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Category Archives: inspiration

The stream of love


All we need is a spark of imagination
That’ll fan into a raging flame
That devours the devils of hate
Who struggle intently our hearts to maim .

All we need to soothe our souls will be
The remembrance of a shared melody
To reclaim that timeless song of love
From the surrounding cacophony.

All we need are some sprightly showers
Of bubbling smiles and outstretched hands
That awaken springs deep down below
And make gurgling streams in the desert sands

http://palestine.trendolizer.com/2016/10/sbs-news-thousands-of-israeli-and-palestinian-women-have-spent.html

 
 

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Mind, heart and the Matrix.


This is such a compelling video.

Gregg Bradden gives us all the reasons why we need to stay away from the calls to align ourselves with one group or another and continue perceiving the “other” as separate from us and hence to be handled with mistrust in the least and hatred at the worst and instead dwell on our positive positve emotions that want the world to be a better place.

Because only we can make it happen.

Here are some excerpts from the video.

“For the past 300 years, our science has been based on tow false assumptions.
T he first is that everyone is separate from everyone else. What is happening in one place has no effect on what happens anywhere else and if it looks like it, it is only a coincidnece.
The second false assumption is that our inner experiences –thoughts, emotions, feelings and beliefs have no effect beyond our bodies.”

“Studies now prove that it is human emotions, specifically the magnetic fileds produced by the human heart during certain kinds of emotions, that now our darkness is extending far beyond our bodies into the physical world and now to such a degree that there are satellites, hundreds of miles away from the surface of the earth are able to pick those up”

“When a certain number of people come together and they choose at a moment of time to create a precise emotion in their hearts, that emotion can literally influence the very fields that sustain the life on planet earth.”

“What makes this beautiful is that every human on this planet is linked to the magnetic field, but not every human on the planet has to be consciously aware of the relationship to benefit what a few number of people can come to understand .”

“The bottom-line is this….when we choose to feel feelings that create what is called coherence in our bodies..coherence is that quality of the language between our hearts and our brains, certain kinds of heart-based experiences such as appreciation,gratitude, forgiveness care, compassion…those are the ancient understandings that have always been taught in the truest traditions of our past and now science is finding that those same traditions are now documenting this real effect in our hearts. When we can feel those feelings in our bodies , they are mirrored in the field in which everybody benefits from the experiences of a few.”

“The world around us..our own science is now telling us that there is a field of energy underlying all physical reality. It is known now by names that range from simply the field, some people call it Nature’s mind, some scientists call it the mind of God, some call it the Matrix, the divine matrix and so on”.

What we’re now beginning toi understand is that when we create the felling of what we choose to experience in our lives , everything from conscious choices, the perfect relationship, abundance in our lives,healing in our bodies , healing in the bodies of our loved ones, those feelings are creating the patterns of magnetic fields in our hearts that are literally re-arranging the stuff of this quantum soup, this quantum essence, allowing the pattern of what we manifest in the world around us. It is less about attracting from the scientific perspective and more about consciously creating the template within us knowing that the stuff of the universe will congeal around the template in the world around us to simply mirror-reflect what we have claimed.

In other words, a very simple way of looking at this and you’ve probably heard this before, is that we must become in our lives, the very things that we choose to experience in our world”.

-Gregg Bradden

 

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The Jaipur Foot


Sometimes the conversations I have with my grandson are long weilding spins into fantasy land populated by elves and fairies and goblins and giants. Sometimes,( mostly when he is on his potty seat) they veer towards manufacturing details of various things beginning with the washbasin or the wooden door or the mirror and extending to whatever it is that pops into his mind. It’s fun introducing him to the concepts of using moulds using the example of the moulds of his play doh set or how sand castles are made.

Sometimes we talk about more serious stuff. I don;t really recall how we got talking about accidents and how people can lose their limbs. I think it was while watching the construction going on next to our house. ‘Then how will they walk?”, he asked with a long face. It was then that I remembered the “Jaipur foot”. Zo has been hooked to the You Tube videos of this remarkable invention, for the past couple of days.

