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My Singing Shefali Flower
|by Dr. Manasi Dutt|
Last night my husband Pallab and I went to a meeting, a fun meeting, and a meeting of the Stroke Recovery Association. All the people who attend this meeting have recovered from stroke which basically translates into, they came out alive from the stroke, but the beast of stroke has left its bite marks on their bodies. All over the gathering there were signs of injuries and scars from the visit of stroke. Nobody in the meeting had a perfect body there was some defective body-part with everybody. With many it was written right on their faces, with a couple when they smiled their lips walked over more to one side than on the other.. One can call it an asymmetrical smile or a funny smile; one gentle man excused himself for his speech. When he spoke all the air came out from one side, one can call it speech impediment, or one can call it a funny speech.
Everybody in the meeting carried something funny, although to be brutally truthful there was nothing funny in their disabilities. At the beginning of the meeting the news of passing away of three members was announced, one woman and two men. That is the rule of the meeting. It always starts with announcements of the deceased, folks who had passed away in the last one month, since the last meeting. We all are aware that life is fragile and that we all are mortals but in this group we are extra aware of fragility of life and also of our mortality. We all are aware; I am on this earth in this moment, but in the next moment? Who knows?
I wondered, he went to the microphone at the podium and opened his mouth. A steady thick sweet manly voice emerged. He sang several songs, all Scottish songs. Obviously this was a Scottish theme evening. I was thoroughly taken by his music, my heart and soul immersed in his song, his voice climbing up and sliding down smoothly, as a lonesome woman called for her man, who was out in the ocean then a mother called for her son also out in the ocean. I asked the man sitting next to me what is the singer's name? He answered Mack.
He added Mack was born with a stroke. In the hospital His mother had looked out the window and had seen a Macdonald's Eatery and that's how she named her son Mack. Then he amended, Mack has made good use of his life. He is a tattoo artist, he is married to Martha, and they have two children a son and a daughter - the so called million dollar family. My heart was immersed in Mack's thoughts Mack, however, was thinking about Martha. They were going through a rough patch in their marriage, possibly as a result of the despair. Mack's muscles had weakened significantly. He hadn't been able to work for eight months. He hadn't been able to do any household chore either. During this time, Martha had been the sole bread winner of the family, had paid the bills and had looked after the household and the children. This had caused the sore spot in their relationship. At times Martha said I might as well move out with the children and live by myself. In that way I wouldn't have to take part in the daily bickering. Mack couldn't give any answer, he stood there speechless, stunned and shocked, he knew getting him out of the way for a better life was not illogical on Martha's part.
Once again he sat down at the kitchen table, with his head bent, his forehead resting on the table. He realized, his head bent forwards from the weight of dejection, disappointment and disenchantment. Or, perhaps my neck muscles are exhausted from carrying the weight of my head. He knew the former version was the truth; the latter was just an excuse. Once again he looked up, glanced at the hook and imagined how in one month's time his body would hang from there, his mind and soul cool, calm collected and composed. He felt tempted. For such a long time he hadn't felt any inner peace, he reminded himself. This evening he had lost the grasp of the last straw. That really, truly broke the camel's back.
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