Surfing turbulent waters she found her shore!
My story is nothing great, I have put my past behind already, but recently a gratitude post on FB on my 4th year in remission from cancer, drew some attention and Anu has been requesting me to share my story briefly. I say briefly, because a detailed one would turn into a book :)
Born in a lower middleclass Zoroastrian family with a moral upbringing and good education from a Parsi school where my precious education including breakfast and lunch cost no more than Rs. 6 a month during primary school and Rs.12 a month for the secondary education (as a free student), thanks to the Parsi Philanthropists, my journey through adolescence, youth and parenting was wrought with fears, inadequacy, insecurities, responsibilities and shame.
Life brought me a series of challenges and like many, I managed to heal the issues on the surface. But the wounds would raise their head at regular intervals. Religion and rituals played a vital part in my life ever since I lost my mother at the tender age of 14, leaving me to tend to a difficult father and two younger sisters aged 12 and 10 years. Prayers were my link to my dear mother who was the only person who had ever provided me the security and comfort of being loved and nurtured, who motivated me for helping her with housework, taught me to be self reliant, dutiful and responsible from a very young age, almost like preparing me for the years ahead.
I recollect 1974 as the worse year of my life, like being pushed to the edge of the cliff all of a sudden from a safe haven. But in hindsight I feel I was being transformed by the Almighty from a shy, timid, extra sensitive young girl into a butterfly learning to fly through the myriad horizons of existence.
During the youthful days when a young girl looks forward to having the time of her life, I was shouldering the responsibilities of house running, cooking, studying for the final year of the first new batch of Higher Secondary School (10+2+3 curriculum), and thereafter completed my B.Com graduation through the help of trusts and charities to fulfill my mother’s wish, much against my admonishing father who did not shell out a penny towards our education nor for our upkeep. We learned to support ourselves through our own efforts, be it giving tuitions to school children, cooking and selling home cooked pickles, squashes, goodies, etc. While my father remarried twice (outside the community) after my mother’s passing away, we were forced to leave his house and stay with our mother’s relatives several times for our survival and sanity as he had to move out of the parsi colony, having intermarried.
Having fallen in love at the sweet age of 16, life promised to be a bed of roses despite a typical mother in law trying her best to ruin my new found happiness. After courting for 7 years through innumerable efforts to break us up, I succeeded in marrying the love of my life. In the absence of any savings to afford a permanent roof over our head, we began our married life in Dubai where my husband had secured a job a year ago. Circumstances beyond our control brought us back to India within a couple of years when I got pregnant and was unable to continue working with severe pregnancy sickness. After a happy year in Mumbai, living at an aunt’s place from where my husband successfully managed an Interior Decoration business, we moved to Pune where my short lived happiness with my loving husband and two adorable toddlers started to come to an end. My husband’s business debts as a Civil Contractor began in Pune and kept increasing despite moving back to Dubai.
That’s when the inner strength of my character began to seep through my fears and helplessness. Instead of being a victim, I learned to walk through successive obstacles with a single minded determination that my children will not go through what I went through, because of an irresponsible father who refused to take up a job. His ego would not accept failure in business. I hoped against hope that my husband’s debts would be over soon and there would be light at the end of the tunnel. Despite working double jobs, it was not easy to live in Dubai on my single salary with increasing debts alongside rising costs of schooling two children and house rent. With my husband’s regular disappearing acts, I was literally on the streets, but for the saving grace of my husband’s uncle who gave us temporary shelter. More stories of his debts and lies kept surfacing, and I was living in shame, unable to face friends and relatives.
Back in Mumbai as the only solution, life continued to reveal shocking facts about my husband’s continuing borrowings and increasing debts, to the tune of lakhs of rupees. I realized that he was no more the person I had loved and married. My trust was broken again and again, and I tried fiercely to protect the children from the hardships of changing schools and living environments. The trying times of living in sanatoriums and relatives’ house every few months made me return to Dubai in 1996, this time alone, after securing boarding school admissions for the children. Alas, when the reason for one’s existence is her two young children, how could a mother live alone and be at peace! I left my new found job within a month and returned back to India to be close to them, knowing too well I would have to face blackmailing threats once again from scores of debtors besides living a nomadic life out of cartons and suitcases, in the absence of a permanent abode.
When it became impossible for the children not to notice the increasing complaints about their father’s reputation, I came back to Dubai once again in 1998, secured a job with an advertising agency and within 3 months, my children joined me to live together. Stability in life began from then onward, and we still live in the same place since 16 years, our only true home and permanent roof that God blessed us with.
