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When The Last Right is Not For Daughters

When The Last Right is Not For Daughters

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha was laid to rest at Marina Beach in Chennai. Her close aide Sasikala performed the last rites before her body was lowered into the earth. I watched it in entirety on national television. But why am I talking about this when this post isn’t about Tamil Nadu politics or its vendetta? It’s because…. I saw a woman out there performing the last rites!!!!

Hinduism prescribes a whole set of rules and regulations that have been passed on from generations, with a sole idea of having some sort of orderliness in our complex human life. Some of these rules make sense while many others could simply be termed superstitious.

When my father passed away a few years back, the entire responsibility of giving him that final farewell fell on my sister and my shoulders. From arranging a Hindu priest, to booking the timing and slot for cremation at the graveyard, the two of us managed to pull the whole thing. Yet, at the time when the last rites were to be performed, the priest politely told us to stay away and instead, another male member of the family was asked to step in. I wasn’t too happy with this, yet at that moment, so overwhelmed was I with emotions on my father dying, I refrained from arguing with the family around.

Till date, I regret doing this.

The importance of the male relative performing the last rites comes from the Garuda Purana, one of the eighteen Puranas which are part of the Hindu body of texts. To me, this rule or tradition, whatever you may choose to call it, denies the right of the woman over her parents. For a very long time, I tried making sense of why was it alright for another male member to perform the last rites, but not the daughter. And after considerable reading and speaking to many who were well-versed with the scriptures, I learnt that:

The scriptures mention women as soft hearted emotional beings. Thus extreme grief could be overwhelming and handling rituals related to it may take a toll on them. It is for this very reason, women are often forbidden from entering the cremation ground. The scriptures emphasize on purity in every ritual performed. And mensuration has always been considered impure. As such cycles could hinder the course of the ritual being performed; women were kept away from it in entirety. Some scholars are also of the view that this rule was added to the scriptures to prevent women from demanding paternal property. In our patriarchal society, a woman, once married, belonged to the husband’s family. Exempting women from performing last rites of parents would ensure that they have no rights or legal claim on their parents’ property. A few other scholars, state that though the Puranas do not mention a daughter’s role, it does not expressly forbid them from doing so.

The Changing Trends

But do these traditions & practices seem relevant in today’s times? For years now, this has been under constant debate. In fact there have been cases in the last few years where daughters have come ahead and performed the last rites of their parents.  Renuka Choudhury, the fiery congress leader, performed the last rites of her father, being the only child. When Gopinath Munde was cremated, his last rites were performed by his daughter and political heir, Pankaja Munde. The traditional notions of the role of a son in his parents’ last rites must erode away, and we must welcome a new set of practices that are suitable to the world we are living in today.

As a society we collectively need to understand that many traditions and practices were perfect for the time they were made for. Like the process of evolution, our thoughts and ideas must evolve to newer forms, to mold itself into the changing patterns of society.

Terminal Illness and Death- Quality or Quantity, the Debate Goes On

Terminal Illness and Death- Quality or Quantity, the Debate Goes On

What’s more important to You, Quality or Quantity of Life? How far do we want to go to prolong our lives?

What a complex life!! Amidst the web of relationships I am entwined in, I am caught in this strange cycle of life and death. Where birth brings in joy death sure does bring sorrow.  But strangely, in my 36 odd years of existence, I have learnt that not always must death bring in sorrow. I have had situations in life when the death of my loved one has brought in an altogether different feeling. It is that unique feeling of relief and sadness mixed together.  At such times, you seldom shed those tears of sorrow, but give a sigh of relief instead, thanking God that the life has come to an end. Strange isn’t it, but I have experienced this weird feeling twice in my life.

Appa’s last few years were a fierce battle- with cancer. And it was not only his, it was all of ours. Metastatic colo-rectal cancer has a poor prognosis with only 5% of the cases crossing the five year mark, post diagnosis. I still remember the doctor telling me this. Yet, we decided to go ahead with the fight. Despite the multiple surgeries, and numerous rounds of Chemotherapy, Appa didn’t make it to the five year mark. Amma and I still ponder over the fact whether it really was worth fighting such an aggressive form of cancer, ‘cause despite the treatment prolonging his life by a year or so, it did reduce the quality of his life drastically, and also burnt a big hole in Amma and Appa’s savings. A healthy Appa was reduced to a mere frame.