Truly, it is an amazing story of empathy , of a celebration of goodness of how compassion can win over business instincts.
“it is not charity. It is help….helping the people who need it”, says Shri D.R.Mehta, founder of the Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahyata Samiti, which non-profit organisation has been providing the prosthetic leg and foot to thousands of people in all age groups, free of cost.

The idea of the Jaipur Foot was conceived by Ram Chander Sharma under the guidance of Dr. P.K. Sethi, who was then the head of the Department of Orthopedics at Sawai ManSingh Medical College in Jaipur, India, says the Wikipedia.

Watch this video . You’ll be impressed.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2016 in inspiration

 

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Yes , there lived such a man .


 

A sea of souls  singing a song of love

A man standing tall and unbent

Words  dug out from a treasure trove

Of a life lived bravely and with little  regret.

 

 

Creases like verses etched on a face

In solitude,  within prison gates

Eyes that shone with the quiet grace

Of a  knowing  wisdom  that conquered   hate.

 

A  legend  of forgiveness that survived the test

A beacon of light that dispels the dark

A trail of ink of humanity’s  best

That leaves  behind an indelible mark

 

Yes, he was the captain of his soul.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2015 in inspiration, Uncategorized

 

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Kandal Pokkudan’s legacy of love


“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.”

That was a quote from Wangari Maathai , the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner , who founded the Green Belt Movement, and who devoted the major part of her life for environmental concerns and planted and motivated others to plant thousands and thousand of trees.

She died on 25th September 2011, leaving behind her a legacy of her love for Mother Earth.

Now, four years later , another such lover has passed away and the mangrove forest in Kannur district which he nurtured and help grow and flourish, must surely be sighing through their dense green darkness. May be many of the first 300 seeds that he planted way back in 1989 are still standing there, bent and gnarled. May be they would have many a tale to tell , if we only had ears to listen.

kandal

Kallen Pokkudan belonged to the Pulaya community of Kannur District. Way below in the social heirarchy, Pokkudan had never gone to school. He had joined the communist party and after many years of allegiance, had left it. Planting mangrove trees along the Pazhayangadi River became his passionate mission thereafter.
kandal-2

David Briggs who acted in the malayalam film Papillon Buddha , directed by Jayan K. Cheriyan , had this to say about his interactions with Pokkudan, who also played the role of a tribal chief in the film,

My Papilio Buddha experience with Kallen Pokkudan
By David Briggs
In 2011 I had the honor and privilege to play a featured role in Jayan Cherian’s powerfulfilm, Papilio Buddha. I had met Jayan as a student of mine in the Graduate Film Program of the City College of New York, where I teach Sound Design for Filmmakers. I knew him to be a great mind and talent, and he had told me about his plans for this exciting feature film project, so when he asked me last year to play the role of a gay lepidopterist in the film, I was thrilled.
As a middle-aged American who had resigned himself to never having the opportunity to visit India, I leapt at the opportunity. I arrived in India knowing only the basic outline of the story and the general concept for my character (I also knew that at some point I’d have to get half-naked in the rain forests of Kerala!). At the very first rehearsal, Jayan assembled the entire cast of principal characters together; all were experienced actors, with one notable exception: Kallen Pokkudan. Jayan introduced him to me and told me his remarkable story, and though our language barrier made it impossible to communicate with one another directly, I was immediately struck by his magnetic presence. As rehearsal got underway, Jayan directed Pokkudan to speak to us all in character, as the spiritual patriarch and leader of the Dalit community in the film’s story. As he spoke improvisationally, my own personal acting challenge became immediately apparent to me: I would have to be as natural, as simple, as honest, as AUTHENTIC as I could possibly be in my performance. For as an actor, Pokkudan was that rare thing: a total natural. As I would soon discover once we started shooting, he was someone who has that rare and much-envied ability to be fully, simply, authentically and truthfully himself in every moment before the camera. He simply appears to be living his life in front of the camera, not “acting,” which is the goal of every good film actor.
In one scene I had with him, he speaks at length to my character, who of course can’t understand a word he’s saying. But Kallen is so magnetic and compelling that all I had to do was sit and listen; though I did not understand the content of what he was saying, I was mesmerized and swept away by the total conviction with which he spoke. And while I sometimes found myself challenged by some of the shooting conditions (grueling locations, long days, difficult weather, leeches!), Kallen never seemed to tire or complain, even at one point in spite of severe illness. I had nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for him as both a person and a performer. His story of lifelong activism and his contribution to Jayan Cherian’s brave cinematic achievement are to be applauded. In my mind, both he and Jayan strike me as being two of the most patriotic people I’ve ever had the honor to know.”

