ooty Botanical Garden are a stark reminder of the work that must be done to ensure true inclusivity in our public spaces. I sincerely hope our experience prompts those in charge to reevaluate their commitment to accessibility and take immediate steps to rectify the situation. After all, everyone deserves the chance to explore and appreciate the wonders of these parks without unnecessary hindrances.

The picture doesn't really show how tired she was.

Sitting and waiting patiently with a smile

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Treasure of Memories and Present

 6/6/1996, 1/1/2006 and 9/9/2009

These dates may not hold any significance to many, but for me, they are reminders of great pain and loss a person will suffer because earlier they had enjoyed the love and company of their loved ones. These are days when I lost my sister, mom and dad. For some weird reason, the dates have the same day and month for all three of them. I am not sure if life, nature and their souls are sending some code through those dates for us - those still living and loving them. 

Madiha, my daughter-in-law also has something similar as her birth date - because she was born on 6th of June as well. 6/6. Somehow this makes my connection a bit special. Slowly she has reduced the pain of losing a loving sister which is always more severe for me than losing my parents. Knowing someone was born on the same day and fate got her to marry Rayyan looks a bit more dramatic than just coincidence to me. For my sister, Rayyan was definitely the most favorite person. 

My sister was older than me by a little more than 3 years. She was a physically very strong person and always took care of me. She would never allow anyone to bully me, though she would do it at times. Even after my marriage, she would be there anytime she sensed I was having trouble. Though I very well knew I could defend myself, I never stopped her. I loved the way she protected me, a habit which naturally comes to the elder sibling. I do the same with my younger siblings, especially my brother though he is very well capable of handling himself.

I lost her support though, when I actually needed her the most. I was struggling with my chemotherapy, Farheena’s diagnosis and uncertain future when I lost her. Something changed in me all of sudden. I became very tough, emotionally very strong and very practical. Slowly I took up her role in my life as well, protecting me as strongly as she had always done. Gradually, everyone started looking up to me as a person who is strong and doesn’t need any support at all. I get a lot of love from my children, but both of them look up to me as someone who can do anything - almost like a supermom. 

It is after many years, I am being defended against again now. Madiha somehow sees me as a normal person and she jumps in my defense at home - against everyone. I found it funny initially, but slowly it started creating the feeling of being with my sister for me. The feeling itself is not strong, but a whiff of it passes by  me whenever Madiha fights on my behalf or stops me from overdoing things. I feel life has compensated me for the losses a little through giving me a happy and strong bonding with my daughter-in-law. It is funny to see that I failed in bonding with the person I  married but could do so with the one my son married. 

The pain of losing a loved one never goes away, but it feels good to have some love to ease that pain.

Friday, April 28, 2023

My Life Is Worth Fighting Cancer

27 years ago on this day, I woke up with two breasts but went back to bed with only one. In terms of changes happening in my life, this was the biggest change to happen in a day.
Of course being a special parent is more challenging, but then it doesn’t happen in a day.
Back then I had regrets with the demands of cancer treatment, but today I am damn sure that it was totally worth it. All these years I have upgraded myself with new skills. Every year I have taken up a goal to achieve and done that. Last year it was the re-opening of My Giggle Garden which has run successfully for a year. I hope to see some profits from the coming Academic Year.
This year I will be trying my hand at Standups - Storytelling + Comedy. Links from a few recorded ones shared here.
It is very tragic to be a side character in your own story and that is what I was prior to cancer. I had to change that. Much of the credit goes to Rayyan for not just guiding me but standing by me as well to bring about the much needed change. When I decided to study, many people, even those who cared for me, told me I was not doing the right thing, but Rayyan stood by me. I know I love my two daughters a lot, but there will always be a special place for Rayyan in my heart. It is very different from love and affection. It is very rare that I get to guide Rayyan as a Mom.
My journey was tough but that is what made it interesting. I decided not to allow anyone to push me down, not cancer, not people nor the situation. I had given up my education, career, financial independence and a lot more earlier, but I wanted to take back my life. I did not wish to continue as a side character in the movie of my life. I wanted to be the heroine of at least my own life.
I did not wait even for my treatment to be over, and started with the first step towards earning a small amount during my chemotherapy itself. I sold soft toys, made clothes, gave tuitions and did many other odd jobs. Taking up a profession is not possible without education or skill. I took the next step and started learning computers and the internet on my own.
I first got a diploma in Counselling skills, did my graduation and finally my masters in Counselling and psychotherapy. I funded my education through freelance writing and blogging. It was not as easy as it looks like. It took me all of 15 years to achieve my goals but finally I did.
I was finally back in the driver's seat of my life. I cannot say the Deewar dialogue mere paas building hai, bank balance hai, gaadi hai bangla hai…but I could once again choose the clothes I wanted to wear, the food I wanted to eat, the place I wanted to go and live the way I wanted within my limits. Limits because I am not a superhero - just the heroine of my own life.
There is a famous saying which says, when life gives you lemons - make lemonade. I changed my funda into - When life gives you tumour, change it into humour. Laugh loudly and live happily which is exactly what I am doing right now.
They say cancer kills but the good news is we can kill cancer as well, if we fight back. You can give up and expire or fight back to live to inspire. You can become statistic or fantastic, the choice is mostly yours. I am the living proof of that sharing my story happily today. Boo to cancer and yay to me.


