Tuesday, August 15, 2017

M90 Issues – the problem

Without ado, let’s get straight away in this tale.
            Towards the end of 2015, an apartment in my building M90/1, was sold to a doctor. That fellow kept refurbishing, reconfiguring by smashing and shovelling the rooms. The other residents adding up to “we” were worried that the new entrant may dig so deep as to knock the building down; maybe he was in search of some hidden treasures. We were disturbed, rattled by this endless shovelling; but we kept quiet hoping it will go away.
For the next three months they kept despoiling the ground floor apartment – with all those noise and heaps of construction refuse – we held our nerves and patience. Hoping someday they will settle down.
            Then the new owner – Dr. Karthic Babu Natarajan – started to occupy the FREE COMMON SPACE by having new tiles laid; that’s when I woke up. Within a month, this rapacious doctor had installed a 40 ft private gate, 30 ft of signage, a private generator and by now I realized this fellow was no ordinary Apollo Hospital consultant but a veteran land grabber with access to political power. His partner in crime was Dr. Vanmathy Venkatapathy, daughter of an ex-MP in the 14th Lok Sabha. It was almost like they could do anything they wished, the Chennai Corporation, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and Thiruvanmiyur Police would turn the other way.
            I was livid. These rapacious, avaricious, and corrupt doctors just did not bother. It felt that in this building the rest of five residents don’t count at all. We have staying in this building since 1974 and suddenly it is sold to a rowdy who was robbing our lands and devaluating our properties. Drunk with absolute power, the goons violated all building violations with impunity – as though they were collectors and zamindars and we were serfs expected to wait outside with folded hands -despite our protests.
            They purchased M90/1  - M90/2 is in Africa, M90/3 and M90/5 were cajoled and persuaded so much so that these residents acted as SYNAPSE CLINIC”s personal assistants. I at M90/4 was livid while M90/6 did not bother. The Corporation people sensed my helplessness and they had an alibi for their inaction: We would have taken action had at least a couple of residents raised their voice.
            So the past 12 months this apartment lost its charm. The 10 ft open gate from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm is an open invitation to stray dogs, the private generator makes noises above the permissible decibel levels, that I thought: Better to sell this place if I find a right price.
            It appalled me to realize that no one rose in protest at the flagrant violations. The M105 lady who would be disturbed by the generator kept mum. She is some sort of a leader and nothing seem to stir anyone. As for me, I was a raving and ranting idiot: how could this happen in a posh colony like Besant Nagar?? How could a metropolis like Chennai be in the grips of thugs and goons?
            I went complaining to the local civic bodies – Corporation, Electricity Board, Thiruvanmiyur Police under whose jurisdiction our building falls – and not a whimper. The constable said after a scrutiny said: These are big fishes; no common person can violate with such gay abandon as though a private property.  I sent tweets to PMO but Modi was busy on overseas tours and demonization and so he gave this petition a miss. I wrote to Urban Affairs Minister Mr. Venkaiah Naidu but he was busy in Parliamentary Affairs duties. No response, as dead as a dodo from Delhi. Besides they can always say: this is a state subject.
            So I approached Adyar publications – Adyar Times and Adyar Talk with pictures and this blog post. One felt this was private matter angst (stupid fellow, how can an ex-MP’s daughter swallowing prime property in a posh colony be private? Had I been the editor, I would run this story for a week for this has lot of middle-class eyeballs potential written all over it) while the other felt that this is a “common interest” problem but for somehow reason did not pursue it. 
            In desperation I wrote to Mumbai Mirror editor Faye D’Souza who shouts on Urban Debate each night: This is shameful, despicable on the conditions of Mumbai roads and that damn Bellandur lake in Bangalore. I thought my case would appeal to her social conscience but she ignored it as they saw no story in my plight and no TRPs.  Only Mohandas Pai, a panellist on Arnab Goswami's debates, responded saying: this is a fit case for a police complaint after reading my blog post. But then he resides in Bangalore and not Chennai where DMK and AIADMK are a law unto themselves. 
            I told myself that I will take this case to United Nations Secretary General if need be. This is my home for the last 28 years and I am not going to allow corrupt doctors to come into my life uninvited and throw my life out of gear – I was anything going along that rocky road walking with a noose in hand without this added nuisance. now I steeled myself: I will die protecting my house. I will not be a coward any more.    

Monday, August 14, 2017

A drama at last, this time real one

I went to a drama “Ethu Nizhal, Ethu Nijam” on a Friday evening, 11th August at Mylapore Fine Arts. I enjoyed the play, my first in four decades!
            Before that let me digress briefly: my knees are improving with Dr. Ramnarayan’s prescription and it gives me confidence that I can go through life without TKR (Total Knee Replacement). Suloch, my neighbour, was here for an annual monthly vacation from his work in Africa and that got me a lot of positive energy especially in these times when this building M90 is being used as a private property by the unscrupulous SYNAPSE clinic people. I even went to the extent of selling this damn flat if it fetches a good price; but then I will never have the strength of mind to carry it through – who in their right mind would walk away from Besant Nagar?
            Now back to the play.
            T H Iyer mama suggested that I write to Bombay Chanakya, a famous playwright and close associate of K Balachander. I wanted an opinion on whether “Ex-PW club” will make a good movie script. I am a creative writer, plain and simple. I have never fancied myself as a scriptwriter for movies.  But this “ex-PW club” feels a good movie script that tumbled out accidentally. And it fetches me some money in these lean days of poor earnings then it is just what the doctor (rather than banker) ordered. I wrote to Mr. Bombay Chanakya who said: I have a play coming up and you are invited.
            I dressed myself for the occasion. I started at 5:30 in a 29C and got off at Luz. I went past Devaki Hospital (they have changed the name to Meenakshi or something) searching for Mylapore Fine Arts. It was beginning to rain sharply and I had my brolly up. Someone directed me to take the private lane to Isabella and lo, I found, Mylapore Fine Arts on Musiri Subramaniam Road.
            I was drenched despite the UAE snazzy umbrella (it opens like a fired bullet shot) and walked into an almost empty AC hall. The crowd slowly built up to a over a hundred; this is the best place to see tambrahms from higher income group whose natural moorings are Carnatic concerts, Bharatanatyam dance, and Tamil dramas.
            I took a seat in the second row for one of the best seats in the house. They ring the buzzer thrice in short intervals as a precursor to the opening. I love that tradition as it gets the audience to straighten up and take a break from gossip.