Some great souls , instead of harboring rancour and vengeance for the injustices meted out to them by society, go on to pay back to the community with their labour and love. Pokkudan was such a man.
Bowing my head with profound respect.

http://www.harmonyindia.org/hportal/VirtualPageView.jsp?page_id=18695

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Community, environment, inspiration

 

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Manjhi, the Mountain Man-hindi film


The_Man

“Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain ”

Nobody could have portrayed the madness of Dasarath Manjhi better than Nawazuddin Siddiqui. That’s what one felt as the film directed by Ketan Mehta ended.

To single-handedly break through a mountain with only a hammer and a long chisel and flatten it out to carve a 360 feet long road to remove the impasse that the villagers in Gehlour (near Gaya, Bihar) countered and to do it through a kind of insane obsession urged by the love he had for his wife who met with an accident while trying to manouvre herself through a narrow gap between the rocks , while carrying food and water to her husband working on the other side of the mountain… all that seems to be the kind of stuff myths are made up of. But this Alpha male was for real!!

He had laboured on for 22 long years and had died at the age of 73, his entire youth and energy having been dedicated to the road , now named after him. Nothing much has actually changed in that hamlet despite Manjhi’s story having found it’s way to mainstream media and in spite of it having caught the attention of the Government. The moosahari (so called because they ate rats) tribe stands somewhere quite low in the social heirarchy in Bihar and what is shown to have been meted out to them for generations cannot be too much of an exaggerated depiction. Reports say that there is a hospital there now on the land that was donated to Manjhi by the government. But the family of Dasarath Manjhi and his community is still in indigent conditions. And that is a shame!!

The film is powerful, the camera catching the terrain in all it’s formidability and it may yet be the best tribute to Manjhi’s spirit.

In the film, the character playing the journalist Alok Jha , who was responsible for breaking Manjhi’s story to the world outside Gehlour, asks Manjhi about what he felt after having achieved his goal . Manjhi replies that one should not always depend on something being done by God, for who knows God may be depending on you to do that something.

For sure Manjhi left no stone unturned.

Watch the film .

Watch this documentary to catch a glimpse of the real Manjhi

 
 

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“It’s not where you take things from, It’s where you take them to”


The river meandered across the slope
Ferrying down the silt
And sang to each civilization that dwelt
On the fertile plains it built.

The farmer fed the long furrows
With a smattering of seeds
Then tended to the crop he grew
Plucking out the weeds.

The potter scooped a fist of clay
And made it moist and soft
Then gave it shape on the turning wheel
And held it up aloft.

And the skies above witnessed it all
And this conclusion drew
“It’s not where you take things from
It’s where you take them to”.

P.S. The last two lines is a quotation from Jean-Luc Godard, that I read from a status update of a respected Malayalam Film Director, on Facebook.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in inspiration, Poetry

 

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To my Teacher, with love


This is a re-post of an earlier blog I had posted on the occasion of Teacher’s Day, on my old blog Rediff blog. I would like to share it with my new friends on WordPress.

I owe most of what I am , the better part of me that is, to wonderful people like Mother Gabrielle, graced our lives with their affections, guidance and encouragement .