Monday, April 17, 2023

25 Silver Linings - Bonding With My Breast


It is not easy for a young woman, who is nearing her 30’s to remove a whole breast to save her life. I had to take this horrible decision at the age of 29 and it was not easy though I did not express it out loud. I would like to share my simple experience a few hours before my surgery so that people who have someone in their family fighting breast cancer will empathize with them. I also want those who have been or may have to go through it to feel that they are not alone in this fight. There are others who have fought it and come out of it triumphantly. I myself have lived 25 years of fruitful and happy life after being through the treatment.

As I went through the decisions of choosing a treatment plan and going ahead with the surgery for removal of the whole breast, the bathroom itself had become a safe haven for me. It was a place I could lock myself in and no one would ask me why I had locked the door. It is always convenient to slip into the bathroom for some lonely time without anyone questioning you, especially when I want to avoid questions. Our well wishers do not realize that sometimes the good wishes, questions, guidance become too much for the patient themselves to tolerate.
My surgery was scheduled at 7 a.m. in the morning, 28th April 1996. It was past midnight, but I could not get a wink of sleep. I lay restless on the hospital bed, wondering how life would be without a breast. The emotions were confusing, because I knew deep in my heart that breasts do not mean much. None of the species other than humans have ever given so much importance to breasts. I haven’t seen any cow, dog or cat showing any special attention to this anatomy as we humans do. They really get down to the point quickly without any attention to the breasts. I had come up with all the arguments to make myself feel at ease, but still I felt something in my stomach crunch to think a part of me is going to be removed completely in a few hours. I did not expect these emotions, because as a mother of two children who were too young, I had decided that they needed their mom more than me needing my breast. I had argued enough to steel myself for this procedure, yet, here I was feeling confused, sad and angry emotions.
The emotions were quite confusing and conflicting, I was not sure how to deal with it. I got up and entered the bathroom, as this was fast becoming my safe refuge for thinking things over in my mind. As I looked into the mirror on the bathroom wall, my boobs stared back at me through the hospital gown. They were looking larger than their usual self, as though they were threatening me. Then I realized that those poor things were just swollen with a collection of milk, since I had abruptly stopped breastfeeding my daughter. I just wanted to have a look at myself as I am, before being cut and stitched.
I pulled the gown on top of my head and stood there naked, watching my breasts. They looked good side by side. I tried to imagine the chest with only one breast. I couldn’t. I felt a kind of bond developing with the breast I was throwing away because she had given shelter to the cancer tumor. I felt guilty that I had not given a thought to saving her, or salvaging her at all. When the doctor had given me the option of lumpectomy or mastectomy, I had chosen total radical mastectomy because I wanted to be sure that cancer would not be left behind in my breast. I did not want any risk involved.
But standing here in front of the mirror, looking at myself, I wondered about my decision. Will I be ever able to wear all regular dresses or do I need something different hereafter? How will my status as a woman be affected by this? I knew I had no answers.
Suddenly I could feel a rush of love for my breast that was going to be sacrificed tomorrow. It was as though she was an entity of her own, someone different from me and I was bidding her goodbye. I cupped both my hands around her and held her lovingly for 5 minutes. I am not sure whether I was comforting my breast or myself, but that was it. It was a bonding moment with my breast for me, like we share with another person with a hug. It was a soothing, comforting and releasing moment for me, a time when I could really let go of my breast even before the surgery.
I looked at myself for one final time trying to etch the picture of myself with two breasts in my mind. I wished I could photograph myself like this, but it was too late. Those were not the days of mobile phones or digital photos. My surgery was scheduled in a few hours. Sigh! I let the idea go and walked out of the bathroom and slept on my bed. I could actually catch some winks of sleep after that.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

A Letter To My Mommy.....

This was tough. There are a few things that have eluded me, because I am kind of a free soul who does whatever I want, even at times driving people around me to desperation. For the past week, I have been thinking about something I should do to start the year. I wish to do something that would remove a big negative vibe from my life. The thought got me thinking, and I got lost in the thoughts for nearly 6 days. On the 7th day, I realized that there is actually something I have never done before and it is high time I did it. 