             “Ethu Nizhal, Ethu Nijam” means “what is shadow and what is real?” This is a story of a struggling Carnatic singer having to cope with a useless and headstrong husband who only gives her mental tortures with constant barbs. Gurumurthy, essayed by Bombay Kumar, was outstanding as a cruel and insensitive husband. Charu, his wife, aspires to be Carnatic singer having to cope with an always annoying Gurumurthy as she supports the family through giving private tuitions and singing light music. To an already burdened Charu, enters her now divorced sister-in-law from Jamshedpur to their modest home in Mylapore. Both Kavitha Suresh as Charu and Jayashree Pritam as the scheming sister-in-law were mind-blowing in their roles. I loved the homour spun around Manargudi – Sashikala’s place. Both the accompanists, Srini and Pattabhi, were competent in supporting roles. The creative genius of Bombay Chanakya – writer and director – was in making Pattabi speak in a high pitched falsetto for a screeching female voice! Each time he opened his mouth the fun was instantaneous.
            This was a script for two hours with breaks for changing the sets. What I discovered in the hour hours; from 7:00 to 9:00pm, was that a play is the best avenue to discover the power of the language. These stage artists spoke in a rich Brahmanical dialect; I loved the idioms that have disappeared from everyday vocabulary. A play exaggerates oddities; a play is always loud, a play is live and spontaneous and it is here the Tamil language comes aloud strong and vibrant. Definitely not in the newsroom where it is formal and stiff or in the movie screens.
            This is a labour of love of Bombay Chanakya and team. The production value itself would be more than 1 lac with sound effects and stage fabrications. The gate collection would have been less than a tenth of it. The artists perform out of sheer passion.
            The last play I saw was in my school days during Ramanavami celebrations in Keys High School in Secunderabad. Those annual Manohar productions were world class in production values. I still remember the play on Vishwamithra with those grandeur sets and lightning and thunder scenes.  Now after more than 3 decades, this play by Bombay Chanakya whetted my appetite for more. I have been to Carnatic concerts, I am a great admirer of Vishaka Hari and now what remain to be explored are dance performances and more dramas.
            Any day between a drama and a Rajnikanth movie; I will choose the former. There is something old and honest about dramas. It is like revisiting an old world; a time-wrap to the parents and grandparents generation when life was lot simple and plenty of caricatures around. Now it is only whatsup and dumb assholes in the digital age for a  frightening level of homogeneity. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Ortho troubles - Part 2

There is nothing better that makes for objective narration of an event than chronology with specific dates. First attack of intense debilitating pain felt in the third week of May that forbade me from daily walks, I consulted Dr. Velayutham on 25th May and then X-rays and blood test review on 7th June which the previous post goes heavy on.
            The next 10 days I am in house-arrest venturing out of the house for absolute necessities. T H Iyer mama is a caring friend and well-wisher as he wrote on the mail: Sathya, miss you at the daily walks.
We arranged to converge at Vishranti on 17th June. He was there with his eldest son from California, Mani, as we he stabbed into a hot vadai and coffee.  As we bade goodbye Mani said: Sathya, tomorrow the FOSWL talk is on “Chronic Pain”. Why don’t you attend and maybe something in it for you?   
This invitation showed my guardian angels and providence was in good working order as it proved later.
            The next day, Sunday, I got into a bus to Yogalaya for an auditorium hall behind the famous Anantha Padmanatha temple in Gandhinagar. FOSWL is the abbreviation for “Friends of the Same Wavelength” a community initiative of T H Iyer mama where a dozen or more people gather every month, a speaker is invited to present on a topic and we pose questions over biscuits and Tropicana. Normally I give FOSWL meetings a wide berth (given my rapidly declining social status) but a talk by a neurosurgeon is irresistible for a man reduced to Arthritis and Dr. Velayutham.
            The talk by Dr. Ramnarayan was just the thing I was looking for. In the course of a 45 minute presentation, he spoke on how everyday body postures and chronic pain are related. The back must be in the shape of a double “S” as he showed the slides to avoid back aches. He showed slide pictures for “sleep postures” (never on a prone position for it affects diaphragm breathing), use of head rest while driving, even to the height of pillows and best mattress for sleep.
            Dr. Ramnarayan is a tall spectacled man in mid 50s as it appeared to my eyes.  Within 15 minutes of listening him, I felt that this man knew the human body at an intuitive level. Best of all he is on the side of the patients.
            During the talk he said: 90% of operations are avoidable and it mainly for commercial reasons than medical.  The pharma industry and medical practitioners work in cohorts to boost their profitability. Another insight floored the 10 of us present on the other side: Dr. Ramnarayan opined 30 minutes of daily walking is good enough; yoga, cycling, swimming cause more harm than any good.  That’s why Nike spends over a billion dollars in advertising to promote jogging which is actually bad for health.
            This led to a lot of uproar and counter questions from the audience and the Doctor explained: I am not giving a personal opinion for many studies have shown this. Say your cholesterol is 250 and you start a fitness programme of daily gym. In the next 3 months the cholesterol reduces to 150. But stop the gym or yoga or swims for a week and all the gains are lost, you are not back at 250 but it is 350 now!
            The doctor asked: “How many practice yoga regularly?”
              Couple of hands went by. The Doctor asked: What happens if you take a break of 3 or 4 days? Do you feel fresh or fatigued?  This only means it is a placebo effect! Walking is something you can fit into your busy lifestyle and it is more than sufficient for a human body for an exercise.  Frankly all these yogas and gyms have only benefitted Ramdevs of the world; it’s no more than a social thing to boast to your friends and colleagues.
            At the end of the talk, I sought out the doctor for an appointment.  He dished his visiting card and I met him couple of days later at Mint Hospital where he consults in the evenings.
            It was on Wednesday, 21st June I waited for the doctor on a 5:30 pm appointment.
            We shook hands as he spoke of the FOSWL presentation. He looked at the all the X-rays and blood tests and said: Don’t mind my saying so, yours is sports injury related. This is not natural wear and tear of a 48 year old.
            I said: Yeah, I used to jog miles for years before the knees buckled.
            Dr. Ramnarayan explained: Cartilage is nothing but a soft tissue around the bones.  It is a protective covering nature has provided against bone abrasions.
            I nodded to register understanding. Doctor said: The cartilage is a tissue as soft as woman’s nipple.
            He then narrated a couple of innovations he brought to the field of neurosurgery: At Apollo my patients walk out of a brain surgery on their feet the next day. The other surgeons’ patients need a week’s recuperation before discharge.
            He also narrated a procedure for brain haemorrhage and clogging he innovated in the UK.  It was a bit too technical and bounced off my head. It went something like a portion of a nerve was cut from the brain and stored in the stomach and later refitted.  The entire UK team applauded me on this technique for it is cost effective, even an orthopaedic can perform for simplicity. I prescribe only simple solutions and they work.
