As if butter wouldn’t melt…
A picture of innocence. Beautiful big eyes. Gorgeous striations of white and grey. Perfect symmetry. Luxurious fur. Abundant agility.
Instinctively he knows the newest and best piece of furniture in the house. Very soon it belongs to him. If he finds someone else sitting on his chair, he lets them know that he is putting himself through the inconvenience of waiting for them to vacate his seat.
While perfectly capable of using the cat-flap, if we happen to be in the lounge, he expects to be let in by us. He even places his front paws on the French windows, just in-case we hadn’t noticed. I must admit that when we do open the door for him, he always obliges us with his grand entry. As the saying goes, dogs have masters and cat have staff.
One minute he is your best friend and the next he completely ignores you. The next, he goes for your toes as if they were menacing little mice. The next he wants a kiss and a cuddle and the next he claws the very fingers that caress him. Quiet the alpha male, he is often seen bullying other cats in the neighbourhood. In a jiffy he transforms into a cute little fur-ball. He doesn’t like light falling on his eyes and he assumes various shapes to block it out.
After all, cats are humans too.
Everything was fun.
As soon as he could walk with support, leaving home in the buggy for a walk in the evening meant, him pushing the buggy, taking it for a walk. Looking into the mirror, playing hide and seek with himself was fun. Kicking a cotton sheet off him with his frantically moving arms and legs was fun. Wearing big sunglasses and shoes was fun. Playing with toys and words was fun. Crawling, walking, running was fun. Dabbling in different kinds of music was fun. The ‘bandana’ phase was fun. Playing and listening to any kind of percussion was fun.
Going round and round while sitting in one of my mother’s big cooking pots with a convex bottom was fun. On his second birthday, we found him in the balcony with a pot of yogurt, officiously feeding himself and our dog, Caesar, with alternate spoonfuls of the honeyed white stuff. As he grew older, pulling faces was fun. Smurfs and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was fun. The little toy in the occasional Happy Meal at McDonalds was fun. Z-Ball was fun.
Being back here in my parent’s house brings back heart-warming memories of his childhood. He was such good fun!
This is like really hard to like think of like what to write. Some days like I suppose are like that. It’s like totally crazy. Sometimes I wish I was like doing a juice cleanse or doing like some other hippie stuff, like eating kale chips or listening to like Hare Krishna music on a vinyl.
I could like go to Starbucks to get like some inspiration but like I am so upset because like the supermarket ran out of avocados and like my nail lady didn’t have turquoise polish. The coffee at Starbucks is like fake and they like don’t pay tax. So, that’s like totally bad for the whales. I, like don’t want to be like a part of this whole corporate thing.
My therapist has been like super-useful in helping me like think about important things like this. I have decided to become like a pesce-pescetarian. I will only eat fish like that eat other fish. That’s like Buddhism or something. I think that’ll be like good for the planet.
Maybe I could like travel to like help poor people in Papua New Guinea. I don’t think like, they know much about coffee like or Mocha Frappuccino. I could maybe like be useful?
The hospital where we went when he was ill is just down the road from where we live. It is 18 minutes by bus, 10 minutes but car on a quiet day. The Emergency department is on the left. The Mental hospital is on the right. There is a visitor’s car park in front of the Mental hospital. That is where we parked the car. That is where we waited for a couple of hours to be seen by a psychiatrist. That is where I had to make my own way that day because Saagar refused to have me in the car with him and his father. That is where he should have been when he was severely ill a few weeks later. That is where he could have been saved.
That is where I went this afternoon to watch a play called ‘Hearing Things’, a play co-produced by patients and professionals, based on insights derived from 6 weeks of workshops involving actors and people with a mental illness, offering both an opportunity for expression, transformation and co-creation. Through a cast of 3, we met people of different races and age groups. It was about challenging assumptions. It was about the empathy and personalities of patients. It was about ‘the system’ and the dynamics within it, mental well being of health care providers and role-reversal. It was about giving people a chance.