New Year has never been the same for me since 2006, the year we lost our mom as the year was in transition and parties going on every day. My mom always believed that the decisions she made for her children were the best for them. Unfortunately, as expected they were not. 

One of those decisions included the guy she choose to me marry off to, though at that age I was not wise enough to sense the danger signals. She should have, but she did not. I carried a lot of anger/regret in my heart for the decision she made, and also how she trapped me into believing that this was the best choice I had. 

I decided to write a letter to my mom to erase those negative feelings from my heart forever. 

As my Mom was an illiterate person, I never got to write a letter for her. I always had to write a letter to my dad or sister and give instructions to tell Mommy this or that when I was not with her. Now that she is in heaven I think she can read or some angel will read it to her if she is stubborn and says, ‘I can’t read’. So finally this year I am writing my first personal letter to my Mom.  

The letter is going to be in English because my Mom always admired the way I handled the language and felt proud of it. I used to feel so embarrassed when she would prod me “Fari, show them how well you can speak. Go ahead talk in English with them”. LOL. Though she could not speak the language she could very well understand it. So here it goes.

“Hey, Mommy,
                            How is heaven? I miss you over here a lot. Don’t worry and start grumbling, “Why has Fari all of a sudden decided to write a letter to me? Is she going to ask me some weird questions even now?” Honestly, I am not having any more questions for you to answer for me, because the answers do not matter anymore. I know I always had so many questions for you. 
Why did you do that? 
How could you love my younger sister more than me? 
Why do you have to spend so much? 
All those questions have lost their significance. Even if you had answers for all of them, that would not change anything. You were a great Mommy to all of us, and whatever you did was for our own good. If things went wrong, it was only because you did not know what was good for us.
When bringing up my own children, on those rarest days when I got angry with them, I would stop myself before going ahead and say “What would I do if my parents were in this situation and not my children? I would not hit my parents or scold them for this mistake, right? Let me treat my children with the same respect I show to my parents and handle this sensibly”.  
For example, if my children break something precious, I just think that what I would do if my dad or mom had broken it, and respond in the same way to my children as I would to my parents. 
That way I have been able to stop myself from hurting my children emotionally. Also when they would not see things as I did or would act differently from what I expected, I would console myself saying, though they are my own kids, they are not ‘ME’. They are different individuals with their own characteristics and personality. I have been able to maintain peace with my children, more so after you left them. Taking good care of them and loving them is one best gifts I can give you. 

Today I am going to reverse that rule. I will think of you as my own child and let things go, as only a Mom can forgive and forget everything a child has done. It is very difficult for us to forgive our parents, but we usually very easily forgive our children.  I know you have done that with us a thousand times in our lives. Though this sounds funny, I have tears rolling down my cheeks as I type. 

When my children were born, I decided to accept them for who they are and love them unconditionally. Today, I decide to accept you for whatever you are because though you are my MOM, you are not ME. Why should I expect you to do everything right?  We are both different individuals with our own thoughts, characteristics, and personalities. Your extravagances, your fears of simple things, and all other characteristics are accepted by me today without finding fault in them. Even the high-fat content of your tasty food is all good with me now.   

I remember how badly you wanted me to get married to your ‘chosen one’ and how many weird tricks you played on me. You exaggerated your heart problems and told me you were dying. I still have no clue how I lost the bet to you. That is how you got the nickname ‘crow’ from me.  Remember how I would say “You are the Chiranjeevi crow Mommy. I am sure you will not die” whenever you tried to emotionally blackmail me ever again with your death threats? You said someday I will regret it. Though you are no more with me, I don’t regret it. It is so funny even today to think over and laugh at. I am so sure you would have survived my refusal of marriage. Studying and becoming an astrophysicist meant a lot to me. You never understood how important this was to me. All you could think was about getting me married to the person who you thought was best suited for your daughter. You even went ahead and said ‘I will cut off my right arm if I am ever proved wrong and he hurts you in any way. You had some dramatic ways, Mommy!

When your chosen one made a great fuss about me sending Farheena to school, for once I saw that regret in your eyes and when you said, “I made a mistake” it was like a final victory for me.  You asked me to forgive you for the wrong you have done. You also said, maybe I would have become a great 
scientist if not for your silliness. Back then I said, “No. I will not forgive you”, in my own hilarious style. Somehow it was difficult to forgive also back on that day.

Today I can say for sure that I don’t even feel a need to forgive you because I don’t feel you did anything wrong. In the words of Eric Segal, "Love means never having to say you're sorry". Your actions were based on your concern for my well-being. You were scared that I would get sucked into the black hole or go crazy by reading all the time. For us your fears were silly, but for you they were true. Today, as a mother when I worry about my children’s safety, I can understand you much better than I did back then.

