Thursday, July 28, 2011

Confusions Conflicts and Choices.

                                     In loving memories of Lois Stanford

Many times we are presented with two or more options, which are equally tempting, and made to choose one of them. This gives rise to confusion and conflicts; strong enough at times to make us feel, that it would have been good if we did not have those options in the first place to choose from at all. Every year I come across few of these conflicting options, I make my choices and often stand by them. There have been times when I have regretted my choice after few days and there have been the times when I have felt proud of making the right choice.
One of these situations came to me when I had to make the choice of traveling to USA to meet my breast cancer survivor friends (more like sisters of heart) there. Tickets were expensive and it had other costs too. On the other side stood my house, which was leaky and old, pleading piteously for repairs. I had around 2,00,000 rupees at my disposal to either repair my house or go and visit my BC survivor friends in USA.
I had been a part of the support group in general and special group which was like a close knit family among the BC survivors called ladybirds, which is close to my heart. My constant visit to the support board with quite some open sharing of thoughts about surviving breast cancer in particular and personal life in general had created very close friendship for me with people, who were mostly from USA. Few of them were from Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia. These people who I had never met, for some amazing reason were like a family to me, a bond which I could never build with people I have met regularly. My friend Paula used to webcam quite often with my kids and they adored her for all her wisdom she shared, as much as the silly antics she did to entertain them. The thought of personally meeting her thrilled them both to no end, but usually they rubbished it away as an impossible dream.
It was tempting to travel for the first time outside India with my kids, as USA was a dreamland for Rayyan, and there was Disney World beckoning us. But then the dream would not last long. I will have to wake up and come back to my home which will take some more time for repairs, and living would be tough under that roof until then. I was in great confusion.  I took me three days to decide that, ‘I will go ahead with my children to USA and meet as many friends there. While the house can wait, crying out as piteously as it is possible for a house to cry’.
The dream of the whole project was planted by Paula, and consequently we were supposed to stay with her in Springhill Florida. I planned it out for 4 months. It was amazing funny time for us living in USA and being exposed to the ways of Americans. I am sure that if I had gone there independently, then there was no way I could feel the real life of people, as I did by staying with Paula. Few of the ladybirds (our support group members) helped out Paula to host us.
 If I try to write about the four months we spent in USA it will not end up as a blog post but will end up as an e-book… it was fun filled adventure every day during which we met many ladybirds and other friends in USA including my mom’s best friend Heidi King.  
I had to come back to my home after living in a dream for the longest time of nearly 5 months. The house looked dangerous and very uncomfortable, but my kids had that smile on their faces which made me feel I had taken the right decision. 3 years have gone by since our US tour and my house still waits to be repaired. It is tough to manage Farheena in a place where she has to struggle to get her daily chores done. It leaks at places causing slippery floors and the famous fire in the pan accident. But, even to this day I do not regret that choice which many people consider was a silly fancy of mine. That is just because, not everyone understands the close bond I share with my sisters there. I am so glad that I personally met many of them, though some had to cancel their plans due to unavoidable circumstances. I know I was right in making my decision because I can never personally meet and hug Paula, Diane.C, Diane, and Lois anymore. I cannot help them wear those flashy Indian saris for the fun of freaking sari party of Springhill. They have made their final journey after fighting tooth and nail with the demon cancer. I am glad I made my journey to meet them before they undertook their no return one.
Farheena has never been the same after meeting her friends in USA. She is full of hope and happiness and loves to chat with them. One of the biggest inspirations for Farheena has been Lois, with whom Farheena developed an instant bond. Lois understood Farheena and she knew the exact tricks that made it click for her. She held her hand all the while, when she spoke to her. She was one of the bravest and strongest person I have seen, fighting a very tough battle with cancer and carrying on as though nothing is going to shake her. Finally after 10 yrs she laid down her arms and ended the battle on July 22, 2011. I have decided not to tell Farheena the truth about Lois yet because she was very sad and kind of shattered when I told her that her friend Lois is in hospital. I have always been honest with my kids. One of the first promises I made to myself when I held Rayyan for the first time was, to always be honest to him and the same applied to Farheena. I am suffocating with great feeling of guilt at keeping her in dark, but her little heart need not suffer the pain so soon again after the trauma she went through with losing her dear ‘Hi-Bye’ aunty. That was Farheena’s version of name for Paula who came on the webcam with a big ‘Hi’ and left with a ‘bye’. I am going to allow Lois to live in Farheena’s virtual world which was created with my conflicting choice three years ago.