            On my knees he prescribed a “tablet” and “apply volini gel thrice a day, have hot water dabs after ten minutes. You will find considerable relief within a month. It takes 3 months for the cartilage to grow in 75% of the cases. Then I will teach you thigh strengthening exercises for a complete cure. But if it does not work, we’ll look at other options including surgery. “  
            Listening to him I felt half-healed. I have been following his advice conscientiously and as he forecasted the knee pain is down a small extent. Chancing on Dr. Ramnarayan is indeed a miracle, he is a maverick in a field where business men doctors rush to advice “Total Knee Replacement” surgeries.
            As for me, I came home and dumped Dr. Velayutham’s medicines.  I feel the knees are coming around nicely and maybe cartilage grow in the knees. 
           Now each time I feel like sucking a nipple in my fantasy, let me wake up to reality and kiss my knees!!! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Ortho troubles - Part 1

I used to run 3 miles a day untill 33. The year was 2003 when one fine cold winter day at dawn I felt a stab of intense pain shot like an arrow at the knees during the run. It didn’t go away; the following days I found running more than a bother. I went to Adyar Orthopaedic run by Durgabai Deshmukh Mahila Sabha. One X-ray at the centre and the doctor pronounced, “Osteo Arthritis” and your running days are over.
            That really felt a death knell sentence for I used to derive a huge amount of self-esteem from these daily runs.  
But I am a determined fellow. Instead of running, I would walk 6-7 kms a day, still meet the same old friends in Theosophical Society, the knees would still protest but they did not get much sympathy and attention until the pain got acute and a persistent stab. Then I would run to a Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala near Cozee then a couple of years later to Venkatnarayana centre at Kutchery Road then IMPCOMPS at Thiruvanmiyur and even Ayush. Meaning I knew Western medicine had limited treatment options and any massage of any Ayurveda stream would suffice – there will be a let up in pain before I got those daily walks back. I intuitively realized that my knees would not get any better except reduce the pace of deterioration by these sporadic interventions.  Come of think of it, ageing is this mindset of coping with limited resources as most of organs start to slide.  The eyes demand a visit to Sankara Nethralaya, dental issues starts in the forties, my heart cried foul when I was 29, and now my knees at 33. I am strong as a bull and take it in stride.  And my sisters say how fortunate I am not to make friends with Diabetes and Hypertension at 48! Talk of relations and friends and misplaced humour!!
It was in February this year that I felt the knee pain graduate to a new territory. Pain comes in various sensations. There is a chronic one and it will stop bothering you once you get used to it.  Then there is a sharp and tingling pain; you take a stride and it feels like a knife stab. Then I progressed to a pain where the initial few steps feels as heavy as an elephant, limp for a dozen strides before you carry the weight of your body without wincing. Actually the worst of arthritis it makes you geometrically stiff; you are reduced to an unwieldy luggage that need dragging and shoving.
I should have read the symptoms but I am a prized stupid fool. I continued walks to Eliot Beach (I gave up on Theosophical Society 3 years back for it’s farther) on 4-5 km stretches before the knees threw in the towel completely.  By May 2017 there reached a stage when I just couldn’t take a step.
I spoke to friends around to source orthopaedics as I felt Ayurvedic massages will not serve for the damage looked real and deep. My cook Thangam (whose wisdom level is on par with Sarada mami) said: There is an Ortho in Mandavelli. He is very good and comes cheap. So I booked an appointment and met Dr. S. Manikkavelayutham.
The clinic is on a narrow lane off Devanathan street is crowded much like a beehive.  My appointment at 6:30 pm kept getting pushed past 7:30 and my patience wearing thin. After 7:00 pm, I keep reminding the secretary every 10 minutes before I was announced to the doctor.
            Dr. Velayutham is a short, well-fed, plumb, healthy man in mid-forties (my age-group) and didn’t look particularly bright, more the austere and morose. One look at my knees he said: EFFUSION and then said: Lot of deformity as I lay supine on a bed this man kept for his consultation patients.
            I was beginning to buy in his mood, I saw both the limbs bent like a bow as we both examined in our own ways. 
            The doctor pressed a few knee muscles, shook his head, said, “Looks very bad.”
I asked: Is it curable or not? Treatable or not?
He said: I have to see the X-rays and the blood reports.
But I don’t let go easily, “I am sure with your experience, what do you make of it? The reports will only give a name and extent of damage.”  I can be annoying when I want to be.
The doctor did not like my flippant attitude, “What is your name?” as he begins to write the prescription. He once again shakes his head, “Sathya, your knees is not like a car spare part. That you can junk it and buy a new one! This is a living organism. We will try different approaches and see what fits. 95% of ortho issues are treatable and 5% beyond us.”
I finally get it,” I do all these tests and then you will decide on the next course.”
He waved me for a curt dismissal saying: Finally you get it. Pay Rs. 300 and try these medicines for 10 days. The pain will come down. Do these tests and meet me.” 
I did not really enjoy the conversation but I thought: let’s give this man a chance. Like a good boy I got the medicines and did all the X-rays and blood tests. After 4 days of taking the tablets I felt the pain subside that I even went for a 5 km walk on Eliot’s beach. The next 4 days were excruciating and walking even inside the house was monumental.
On the tenth day armed with reports I met the Doctor. I said brightening to a cheerful smile: Your medicines worked. But I was foolish. I walked to the beach on the third day and since then the pain has been unbearable.
Looking at the X-ray he says: Your knees are gone. You need surgery. You are still 48 and some distance to go.  What does your job entail? The days of walking 4 kms are gone; I’ll be happy if you can manage under 1 km a day.
I ask, “What then are my options? I am not a car spare part to be replaced”
Doctor does not encourage my humour. Still morose and grave he says: Total Knee Replacement Surgery. 3 lacs per knee and you need for both. 
I ask without losing nerve: Can we control it by way of medicines?
He said “the pain and swelling can be managed by painkillers and antibiotics but it won’t help in the long run.”
I said: I had one heart surgery in my life and I am fed up.  I don’t want to go through the trauma again.” Especially as the doctor talks about imported steel bolts and nuts and raping the mind’s sensitivities.
I tell him, “Let me try Mindfulness. If the pain is in the mind then some sort of affirmations will work. You see I am great believer of Eckhart Tolle.” I am a moron and should be shot at dawn. I am so full of enthusiasm that I drag in the German philosopher needlessly within two statements of meeting a stranger. God save my friends from me!
Dr. Velayutham responds with contempt: Your cartilage is gone and damaged beyond for any mind related affirmations to work here. This is physical damage. By the way, I want to talk to your wife.”
I say cheerfully, “I am a very happy bachelor and do all the talking to me.”
The doctor is insistent, “The surgery is needed in your case. You can take a second opinion with these reports.”
I tell him in a tone of finality: In that case I will reduce 10 kgs, take a walking stick or even be reduced to a wheel chair. No surgery when I am alive and able to make my own decision.
