|Addressing audience during |
World Arthritis Meet, Mumbai
That's when you truly believe you have become strong.
I became strong last night.
I have very faint and very few memories of my childhood. But there's one thing I can never forget (sorry Fibro Fog). I remember that day when I was a little girl, when something that I don't remember had happened and I was crying. Dada, my grandfather, who loved me more than anyone else (except for my mother's love for me, of course) was holding me in his arms. My face was drenched in tears and I was very sad, and he had said one thing very clearly, "I don't want to see tears in Annu's eyes... never," I had stopped crying instantly. I didn't want him to be upset about me crying.
So the day he left us, when I was in class five, I did not cry for hours. He lay on a white sheet surrounded by all the family and padosis, all crying as he was the nicest person. All crying, but me. The girls (our neighbours, then in college) had taken me to their house. And they all were trying to make me cry. They knew I loved him a lot and they were told that I was in some shock and they must get the tears flowing. But I was trying hard not to cry as he never wanted to see tears in my eyes. After umpteen efforts, a girl much elder to me but not mature enough to figure out what to say, said those words, "Tere dada tujhe itna pyaar karte thhey, woh chale gaye aur tujhe ronaa bhi nahi aa raha!"* She said it, she spoiled it, she set those tears rolling and they all looked relieved. I don't blame her, as she was trying to help thinking that if I didn't cry I would stay in a state of shock for long. I was however trying to be strong. I broke down.
A tough childhood made me a person who can make others laugh with jokes and PJs, as I tried to stay strong. A tougher life ahead made me cry in solitude. And every time, I would say to myself that I have to be strong. I did stay strong until the next big episode. And then I cried. It was a loop. There were two ways to look at it:
- Sorrow always follows joy.
- Joy always follows sorrow.
And then, thanks to Dr. Shashank Akerkar, I got the opportunity to speak about Fibromyalgia in front of an audience of around 100-150. The audience that comprised rheumatologists, different specialists in medical field and people with medical problems, mostly arthritis. I was supposed to talk about the condition, what a person with Fibromyalgia goes through, symptoms, tips, awareness and all that. I had never spoken in front of such an audience except for people I know (office colleagues). So I faced two challenges:
- To send across the right message and make the most of the event for generating awareness.
- To be able to speak in front of a complete strangers towards the end of the event.
- English was not the right language of communication as other doctors spoke in Marathi and Hindi. So I had to speak in Hindi while my presentation was in English.
- Presentation slide number 3 got stuck and that too at the following image:
Somehow I stood strong, literally too, and everything went fine. Here's the link to the post about the meet. Except for the super-fast speed in which I spoke out of sheer nervousness and time constraints. But I saw that the people were paying attention. And I didn't cry at a point where I thought I might. So great!
I was happy. Yes, I have learned to derive happiness in the smallest of things. Like not stammering during the presentation. Like not using the word "Ph F*@#" when the ppt got stuck.
I thought I have become strong.
Who knew a horrible news awaited me a few hours ahead! Something I could have never imagined. Especially not at this time of life. Something that should ideally make me cry definitely, instantly and incessantly. And I did not cry. And I reacted in a way that I surprised myself. And I FELT really strong. My inner voice whispered to me from somewhere within... mind, heart or soul... who knows... all I care is it said, "Wow, you have become very strong!"
The coming days are going to be tough. Thankfully I have three years of Fibromyalgia experience (good I got it earlier!), so at this point I know how not to let the bad news worsen my condition. And thankfully I know for sure that I have become strong. My problems are not going to bother me a lot, maybe they are adding fuel to the strength I'll need in future!
I realise that's what middle-age is all about. By now, we have shed quite some tears and made some choices, and the choices have made us what we are today. Strong in its truest sense!
My presentation on Fibromyalgia (an amateur video attempt):
* "Your dada loved you so much, he's left forever and you are not even crying!"