I still remember the last day of his life. As the body began the process of shutting down, I sat by his side rubbing his palm that was turning cold by the minute. The cancer had spread through his body and the pain it caused is indescribable. As I sat there that night, I said those silent prayers hoping those few traces of life would leave his body soon. Every minute of pain, seemed to be a lifetime. And finally after more than twelve hours of moaning in pain, Appa slipped away slowly.

I was glad his life ended!!!!

My Paati was the kindest souls in my life. I still remember my childhood days spent in her lovely little home in Chennai. The kitchen would be stocked up with the most yummy savories and sweets and every meal would be a surprise.  She did belong to a generation that was far healthier. No wonder Paati outlived many family members who were younger than her, finally closing her eyes at the age of 97. Despite having lived a contended life, her last few months were spent simply lying on the bed. Unable to move, due to a stroke, she would have pipes to feed her and an attender who would take care of the body and its needs. It seemed to be a mere existence as Paati slowly failed to recognize any of us. It was a painful sight to see the woman who taught me so much, to be motionless. For some strange reason, her life clung on to her body, refusing to let go. Unable to see her that way, I would secretly pray the ordeal ended. And finally when it did, I gave a sigh of relief!!

Advancements in modern medicine present us with opportunities to live longer lives and keep life threatening diseases at a chronic stage for longer periods of time. But is it worth being kept alive in this way? Just how far do we want to go to prolong our lives?

It’s truly tough determining this, because there is no one right solution. The process of knowing what you want may take time and deep reflection as well as conversations with your loved ones. Of course we all want our loved ones to live for eternity, but prolonging life and living life are two totally different things.

Isn’t quality of life more important than quantity???

Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

sSurviving cancer should have a mix of optimism and positivity. It is found all around us; however we often fail to notice them. Just like my friend “S”. I had done an earlier blog post of her battle with cancer. So filled with optimism is her story that I had to blog about her once again.

S was 34 when she noticed that first lump in her breast. A series of tests and a biopsy later, her doctor declared it to be cancerous. S was devastated. She had a beautiful family comprising of two young girls and a loving husband. She felt there was no hope of her surviving and was worried how her family would manage if anything were to happen to her. S was scheduled to be operated in a week’s time. The day before the surgery she sat in the hospital bed with a glum face. By her side was another young patient, admitted with lymphoblastic leukemia. He was all of 8 years old.

In S’s words, “That kid literally shook me up. He was playing a game of chess with his mother. Despite the dry skin and loss of hair resulting out of his treatment, you should have seen the glow on his face. He had all his moves right. Not that his mother was making the game easy for him. She challenged him in every possible way. But I could see that he was enjoying his game, and every move made. I chatted up with the duo. He was scheduled for a surgery in two days time. Despite the anxiety strewn across the mothers face, the child had none. He loved games he said- Monopoly, and Pictionary being his favorite. He plays to win and that made him happy. At that moment it hit me hard.”

S added, “Now that’s what you call being positive and being optimistic, with no fear of the future.  Giving every move in life your best without really looking far ahead. Life is sure full of uncertainties. Whether it is for a cancer patient or for that matter any one of us. Why not enjoy the moment and just be optimistic about the future? Why worry about things which really aren’t in your control? I prepared myself mentally for the surgery as the docs prepared me physically.”

Before I was to be sedated, I called my husband and said, “I don’t know what’s the outcome of the surgery or my treatment, but I am going in smiling. And I will come out smiling, so go get me the best wig in town!!!” He had a hearty laugh.

“I did come out of the surgery smiling. The months to follow were scheduled with radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. They kept me in bed for days. I puked like hell. But somewhere deep down I stopped worrying about the outcome of my ailment. Instead I played Pictionary and Scotland Yard with my daughters. Their smiles during the games made me feel better. It is nine months since my last treatment. Mentally I am prepared to face anything now. I have come a long way, since my diagnosis. That little boy taught me to enjoy every move of mine. I call this survival without having a fear of the future.”

Hope is All that I Have #AtoZChallenge

Hope is All that I Have #AtoZChallenge

h“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”- Desmond Tutu.

Before I started out on the #AtoZChallenge, at the time I was choosing an appropriate theme, I decided I will write positive things about India. A country that is so incredible must be spoken about and, a few of its unknown facets must be shared with the world. We are one of those countries rich in culture, heritage, regions and people and I feel good to blog about it.