Dr. Velayutham writes a prescription for a month, “These are painkillers. Meet me after a month of MINDFULNESS and these tablets. Let’s see if you can go around surgical options.”
He asked for Rs.300 which I felt was not needed for it was just a review. I forked out a crisp Rs. 2000 rupee note which the doctor examined minutely than the knees. He explained, “I was checking for anything written on them. Such soiled notes are invalid” giving me much need information but not helping doctor-client bedside manners.
I walked out feeling dazed and hating life. Dr. Velayutham may be 100% right in his advice but somehow I felt bitter and rode roughshod over. The doctor may as well be treating cows and goats. He didn’t look the kind to involve patients in conversations. Besides there’s horde of waiting patients and the train running 30 to 60 minutes late for each one of them.  Everyone makes money save a poor content writer!
As I limped out of the place I thought: lame for life. LANGDA in Hindi kept coming up though I don’t go easy on the language.  My life situation read “pushed to a corner” but the mind didn’t lose any of its gaiety. There must be some way out of this. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Endless Suffering -3 (RATS)

I am now 48 in the calendar and I faced the brunt of suffering to its depths. It’s highly improbable that any human being had it dished more.
            The first part spoke about SNAKE of a mother, second part the JACKAL of a girlfriend, and now the third part of RATS for siblings.
            I am the youngest of the three: Vijayalakshmi born 1962, Latha in 1964 and Sathyanarayanan in 1969.
            Viji had the good fortune of her infant and childhood years with Janaki Paati so the SNAKE did not come in the way. V is indeed emotionally the most resilient of the three. Latha had bits and pieces of SNAKE in her infant days, she grew painfully shy till she became super confident (which is an excess in the other direction) after her marriage as she turned 24.
            Viji was always a star in our family: everyone doted on her. She was good in studies, sparkling eyes on an elegant face, inherent leadership skills that got her ahead in most crowds, my father particularly looked on her as a blessing, and even the neighbours in East Marredpalli thought she was special as she drove a car way back in 1981 still in her teens. She got married in 1983 and went off the family radar.
            Latha was painfully shy (refer part-1 for the head injury as a two year old), tall and gangling, barely passed the monthly tests in school, gritted her way to graduation by sheer force of will.  I was a big villain of her growing years: My nickname for her “39” which was the rank in her 5th standard for more than a decade for a nerve wrecking put-down and humiliation. She joined the workforce after graduation at Hilton Rubbers Limited and those got her voice going with friendly colleagues and grow in confidence as an “Accounts Assistant”.  L was a huge devotee of Santoshi Maa with those never ending “Friday” fasts, finally those paid off as she married Basker and leaving the nest in 1989.
            Anyone would have thought that both graduates would have an independent streak of mind. They fail to read the situation even today: That father was a fool infatuated to a sick and diseased crazy woman for a wife who drove him to a premature death. They also fail to grasp that AMMA was mighty sick and unfit for human consumption. Where they failed most was with respect to me.
            By 1992 it was clear that I had a bipolar disorder; career and marriage at once out of the window.  Latha now married and two kids just turned the other way.  The mother and son troubles at Besant Nagar never reached her ears and even if it did she chose to look the other way. Her life was a straight line of rail tracks and a blinkered horse: I, me, myself, my husband and my two sons. Others might as well take a walk and drown. And once an individual vibrates this level of SELFISHNESS others perceive the signs and sure enough to keep away.
            Viji on the other hand is a duplicitous character. She is given to keeping appearances. There are a couple of incidents I can never forget:
a)     Between her engagement and marriage in 1983 there was a six months gap usually the norm. She kept practicing a new signature from “ A Vijayalakshmi” to “S Vijayalakshmi” – absolutely nothing wrong for a 20 year woman full of dreams and excitement. Latha found that page of paper and gave it to me. Viji now married and a year and kid later was shown the paper, she simply denies it with a finesse even politicians would envy.  She is outraged and crushes any criticism when a simple laugh would have sufficed. The purpose of this anecdote is a depiction that she just can’t take criticism in the air.  Touchy, hypersensitive, defensive. 
b)     This is something hard to forget and even forgive. The year 1998, I was 29 and in Manipal Heart Foundation for a heart surgery. Viji was in Bangalore then, she would visit me every day. She happened to wash my jocks for three days which she kept reminding for the next five years: Which eldest sister would wash a brother’s undies? It took me years to drill some sense: So you are a Mother Teresa, aah! I spend 60 k on my surgery and had I known this would be a lingering issue, I would have happily spent Rs.300 and got myself disposable ones. Don’t yank your mouth too much and risk unpopularity. Viji finally got it and put a cellophane tape on this score.   
            The years kept marching.  Now both Viji and Latha have grownup sons: one in Bahrain, another in USA. Latha’s eldest is in Norway.  The 25 years have been good years for both V and L – each own 3 houses in the metropolitan, they change their cars every five years, sons getting married and on the whole nothing to crib about life.  My ship stranded still for these 25 years and they don't lift a finger at my plight and growing desperation.
            I have not celebrated a festival since 1989 the year my dad died. I berate them at their faces: What kind of a family are we? We don’t even include our own blood for festivities. Had I been in your position, I'll never summon a will to celebrate a festival without including a sick brother or sister. What kind of rotten genes and callous nerves are these?
            My relation with Latha was always strained. Say for 20 years I never visited her house or spoke to her on the phones. Viji on the other hand was a daily caller till I put a stop to it last week. My cousin Prakash’s sudden demise proved an eye-opener besides the rich dose of MINDFULNESS I was absorbing.
            Viji called every day for decades with the usual: Did Thangam come? What did she cook today? How did your interview go? Or exhort “Sathi, you need to adjust to Mohan. Where will you get 2 lac salaries in India? This is your last chance for saving for retirement years.” Viji is indeed very perspicacious – perceptive, intelligent, smart – in reading situations as they fold. But she is a miser to the last atom. 
            She will take AMMA for yearly heart check-ups and wait the whole day on tests and conferring with doctors (something Latha and I are not wired to do) but she’ll spoil it all by saying: I spent Rs. 500 on auto charges.  That ‘washing the jocks of a brother in heart surgery” mind-set never learnt that “you don’t evaluate love of a mother however diseased on a monetary denomination.” The moment you bring money to a blood relation, you lose both: money and relation and I shouted hoarse trying to drill this into a thick skull unsuccessfully for decades.  Women from North Arcot genes REFUSE to listen or see reason that does not suit them even if you shout in their ears and wave before their eyes. V is a miser on a global scale as I humour with T H Iyer mama on a walk on Eliot's Beach. For a gossip time-filler I tell him: V is going to America for her son's graduation in Colorado. My friend asked: Is she taking you with her? I said to a divine inspiration: Viji's budget for me is Rs. 300 - a Baahubali movie at best. This earned  a good laugh. 
