The blessed me, that is my mantra. Everyday in the morning when I wake up I say this mantra to myself and when I go to bed at night once again I say this mantra. Somehow in the core of my soul I know I am a blessed soul. Why do I think so? I don't know. I don't think there is a specific logical reason for this belief. The only explanation being, the mantra surfaces on my mind just the way a lotus flower floats on the water, a rule of nature, it can't be any other way. In the same way my mind believes in the mantra.
Three years back when I was riding the crest of my life I was hit by a major stroke. It was a 2" diameter bleeding in my right brain. That catastrophe abruptly pulled down the curtain of my life. I lost my thriving medical practice, I lost my ability to look after slightly more than 3000 patients I lost my money earning capacity, I lost the enjoyable company of all my patients and my two long-time secretaries, I lost my medical license, I lost my driving license, I even lost the use of my fancy Mercedes car. As fast as the drop of a hat I lost everything my life was made of. I lost the left half of my body. Every single part of my life fell apart. Even after I was turned into a beggar the mantra THE BLESSED ME resonated in my mind.
What are my blessings? I asked myself. I looked at my husband, a kind non-judgmental person who showered me with unconditional love. Two loving giving caring children who cried out in unison, 'mom, we need you, please don't leave us now'. My accountant went over my financial papers and whispered on the phone; as long as you live you are financially well provided for. The physiotherapist taught me how to walk how to climb up and down the stairs how to transfer to and from the bed to the wheelchair and back. Indeed, the blessed me, I told myself. Then in a frantic voice I asked the Divine mother Kali, 'Ma, now what do I do with my life? Do I have more to offer to the universe? Has the universe more to offer me?' My inner voice answered with a resounding 'yes' you have more to offer you have more to receive. But what? I wailed back in a frantic tone, I can only do doctoring and now that path is closed to me what else do I do? The Divine mother Kali smiled back. I couldn't see her smile, but I could imagine it. I started praying morning, noon and night. After eighteen months of praying I received a faint answer 'why don't you write about your stroke? Why don't you write how it came upon you and how you recovered from it? Just like doctoring, your writing might help others. Still, the message left me bewildered. I don't have any gift or talent in creative writing. I wailed. I didn't hear any new message.
There is a girl on the west coast. By the name Nupur. I barely knew her. I didn't invite her in my life. I didn't open the door of my life to her. I didn't have any professional connection with her, the higher power ushered her in my life. The higher power opened the door of my life of my life to her. The thousands of miles distance between us disappeared, she started calling me morning, noon and night and if she didn't call, a longing stirred inside me and I called her I called her so that we were in contact morning, noon and night. She told me constantly 'manjuladi, please start writing short stories'; I answered her Nupur, '10 years ago I tried to write short stories. I tried really very hard, but I had no talent or gift in writing short stories'. Nupur answered, 'gift and talent are not like mountains, or boulders they don't stay put in one place, instead gifts and talents are more like water they flow from one person to another from one house to another'. 'How do you know that?' I challenged her in a defiant tone. She said 'I have read about it' the thought crossed my mind, did she make it up? Nupur continued motivating me and said you try and start writing, only in that way you can find out, whether in last 10 years the gifts and talents for writing short stories have arrived at your doorstep. You can't know about it unless you try to write short stories, can you?, Once again morning noon and night she went on badgering me,
After a while I broke down. One Saturday as I was at the cottage I had some extra time on hand and I sat down with a notepad and pen looked out the window and wrote down a short story. I E-mailed it to Nupur she answered back 'apoorbo golpo' an excellent story. What do I do now, was my question to her, she answered back 'why don't you publish it?' Do you have any clue how hard it is to publish a short story? I asked back. I don't have a clue, was her clear reply. I expected an answer like that didn't I? Then came and another e-mail from her, I am in love with a website called boloji.com why don't you try there? I was ready to try anything, anywhere. Like a drowning person I was ready to grasp on any straw. The next day I sent my short story to boloji.com and lo and behold, my story was published in one week. The whole incident seemed very enigmatic. I decided to dig it deeper. That's when I decided to make a trip to San Francisco, where Nupur lived. In a few days my husband and I went to San Francisco to meet Nupur.
