You are as alive as you feel: A story of remarkable courage

  • Sonal Kalra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2015 11:32 IST
Minhazz, smiling all the way, before and after the treatment.

A big, giant, Adnan Sami-before-weight-loss sized hug to all of you for your lovely mails and blessings for my little one last week. Itne achhe log ho aap sab, I sometimes wonder if I deserve to complain about anything in life, after the affection I get from the readers of this column week after week.

It's so heartening to see such positivity in the feedback mails you send me. Aur haan, positivity se yaad aaya, Chaddha ji has tested positive for dengue. Thoda unke liye bhi pray kar do, aur thoda us mosquito ke liye bhi! Who knows who has got more harm in this process. Vaise I keep promising myself that I won't be this mean to Chaddha ji from next week onwards, but it is genuinely tough to be nice to someone who is such an expert at irritating the daylights out of anyone.

Khair, let's leave him to recover from illness and let me share something very, very touching with you today. It's the story of this friend of mine - Minhazz - who was an inspiration to me even before circumstances made her display remarkable courage. An art curator, a writer, gardener, nature lover, brilliant cook - and more importantly a wonderful friend to all those who know her, Minhazz was cruising happily along life till one fine day when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Life turned quite upside down, or so it seemed, till Minhazz decided to get a firm grip on it again, in her inimitable style. Today, I'm reproducing a letter that Minhazz has written. It is something so simple, yet so beautiful, from the eyes of someone who has seen a rather tough time of late. But that never stopped her from still seeing the blessing in it all. Cheers to Minhazz's courage, and that everlasting smile of hers.

Dear Sonal,

2015 has seen my family being totally sideswiped by medical matters - it began with a sudden surprise diagnosis of cancer for me and then onto various maladies out of the blue for my husband and teenage daughter. A once healthy family suddenly became pre-occupied only with doctor visits, medical tests and treatments in the middle of the dreaded 12th Board exams for my daughter. It was terrifying to wait for medical test reports, and life has felt like a nightmare more than one time in the last eight months, especially during the chemotherapy sessions. We learnt so many lessons, many of them about calmness and courage in the face of crisis and adversity.

1)Know that the crisis will pass. Understand that the essential nature of life is such that everything passes and nothing lasts forever. The good times, the bad times, the sweet dreams and the nightmares. No matter what crisis you are going through, remind yourself that this too has a shelf life, this too shall pass, if not today, then tomorrow or the next day ..hold on to that promise.

2)Know that there is a reason for the crisis, even if you do not grasp it. Or maybe there is no reason. It does not matter. In India, the law of karma can be used to explain a lot of things. Perhaps the crisis is karma from previous lifetimes. You can choose other reasons too - God's will, your soul's evolution, plain bad luck, life lessons, etc. etc ... If you learnt lessons, good. If not, good too. There is really no need to take life too seriously.

3)Sometimes you gotta be your own hero. View the crisis as an opportunity that life/universe/God is giving you to be your own hero. Many of us go through life looking for people we can lean on. We discount our own strengths and forget that we can be there for ourselves. Perhaps a crisis is all about coming into your own.

4) Know that you always have a choice. No one wants pain and sorrow but these are embedded into the human experience as much as happiness and laughter is. Embrace whatever is happening in your life and look beyond. You cannot control events in your life but you always have control over your reactions - you can choose to react with fear or acceptance, depression or joy or at times, a mixture of both.

5)Be thankful. There is so much to be thankful for no matter what is happening in life. Be thankful for waking up in the morning, for having people who love you, for a gorgeous sunrise or sunset, for being alive. The crisis is there for the moment but that does not mean we forget we are alive. Love, Minhazz

And alive is who we are, no matter what mess life sometimes gets into. Thank you and kudos, Minhazz, for showing us that life is as good or bad as we make it out to be. And that different diseases may have different symptoms, but losing the ability to smile is not one of them. Chalo ab itna senti ho gaya hai mera mind, that I suddenly feel like giving a hug to even Chaddha ji. Signing out before I officially lose it. Till next week, keep up the madness.

Sonal Kalra wants to know if the Independence Day gone by also got you freedom from negative thinking and self-pity. It sure as hell did for her. Mail your thoughts at or Follow on Twitter@sonalkalra .

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