            I came back from Abu Dhabi a wounded soldier and next two years were depression years. Both V and L transfer their claims to the Besant Nagar residence to my name; both felt strongly I was financially vulnerable and these would be insurance against poverty.
            I used to plead with Viji often in 2016: I hate to sell this flat for sustenance. Why don’t you take the house; give me 40 lacs (of a property worth more than 1.25 crore at a minimum) so that the family retains it. Viji simply wouldn’t hear of it: my son is not interested and he feels Besant Nagar apartment is jinxed.
            I made a WILL in which I leave the proceeds in the ratio 3:1 in Viji’s favour. My thinking was Viji by taking after AMMA into her fold: giving her company and feeding three squares besides her daily calls to me. I did not wish to deprive anything for L for she was at least worth a 25% share (we were four legal heirs and so I thought that by just being born to this family she’s earned that).
            Then Theni happened in late 2016. I went to this God forsaken place to die. I engage a car driver over a cash transaction to administer a lethal injection. It came to the point that I saw a man inject the drug from the bottle as I lay in a hotel room. I tell him: I am not ready. Sorry, I don’t want to do it now.  I wasn’t worried about karmic punishment. What really galled me was the terms: This man would inject me to a hasty death and then burn the body and leave no trace. If the sisters in Chennai were to file a missing complaint with the Police – fat chance - and the cops in the unlikely event of tracing my disappearance from earth to Theni then these people had my written suicide note to absolve them. I felt even these bitches - V and L - deserved a better closure than disappearance into thin air. 
            I came back to Chennai and what appalled me were both V and L did not react at all that their kid brother’s close embrace (7 years younger than V and 4 years younger than L) of a self-administered death.
            I used to tell V repeatedly: the moment my finances run out, I die. I can’t survive selling and living off the proceeds of Besant Nagar apartment.  She would counsel: Get into a gated community and live like a prince. Latha would say: Sathi, don’t force death on yourself. You have struggled so long and just give a few more years and death would naturally come its way. But both never said: we'll keep an eye on you. 
            It was only last week I got the whole picture seeing Prakash’s dead body (my Athai’s son).  All our relations have been reduced to weddings and funerals. There is no heart at all. I have not celebrated a festival since 1989. Suddenly my mind discerned to a frighteningly clear reading of my life situation. I told Viji in no uncertain terms rather clear as daylight: This is over. We talk daily and produce only noise. Stop talking. Our relations are so feeble that if I die you’ll squabble amongst yourself as to who should light the pyre. Donate my body for organ harvesting to a medical college. Let’s just drop this act. We were born brother and sisters and we did not learn how to relate. None of the four nephews respect or save a millimetre affection and bonding towards me. 
           I tell Thangam my cook who is as wise as Sarada mami: This M90 could have been saved by V and L. I don't want a dime from them. They could have at least visited me on a quarterly basis and that would have been sufficient to see me through.  Not once did V and L visit me in Besant Nagar in the last 27 years except on ritual days!!!! 
            Both V and L readily agreed as I said: No more of your silly invitations to your son’s weddings. In fact I’ll ensure that news of my demise don’t reach your shores. As for AMMA, give me a call and I will do the honours. I sell the flat, give you 10 lacs for amma’s upkeep and the rest is how I decide. Both of you don’t deserve a nickel as dad’s money will go to cooks, charities, and anyone who said a kind word or did a kind act for me.
            So the story of my life reads: Raised by a SNAKE, jilted by a JACKAL and not adopted by RATS. I used to often tell V: Instead of watching National Geographic, people can watch our family. We are like 3 siblings of a tiger; each has to fight for its share of the carcass to the extent of maiming or snuffing the lives of others.  We “TAMBRAHS” are no less wild and junglee! 
          Is love and compassion so difficult to learn? Yes if you are born as a lower class tamil brahmins of North Arcot District.  Ritualistic to the last breath and no human connection. 

Post Script: Why wash dirty linen in public, I ask myself? Then I ask myself: Do V and L seem the kind of people who will wait outside the ICU when I am inside?  Not in a million. So what do I lose by venting my anger? Nothing.  Both are not bad people except they programmed their minds wrong: Who said that once married, you turn your backs completely on your old family? Which Veda? which Upanishads? It's sad when a couple of drops of white blood is all that it takes to  turn calculative, callous, and heartless. Family is always about standing by someone in their distress. It's not my mistake that you defined "family" on your own narrow terms.  Insight of this blog post: Any brother or sister who does not involve a sibling in festivities for 28 years is no brother or sister at all. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Endless suffering – 2 (JACKAL)

(Reading part -1 would make more sense as you dig into part-2; just further down!)
You could say in a way I was born anew at 38.  Three events burst on me more from chance than design: mother moving out of Besant nagar, at long last I found a writing job, and finally out of the blue I fell in love. Each transformative in itself and together combined spelt new hopes and filled the heart with “dreams may come true” optimism.
            My eldest sister found a one-bedroom apartment for the mother bang opposite her bungalow.  She could keep an eye, feed three squares and yet not have the nuisance in the house.  
            Working for Worldwide Media from home gave me just the drive to develop my writing. I spent long hours in the dictionary and starting to develop some craft. 
            “Writing” and “mother’s issue” gave a lot of relief to the mind but it was “romance” that gave the mind its dreams. 
            Enter the “Jackal” phase:
            I used to blog in rediffiland in 2006.  One day I find in my inbox a co-blogger’s request to read her posts for a feedback. I run my eye and within half an hour I feel the first flush of romance. We write to one another, more love flows in the heart.  A month later we take to the phones, we are inseparables whispering the “magic three words” without an image being exchanged.
            Ishita (name changed) impacted my mind with a force of a thunderbolt. I was 38 to her 40.  This tale is so interesting, let’s break it into stages: (I promise it's worth your while!) 
First Stage: Soulmates 
            We met on a mid-afternoon sultry day in the mid 2007 after I had flown specially to meet her in the Gujarat capital.  The emails and phone-calls of three months set us up beautifully. By the end of the day our heart sang in unison: this is for real as we hugged and kissed.
            Ishita seemed perfect in every way – attractive, sunshine personality, spontaneous humour, and wore clothes to her best advantage.  Those eyes blazed radiant cheer and rosy cheeks ridge to a curve each time she smiled.   
           The next six months were pure magic. We met less than 8 days in our lives and they were made in heaven including a pre-honeymoon vacation to Kodaikanal.  We speak over two hours on a daily basis; I love the fruity voice rattle on the happenings of the day.  Ishita sang Hindi hits over the phone, read her poems, and her incessant sms texting:  Given to frequent travels on work, she reports by the instant: Now, "security". Ten minutes later, "boarding".  And then an hour later “Landed”.