” Where do I begin to tell the story of the love she brought to us? Of how she moulded our characters and of how her spirit and joy for life ignited that tiny spark in our student hearts, that even now lights up our darkest hours? Where do I start?

We had to attend morning assembly everyday and without fail, we had to repeat the pledge “India is my country; all Indians are my brothers and sisters; I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.”

Mother Gabrielle was a European nun belonging to the Order of the Apostolic Carmel, who had chosen to spend her adult life in India and to spread the light of education, in its truest sense. She was one of those who rendered real meaning to the word education.

I can still breathe in the comforting smell of her habit, as she hugged us with a warmth that was as unconditional as it was real. Some of the students , I’ve heard her say, belonged to the second generation who had gone through her hands. The vast majority of students in that christian ,convent school, were hindus. At the end of schooling , they remained as hindu, as at the beginning. The christian students had catechism lessons and the rest of had the moral science period . Even Raman and Manikkam, who cleaned the school toilets, continued to worship God in the manner they were used to. There was never any coercion or conversion.

Most of us , though , loved visiting the small chapel . There was a little grotto outside it, with the statue of Mother Mary holding Baby Jesus in her arms. On days when I travel down memory lane , my mind can still evoke the smell of the fresh flowers which lay scattered around her feet . We prayed to St. Anthony and lit candles before his statue, if we had misplaced something. He was the patron saint, who , it was believed, could trace them back. And Jesus , nailed to the cross , behind the altar, with the crown of thorns , had brought tears to my eyes. I loved the chime of the angelus bell, at noon , which was rung to spread goodwill amongst the people on the earth .

We learnt of forgiveness, of putting the others before oneself, the importance of involvement with society, the need to lend a helping hand, to reach out, to love. We learnt of the beautiful things that dot our everyday lives. We learnt to appreciate music , singing along with her , in the parlour , during the music period, she sitting there on a stool in front of the piano, at the side of which there was a marble bust of Beethoven, her fingers moving over the piano keys, her eyes half closed, thoroughly enjoying the mood. We learnt of sharing , collecting old clothes from time to time , for distribution amongst the poor. The whole school queued up to receive one small jamboo fruit each , every season, which she handed out from a huge gunny sack filled with the pinkish white fruit. None of us found it a matter of amusement. We accepted that act of sharing with all the seriousness in our young lives.

Mother Gabrielle would come to the assembly each day, armed with some nugget drawn from a book she had read, or some conversation she had had with someone, or something she had witnessed. To this day I remember that weaver-birds nest that had fallen off from the tree and which she had brought along to the assembly to teach us about natures marvels.

All of us had to spend fifteen minutes after school, to sweep the floor of our respective classrooms, arrange the desks and benches in straight rows and dust the furniture. The sanitation monitors of the school, gave us marks for that, which was displayed on a notice board every morning, which had the words Cleanliness is next to Godliness , inscribed on it. At the end of the term , the class who scored the highest, got a prize.” A broom in the hands of a young girl is like a sceptre in the hands of a queen”, Mother Gabrielle would quote. For a long time , I didn’t know the meaning of the word sceptre, never bothered to find out. When I did, eventually, I was grown up and then remembering her words , was foolish enough to think ,that that was a downright anti- feminist thing to say, something that sought to justify all the monotonous , tedious jobs being assigned to women. Of course when the cobwebs cleared, I realised that what she meant to emphasize was the dignity of labour . I also became aware of how important it was to “keep ones head on one’s shoulders”, as she would often insist.

There is a scene in that superb Hollywood movie, Mr. Hollands Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss, when several batches of his old students, gather to pay tribute to their music teacher , when he leaves school. Every time , I see it, my eyes grow moist in that scene, where one of his students, tells him,” there is not one life here , you havent touched, we are your notes and your symphony.” I cant remember the exact words, only the feelings that were emoted. Writing this, I know why I was so moved. For me, Mr. Holland was Mother Gabrielle and what I was feeling was unexpressed gratitude.

