A Stranger Changed My Life.

Posted on November 16, 2009


Most people know me as a naughty, chirpy, loud, friendly, gregarious person. My close friends often see the sad, seeking, depressed and irritable side of me. In my head, I have always felt constrained. I feel that I can do so much, but somehow don’t seem to get the opportunities. Last few months, I began to feel trapped. In my cynicism, in this city, in my body, in my mind. Everywhere. So much so, I began to feel being with the love of my life would set me free. And when that trapped me, I was like a wild animal raging to set herself free.

I’d make plans and see them fail because I didn’t have the energy to do them. I’d start doing something, and realise how much I didn’t care about it. I had a new idea to beat my boredom everyday, but nothing seemed to work. And then, I met P.

It was a Sunday, a few weeks ago. I met P for the caregivers’ group that I am trying to set up. The meeting went well, we shared experiences about having been caregivers. It was then that she mentioned her cousin, let’s call her Anamika.

Anamika is my age. But she is nothing like me, and probably never can be. She has been diagnosed with ALS. She has lost both her legs already to the disease. But this is not enough. It will get worse. A lot worse.

P told me how it is difficult for Anamika to even get out of the house and eat at a restaurant as people stare at her. She said sometimes they have to yell at waiters and onlookers because they want to see the “sample”. I don’t what it is about other people’s misery that makes us really heartless and callous. It is one thing to be curious to see how “this thing” will function, but just imagine what it must be like for that girl.

To top it all, Anamika had two failed relationships. The first just stopped responding to her calls and emails after the diagnosis and the other one supported her for a while, became her friend and confidante. But just as people began to hope he might want to be her knight in shining armour truly, he went to America and sent her an email saying his family would never ever be able to accept her. Anamika probably has little hope of every finding true love. Sounds terrible? Well, it’s true.

To top it all, she’s a creative, and smart, funny person. But she sits at home and whiles away her time. Trapped. Her soul in her sinking body. Her parents seem to be having a tough time handling the situation. The father wants to sacrifice his life caring for his princess, while the mother wants her to try and be as mobile as possible. Both in their own ways are right. But the tension the clash of attitudes creates, might just be too much for Anamika to bear.

I don’t know what it feels like. I can never imagine. I want to be her friend. But I don’t know how. But I know how I can make her feel better. By changing my attitude towards life. I stopped feeling sorry for myself that day. I stopped wanting love. I stopped wanting to beat the boredom. I stopped wanting to become great overnight. I stopped torturing myself.

I began to take it slow. I started a new blog, the readership of which is now quite large, people quote my co-authors and me and bring us up in conversation as if we were some bestsellers. I did a dramatic reading of a book for a children’s Halloween party. I got hugged by a four-year old who calls me mashi and looks at me with his deep, big eyes with love and reverence. I made 200 children in a municipal school dance and jump for joy on Children’s Day. A classmate from school wrote on her blog how my blogs matter to her. I have connected with another classmate and her family so much, that I almost feel like I am a part of them.

All in all, I took it slow. Very slow. I smile at every person who smiles at me. I spend time alone. I spend time with my friends. I find my restlessness receding each day, each minute. And it makes me whole.

All because I imagine a stranger sitting in a wheelchair telling me to go live the life she may never live. Anamika may never know me, but my life has changed because of her.