            Ishita, in her own words, sums up this period, “Sathya, Thank God you have a stable job for once.  I believe we were destined to meet. Aren’t we soulmates?” while tossing me the Brian Weiss book.  
               Second Stage: Standby mode
We speak couple of hours each day – remember we were separated by geography, Chennai and Ahmedabad – and gushing passion. The ma’am plans honeymoon locations, Mauritius is bandied and I nod my head like a good boy: anywhere, as long as she is there for hugs and kisses.
            Six months pass by and I am frantic at the delay. Each time there is talk of marriage, the subject is deftly changed.  I meet her in Bangalore in one of her monthly visits to her Corporate Office with a stern tone: What’s on your mind? Am I an embarrassment or a time-filler?
            Ishita climbs down from the high horse, “Sathya, I have not spoken to my parents as yet. Please come to Ahmedabad and we’ll make it official”. I wonder what kind of parents allow their daughters on pre-honeymoon trips and not be in the know.
            I visit Ahmedabad for a tête-à-tête for a complete fiasco. I am introduced to the mother who is seated on the sofa and legs stretched over the coffee table! I say nothing, but the gesture doesn’t escape me.
            The whole “marriage” thing rings hollow.  Ishita would just not commit on a date.  Worse still we were fighting over trivial things; I now believe she fabricated them and douse my ardour.  All my instincts scream: IT's OVER. 
            But strangely there is no letup on the phone conversations. I keep saying: Either marriage or stop calling. It’s emotionally draining. The diva is insistent and keeps the mobile ringing. 
            As for me the memories of Kodaikanal were too etched on the mind to let go.  This stalemate continues over the next 12 months. We no longer coo and whisper sweet nothings. All the fantasies done and dusted. 
Third Stage: The knockout
It was apparent this relation was going nowhere.  Then out of the bolt I find her Orkut post with the status: Committed.
            Something snaps in me. I had never felt a devil lodged inside; now it was aroused to a blinding fury. I wrote to her office on her character or the lack of it, wrote blogs and the woman cried over the phone for the last time: Sathya, I am not a prostitute. I don’t know where I have gone wrong. I am sorry to have hurt you. But I have a right to choose my life-partner. 
            I thought: Of course you have a right to choose after 500 calls, 100 snaps (I mean pictures/images!!!), 400 mails, Kodaikanal trip, sharing beds, hugs, kisses and more! 
           Fourth Stage: Reflections
One devil of a mother reduced me on “mood balancing" drugs.  Ishita was told about this Bipolar even before we met; she knew all about my earnings (was even a nominee to my Mutual Funds savings), she came down to Besant Nagar for inspection at the height of fever shrieking: wow, great.  She saw the beach and Theosophical Society and suitably mesmerized. 
            I try to make sense of events and pick the pieces: Ishita was extraordinarily charming to a James Bond girl level. No man could have resisted her charms. It took me years to realize that she was wicked, scheming, and morally loose. * ***It's unlikely her Prince Charming appeared one fine day riding a white mount and dropping from the skies, she had been dating for weeks and months and keep my telephone conversations going. It takes an evil mind to keep two horses running at the same time. That's why long distance online romances are terrible.   
            I feel smaller than a miserable worm, worthless, a big time loser. 
           I am baffled. She burst on my life for no reason, showers love which I greedily lap, then close and open the charm tap on whim,  my utility over and then kicked away.  I felt like those "use and throw" napkins. 
            I spent years lamenting the play of destiny.  After 38 years of AMMA and her genes, I thought Nature would compensate and Ishita verily the medicine. But reality couldn't be more cruel: I escaped the SNAKE of a mother only to embrace a JACKAL for a lover. Destiny caught me by the short collar and really shoved it in!
           The Plight of Loneliness  (2010 onwards
            With Ishita chapter hermetically sealed, I feel the full weight of loneliness. I adore my writing still and that’s there’s no creative juice in it. My career nosedives further south.  Writing jobs in Chennai is a hopeless case, I am now well over 40 and defeat written all over the face.  I get into insignificant jobs like Tattvaloka (incidentally that got me a lot of friends) and India Cements (again lot of banter).   
            But staying alone in an an empty house brings its own misery.  The feeling of inadequacy plagues the mind like a tambura shruthi:  worthless, hopeless, never amount of anything in life (exactly the sentiments my mother felt when feeding me as a two year old).  
            The years kept marching by. I had foreclosed romance though a few attractive faces impinge on my mind for no more than a week’s fancy. I dread another rejection. I find friends at the beach, India Cements gave me Manikandan and his brand of laughs, weekend spiritual discourses, hours of Vipassana, chanting classes and my sister’s daily calls for a sole human connection.  Even my writing goals and career aspirations watered down: no more chasing anyone, anything the day brings.     
            To wake up alone, mostly work from home, cook for self, and go for days without a human being in sight is vulnerability to the extreme.  My highest aspiration is dying in sleep and take solace in suicidal thoughts.  I stock barbiturates feeling my time is just around the corner. I had run out of any reason to live, or nothing in the horizon to bring cheer.      
            I take an assignment at Abu Dhabi only to run into another monster boss, suffered and came home more hurt and defeated.  I realize earning fat salaries does not assuage loneliness. You may end up buying more in a mall but adds nothing to your stored-up agitations.  Whether in the UAE or in INDIA, loneliness follows you everywhere. 
            Post UAE phase there is no gas in the tank. The script reads a decade of loneliness; living my life felt a never ending marathon. Loneliness eats away your will to live. My life's so hollow; my living or dying makes no difference to others except me. I go through days and weeks averaging less than a dozen sentences a day for human interactions.  The mind fills the rest of the day with repeat runs of "I am worthless, hopeless, good for nothing" on a circular conveyor belt " and adding one more "enough of this nonsense. Just do it". 
          "live miserable" Vs "Die now" Debate rages on
           My scoreboard in life reads: 38 years of AMMA+ 2 years of DIVA meant four decades GONE (the best part of anyone's life) and 7 years of LONELINESS to an extreme frightening degree. If this not end of the road, what is?  I almost do myself in towards the end of 2016 as to engage a quack’s injection in Theni (500 km away) for a forced exit. I backed out at the last moment not out any fear of uncertainty or karmic punishment but I did not want to die so far from home and no friendly face nearby.  
           For years my daily prayers were: Lord, end this misery quickly. I want to die next instant and reborn a human again minus this family, minus this bipolar. Maybe then I qualify for life's blessings of love, family just as anyone else.  But I hold back. 
            Death makes perfect sense but for this countervailing thought: Death is irreversible. However much your current sufferings are, there is no end to destiny’s mischief to piling more.  I see a cage of love birds at the vegetables shop I frequent; they chirp unmindful of being trapped in small space. They are locked from the outside for the nights; even natural light is denied to them until the shutters open the next day.
