Profile: Tender is the night
A Covid infection pushed Akanksha Agarwal into the darkest period of her life. But the kindness she received inspired poems of love
When you’re born into an affluent family and then marry into a similar milieu, it can be quite easy to lose your sense of self. Which is why Akanksha Agarwal is determined to carve a niche for herself in her area of work: the cultural arts of poetry, dancing, singing, art and music.
Still slowly recovering from a nightmarish attack of Covid that left her without sensation in her limbs, Akanksha recently self-published her first book of poetry, the culmination of the last two years of her life, when she was entirely dependent on the kindness of others.
“Every nurse, doctor and physiotherapist, my mother, my husband, my family makers, my staff at home, every one of my family members wheeled me around in my wheelchair with so much humility and care, and ensured that I was treated with respect and kindness at my time of need,” says Akanksha. “My support system treated me as tenderly as a newborn child. It was then that I began to write my thoughts in the digital notes on my phone.”
Mightier than the sword
Akanksha’s book, titled The Secret in My Blood, is about love. “I just wrote what my heart feels; it always bleeds in love,” says Akanksha. “I feel, I think, I write, I get vibes of love, I pen them down. Every man and woman on this earth yearns to be with someone they love.”
The poems explore all the facets of love: the implicit yearnings, the joy and ecstasy of passion, the happiness, the pain, the sundry experiences and perspectives of the emotion that everyone feels at least once in their lives, but few people can fully describe.
Akanksha began writing poetry years ago when her late father—whom she considered to also be her friend and mentor—gifted her a pen, after noticing that she had a talent for words.
She used this pen to write her book of poems, and published the book herself when she realised that poetry seldom finds reputable publishers. “Self-publishing is great because you can good readers and better royalties,” she explains.
Akanksha promoted the book at various literature festivals, both online and offline. “I have participated in the most prestigious platform, the Jaipur Literary Festival, and also on various media platforms that have helped me to reach my audience,” she says.
She’s very open to reviews, both good and bad, because they mean that the reviewers have delved into each poem deeply and judged it on its own merits.
“Good reviews brighten my day,” she grins. “They make me happy, and really energise me to push my talent even further. They make me feel blessed and motivated.”
Oddly enough, bad reviews have much the same effect on her, minus the joy of course. “They give me the energy to work even harder and see where I can further improve,” she says.
Attitude of gratitude
She’s done all this while still recovering from that nasty bout of Covid, but Akanksha is nothing but grateful for what she’s been through, because the kindness she was surrounded with gave her a fresh perspective on life.
“It’s so surreal, yet true, that little moments of kindness, like someone making a cup of coffee or green tea for you, and someone just listening to what you have to say, can brighten up the day,” she says. “I never lost hope. Even when I was at my lowest, I boosted myself constantly by remembering that life could get better and that there is a reason to live.”
Despite her positivity, she knows that what she went through will remain with her forever.
“I get flashbacks of the nasty side effects of heavy medications, the loss of mobilty in my limbs, and the way my life just turned upside down,” she says. “Even so, I am regaining my optimism as I recover, back at home from the hospital and with my two beautiful children, Aryan and Aanaya.”
With a book of poetry put together during this terrible period of her life, Akanksha is certain she will soon be back on track
“I am sure with God’s grace and the love of my family I’ll soon pick up my paintbrush, paint my thoughts, sing and record my voice, write poems, and cook for my family. And I will be as cheerful as I can,” she says.
Anandita De is a luxury lifestyle consultant & writer
From HT Brunch, November 19, 2022
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