Life was still tough, what with a difficult boss and managing teenage children and their moods, but there was solace in being away from daily traumatic arguments and monetary fears of repayments. Having lost all my valuables in repaying debts, I had to start afresh for life to go on. But my hope and caring for my husband did not stop. I continued to help him repay his debts, even to the extent of taking loans in the belief that he was on the road to recover from his business failures. But with every misplaced trust, bitterness and shame increased its quotient within me. I realized the futility of not accepting the truth of my circumstances. During this time, I also got into a relationship with a man who had gone through similar problems. But it was not a complete relationship, and became increasingly toxic, draining me of my energy and inner peace. Just in time, I was blessed with the divine tool of Reiki, that started my journey inward, healing many aspects of myself through a different perspective on life.
After fourteen years of separation, I divorced my husband in the year 2008. It was a very emotionally draining experience and a difficult decision, fearing its implications for the children, but I knew I had to do it and move on.
There were a few more deep scars to be experienced yet on the personal level which I prefer to let rest, which led me to the quest for learning more and more healing modalities, to develop greater understanding, each time in the hope that this knowledge would be the Key.
Finally, in 2010, Cancer came as a blessing in disguise. Somehow I was not surprised when I was diagnosed. During the Biopsy itself, I had a feeling that it would be positive, but it will not be life threatening. Having cried more often than having laughed during the past few years, I was so drained from struggling to make ends meet, sacrificing all my dreams in the hope of a better tomorrow, always giving but never receiving, that I feel cancer had to happen. I knew it was due to emotional stress, nothing else. The joy was missing from my life, and I had to be shaken up vigorously to put a stop at all the drama of the illusory pain and suffering.
I was completely overwhelmed with all the attention, love and caring that I was showered with. It was God showing me that I was never alone, that I was blessed with the love of so many people. I felt so fortunate to have been employed with medical insurance, after being without a job just a year ago, or I don’t think I would have been able to go through any treatment. Also, I was finally free of the need based toxic relationship (bless him), I began to value my body and my health, I began to really practice the holistic tools towards self help and healing. It brought about a HUGE shift in my consciousness.
Although surrounded by daunting verdicts of the medical fraternity, scared and disturbed children, and fearful sisters and agitated relatives back home, I just knew that I was going to sail through this period, that it was just a wake-up call, and I was not going to succumb to the pressures of going through the widely used conventional series of cancer treatment. After taking a month to come to a decision, I had agreed to get the tumor removed, provided I would not have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. My wonderful and most understanding doctor had assured me that it might not be required, but since they found some lymph nodes affected too during the surgery, with great apprehension they broke the news to me the next morning, that I would need to go through the whole rigmarole. I chose not to get chemo done as my body was already weak and frail and the Onchologist and my Doctor finally gave up. The Onco managed to convince my sisters and children that I already had one foot in the grave by evading chemo, so radiation was a must, or I may succumb to the disease within a year. I loved my children too much to see them upset and afraid. Much against my will, I went through an intensive treatment of 35 radiation sessions, five days a week for seven weeks, each day straight from work to Abu Dhabi and back. The support of my incredible children and sisters, and the prayers and well wishes of relatives and friends is what made it all easy and though there were sleepless nights when the pain in the armpit and breast would make me think and doubt, I made another bold decision not to consume the medicine prescribed for the next five years, due to its various side effects (I hope my Doctors will not be reading this). With the help of alternative healings, health supplements and holistic natural remedies, some necessary changes to my diet and lifestyle, I am glad to say I am hale and hearty, except for some discomforting osteoporosis related bone issues. Today I live a healthy normal life, and all my tests conducted until last year have been normal. It’s been four years and I am healthier and happier than ever before, with the Grace of God.
Gratitude, acceptance and appreciation for life is what my dis-ease taught me. Forgiveness of self, people and circumstances becomes easier when one understands the illusion of this temporary phase of the soul’s journey of evolution.
My life changed after cancer and I became healthier by the day, and my belief in the Divine Plan became reinforced with a renewed faith and conviction, enabling me to begin enjoying my life. It propelled me towards sharing my learning and healing tools with friends and others when they reach out for assistance.
The tapestry of my life is graced with the blessings of several Masters, teachers, angels, relatives and friends, who made the journey possible. I can only hope that my story might be able to evince a ray of hope and courage in someone going through a similar health challenge. My earnest appeal to people is to let go of their grievances and misunderstandings, and live in love and harmony with all, especially with themselves. Only through loving yourself can you truly spread the love around you.
So, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, says Avatar Meher Baba.