P.S: My friend Dilip Krishnan (http://myownboswell.rediffiland.com) so kindly sent me the full text of what Mr. Holland’s student said. Here it is:

Thus spoke the Governor of Oregon, a lady, who also was a former student of Mr. Holland. “Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched and each one of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of you opus and we are the music of your life”.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in inspiration, Love

 

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Fractured Realities-Part-4


Jnanpith award winner, M.T.Vasudevan Nair is one of the most eminent figures of Malayalam literature today. Those who have read him get entrenched in his world of nostalgia. He transports you to the times and places he grew up in and his characters seep into your psyche as very identifiable bits of your own self…at least for us old timers. I have no idea how today’s youngsters relate to his wistfulness for another kind of world where human relations are based on loyalty and commitment and more importantly, dollops of love and affection. The angst of his characters as they are caught up in the sweep of the changing times , is something many of us who have grown up in slower and down to earth times , authentically know and vicariously live through them.. Many would brand his writing as sentimental…but what is human existence all about , other than a myriad blend of emotions and sentiments?

One of his most touching characters is from his story “Iruttinte aathmaavu” (Soul of Darkness), that of “ Branthan Velayudan “,. The story was made into a film , as have many of M.T’s other stories and novels , quite a number of which have won awards at the State and National levels. In the film, Velayudhan’s role was played by Prem Nazir, the then reigning king of Malayalam cinema and was perhaps one of his best performances amongst the more than 400 different roles he must have played in his lifetime.

This is the plot of the story as it appears in the Wikipedia:
“Velayudan’s existence poses a problem to all the members of the joint family. Velayudhan is a twenty – year old man, but he has the intelligence of a child. The head of the joint family thinks Velayudan symbolizes the curse which hangs heavy over the house. To his mother he is source of constant sorrow. His uncle’s daughter is his would be bride. He is attached to her. She is very kind to him and refuses to treat him as a mad man. Velayudan triggers problems one after the other and every new lapse help only to put fresh chains. He refuses to feel he is mad. In the end Ammukutty is given away in marriage to an old widower. Velayudhan surrenders himself and yells “Chain me I am mad!”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iruttinte_Athmavu

Will not the “maddest “ of them all respond to care and compassion and medical intervention? M.T.Vasudevan Nair certainly seems to think so. He is one of the Trustees of the Mehac Foundation , a recently formed NGO:

I was in Ernakulam , last week to be with my friend Dr. Chitra and two of my friends from school, Suchitra and Suchitralekha. They are always happy times, for the bonds we share are full of the positive vibes of unconditional friendship , that go back a long way. I was therefore immensely happy to be able to witness first hand, the work Mehac was involved with. Dr.Chitra , as I mentioned in an earlier part of this write-up is its Clinical Director .

What Mehac is doing is to form partnerships with existing bodies at grass roots level and build up a mental health care programme , in which trained volunteers interact with the patients and help them slowly regain their balance and productivity , duly supported by clinical assessment and medication. Unique to any such scheme perhaps is the involvement of the Muhamma Panchayat , who have started a Palliative Centre with available local funds .Together with Mehac , they are slowly building up a team of volunteers, who are responsible for each patient they identify . These volunteers personally observe the improvements or downslide of each of these patients and report them to Chitra on her next weekly visit to the clinic. The volunteer team are also responsible for organising activities that could help them become self sufficient. Coir rope making is one such activity they have started. There is a similar tie-up with Tata Charitable Trust Hospital at Chottanikkara as also with Snehbhavan Visitation Convent at Kalavoor , which I mentioned earlier.