Due to your choice, I have two wonderful children who have made life so much interesting and better for me for the past 3 decades. Now Madiha has become a part of our lives as well. Nothing in the world would have made me happier than being a mom to them. The feeling is mutual. They would never exchange their crazy Maa for anything. 

I take great pride in my parenting skills and the way I have brought up my children. I cherish every moment I spend with them. And to think all this has been possible only due to the silly choice you made. This has been lingering in my mind for a long time. Today I just officially announce it openly to you. I am very happy with the way you brought me up, instilled confidence in me by trusting me, gave me the freedom to explore all religions, got me married to the person of your choice, and for the amazingly tasty food which made me fat finally. 
Thank you for the amazing patience you showed when I threw around tantrums after tantrums in my childhood. Thank you for being my mom.
Though you made a decision back then for me, I realized lately that I always had a choice to continue or not with the situation I was in. Today I am moving ahead with my life in the way I want it. The past cannot be corrected but the future can be changed. No more blaming you or anyone for what I am today, but taking responsibility for what I am and sculpting my future the way I want it to be. I know you and Dad would be proud to see the work I am doing now. You both were always proud of me. The expression on your face when you said you regretted your decision to get me married was very painful. I am motivated now to make you feel at ease by getting my life back and being independent.

I miss seeing you laugh uncontrollably shaking all over and going red at the jokes I would crack. Just the other day your daughter-in-law was remembering how you would laugh and go red in the face when I said something funny. I miss you when Rayyan or Farheena achieves something because no one would praise them like you did. I miss you when I achieve something or when our family gets together and has fun. Most of all I miss your shrewdness which had people dancing to your tunes. Your words of wisdom make so much sense to me when I am going through a tough phase in life.

Now that Dad has left for the same place you went to, I hope you are both together there with your lovely daughter. Or are you hiding from dad and making fool of him. I hope someday we all will be together again like we were earlier. That was one of the happiest times of our lives.
Sigh! See you once I am done with my work here. Bye for now.

The people who have become a treasure in my memories. I miss them every moment of my life. 

Some good memories of my mom and my family.


Friday, November 5, 2021

25 Silver Linings - The Day Of The Surgery

It all started very early in the morning. I wanted to walk into the operation theater but the staff insisted they will wheel me in. By then I had stopped questioning why. I had surrendered myself to the medical staff.

Once inside, slowly and calmly one by one experts carried out their task under the guidance of my surgeon, Dr. Murad Lala. The vitals were checked. My doctor asked me whether I suffered from low BP. I said, “Not so far”. He said, “Usually patients will have a bit higher BP before surgery, your BP is perfectly fine. So I was wondering whether you had lower BP earlier which moved to regular now”. We laughed at that.

I did not completely understand what was about to happen to me. Neither did I want to understand that because it was tough to handle that thought. I kept wondering what my children were doing. The only person from my family I met before being wheeled into the operation theater was my husband. I did not want all of them to go through the trauma once again. I wondered how my parents and siblings must be handling this situation now.

Things just moved in fast forward mode once I was on the surgical table. My doctor talked to me one last time and asked me, “You understand the surgical procedure, right? Are you confident going ahead with this?” I am not sure whether he was giving me a choice of backing off or ensuring I am comfortable. I asked, “I am OK, how about you sir?” He laughed out loud at this and answered, “Honestly, I am a bit nervous. This is the first time I have taken all the independent decisions and gone ahead with the surgery outside the oncology hospital on my own. I am going to do my best”. By then the anesthesiologist was ready and he put a mask on my face. It was funny that I had expected them to give me a shot to make me unconscious. He informed me that as I breathe, I will slowly lose my consciousness. “Just relax and breathe,” he said. I worried about what would happen if I woke up during surgery. I am not sure my thoughts were even completed before anesthesia took over my consciousness.

The next thing I heard was the voice of my doctor, calling me out. “Farida, Farida, can you hear me?” He seemed to be in a deep well and called me from there. I was very much confused as to why the person who was supposed to do my surgery in a few minutes was calling me from somewhere far off. I wanted to see, but I couldn’t open my eyes. The lids were glued together. I found my voice though and said, “Where am I?” or “Where are you?” I am not sure which one. Then slowly I opened my eyes and found my doctor tapping my cheeks. That was confusing for some time before I realized that I was on the bed in the ward and he was trying to wake me up from sleep. I tried getting up, but he said, “No, please don’t move yet. I want you to wake up since it is already evening. How do you feel?” Slowly the dull ache on my chest informed me that the surgery was over. I was waking up from the anesthesia. I could see my dad and my husband in the background. I had some kind of emotion surging through me, but I cannot tell what it was. It was a one time feeling I had and I have no name for it.

Survived the Day to talk about it years later to create awareness.


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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