Finally today I have decided to discard the conflict and never think of it again, as I am absolutely sure that I made the right choice. I would give up a lot more to have one more meeting with my dear sisters of heart.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Maths and God

I love Maths.Yes, the one which deals with numbers, symbols etc. I know many of you must be already writing me off and giving up from further reading some stupid article, written by a weird person who says she loves maths.
I have never received a nice warm response to the words “I love maths” ever in my life. Most of the people give me a weird look and call me crazy.
At the other extreme is another expression which always brings me exactly the opposite response of what I get for “I love maths”. Off course, you have guessed what the other sentence is – “I love God”. No one has ever called me freak, weird or any such names for saying that particular sentence. Though, that particular sentence could be indicator to my prejudices and underlying hatred towards those people who love God in a different way.
Today,I decided to sit down and strictly give a thought to, ‘what is the difference between Maths and God’.  This article was triggered off by a person who saw me working with a maths puzzle and said, “Why are you spending your precious time on working out a stupid puzzle? Instead, sing praises of God, which will take you to heavens”. HAH!
 I know that spirituality is important for every person. As for the famous sentence ‘Love of God’, I am not very sure about it. If we read history carefully, anyone can see that the ‘Love of God’ has brought in more violence into our world; dividing people, multiplying superstitions, creating hatred, communal riots, executions, in addition to wars like crusades which claimed thousands of lives.
 As for Maths, we cannot contribute any single act of violence committed by mathematicians just because someone loved different branch of maths, or even against those who say they hate maths. We don’t see people who love algebra fighting or ganging up on people who love geometry.
Let me see, how many of differences I can point out between God and Maths?
Maths is the least confusing thought process I have come across in my life. Those who are confused by maths have not studied it well. It is constant, and never changes. Addition, multiplication or any maths function will be same no matter which part of globe you are in.
God is confusing. No one knows for sure whether he is kind, harsh or outright cruel. The description of ‘hell’ makes me wonder whether he surpasses every cruel dictator to inhibit the earth or what? Then there is the description of him being there for us with heart full of mercy too. The mode of worshipping God changes in every nook and corner of a street.
The deeper you study maths the easier and clearer it becomes. With more and more practice you will be assured you are doing the right thing
The deeper you study God, the more you will be confused and he becomes hazier (I am not talking about the spiritual connection some people develop with God). With more and more practice you feel you are less accurate in your prayers than ever before.
No mathematicians have gone fanatic and attacked somebody who does not work out the sums they work on or for solving a problem in a different way.
Most of the religionists go fanatic with their beliefs and faiths. Always argue the way they pray or worship is the only right way, and most of the times it leads to violence when people worship or pray in a different way. Even if the God they worship is the same deity; even a slight different method in worshiping him can divide people.
Maths drives people into silence. I am yet to see a mathematician who goes about his/her work by chanting formulas, beating drums, or blasting firecrackers to commemorate birth of Euler.
I feel it is wise to keep mum on the subject of how God has been responsible for sound pollution, and mind you, I am not talking about lightning and thunders.
At times people argue that religion is important for building moral character and giving guidance to walk on the right path. Huh???  I consider this the biggest bluff man has invented, even surpassing the one which says “Man is the best creation of God”.  We have been told about the character building religions so often that we take it for granted and never question it. But, if we do, the answer is quite horrifying.  In a country like India, where people from all religions co-exist, there have been tough times which have led to communal riots. Those who did not follow any religion have been spared of being conductors of the cruelties undertaken in the name of religious differences, though, same cannot be said about their being targets.  Even those people who adored children and respected elders have resorted to killing them mercilessly. Rape, murder, looting, torture and every other crime under the sun takes place when communally driven people get into rage.  All for what?  Some kind of religious prejudice?  Is it really worth the cruelty? Remove the religious tag, and astonishingly you will find there is no difference in those people. But like the famous ‘Who will bell the cat?’ the questions of ‘Who will remove the tag?’ remains unanswered. Can you at least escape being tagged? There no way out there either.
As I say religion and God have been exact opposite of mathematics.  If a mathematician marries and has a child, the child will have a choice to be a writer, an actor or even a politician. Nothing bounds him/her to become mathematician other than his/her own interest. 
When it comes to religion though, there is no way out. If a man following religion ‘A’ marries and has a child, automatically the child is tagged to be from religion ‘A’. How unfair is this? Your school, passport and even admissions into hospital will force you to acknowledge this again and again. There is no choice. There is no escape.
The list would continue endlessly …. I need to stop and get back to my puzzle. I love maths. I don’t force you to work on maths puzzles and problems. Take the clue people! Stop pestering me for those prayers, facebook religious page likes, religious fwd mails and whatever you think is right. I think I should come up with No smoking kind of board for ‘HOLY’ nags.
One of my favorite quotes:
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
- Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Response of Cancer Survivors to my Previous Blog Post.

