Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Second Thoughts of Fear

What would you do if the person you hold dearest to you slowly faded away right in your arms? Would you panic... scream... beg God? What part of you does Fear drag out to the surface and interrogate so ruthlessly? I think fear is a good thing... it keeps a man honest. It teaches one more about themselves than the sugar coated love ever could. Its very coarse and rough, this fear... stripped of all pseudo promises... no false alarms... no second opinions. That feeling of numbness... the shaking of the legs... the sweat on your skin... the racing heartbeat... the flashing of thoughts in your head... that's fear...Unadulterated Fear.

I have had my encounters with fear... most of which i have forgotten. I think its the brains way of keeping itself happy... but i remember one night. It seemed to be a simple... quiet night... until my mum screamed my name out at 1 in the morning. I ran from my room to my parents... and on the floor... lay my dad... unconscious. I picked him up and carried him to the bed... my mind searching for answers. The next thing i remember...i was running around on the street at 1 in the morning looking for an auto... and i found one...somehow. We put dad inside and told the auto to take us to the hospital as fast as possible. Now that i look back, i realize that we did not go to the hospital near by... but one that was quite far. Fear can stop you from thinking sometimes.

I held my dads' hand in my own...constantly rubbing it to keep it warm... get the blood flowing. I realized that he has high blood pressure... and maybe he missed his medicine... maybe that was it. As we neared the hospital i felt that everything would be alright in a few moments...and then it happened. His hands went cold. His heart beat slowed down. His breaths became long gasps as he seemed to struggle to breathe. And then his head fell limp. I remember that feeling... when his hand went cold...I was holding it. Its unlike any other feeling... not like touching ice. Feeling the heat drain away from a human hand is terrifying... its eerie.

I had never witnessed death before... and I feared that i was about to. My hands went weak as a chill engulfed my whole body. I panicked! I started yelling at the auto to hurry up... just get us to the hospital no matter how. I DIDN'T CARE! I just wanted my dad. Frantically rubbing his hand...i tried rubbing his chest... aiming for his heart. That damn heart... it better not stop. In my moment of fear... i closed my eyes and begged God to let him live. I have never wanted anything so much as i wanted him that night. I couldn't imagine a future without him... not now... not yet. But i did one more thing which i never understood. I threw away the chain of beads around my neck in that moving auto... and i remember telling myself... "they are only beads! Just beads...and nothing more!"

Not even until this day have i ever felt so weak as i did in that moment. I don't know how long that moment was but it felt like an eternity... before we finally pulled into the hospital. I screamed for help as soon as the auto stopped... and stood back and watched as the staff came out and carried my dad on a stretcher. Within moments, the doctors had surrounded him... asking me questions about his health and his habits. And then I remember him opening his eyes while being rolled away on the stretcher... he seemed alive. He smiled at me and said "its ok now...."...and that was it. With those words blood seemed to have rushed into my arms again.

I don't know which is greater... loss... or the fear of it. When you lose something, its gone. Sometimes so fast that you don't realize it... sometimes so slow that you don't even notice it disappearing. But fear is something different. Its an emotion. Sometimes it comes and goes... sometimes it lingers in the air... like a fragrance... like a noose. Sometimes it surrounds your very body... chilling it to the bone. Sometimes it just strikes straight at the heart. But that's the thing about fear... when it dissipates... it takes away all traces of its existence.

I stepped outside to breathe... felt the cold breeze on my head... i didn't realize i had sweat so much. On that summer night... while standing beneath the stars... I closed my eyes and whispered the quietest 'Thank you'.

First Thoughts of Fear

They say love is the aphrodisiac of the can make you do things which you would never do. But i believe there is another emotion...a more deeper...more instinctive feeling that can throw one into more turmoil than love.....its Fear. The fear of loss...the fear of pain...the fear of loneliness...the fear of everything and anything. Fear is a feature of every creature....from a single celled the complex human...all understand the language of fear. Its rooted in the very core of every living a reflex. Even a man who knows not how to love...knows how to fear.

I remember my greatest moments of was the fear of loss. I was 17...a teenage kid in his last year of school in Sri Lanka. Dengue was on the rampage in Colombo, with hospitals overflowing with patients. My mum had been going through phases of fever...showing signs of the dreaded disease...until one day when I came back from school late in the evening. I happened to look at her arm and notice red patches...scattered all over arm. Within 30 minutes, she was in a hospital bed with doctors surrounding her... observing... needling... testing... discussing... quarreling. They gave me the assurance that this was a simple case of dengue and she would be alright in a couple of days with the treatment they were giving her. I was satisfied.

