Day 789


It’s come back. Last 2 years we sat on a beach and pretended it wasn’t happening. We ignored Christmas. Overlooked it. Avoided it. This year, we are home. We are here to face it in all it’s glory and brutality, helplessly watching the abundance of ‘missing’ it precipitates. For many years I volunteered to work on Christmas as I believed it meant more to my colleagues who belong to the Christian faith than it did to me. With whatever time we had together as a family we enjoyed the social aspect of X-mas.

When Saagar was eleven, I wrapped his gift in a hurry and left the roll of wrapping paper in the ‘miscellaneous’ cup-board. When he saw the gift from Santa, he gave me a quizzical look, like a cocker spaniel and said, “But…”. That was the end of it. Although we laughed about it, the Santa story was blown away in that instant. As an adult he thought it was unfair on kids to be ‘lied to’ by their parents. We took different standpoints on matters of wonder, mystery, magic and innocence.

After much internal resistance over the last week, I finally installed a postmodern Christmas tree of white and silver twigs with pink fairy lights right in front of Saagar’s picture. Milkshake loved it and immediately took shelter underneath it. He hasn’t budged in 3 days except for short food and loo breaks. Last evening 3 of Saagar’s friends had dinner with us. I was reminded of how much fun we would have talking about absolutely inconsequential things (drivel) for hours! The fabulous combination of a sharp intellect and a great sense of fun was familiar. Laughter filled the house. American, South African, Indian and Australian accents appeared and disappeared. Stories of travels, girl-friends, dysfunctional families, Facebook pictures and safe-spaces were shared. Opinions on demands for transgender toilets and identity politics were expressed. Future plans were discussed. B showed off her new elephant tattoo and I proudly displayed my Saagar tattoo. Food was polished off. Time flew past.

Wonder what he would have looked like at 22. Wonder what he would have done after graduation. Wonder if he would have had a girl-friend. The ‘missing’ is awful but ‘what might have been’ is killing too.

It was happy and sad. We missed him. Our love for him and his for us brought us closer together. That is the new normal – joyful and tragic at the same time – 2 sides of the same coin.

Day 603

Historically and mythologically, India has a named God for every force of nature – the sun, moon, stars, rain, wind, you name it… After a long exasperating summer, rain is much desired and romanticised as it brings relief, cools things down, settles the heat and dust. It is good for crops and cattle. It is refreshing and life giving and most welcome. Indian classical music has ragas (sets of musical notes) dedicated to invite and celebrate the rainy season. Miyan Tansen, one of the most accomplished musicians of his time (1506-1589 AD) is famous for being able to beckon the rains by singing Raga Megh Malhar. No Bollywood film is complete without a sing-song in the rain.

The sun on the other hand was quite terrifying. Sunglasses, head scarves, shady trees and umbrellas were life saving! Going out in the sun was avoided if at all avoidable except for a few weeks in winter months when the sun was mild. When Saagar entered our house in the UK for the first time, he immediately commented on the absence of ceiling fans. Until I moved to the UK I never quite understood the meaning of the phrase ‘you are the sunshine of my life’. I still cannot get myself to complain about the rain. I love it.

While out on a walk this afternoon, we got caught in a proper heavy shower. After a long time I found myself out in the open getting gently rinsed and rejuvinated by Mother Nature’s playful energy. It was so wonderful! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for quite a while. The heavenly fragrance of the newly disturbed earth wafted up and filled all my senses with nostalgia. I remembered the time when Saagar was little and we lived in Delhi, the moment it started raining we would run up to the terrace, dance and sing and splash about! It was heavenly!

Whether India or UK, rain is just rain and sun is just sun.
All else is in the interpretation.

Day 390

Tropical waters are pure magic. This morning we went snorkeling and I got a peep into a whole new world. I felt as though I had been transported to a world of colour and vitality. Some fish were flat with fins coming out at funky angles, some were half turquiose and half peacock blue as though they had been dipped in two buckets of dye. Some were shimmery gray with a turmeric dot at the base of their tails. There were black and white stripy ones, some with an additional yellow line. They came in all sizes, the clowns and the puffers. The tiniest ones moved in large schools very close to the surface of the water, swimming in utter synchronicity. Sometimes it seemed as if they were playing hide and seek with each other. Some were dancing together and others were chasing and racing each other. They had clever little hiding places where you would least suspect them – they could quickly disappear somewhere within a coral or burrow into holes in the bed of the ocean.

All this was taking place in the backdrop of a multitude of corals – bush like things with many fingers reaching up to the sun. The finger tips being a brighter and lighter shade of the fingers, be it ochre, orange, red, brown or green. Some of them looked like the surface of the brain. Some looked like underwater heathers in pinks and mauves strewn over golden sands. A few giant clams sat at the bottom looking very solid and smug.

I was speechless when we finished. I felt blessed.
We live on a beautiful planet. Please let us look after it.


Day 366

The fact that I got through yesterday smoothly is astonishing. For the past 4 days we have been receiving messages of love, prayers and kind thoughts from our friends and family from far and near. Once again, many bouquets of flowers, cards and letters have arrived at our doorstep. More donations have been made on our Justgiving page. Is it any co-incidence that we have been able to tide over this very difficult time so peacefully? Do the thoughts and feelings generated thousands of miles away actually convert themselves into strength and comfort by the time they reach us?

I looked up the relationship between distant prayer and healing and found some very interesting scientific studies.

A triple-blind, controlled and prospective study by Cha et al, studied 219 infertile women undergoing IVF in South Korea. They found that the women who had been prayed for (in the USA, Australia and Canada) had nearly twice as high a pregnancy rate as those who had not been prayed for.