The Response of Cancer Survivors to my Previous Blog Post, goes on to prove that, it has not made many of the survivors happy which means I am not the only one who feels that way.

Thank you friends for sharing your thoughts.

I completely agree with you, and really have nothing more to add.. honestly.
well said. I too have other things on my mind at any given moment than cancer, and don't need a viral message to express that.
Plus, I get weary and pissy at anything that TELLS me to forward this, post that. blah blah..

Deb White

I think the one that got me was the "go braless" for a day for breast cancer support. Really?? Like that's going to help ME, no breasts, lost them both. I hear you LOUD and clear, Farida, and I know people want to show their support in some way, but I have to totally agree with something you said. Instead of wasting their energy on something that truly doesn't help anyone but themself, drive a woman to treatments, clean her house, mow her yard, heck, scrub her toilet for her. Or get educated and help raise funds to kick cancer's a**! Great post! Thanks once again for your wonderful insight on an issue that has been bugging me for months! I absolutely hate things that are supposed to make you feel guilty if you don't pass it along or post it yourself, whether it be for cancer or any other subject matter. Guilt is my pet peeve, I don't like that game.
Love, Vernie

I actually did not agree that it meant that we don't want the things that other people want. I took it to mean that people are fixated on material things and to take some time to think about others that have to deal with life/ death decisions, not which phone to get. I think people jump on the bandwagon with these token messages and braless days thinking it will help us in some way. Maybe it makes people think twice who complain they bought the wrong kind of phone and petty thing like that.. Who knows. I like Vernie's suggestion that if they want to help , there are plenty of ways to do it , not to just give it lip service.
Beijos , xxxx's in Portuguese.

Agree with you on all points. I often see those posts and wonder how it is supposed to help me. Greedy me would like a new car and a holiday would be great but I can't have everything, secondary cancer will have to be enough. Oh I just read lose weight bit, I want that one too as I'm sure the extra 20+ kilos I've gained on chemo is doing wonders for my fragile skeleton..I want everything lol
I never forward any of those things...a stupid waste of time in my opinion..also I don't like the whole "PINK" campaigne. My cancer was so personal for me, I seldom talk about it and there are still people who don't know about my diagnosis and its been almost 11 years. I donate on a regular basis to my local cancer action..thats it..Have a good survivor day Ladies....Marilu

kudos to you Farida I agree with what you said and one of my big peeves is where is all the money that has been raised that is suppose to help find a cure. When I had my guide wire put in for my operation I walked around with a Styrofoam cup over the wire and taped to my breast for over an hour before surgery they couldn't come up with a better system than that with all the billions of dollars My donation is simple these days visit hospice do some baking read for someone who isn't able or just sit and talk Love and Light to all

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let Life be Your Focus. Not Survival.

Farida Rizwan:

This message has been doing rounds on facebook for some time now.
"Stupid cancer... we all wish to have a new lose weight...a person who has cancer only wants one fight their cancer...I know that 97% of you guys won't put this on your wall...but 3% of my friends will....Put it on your wall in honor of someone who died from cancer or who's fighting against it now".
“What a lie?” I exclaimed but let it be. It came back to me, twice in the morning, once in the afternoon and again twice in evening. Then it got on my nerves. I had to shout ‘STOP’.
Like every other thing happening on facebook, once something picks up fancy of facebookers’, it keeps coming back to you. We earlier had women posting about their bra colors without telling the men about it; it was meant to support cancer. Yeah! I know that. Making men wonder what is about the color women are talking about is really going to save women from having breast cancer and dying of it. Then another wave hit, which was about the purse. ‘Where do you usually like keeping your purse?’ or something like that, again with men being kept in secret. Women posted messages like, “I like it on bed”, “I like it on table” etc. It was fun, with men wondering what the women liked on bed, sofa, table and many such places. Naturally it helped many women from getting cancer and dying of it. These services are what we need to help those going through cancer! (Don’t take it seriously people; it is filled to the brim with sarcasm)
Not only having to fight cancer, but watch helplessly as loved ones lost their lives to it, I have been feeling very strongly about this issue. Cancer is no fun. It takes away so much from a person. If you really want to do something, go out there and really do some service to people who are going through cancer. Clean up their homes, cook for their kids or do a bit of shopping for them.
Playing secret games are not going to help those going through cancer in any way. It has not helped me in any way.
Where the message tells us that cancer survivor does not want to have car, new phone or something like that , I laughed out loud. Honestly, being a cancer survivor and being constantly in touch with many more survivors, I know this is not true. I don't want to surrender my life to cancer and live with the sole purpose of fighting and surviving it. I know that I want to study, work, be myself, enjoy my life, and, I would be more than glad to own a car, buy a smartphone or lose some weight. I love my kids and want to be there for them. I had to give up on my standard quality of life to survive cancer but I did it grudgingly as my children were my priority. But, just because I have been through cancer doesn't make me any different from rest of the people out there, other than the natural differences we possess. I have all those wants like any of you according to my individuality. I don't mean to hurt anyone's feeling by saying this, as I know you meant support for us ... Just want to let you know the message is misleading. Cancer is a serious condition to deal with. Until one has been there, there is no way to understand how a survivor feels.
Judy Friedkin:
• I guess that the people who put it on their wall are well -intentioned. I remember feeling that way once. I was in the swimming pool and a very superficial woman who has never worked in her life and only talks about what new material thing she has gotten, was talking about whether she should get the necklace with this size diamond or that. She was fretting over it, while telling me about it. I felt like saying ,"Gee, I am trying to decide between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I think that might be the intention of the status update. But I get where you are coming from.
Duffy Mathias:
• I think there should also be something in there about.... Although we know that a positive attitude is always a good thing for every human being to have - not just cancer patients and survivors - we do NOT like being told by people who've never had cancer that we need to have a positive attitude.
If you haven't walked in our particular shoes, please don't assume you know what we should think or feel. And please, for God's sake, don't tell us horror stories about what other people have gone through with cancer and how horrible their deaths were. That. Is. NOT. Helpful. Not to our mental and emotional state. What in God's name are those people thinking when they do that?!?
(My Mom told me just this morning that she admires my positive attitude because she knows how important that is in order to stay healthy. I told her I absolutely agree - to an extent. I try hard to not let cancer be my focus in life.... I try hard to make LIVING be my focus in life.... But no-one should tell me it's necessary for me to always be happy and/or positive, because sometimes I'm not and I cannot be. When I'm depressed, leave me be, because I'll come out of it eventually. And in the meantime, don't even think about lecturing me on the importance of staying positive unless you, too, have been told you have 3 to 5 years before they expect it to show up on your organs. Which I was told two years ago. So please don't presume to know how I should feel, and please don't preach to me in any way.)
Those who have real experience with cancer are welcome to share your thoughts on this topic.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Dawn

Morning is a miracle which wipes out darkness and colors the world to makes it shine. Ever since my childhood, I have enjoyed watching the darkness slowly giving way to light. When I am into bad times, I know it is a passing phase and dawn is waiting around the corner…Early morning, filled with cool fresh air and sound of chirping birds is one of the most beautiful creations of God. If you have been missing it, wake up early tomorrow morning and just watch the sunrise…

I am sharing with you a poem written by me when I was in high school.


Lady Morn’ decided to wake up

From east dawn opened the gate

All the stars vanished from the blue cup

Fearing that, they would be late.

Darkness was wiped off world’s face

As dawn flooded in light

She walked now at a hurried pace

To make everything look new and bright

On leaves and flowers shine

Pretty lovely droplets of dew

Landed from sky; yet so fine

Not broken, nor they have any bruise

From trees songs we can hear

Songs of birds leaving their beds

The time for the arrival of Sun had come near

He showed his face blushed red

On the clouds the Sun poured

Golden water with care and love

With golden hue now covered

Happily the clouds welcomed him above

In sunlight smiled the earth

Flowers, trees, hills and also sand

It was as though dawn had given birth

To a new lovely fairyland.

By: Farida Rizwan.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Daughter's 16th Birthday.

Happy 16th Birthday Dear Daughter

My lovely daughter celebrated her 16th birthday

This is a belated post of a belated birthday of my daughter. Farheena was born on 11th May 1995. She is not satisfied with having her birthday fall in between the summer holidays, as she loses the fun of celebrating it with her friends and teachers. Often, she makes me assume it is her birthday sometime in November or December and has a party in school. At times she comes up with, ‘Let us celebrate my birthday’ at home too. Her innocence is a blessing in my life; it is no big deal if I have celebrated her birth more than once in a year.
Year 2011 was different though. On May 11th, Farheena did not want her birthday party. I was busy with my studies and she must have guessed that exam time is not right for party. So she came up with the idea that she is going to have a party with her family (uncle, aunts and cousins) in Bangalore. So off we went to Bangalore to meet her uncle, who was in India on holidays. I had to get admission for Rayyan in Arena Animation along with meeting my brother after a year. So it was not a problem having a party for Farheena in Bangalore on 25th May. It was a great party with pizza, cake and other foodies. Farheena had a tiny complaint that everyone forgot to get her a birthday present. LOL. I made a dress for her- a usual routine for her birthdays. She loves it. So there goes the girl celebrating her sweet 16h Birthday.
I Love you my child.
My daughter's 15th Birthday

My daughter's 14th Birthday Blog

Birthday girl....


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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