5 days had passed and my mum was not improving. Everyday after school, i would go to the hospital and spend the evening by her side...go home in the night and take care of dad. I was confused...a little lost. Why was she not getting better? And then it happened. On the 6th day when i went to visit her in the ICU...she coughed...and spat blood! My brain ran from one corner of my life to another. Blood.... spit... tuberculosis... incurable... death..... Fear! Pitch ...Black... Fear!

In the faintest voice that i had ever heard she whispered "Son, forgive me if i have ever done you wrong!'. Oh...those are not the words a 17 year old should hear from his parent. I went weak...on the edge of crying. I charged out of the ICU and DEMANDED an explanation from the doctors as to why my mother was not getting better. A emotional child can be an amusing cannot comprehend life yet it wants its secrets...and it wants them then and there! She apparently had Dengue Haemorrhoid fever...the deadliest dengue form in which the insides of a person start to dissolve and bleed. Dad tried to reassure me that spitting blood is common...nothing new...reassurance which i felt he was giving to me as his last option.

The thing with dengue is...that its a viral disease. There isn't a cure for it...but instead just a recovery phase. One cannot detect the dengue virus in the blood but instead we detect the antibodies that the body produces against the virus. My mum was showing every physical signs of dengue...except the antibodies. All reports were Negative...the doctors were perplexed...I was scared. In that fear...i did the only thing that my brain churned up.

I came home that night...and lit a candle in the temple...and promised God that i would fast the next day...just make my mum better! I "promised"....i didn't beg or make a deal...but i offered something which was hunger. No material offerings... nothing which i couldn't call my own. What else is a 17 year old supposed to do against an enemy which he has no understanding of. Faith...its a strange thing. It rises from the core of man when least expected. Fear and Faith have this amusing relationship...almost dancing the Waltz...sometimes close together...sometimes distance. Sometimes faith dwindles in the face of others fear fuels faith itself. As for me...i just lit a candle and sacrificed what i could.

On the 7th day...when i went to the hospital...there was a crowd around my mum. Doctors and nurses were gathered around the bed....i couldn't understand the looks on their faces. As i made my way to the bed...i saw my mum...she was unconscious. Fear struck again...and i was about to implode...but a hand on my shoulder took it all away. A doctor's calm voice said "She's just asleep. We detected the dengue antibodies in her blood today morning...and we've started with the treatment. Its nothing short of a miracle...but she's gonna be fine." But i knew what they all didn't. It wasn't JUST a was MY miracle. Oh i still remember that moment...i felt as light as a feather....and hugged that doctor as though he had given me something that had already been taken away. I smiled for the first time in a week.

That day, i came home and broke my fast at midnight. I had understood the true meaning of sacrifice. Its nothing like the filmy version where the person rings the bells and smashes his head on the temple gates... and blah blah blah. This is why i believe Fear is stronger than love, for it encompasses faith... sacrifice... love.... strength.... futility... madness...everything. Fear can be a catalyst....creating...or dismantling man himself. It reaches deep with its cold clutches and pulls out everything so mercilessly.

That's the thing about fear...its a punisher....its a teacher....its a reminder. Most of all....its unbiased.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Sometimes I feel as if my whole life has been one futile attempt to wake up early...only interrupted by brief moments of sheer madness scattered through my history when I managed to rise from this coffin of slumber to greet the morning sun.

Ah the morning sun...its beautiful...its peaceful...its wise. Unlike the afternoon sun which is treacherous... relentless... and shows no mercy.

Its a strange thing...this summer dawn...its makes you believe that the day is going to be perfect.
Eh Khuda...
Mujhe zara yeh to bata,
Manzil pe rakhun nazar,
Ya dekhun yeh rah.
Dil se dhoondo tujhe
Ya puchoon rooh se raasta
Badaata rahun yeh kadam
Mujhe khudayi ka vasta

Taaron ki roshni mein
Dhoonde tujhe yeh kadam,
Kahan chup gaya hai tu
Eh Khuda...
Mujhe zara yeh to bata.