Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lessons in Humility from a 22 year old Cancer Patient

From the times I've started visiting the monastery I am seeing a change in me. The anger has gone for a toss so has that ear to ear smile come back. I am getting to loving myself more, for no rhyme or reason. The brickbats against my brown skin colour or ugly face or failures or single status don't catchy my fancy anymore. I am learning both to forgive as well forget. Sometimes when none of these virtues weigh in worth I try staying aloof. Until last year all this never had a place in my life. My blood boiled at anything that others said against me and to be honest I've lost count of the number of times I've put behind friendships to stay sane. And then one day lightening struck me, it seems. I decided to be an accomplice to mom's monthly pilgrimage to the monastery for a midnight mass. Initially I fell on deaf ears when mom instructed me to go over with her. After the first two visits, I started playing the hooky. It wasn't holding my attention for I was ignorant towards the bliss I would taste, in a future unseen. Then slowly I became prayerful and patient. Not that any kind of propaganda that religion wanted to play on me for being a woman was finding favour. I was becoming a better human by the day, and it was an observation that I couldn't give a miss. Mom attributed it to more of meditation and lately that thought started rubbing off on me. I promised to myself to be a visitor to the monastery for the first Saturday midnight mass, from thence. 

Since then there hasn't been a Saturday that I have skipped. I love meeting the people who come there, irrespective of the caste, colour or creed, some to get rid of ailments and many others to rub off their blues. No one blows their trumpet and it's just one of the few places in the world where equality isn't a myth. On earlier occasions, have met people with strange and dreaded diseases but yesterday had an opportunity to meet a twenty two year old cancer patient. 
He belonged to a Bengali Hindu family for his mom could be seen wearing the red and white bangles that bengali women wear. The very sight of him made my blood curdle. He was bald and had a big white plaster firmly pasted to his left hand. By then I was getting a wind of him. I was feeling choked and at the same time compassionate towards this creature of God with who was the victim of fate's dirty tricks. For once I've lost count of the number of times I have prayed for myself. Perhaps I do it every day and many times in a day. But this time I decided to do it differently. I decided to pray for him through the night.

Since the prayers draw a close by the dawn, we are allowed a twenty minutes coffee break by two am. That's when this conversation happened snippets of which I remember vividly and am writing down here.

Me: "So it's the first time you came here?

Him: "Yes, a friend brought us. You come regularly?"
Me: "Yes, I try to come every first saturday."
Him: "Any major issues in life?"
Me: "Not really, I am digging for peace."
Him: "Peace is precious. We came searching for the same,as well as to get cured, as you might have known by now."
Me: " Yes I am sorry."
Him: "Don't be. I think I brought it on myself."
Me:" Oh why do you say that?"
Him:" We once had a lot of money and that made me proud. Then I became the zonal champion in basketball, that made me boastful, then we went on to become national champions and my feet were not on the ground. Once all of a sudden, life changed and I was detected with leukemia."
Me:" I am sorry, don't know what to say. I agree I haven't liked those peacocks strutting their feathers either. But that is how we humans are. We all are the peacocks who never get tired of dancing, never on a rainy day but always when the sun shines brightly on us.
Him:" You just used an idiom. Seems you read a lot?"
Me:" Yes that keeps me sane. So does writing and occasionally cribbing on my posts."
Him:"So do you think I'll get cured?"
Me:" I can't say that, since I am no God. But I can assure you that I'll pray for you."
Him:" Thank you! Thanks a ton. But has someone consigned you to pray for others?"
Me:" Not really. I like doing it. I know how to pray. I guess I do. And I can use some of the time I pray to intercede for others."
Him:" What does intercede mean?"
Me: "You can say act a mediator between you and God."
Him:" That's wonderful! You seem to be religious."
Me:"Ney, I am a God believer, Christ believer. Not religious but spiritual."
Him:" Do your promise to do that? Please."
Me:" Yes that a lady's promise!"
Him:" Thank you so much. It's not always that strangers strike a chord with me. You are a wonderful person."
Me:" Nuh! I am not wonderful! I am evil in my own sight. I come here to let that wear off me."
Him:" Are you suffering from a disease?"
Me:" Yes, haughty pride and anger. I am seeking treatment here."
Him:"Lol! You're funny! I want to live. And live long. Will I?"
Me:"Seriously! Yes surely you will. Will you promise to say a few prayers I send you through e-mail? If you're willing to share you e-mail id with me, I would be glad to send you a few prayers."
Him:" Yes yes sure" 
He fished into his mom's purse for a piece of paper and pen while she was away to fetch coffee for herself. Having quickly scribbled his e-mail, he hands down the paper to me.
Me:" Thank you. I am happy that you trusted me with it." 
Suddenly I happened to teethe into a smile. 
Him:"I hope I get rid of cancer soon."
Me:" I hope so too. Although I can't say when you will. But if you pray with faith yes surely some day you will. That doesn't mean you got to convert to Christianity. Just pray with unfailing faith."
Him:" Thank you for that vote of confidence." 
With a simper wavering on his face, his mom comes over. And the instructions to get back for the mass blare out of loudpseakers. 
Everything was all and sundry from then. A lull of peace that I was hunting for, made way.

In these times people don't get tired of singing their own praises, and with social networking spreading its catch far and wide, it has only added salt to this injury. Sometimes the sole reason for my anger is a snob tooting around his or her horns, flaunting their beauty, educational qualifications, money, talents and what not.  How has all this made them a better person I wonder! And how has fluttering it on social networking sites helped them?

For people like this guy, living to see tomorrow's sun is an achievement! And these are the simple things in life we never are thankful for. 
Although what makes me guilty as a thief is,some time in my life I was just another snob on the block, thinking highly of myself and no one else. I was a cold shouldered prig  who never got tired of preening. Atleast for now, I am glad that I am taking my lessons in humility very seriously! 


Chetan yamger said...

really nice blog mam...deep thought.please keep writing

rinzu rajan said...

Thank you so much Chetan. And please do not address me as "madam". I ain't a celebrity! :)