She always seemed to me to be very emotionally and spiritually mature. We are in different generations but her maturity bridged our generational gap on reaching her place I came to know her son Leo closely and I spent the whole day with him. From the first moment he stole my heart. He can't talk but that doesn't keep him from expressing his feelings through his body language. He made it clear to me that he was shy. He didn't wish to have anything to do with me. But I refused to accept his rejection, I was incredibly eager to take a peek in his mind. Nupur had lots of interesting books. But I decided to put them down, instead I spent the time with Leo. Nupur informed me that Leo is autistic. I didn't know much about Autism. Very shortly I had concluded that Leo's mind was as awesome and as wonderful as the Niagara Falls. I went around his mind many times over but each time I found all the doors and windows were closed. Later on I realized they were not only closed they were bolted shut. As the darkness of evening descended, I was about to give up any hope of having a peek in Leo's mind.
By that time I was also tired and hungry. I decided to take a nap in Leo's bed. He was angry with me for occupying his bed but I was so tired that I refused to give in to his demand. When I woke up I encountered a magic. I found Leo right in front of me rocking back and forth on his knees. He was singing a song, his own tune and his own wording. His very own creation. There was only one word, 'Dissum'. A word of his invention, it doesn't exist in Bengali or in English. He chanted the same word over and over again as if he was chanting in a Temple. I felt honored, I told him, 'Leo, I am not a goddess, don't chant in front of me in that way'. But he didn't pay any heed to my words. That is the charm of having a closed mind, he doesn't give a damn about anything or anybody. He lives in his own closed world and there only he calls the shots, makes his own rules. Without any sound and without any soul. What a strange creation that was, was all I could think. His mind can barely grasp the present fleeting moment. The past is immediately forgotten, the future may never happen, the past had never happened. My desire to peek in Leo's mind strengthened. I waited for a miracle to happen. Like everything else in life, God had something extra in store for me. Just when night began and the darkness poured inside through the large window-panes
all of a sudden Leo jumped beside me, held me by my wrist and pulled me to the dark washroom, there, once again, he jumped and turned on the light but he didn't let go of my hand, once again he jumped and landed at the front of the toilet. There with one flourish of his hand he pulled down his pj exposed his manhood and started to pee the stream was strong and healthy it took him a long while to empty his bladder, he really had to go badly that's why he had pulled my hand because it was a dire necessity. Going in alone in a dark washroom was too much for his closed mind to endure. After he was all done he let go of my hand and on his way out he didn't forget to turn the light off. That amused me about how meticulously and mechanically his brain worked. These are the peculiarities of Leo's behavior that amused me to no end. Any rule, when he learns thoroughly, there is no deviation from that. Up to 25 CD discs he can put in the same order, the statues of decoration he puts back facing the same way. That's why I find his brain as amazing and as awesome as the Niagara Falls. The computer in his brain functions superbly. When it comes to normal expression of emotions and feelings, however, his brain capitulates.
After my visit with Leo ended I had an incredible surge of anger towards God, 'What kind of a game have you played with this little innocent boy? You have granted him a body which is absolutely perfect, then made such terrible mess with his brain cells and cell-connections. This is one of the great injustices to the human spirit I have ever witnessed. Everyday when I pray, Leo's thought crosses my mind and I tell my Divine Mother, Ma, I don't understand about all your mysterious creations. Please keep Leo happy. That's not too much to ask for. As Leo peed, I noticed that his urine was of dark yellow color, in fact, it was ochre. His urine left a dark stain by the side of the toilet bowl. When Leo left the washroom, he didn't look back or bid me goodbye. I was already into the future, his past already wiped out from his memory, already forgotten. I pushed down the handle of the flush and watched as large swirls of water flowed down, washing away Leo's deep stained pee. Later on, when I informed Nupur about Leo's urine color, she retorted, it is all because Leo is not interested in drinking enough water. Nupur has to keep an eye on Leo's water intake.
Nupur's whole life is occupied by motherhood. She has to spend every waking moment taking care of her son. The story is the same with every mother of an autistic child. The Higher Power has granted them an autistic child only because they are agreeable to dedicate every moment of their lives for their special-need children. That is how the extraordinary mothers get to have the extraordinary children. So I realized, nothing is out of kilter in God's creation. By the time I emerged from the washroom I saw Leo jumping in front of the TV. When I stood close to him he took a brief glance at me. There was no sign on his face that he had ever seen me before. Still I was grateful to the Divine Mother that she had granted my wish, granted me the blessing of having a peek in Leo's mind. The blessed me, I said once again.