Lesniak described a study on a sample comprised of 22 bush babies with wounds resulting from chronic self-injurious behaviour. These animals were randomized into prayer and control groups that were similar at baseline. Prayer was conducted for 4 weeks. The prayer group animals had a greater reduction in wound size and a greater improvement in blood results than the control animals. This study is important because it was conducted in nonhumans. Hence the likelihood of a placebo effect was removed.

So, all I can say is a BIG THANK YOU!

This reminds me of the time when I was a medical student – I noticed that the stark difference between a psychiatry ward and other wards was the absence of ‘Get well soon’ cards! Sad but true, even today.

Day 341


Orpheus was a musician. He made songs. He knew mysteries. Everything animate and inanimate followed him.
He loved Euridice and they were married but their joy was brief. She was stung by a viper and she died.
He couldn’t withstand the grief. He went to the world of death and pleaded with the Gods to return his sweetheart to him.
His music was such that the Gods conceded.

They gave Eurydice to him but on one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him until they reached the upper world. So, they walked through the big gates and up and up the path that would take them out of the darkness. He knew she must be just behind him but longed unutterable to give a glance to make sure. They were almost there and the blackness was turning to gray. He stepped joyfully into the light and instantly turned around to see her but it was too soon. She was still in the cavern. He held out his arm but at that instant she was gone, receding back into the darkness.
He heard a faint ‘Farewell.”

He couldn’t help it. He looked back because he was only human.

This poem was written by Neil Gaiman when he lost a close friend:

(Do not look back. Do not look back.)

There was a girl, and he said she was his girl.
He followed her to Hell when she died. You could do that when your girlfriend dies: there are entrances to Hell in every major city: so many doors, who has time to look behind each one?
When Orpheus was young he got the girl back from Hell safely. That’s where the years came from. Euridice comes home from Hell and the flowers bloom and the world puddles and quickens, and it’s Spring.

But that was never good enough.

And before that Spring story, it was a life and death tale. We got a million of them. If he hadn’t looked back, if he just hadn’t looked back, then all the people would come back from the dead all the time, each of us, no more ghosts, no more darkness.
I would go to Hell to see you once more. There’s a door on the third floor of the New York Public Library, on the way to the men’s toilets, by the little Charles Addams gallery. It’s never locked. You just have to open it.

I would go to Hell for you. I would tell them stories that are not false and that are not true. I would tell them stories until they wept salt tears and gave you back to me and to the world.
It doesn’t have to be a year. I’d take a day. I’d take an hour. I’d walk in front of you to the light.
But I’d look back, wouldn’t I? We all would. The ones who can’t look back, who can only stare into the sunrise ahead of them, stare into the glorious future, those people don’t get to visit Hell.

So Orpheus came back and carried on, because he had to, and he made magic and sang songs. He taught that there was only truth in dreams. That was one of the mysteries: in dreams the veil was lifted and you could see so far forward you might as well have been looking back.

Some die in Washington DC or in London or in Mexico. They do not look forward to their deaths. They glance aside, or down, or they look back. Every hour wounds. That was what she told me. Every hour wounds, the last one kills.

I dreamed today of bone-white horses, stamping and nuzzling in the bright sunshine, and of orange poppies which swayed and danced in the spring wind.
(Do not look back.)

Day 273

My dearest Darling,

Today is the 16th.

It is a Thursday. It’s 9 months.

You are in my heart as always.

I wonder if you can see and know how much love is here, for you and me.

I wonder how life would be if you were still here, for you and me.

I wonder how these 9 months have passed by.

I wonder how the rest of my days will be.

I am learning. I am living. I am struggling.

But I am not alone.

Acceptance refuses to come.

I believed that I could have anything if I worked hard enough for it. Now I know there is no truth in it.

You probably thought I would be better off without you.

Really? It’s not true.

I believed I was strong but now I know I was wrong.

I wish I could write something for you or do some magic which would bring you back to me.

But that is not to be.

I believed I was free.

Now I have no clue what that means.

I have no aspirations for freedom or any other ‘dom’.

I just want to be.

Be here.

Be love.

Be now.

Be the seer.

The witness.

Be with what is.

Just be.

I love you.




Day 270

The Prince and the Magician

Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, islands or God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist and the prince believed his father.

One day, the prince ran away from his palace. He came to another land where, to his astonishment, he saw islands and on these islands were strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he searched for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.

‘Are those real islands?’ asked the young prince.
‘Of course.’ said the man.
‘Who are those strange and troubling creatures?’
‘They are princesses.’
‘Then God also must exist.’ cried the prince.
‘I am God.’ replied the man.

The prince rushed back home and confronted his father.
‘I have seen islands, princesses and God’ said he.
The king was unmoved.
‘Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist’ he said.
‘I saw them.’
‘Tell me how God was dressed?’
‘God was in full evening dress.’
‘Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?’
‘Yes. They were.’

The king smiled.
‘That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived.’

At this, the prince returned to the other land, to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.
‘My father, the king, has told me who you are,’ said the young prince indignantly. ‘You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician.’

The man on the shore smiled.
‘It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father’s kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father’s spell so you cannot see them.’

The prince returned home pensively.
He looked his father in the eye.
The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves.
‘Yes my son. I am only a magician.’
‘Then the man on the shore was God.’
‘The man on the shore was another magician.’
‘I must know the real truth. The truth beyond magic.’
‘There is no truth beyond magic,’ said the king.

The prince was full of sadness.
He said, ’I will kill myself.’
The king by magic caused Death to appear.
Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince.

The prince shuddered.
He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.
‘Very well,’ he said. ‘I can bear it.’
‘You see, my son,’ said the king, ‘you too now begin to be a magician.’

From The Magus by John Fowles