I accompanied Chitra on her home visits in and around Mararikulam. The volunteers this time, were a spirited team from “Sanhati”, an NGO engaged in promoting selfhelp groups and also providing palliative care. This is a coastal belt , where most of the families earn a livelihood through fishing or coir rope making. Poverty is not so grinding in Kerala as in many other states of the country. This section of the society, however, do find it difficult to make ends meet. When the monsoons set in, for example and trolleying boats are prohibited from going into the sea, because of the breeding season, they are left with no daily income and their saving in the previous months , if they do manage to keep by something, is hardly enough to sustain them during these lean months. The Government does provide free ration , but that is about it.

To have a terminally ill family member or one suffering from mental disorders is like having a pus- filled boil on a hunchback, as the saying goes in malayalam. The families that we visited were heart-wrenching examples of this sorry state of affairs.

We also came across these two sisters, both old, the deranged one above eighty perhaps. She was sitting all bunched up on an old mat, in that small dwelling, frail and helpless , not quite understanding what was being asked . It was left to the younger one who had been looking after her for more than forty years to fill in the details. “ She hasn’t taken a bath for many, many days and I have not enough strength left in my hands to lift her up and take her outside , after twisting ropes all day long . And if didn’t do that, all three of us would go hungry. She just sits there all day long. It is such a task even getting to feed her” The third one was the husband , who didn’t do any work. Such debilitating collusion of poverty and illness and yet the woman had a calm demeanor, narrating her story very matter of factly without any dramatic frills of self-pity or complaints.

Another pair of siblings we visited, were in worse circumstances. They too lived in a small dwelling with just one room, a portion of it demarcated as the kitchen. It was filthy and cluttered with a pile of very soiled clothes lying in a corner , bottles and dented aluminium vessels vying for space on the cemented floor, which was almost half covered with a thick layer of sand…”to keep out the cold from the moist floor”,explained the younger sister , who must’ve been in her late fifties. “She finds it difficult to sit with her feet on the cold floor”, she said, pointing out to her older sibling who sat on a rickety cot covered with a moth-eaten blanket .Both the sisters looked sloppy and unkempt, their short ,curly hair liberally streaked with white, hanging in scraggly strands .

The house was in the corner of a huge compound with another, much bigger house at one end of it. “We were all staying together in that house, two brothers and four sisters. Then our father died and this one here lost her senses. And then one brother committed suicide. The other one got married as did the other two sisters”. The sisters were apparently well off . The surviving brother and is wife had got tired of the presence of a cranky sister and had built this room for them . Ill luck seemed to stalk the family at every turn, for the elder brother too died in an accident and his wife remarried and moved on. Chitra mentioned that there may have been a genetic proclivity in the family for depression. The sister who was normal also talked in a way that gave the impression that she too was slightly quirky.

The property therefore now belonged to the four sisters. But the house remained locked up as they were scared to move in there. They had no means of livelihood in spite of having the not so inconsiderable land holding at their disposal. The little money that came their way for food and medication depended on the occasional magnanimity of the tow well off sisters during their rare visits .The volunteers of Sanhati had become their immediate saviours . They brought small portions of rice and lentils for the sisters and ointments and pills for their aches and pains and now Chitra’s visits would ensure continued medication and counselling. She sought the co-operation of the volunteers to clean up the place on one of the following days. The sisters of course were delighted. The elder one even got up and shuffled to the door on her swollen feet to see us off.

Back at the house , which had offered their premises for running a temporary clinic on the days of Chitra’s weekly visits, we had hot tea and roasted seeds of a particular mini-version of the jackfruit called “aanjily chakka”. The wood of this tree was used for making boats, I was told. The small pods inside the fruit had a slightly sour-sweetish taste.

There were a few patients waiting there as well. . One of them, a young female had come from quite a distance with her son. Annie, the spunky volunteer from Sanhati told us that she herself was a victim of acute depression, but it was left to her to look after her brother in-law , who had to be necessarily kept chained till her husband returned from work.

I was exhausted by the end of the two days with the stories of so many lives so full of distress and it’s still hanging like a cloud in my mind. I marvelled at Chitra and her team who would be continuing to make these rounds , week after week.

