“What have you been through?”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
  J.R.R.Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

On October 2, 2014 I was busy writing a post after a long hiatus. It was around 11.30 pm at night. I suddenly looked around at the phone that was at my bedside table. It was blinking. There was a message on Whatsapp. My beautiful friend Roma messaged me. It read, “She’s gone Renu.” It was 11.41 pm.

That’s when I knew that our friend Farzana had lost her battle with cancer. She’d been fighting it for years. She’d given it her all, she tried everything she could. Cancer finally won. As it so often does. You can’t cheat death. And you definitely can’t cheat cancer. It comes back, again and again and again to rip your innards and blow them to smithereens in a manner of speaking.

Cancer. It’s what you go through. It’s what the family, friends and relatives go through during those really tough times that sheds a little light on who we are, or who we pretend to be. It unmasks us as only despair and the shadow of imminent death can.

We all rallied around Farzana 3 years ago, when we thought that she was running her last mile. We contributed and gave her the money that she so desperately needed but was too proud to accept. We routed it through another friend who ran a not-for-profit. But perhaps she knew. Did it matter? Does it matter now? What matters in the end?

She was only 40. She had aged parents who are afflicted with illness themselves. She has a husband who didn’t give up on her either. He researched any and every alternative therapy or potential cure which was accessible and which he thought would help her and urged her to try. From Reiki to Cow’s urine to Simarouba Glauca and more, Farzana had tried everything. And through the ordeal and the pain she was immersed in, she kept working, kept making plans for a future that she knew was but a faint blur on the horizon.

But that’s the true meaning of life isn’t it? To keep at it because you don’t really know what’s around the corner. Just put one leg in front of the other and keep walking as Johnnie Walker says. Hrmph! Ironical that liquor, a brew that supposedly helps us drown our sorrows should advocate ‘keep walking’. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s what they do mean – come what may, keep walking, keep drinking, keep drowning out your sorrows – for only when you drown them out will the sound of hope, renewed life and desire emerge from the depths. And eventually we all die anyway. So keep walking.

I don’t know what you went through Farzana. I will never know or pretend to understand. I know the physical pain was unbearable. But that’s all I do know. No there’s one more thing I do know. I know that I will remember your laughter, and your “can do” spirit. I will remember your deep burning desire to serve those in need, be it children from economically unsound backgrounds or the elderly or anyone who could do with a little bit of a helping hand. No surprises then that you were part of the CSR group at the offices where we worked and met. Relentless, determined, dogged, steadfast, talented and brave with a hearty laugh and a twinkle in your eye. Farzana. R.I.P.

Recommended: The “Open Series” of films featuring Andre Agassi. Full of life lessons. Catch-in-the-throat honest.Raw. Naked. Brilliant.



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