            Life is not easy at all for anyone; be it animals in the wild or birds on migratory flight with all this climate change nonsense.
            Even when you are at the extreme limits of human endurance, snuffing your own life out feels criminally offensive.  It's not as though death would confer happiness that living denied. I am so high on the misery scale to Guinness Records but animals have it worse. Here I am in a beach-side residence and I still have enough to feed myself.  What if I am condemned to those love birds in the cage of that vegetable shop for my next innings!!!  
          Then the truth feebly seeps through: only as human being there is a possibility. Possibility to learn lessons of peace and happiness even if you die ploughing through rivers of fears, tears, rejections and those depressions.  It is for this remote possibly that you hold your life. Human life is very precious even if it smells of death for years and you languish in splendid isolation. 
I'm unabashed admirer of Eckhart Tolle 
That's when I discovered Mindfulness tapping into the wisdom of Louise Hay, Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR., Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Kristin Neff , Thich Naht Hanh, Byron Katie and more. I feel a new world open inside where suffering is the starting point to discovery.   
         “I have suffered so much that I don't want to suffer any more, “ was the quote that directed my attention to Eckhart Tolle and Mindfulness.  Louise Hay says the same thing: Thoughts and intentions are the only tools I have and let me junk all those that drag me down, don't serve me. Used to prayers hoping for a quick end, I now pray: God, let me have a shot at romance again. I don't want to end up just a 2007 winter collection of an irascible diva out to suck the male population dry.  I finally learn to love myself. Stand up for myself. Resolve to treat myself gentler and kinder. And maybe that is all that I need. 
         It takes me 48 years to realize that DESTINY  may have been extremely kind. It takes a master-planner to use the SNAKE and the JACKAL into making an EAGLE of an ASS.  
Life's just begun and I can’t wait to read the next page!        

Post Script: The road on the journey of life is unpaved and full of pebbles,  and our only chance is to trust ourselves completely - be gentle, kind and compassionate to oneself. So I better trust myself at all times and in all situations was the thought that saved me. Not even a crazy mother and hot shot partner and plighted loneliness can rob the intrinsic joy which is me. 

**** It is not normal when a "soulmate" stage is downgraded to "Standby" note for no reason. It is not normal for a woman to go oral with one man and another the next month. Again no real reason for change of heart (maybe it her GENES). I have no doubt in my mind that she was faeces best flushed. I narrate this Ishita episode only to show how cruel my destiny had been. My father could have been a very rich and famous  even if he had a half a decent human being for a spouse. He got the devil HERSELF (surely Satan is feminine) and he died before his time. As for me, Ishita was slow death too but bitten by charm. What makes the story stick is life runs in cycles, we too often ignore and miss out. 
(My Twitter handle @Sathya33 is packed with MINDFULNESS posts. My Facebook page is filled with these thoughts. So anyone can check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/MadrasSathya?lst=100000018632520%3A100000018632520%3A1498666249. It transformed my life, so I guess it can work for anyone!! Actually the motive of the twin "Relentless & Endless" posts is to inspire any desperate person to stay in the race however dark and long the tunnel is.  There is no light at the end, you have to make your own torch along the way) 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Endless suffering – 1 (SNAKE)

Relentless & Endless suffering defines perdition, isn’t it?
What is the worst karmic punishment?  Born blind??  Muscular dystrophy?? Deaf and dumb??? Spastic??? Autistic??? 
            I make a case for “Being born to a mentally retarded parent” for the emotional damage is often permanent and suffering prolonged.  
            The tale is so gory. So let me keep it absolutely short and crisp. Bare essentials and no frills. 
            My father’s side of the family were simple, honest Brahmins. The menfolk studied the vaidika sastras for a living while the womenfolk supported them by cooking and raising kids. Those days – say until mid-1980s – families were large, cohesive, and a set lifestyle. Faith, piousness and rituals summed my grandparent’s generation.
            My father was a simple man, a calm temperament, soft spoken and measured in conversations. Besides he was intelligent and capable of clear thinking too.  Born in 1930, he studied till SSLC (10th grade by today’s standards), toiled extremely hard for four decades and died prematurely.  
            My mother side of the family were not ritualistic Brahmins but landlords and highly educated. My uncle was an IAS, influential in the corridors of power. But there is a sinister dark side in the gene pool, high on geniuses and evilness for a sickening combination. 
            My maternal cousins are world-class talents: One son an observational scientist of worldwide eminence, daughter a classical dancer of rich fame, another son an IIT educated engineer, and last son a Chartered Accountant; something none in my father’s side can ever boast. But this high intelligence came with a heavy price: these were rigid people prone to lifelong grudges and resentments. The genes never accommodated kindness and compassion for a genetic defect at source
            The behaviour of my maternal uncle (the IAS fellow is still alive and kicking at 92) amplifies the dichotomy of evil and genius side by side: His eldest son married a woman of his choice in the 70s.  The son was thrown out and boycotted socially.  Even the news of his sudden death in sleep four decades later did not soften the hearts of the parents. Another son married a Christian divorcee and he was similarly snapped and estranged.  My mother – his sister whose mental dumbness may not have a reference even in our epics – was sternly told off on her wedding day in 1961: I have done my job in finding a groom. Now get lost and don’t ever show your face; you’ll be thrown out if you ever step on my doorstep.  This admonition from a brother of the bride in full view of the groom’s family; my father was horrified at the vehemence of hatred.  His genetic makeup could never understand this “cut and snap” in family ties.
            My mother is a prized idiot: deaf (another genetic characteristic), natural arrogance of stamping down people, and in her case the genes took a turn to genius dumbness.  Hopelessly unlettered, zero social skills, loud mouth, high pitched energy which began every sentence with a “ayyo” (most inauspicious word in the Tamil language) made her a stand-out pain in every company.  Soon others ran away from her path and sight. Loneliness and social boycott is a feature of that genetic side. 
            My mother did not work hard to drive my father to an early grave: her lashing tongue from those messed-up genes was as venomous as a cobra. She nagged him to death with her daily cribs provoking the poor man into banging his forehead in disgust.  It takes an evil genius of a mind – one exclamatory word in high pitch screeching voice to pierce every armour of tolerance and target the heart with pinpoint accuracy for maximum damage.  I saw my father die inch-by-inch; none strong enough to cry halt the daily warfare. 
            My father lived with his wife for 27 years on a daily supply of high decibel squeals and threats and “ayyos”. His body ran out of gas and will to live before he turned 60 years.  My mind rebelled and condemned to moodswings at I entered my 21st birthday. 
            Even at 21 I knew there would be no romance, no marriage, and see how far I can go without being a nuisance.  It looked a suicide script to me before 30, before 40, whatever. Reaching a milestone as the 20s or 30s was a huge achievement in endurance.
