Hats Off!

I read an article about a song and dance program held in Cipla Center of Palliative Care, in Pune. The article was written by the lady who was the main performer. She knew that this centre gives palliative care for Cancer probably terminal patients. The program was for the entertainment of these patients. She was apprehensive as she had never done this before. She was wondering how these patients will accept her program. The program was to create the joyous atmosphere in these patient’s lives. She reached the venue and the hall started filling up with patients. Some walking in, carrying their own drips, some coming in the wheelchairs. Then a few beds were brought in. The lady was awed by what was happening and she did not know what to expect. Patients were brought in to the arena on gurneys and transferred to their beds!

The program started and the rhythm picked up! Some of the patients started blowing whistles, as is the tradition in Tamasha songs. People started clapping and shouting. The peak of the show was when one of the lady patients, lying on an inclined bed started moving to the rhythm. She was very ill. She was wearing a Saree. In her bed, she did some sensuous movements using Pallu of her Saree! What courage? What attitude?

Here was a lady, very sick. Maybe terminally sick and I am sure she knew it! But she was not only enjoying the moment but her attitude must have given encouragement to other patients. It is such people who make this world a great place to be in! These people are the beacons of society. The lady did what was unthinkable though at the back of her mind she must have known that these were her last months on the earth. How do such people have the courage to look death in the face? Yamraj must have thought after tracking her activity, why not keep this lady on this earth for a longer time and make earth a better place! I am writing this based on the article written by the performer. I do not know anything about the lady but I feel like getting up and to go and give the lady a hug! Hats Off Mam!

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We have read about historical accounts where people have reacted bravely knowing that their action would result in an imminent death for them. The battle of Sinhagad fort during Shivaji’s time is the classic case. Tanaji and his cousin Suryaji attacked at night and climbed the treacherous fort using ropes. In the battle, Tanaji died and Suryaji took over. The soldiers panicked and started to run back towards the ropes. Tanaji’s uncle Shelar mama cut the ropes. Soldiers had no option but to come back and fight. Marathas won that battle. Shelar mama took the action of cutting the ropes thereby he took a grave risk where his own life was also in danger. He knew that they could lose and that he would surely get killed. But he was not afraid of this eventuality. He took this decision knowing the grave risk to him. Such people make the armies that win the battles. Picture of Sinhgad Fort below.

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There was the similar battle of Pavan Khind. Shivaji Maharaj was trapped on Panhala fort and decided to try and escape to Vishalgad. But his escape was found by the enemy quickly. They started hot pursuit to capture Shivaji. Baji Prabhu Deshpande suggested to Shivaji to move further and waited at Pavan Khind which was a narrow pass. He fought with a small army and fought the enemy till Shivaji reached Vishalgad. When Shivaji reached Vishalgad he ordered two gunshots to be fired as a signal of safe arrival, to Baji Prabhu. Baji Prabhu though was severely hurt fought valiantly till he heard the signal. His death was imminent but still, he volunteered to save Shivaji. Painting depicting Pavan Khind battle.

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Next is one example which gives me goose pimples, even thinking about it! This is about a friend of mine Prakash. He is a happy guy but I never knew that he was made of steel! Rather his mind was made of steel, his body was not! He has been trekking and used to travel all over India. After completing one of his treks, he was returning to Delhi to fly back to Pune. After the episode, he remembered that there was some scratch mark on his right hand which started the episode. He ignored it as he thought that it was a scratch due to something pointed from a bush.

As he reached near Delhi, he started feeling very uneasy. Within a matter of hours, he realized that skin on his right-hand was looking different. It looked very harsh and gangrenous. His hand looked shocking to the naked eye. He reached Delhi and went straight to the airport and wanted to travel back to Pune. Airline staff correctly refused to take him on the flight. He spoke with home and within a short period of time things got organized. He immediately rushed to a major hospital where some family friends also arrived. Luckily the correct treatment in ICU was started immediately. His family travelled immediately to Delhi but I am sure that nobody was prepared to the saga that was to unravel!

He was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)! One of the rarest things that can happen to humans. The death rate in such cases is as high as 30%. He was lucky to be in Delhi where excellent doctors and facilities were available. The link below gives details of this condition.

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/necrotizing-fasciitis-flesh-eating-bacteria#2

During the treatment, most of the flesh from his right arm, about 3 to 4 inches from shoulder, had to be removed and bones were totally exposed. Doctors could arrest the progress of the attack. What happened was simply horrible. A normal person would have been extremely nervous, could have gone into depression. But not our Pakya. He and his family took it in a very positive way. Just guess how much time it took for the arm to get to almost normal? About 4 years maybe more! His arm was rebuilt stage by stage with plastic surgeries. I am sure you will agree with me that Pakya is made of steel! I will just share one detail which will show Prakash’s grit and determination. During the final rebuilding phase of his hand, his right hand was stitched, yes stitched to the stomach for a couple of weeks so that proper skin grafting could take place!