But for the past two days, I have been immensely disturbed by a little newspaper report. This news snippet left me with a sullen feeling. As I sat staring at the newspaper this morning, the greatness and marvel of the country seemed to lose its sheen in front of my eyes. And I realized, behind the veil of our culture, hides this one big venomous snake that just doesn’t seem to be getting out of our society. Yet again, his fangs have snuffed out another young girl’s life.

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Image: For Representation Purpose Only

On Wednesday afternoon, 27 year old Himanshi Kashyap was found dead with a single bullet shot on her head, in the bathroom of her Ghaziabad residence. She was the daughter a former minister in Uttar Pradesh. Himanshi’s father has alleged that her husband’s family constantly abused her over their demands for a car and Rs. 50 lakh cash in dowry. Himanshi, a post-graduate was married to Sagar, who is pursuing his higher studies in medicine, three years ago. The couple has a son aged one-and-a-half years. With prima facie evidence indicating abuse and violence (Himanshi had burn marks on her neck and bluish-black marks over her eye); the police and their team are yet to file a charge sheet.

It just makes me wonder. Despite all the advancements we seem to be making in almost every field, why is it that we are yet to eradicate dowry from our country? How many more Hiamanshi’s would lose their lives, before we wake up as a large and embrace a positive change?

Hope and hope is all that I have.

When Death Came Knocking At Our Door

When Death Came Knocking At Our Door

beautiful-dark-scenery-moon-in-forest

Left us stiff through the way,

When Death Came knocking at our door.

Not once did he let us stay in peace;

Not once did he make us feel at ease.

He said at first let me in,

Of course we couldn’t let him win.

We tried and tried to keep him at bay;

But little did we realize it’s finally his say.

He took with him not father alone,

But money, cheer and left us worn.

Why us? I often asked;

Why so cruel?  I often wonder.

But answer to this I seldom got,

It was him who got the last laugh

And left us all to just ponder on.

Linking with : http://www.writetribe.com/write-tribe-pro-blogger-challenge/

From Diagnosis until Death- The Toughest Journey till date

From Diagnosis until Death- The Toughest Journey till date

Dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer on the 1st of March 2010. He passed away on 17th October 2014. His 4yrs and 7month fight against cancer has been tough not only on him, but on each and every one of us. Mom- the pillar of support, towards the end, started to lose her cool too.

On days she used to feel low, “L” and me kept pusing her spritis up telling her that we’ll fight it out. We wont let dad giveup. But she just had this one thought- Is he living with cancer or, is he dying with cancer?

Looking back, I feel maybe he is in a better place now, calm and more peaceful. No chemos, no PETs, no Adjuvant therapy nothing at all… I now truly agree with mom… he really wasnt living a life after diagnosis—- He was dying with cancer.

The 4 odd years of our lives have been tough. Starting today, I shall share all our experiances – diagnosis treatment, hospital rounds and all other aspects of fighting the ailment. I hope it helps other people probably in a similar state.

Something to Think About #11

Something to Think About #11

When Dad passed away, i was feeling very lost. Where had he gone away all of a sudden? i asked questions …many of them on life and death. As I watched the rituals unfold in front of me and Dad’s last rites, I really wondered if all this made any sense to the departed person.

I did mention this to “A”. He gave me his version. “A” thinks life is a form of energy. And energy cannot be destroyed, killed or removed, it is converted from one form to another. So then going by this explanation, if life is energy, what is it converted to when death occurs? “A” didnt have an answer, and said, these are things which science has to still find an answer too.

I am still lost.. Coudnt come to terms with Dads death, until I came across this beautiful piece on a blog titled Source of Inspiration. It sure has been a source of insupiration for me and I just had to reblog it.

So with all due credit to the blogger here is a must read.

He Came, He Stayed, He Conquered…..

He Came, He Stayed, He Conquered…..

Pancreatic cancer cells

Dad passed away on October 17, 2014….

Today, on his 69th birthday, I think of him with fond memories in my heart.

It was a 4 and a half year struggle, a struggle to keep cancer at bay. But in the end, cancer emerged vitorious. The end wasnt a very good sight. I will never forget the last few days, sitting by his side, and feeling his hand, I saw the way he was sliping away. I will probably come to terms with the fact that Dad is no more.. but never will I come to terms with the way his life ended.

The fight against cancer is a tough one. Probably the toughest battles in life. Not only for the patient but for the near and dear ones too. It greatly reduces the quality of life , and often makes me wonder is it actally worth it?

-Rumbles