            What made my mother such a genius monster that no man or beast could stand?  
With her around, any human would feel being in a battlefield. When my second sister was born in 1964 the mother refused to breastfeed the baby for a week. Her mind reasoned: not a girl child again!!! Once a two year old baby in 1967 insisted (I am deliberately avoiding names) on swinging the cradle standing up for better bounce from inside a cloth of a saree.  My mother reacted by banging the head of her infant daughter inside the cradle to the wall. The baby turned blue and breathless and rushed to quacks for first aid and treatment.  My mother was equally outraged and ranting: if the baby does not listen now; will she not turn out rebellious later on? That child grew up shy and diffident until she found a husband 22 years later for some semblance of normalcy.
            As to the torture she inflicted on me, they are heart-rending to this day.  Even a male child was not spared.  Her violent savage nature would keep me wailing in hunger as a one year old. The feeding bottle would be sterilized upon my squeal, milk heated, and later to cool down under the fan as the child bawled out of the skin. 30-45 minutes from the first sign of cry would peak to a crescendo when the feeding bottle got ready. Again no words of solace instead abuse, slaps, and threats.  Imagine a baby being breastfed with taunts and a volley of harsh abuses in a high pitched voice on a daily basis.
             As I grew older, I kicked the feeding bottle to ground to register my protest at the inordinate delay. It was met with more kicks and abuses. That same rationale prevailed: if the child does not mend now, when??  I still recollect going with an empty stomach, sobbing my heart out and my chest in spasms.  My mother’s tongue knew not one word of kindness and sympathy instead a rich vocabulary of abuses and threats and ayyos.  Even while feeding solids, she would throttle it down my mouth yelling to my tiny ears (remember she was a lot deaf): if you don’t eat, crows will swallow you up. Or I will complain to the police and they will beat you black and blue. I grew up in this putrid air of the worst verbal and physical violence any child can stomach. I grew up listening to this daily litany: you are useless, worthless; you will not amount of anything.  I turned out exactly similar. 
            It was during the MBA days in Ghaziabad I found to my horror these stored-up hurts were activated when thrown in the midst of a happy boisterous crowd.  I used the maternal side of my genes to hunt a name for the disorder in the library; while the paternal side counselled patience and endurance. I realized before my 21st birthday: I had contacted a high grade mental disorder and it would take a lifetime to set right the wrong, and if that it is at all possible.
            I entertained little hopes of a career; I had a heart surgery at 29. I discovered a passion for walking especially on Theosophical Society lawns.  I also found weekend Spiritual discourses a soothing balm to the tortured mind. My aspiration never rose higher than feed myself and support the devil and even address as “Amma”. I was on “mood balancing” drugs for decades now. Though I had a lot of friends, I was a loner and painfully shy in boisterous party atmosphere.   
            Life treated me as I treated life: I walked in the side alleys; I never got into tangles, and zilch career and romantic aspirations for myself and think dying thoughts for solace.  My personality was a hybrid mixture of my dad’s side – honest, simple, hardworking, and not outreach my station in life – and my mother’s side on talent, resentments and grudges. 
            Suffering needs actors and events to generate tales and drama.  In my case nature had earmarked my suffering to a lonely one. My father dead when I was 21, both the sisters got married and left the nest before I turned 20, and the family was now reduced to “perpetrator” mental MOTHER and “victim” Mental SON.  At 38 I realized that two idiots can’t be in the same house and a very accommodating eldest sister taking responsible of the old woman.
The diagnosis was Bipolar or mood swing is the medical jargon to account for those childhood tortures. In simple language it meant “continued and sole exposure to hate”.  Few lives on earth are condemned to such depths of emotional poverty and deprivation.
            Failures cause fear; fear causes hatred of oneself, which in turn manifests as extreme diffidence and impending disaster at every turn – I kept losing jobs at frightening frequency unable to blend in an office environment.  With each failure I withdrew into a shell like a tortoise at the first hint of danger to avoid more failures.   
            The hate sowed in baby state by an evil mother was now reaping the whirlwind. The worst of bipolar is: Your story reads a like a movie script playing on the screen; you know what is going to unfold couple of scenes later yet immobilized to alter a line of the sub-plot of the script in your favour.  Suffering in ignorance at least gives birth to false hopes and misguided efforts that suffering in knowledge deprives: you are reduced to awaiting death and sober prayers: God, end this misery quickly and give me a new innings. I want to be a human being again minus this family, minus this bipolar.
            Right from my 21st birthday I knew the gravity of this disorder caused primarily by rotten genes and terrible upbringing.  This is “multiplication of misery” – any genetic defect can be rectified in a loving and caring environment affirms a BBC documentary.  Even if you are born with normal genes, continued exposure to my mother’s level of rants and high pitched wolves howling noise would cinder a human mind – which is after all tender, impressionable, fickle especially a mind of a tender child- to dysfunction and go out of operating range. 
I had to find my own medicine and in this I spared no effort.    
            I ran to every astrologer, every faith healer, yoga teacher, decades of listening to Swami Paramarthananda and Vipassana. I had consulted a dozen of the best psychiatrist the metropolitan had to offer. I had the mental strength of a man who will make his own road even if it meant tunnelling through oceans and mountains. I have an endurance not seen in either my father’s or mother’s side of genes.  If god made me a donkey, I had its heart to bear the load.
            Every search for mitigating bipolar was a hopeless one; each gave a momentary relief but no lasting remission until I discovered Mindfulness and Eckhart Tolle.  One is so engrossed in healing the mind that one forecloses the possibility of going beyond the mind.
            But those came in much later before life threw in a surprise as I turned 38: I got a writing job after a decade of strenuous search and I fell in love with a woman of my dreams.  I felt destiny was showering roses at long last and my plane finally take off.  
But nature was still not through with me. I kept getting hammered and knockout defeats fighting Mohammed Ali in the ring which we shall see in the next part. 
As TM Soundararajan sings to Kannadasan's lyrics and MSV's music: Sothanai mel sothanai pothumada saami. Vethanai thaan valakkai endraal, thaangathu bhoomi. Meaning: Lord! enough of piling sorrow upon sorrows. If living is only about misery, the earth cannot endure. 

Post Script: Every human being causes happiness to someone at least once in a blue moon. Amma is a constant negative kinetic energy of fear, distrust, stubbornness and not an atom of gratitude to even the hand that feeds.  There is this repulsive reptile feel to the woman – scared and scary at the same time, hyperventilate, deaf, stubborn, and firmly set in her ways to cause storms and turbulence in every encounter. She was hopelessly sick with those terrible genes. When the cause is rotten the result is only sorrow.  And those genes were taking a heavy toll on me.