What makes such people so strong? We read a lot of war stories where kids in their early 20’s show valour that will make any society proud! What gives them the inner strength? Since Prakash is a friend from college days, I know him quite well. But I never thought that he would have such a steely determination. This strait is only in a very few people and I consider it is my luck and honour that Pakya is my friend! Hats Off Buddy!

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Gauri Lankesh- an Enigma!

Gauri Lankesh was killed by assassin’s bullets outside her home in Bangalore. This happened on 5th of September 2017 in the evening around 7 pm. The shooters escaped on a two wheeler and are yet to be traced. Now information is coming that murder weapon used in Kalburgi case is same as used to kill Gauri. Possibly, except the identity of the murderers, everything is supposedly known to the authorities.

Murder in any form, any reason just cannot be glorified or justified, it has to be strongly condemned! But this murder has evoked such strong reactions, both for or against, that it has become a Tamasha on the social media. People are outright cursing Gauri to glorifying her! Karnataka govt even gave her Gun Salute at her burial! That too to an open supporter of Naxalite movement. There have been stories floating around that she was born Christian, (hence the Hindu basher)  later converted hence the burial. Simple explanation is she was a Lingayat and Lingayat’s bury their dead!

Why do such extreme reactions occur? Is it because of Gauri’ nature? Is it because of her passion? Was it because she called ilks of the type Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid her adopted children? One thing was sure that she was extreme left of center in the political milieu. When there are extreme reactions truth is generally at the center but in case of Gauri we can say that truth was also left of center!

Is it possible that the persons like Gauri start with a cause in great zeal, then they become over passionate, or zealots? Over a period probably they lose contact with reality and are in their own world! I always have many questions about lives of such people. When they are so busy with causes, what do they do make ends meet? I have not read anywhere that Gauri was born in a super-rich family. She ran a regional Kannada paper Gauri Lankesh Patrike which was born after a bitter fight with her own brother about original regional paper Lankesh Patrike, ran by her father. I am sure their income must have been less than that supplements of major newspapers. Were the cases filed against her paper and Gauri for defamation, an income stream? I hope not.

On the other side, who wanted her dead? By killing her what was achieved? Was it a khap panchayat type of decision, where “Supremos” of some group, having totally different views than Gauri, just decided to eliminate her! What Gauri had achieved in her life was nothing path breaking or breath taking! May be she was born fire brand, had passion, was fearless but that’s about it. She did not topple any govt, she did not lead any mutiny, and had views which were against the views of many. Right or wrong? Nothing in life is absolutely right or wrong! But to kill a person for these reasons cannot be understood by a normal person like you and me.  

There have been different viewpoints in life all along. The advent of social media has taken these discussions to a different peak or a valley of hatred! Another thing is that, this venom spreads extremely fast! Snake bite may kill you in five minutes but social media venom can kill you 100 times in five minutes. I have read the reactions of people of both extremes. I am really ashamed to be part of such society.

Similar to strong reactions from extreme right wingers, why reactions from Gauri’s group of people equally venomous and strong! When nothing is ever proven why blame Hindu organizations directly? Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji, that did not mean that RSS had directed him to do the killing. Another point I have never understood is why all right wingers are always Bhakts and all Left wingers are traitors? Why is fear expressed that Nazis are taking over? How come most of us don’t see these things? Maybe we are dumb? Maybe we are also Bhakts?

Is there any solution to such extreme thinking? Can so called debates on TV not be toned down? We cannot stop what is written on whatsapp and facebook. But TV debates are under controlled conditions! Contradictions are also easily visible. Probably some are immature people. In a protest march to condemn death of Gauri, Republic TV reporter was hooted out by Shehla Rashid. Freedom of speech is  for all, not only for extreme left wingers! Maturity?

Let me conclude with a small excerpt from tribute on Gauri’s death, written by Chidanand Rajghatta, a well-known columnist from Times of India, based out of Washington DC. He and Gauri were married for five years, long back!

“Gauri’s presence at the cards table became rare as she threw herself into the fight against right-wing bigots, zealots, and extremists. We argued about that too at the cards table because some friends thought she had gone the other extreme. There was no doubt she was left of center, even extreme left of center. But heart was in the right place, and there was no place in her world for violence. Only cowards took to violence.

One day, she called to announce that she’s coming with her son. “Who have you adopted now?” I asked. “Kanhaiya Kumar,” she chuckled. “You mean the JNU bloke?” “Yes, you’ll love meeting him.” Little later she called to say his flight was late and she can’t make it. That was the last time I heard her voice. Bubbly and bursting with energy and passion for causes big and small.”