“I am off now to be mad and I don’t have to be sectioned for it”, remarked one of the participants as drama gave him the freedom to be who he is, without fear of judgment. It was about the possibility of being ‘re-assembled’. It was powerful and moving. It did not mince words. I spoke loud and clear. It was accessible, funny, clever and heart-breaking.
One young person describes his experience of drama:
“…after you do the drama you get this feeling…it feels as if whatever was bothering you went away and you feel light and can do whatever you want around you, it makes the day simpler and you can concentrate on your activities, it makes you feel better, like at the end of the day when you come home from work tired and you want to put your feet up, you don’t feel guilty relaxing as you have done a hard days work. I wanted to understand the person and put myself in their shoes. At the end of it I felt good. 150% happy!”
It was about creating a new paradigm of relating to people suffering with mental illness. It was all heart.
(Saagar playing Widow Twanky in Aladdin at Durham, Christmas 2012)
Recently a young man taught me how to save pictures from Facebook. I went to Saagar’s page and found a huge treasure! Smiles, fancy dress parties, gigs, hanging out with friends, pulling faces, playing the clown, doing a ‘Usain Bolt’, being on stage …
Memories warm me up from the inside but they also tear me apart. Sometimes they sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
They flood my mind with the light of a thousand bright stars.
A million memories. Countless thoughts. One person. One love.
Love you and miss you my delightful, beautiful boy!!!
(Comment: ‘Why can’t I stop myself from doing this at parties?’)
“Take a left and the M2 is right there. You can’t miss it”, said the man giving me directions. He had no idea what I was capable of missing. When I reached Bangor, I knew something was wrong. I stopped the car in a lay-by, rolled the window down and asked someone walking their dogs, “Can you please tell me the way to Antrim?” They tried unsuccessfully to hide their shock and amusement, asked me to turn around and go about 20 miles in the other direction on the M2.
Left and right is manageable but east and west is a bit much. North and south add further complications. My emotional and physical dependence on the Tom-tom is apparent from the panicked state I get into when it decides not to play. I feel abandoned without it. I can proudly claim to have successfully managed to go round in circles, despite a working sat-nav. Communication gaps between man and machine are inevitable. The small advantage is that the machine is not programmed to yell at me when I make a mistake. In a zen-like manner it states ‘recalculating’.
That’s our code. Si and I have chosen it as the most appropriate declaration at times of misunderstandings. It is a way of buying time, naming and identifying the probability of approaching danger. Luckily we haven’t had to use it much.
Bone doctors can sometimes forget there is a heart and a mind attached to the bone being fixed. Orthopaedic surgeons are the butt of many jokes for some unknown reason. They think it is because everyone is envious of the vast amounts of money they make and of course, they would like to think that.
What do you call two orthopaedic surgeons looking at a chest X-ray?
A double blind study.
What’s the difference between a carpenter and an orthopaedic surgeon?
A carpenter knows more than one antibiotic.
How do you hide a 20 pound note from an orthopaedic surgeon?
Put it in a textbook.
They are not what they are made out to be. Mostly. 😉
I am lucky to work with some funny, gentle and bright orthopods. One of them has changed from a purely professional colleague to a friend through the last 2 years. Yesterday, I shared with him my frustration over any meaningful improvement in the awareness of mental health issues within the medical community and beyond. I feel as if nothing has changed and no lessons have been learnt from Saagar’s death. Many others like him continue to suffer in silence. I feel that I go on banging my head against the walls completely in vain.
He wrote back:
“Saagar, has somehow had a profound effect on me, even though I never met him.
I have a young woman whose humerus I plated last week, and in clinic yesterday I could see her whole life starting to come unravelled: can’t exercise yet, not at work, not concentrating. All the things she used to give her self-worth are not available. Not despair, but the beginnings. So we talked about the dangers, and she agreed to see our psychologist.
You and Saagar have made that change in me, so keep doing what you do: it works.”