It was an agonising experience and yet somehow it was filled with a strange kind of energy and hope. Thank you Chitra.

http://www.mehacfoundation.org/

 

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Fractured Realities-Part -1


She kept pacing tirelessly across the room where the inmates had gathered for an activity session. It was as if the regular rhythm of her moving feet helped lull the agitations of her mind. Mother Carolina told us that she would keep spitting all over the place and if rebuked, would promptly clear her throat and go on to repeat the spitting act with obvious defiance. But when she came and sat on the chair in front of Dr. Chitra, she appeared docile and co-operative. She wanted to go home , she kept repeating. Afterwards , she continued with her walking in the verandah and in the activity room, sitting for just a few moments and resuming again. She had complained to Chitra about aching legs without being able to make any cognizance of the association between her constant walking and the pain.

The rest , all twenty three of them, sat on chairs in a wide circle, some drowsy and nodding , some listless with blank stares, others with bent heads, drooping lips and sagging shoulders, as if grief and hopelessness were weighing them down. A few were of course abnormally perky, just waiting to be asked something for them to break into into a ceaseless disjointed narrative .

Mariamma(name changed) had been asked to take on the role of the class teacher during this activity session. With a piece of chalk , she was diligently writing down the names of all those seated there , on a slate. She then instructed them in a very authoritative tone, to say “present “, when she’d call out their names. All of them complied without a word, not once but several times, till the volunteer present there had to kindly but firmly coax her to get on with the class. When he tried suggesting what they should do, she was adamant that he shouldn’t interfere ,as the first hour was her period and she would be taking maths.

Mariamma had been a primary school teacher. Her body language and manner of speaking gave the impression that she must’ve been quite efficient in her job, may be a tard too much of a disciplinarian. For the past twenty years, she hasn’t been what we call “normal”. She has a younger sister who was apparently quite well off. Maraimma wasn’t exactly in indigent circumstances either. But she was not welcome in her sister’s house. So she has been spending her time in one institution or the other.

Here in Snehabhavan in Alapuzha, (Kerala), Mother Carolina, an elderly nun of the Visitation Order and two other much younger Sisters, take care of Mariamma and others like her with all the love and compassion that the most loving parent would extend to their vulnerable little children. It there is improvement in their condition, they are sent back to their relatives, so that others who are more in need of their care can be accommodated in this Home. Most of them are chronic cases of mental illnesses, some who have been under treatment , while some have been just left to themselves with gradual and complete deterioration of their faculties.

I had reached “Snehabhavan” with my friend Dr. Chitra Venkateswaran. Chitra is a psychiatrist who has spent quite some time in the Palliative Care Wing of the Calicut Medical College, tending to terminally ill patients both within the hospital premises and also visiting them at their residences as a part of the Home care programme. Now she is on the faculty of the Amrita Hospital at Ernakulam where she works for three days in a week on a salary . She spends the next two days providing free clinics at several places, counselling and prescribing appropriate medication for mentally ill patients, under the aegis of “Mehac” , a charitable Trust of which she is a Founder Member.

http://www.mehacfoundation.org/

 

The sisters at Snehabhavan brought the patients to her one by one . She talked to them , assessing their behavioural patterns and changing the medication or modifying the dosage. Some of them had been brought to Snehbhavan after many , ,many years of illness.The families had given them up as lost cases , sometimes in sheer helplessness, their indingent circumstances making it impossible for them to seek medical help on a continued basis or buy medicines for the patient , week after week and year after year. Sometimes, where financial well being was not so much of an issue, the family had neglected them out of just plain disgust.

The abnormalities came in all shades of a wide spectrum.According to Dr. Chitra, medication may not be able to completely reverse the conditions of psychosis or scizophrenia or other cases of extreme mental disorders. But they did help to contain the disturbances and keep them calm enough to be able to help them lead a less chaotic day to day life, both for themselves and for the other members of the family , who were responsible for them.

To be continued…

 

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