Want to die better?

Ever since I had the misfortune of watching helplessly my father being tortured to death in a hospital ICU in India, I have not had a single day of peace, for the past 22 months. I started feeling useful only after I got associated with Pallium India, a non profit organisation based in Kerala, which is making painstaking efforts to help patients with life limiting illnesses get basic pain relief. dying_flowers____by_ladybutterly83

A day spent with the medical staff and volunteers of Pallium in January was a beautiful experience, more so since we had the company of Dr. Rajagopal, the founder of Pallium and a couple of guests from the UK, among them senior journalist Jeremy Laurance, who was working on a feature story on palliative care in India.

The link here is the article Jeremy wrote, published on Mosaic, and republished by prominent publishers such as the Independent.

This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/death-doulas-dying-palliative-care-hospice-kerala-india-a7597496.html

Why did it take me 30 years to appreciate Shakespeare’s Greatness!

It was 30 years ago that I read multiple works of Shakespeare as part of my university course, among them King Lear, which I thought was the most boring. I was only twenty years of age, but was it okay for a literature student to not appreciate a great work by one of the greatest literary figures ever!

And suddenly this morning it all clicked into place, the essence and truth of the theme of King Lear. IT IS AN AGELESS PLOT, but you can only comprehend it fully when you get to live it, in life!

This morning, at 4am,as I reread the scenes, I can’t stop my tears from streaming down , for in this now, the scenes unfold with such clarity and meaning it hurts me real painful.

The story briefly:

The story opens in ancient Britain, where the elderly King Lear decides to give up his power and divide his realm amongst his three daughters, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril, intending to give the largest piece of his kingdom to the child who professes to love him the most, certain that his favorite daughter, Cordelia, will win the challenge. Goneril and Regan, corrupt and deceitful, lie to their father with sappy and excessive declarations of affection. Cordelia, however, refuses to engage in Lear’s game, and replies simply that she loves him as a daughter should.

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KING LEAR: Now, our joy,

Although the last, not least; to whose young love

The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw

A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

CORDELIA                Nothing, my lord.

KING LEAR               Nothing!

CORDELIA                Nothing.

KING LEAR               Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

CORDELIA                Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty

According to my bond; nor more nor less.

KING LEAR               How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little,

Lest it may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA                Good my lord,

You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I

Return those duties back as are right fit,

Obey you, love you, and most honour you.

 

KING LEAR               But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA                Ay, good my lord.

KING LEAR               So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA                So young, my lord, and true.

Her lackluster retort, despite its sincerity, enrages Lear, and he disowns Cordelia completely.
Meanwhile, the King of France, present at court and overwhelmed by Cordelia’s honesty, asks for her hand in marriage, despite her loss of a sizable dowry. Cordelia accepts the King of France’s proposal, and reluctantly leaves Lear with her two cunning sisters. Now that Lear has turned over all his wealth and land to Regan and Goneril, their true natures surface. Lear goes to live with Goneril, but she reveals that she plans to treat him like the old man he is while he is under her roof. So Lear decides to stay instead with his other daughter, but soon realizes that Regan is conspiring with her sister against him.

News arrives that Cordelia has raised an army of French troops that have landed.

Tired from his ordeal, Lear sleeps through the battle between Cordelia and her sisters. When Lear awakes he is told that Cordelia has been defeated. Lear takes the news well, thinking that he will be jailed with his beloved Cordelia – away from his evil offspring. However, the orders have come, not for Cordelia’s imprisonment, but for her death.

Despite their victory, the evil natures of Goneril and Regan soon destroy them. Both in love with Edmund (who gave the order for Cordelia to be executed), Goneril poisons Regan. But when Goneril discovers that Edmund has been fatally wounded,  Goneril kills herself as well.

As Edmund takes his last breath he repents and the order to execute Cordelia is reversed. But the reversal comes too late and Cordelia is hanged. Lear appears, carrying the body of Cordelia in his arms.

imagesKING LEAR: “Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:

Had I your tongues and eyes, I’ld use them so

That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone for ever!

Mad with grief, Lear bends over Cordelia’s body, looking for a sign of life. The strain overcomes Lear and he falls dead on top of his daughter.

 

Cop meant good; Chill people…

In a laid-back southern state of India, a senior IPS officer and Excise Commissioner of Kerala Rishi Raj Singh recently became the butt of many jokes when he asked a gathering of girl students, “Are you aware of the legal protection women have in our country. If a man stares at a woman uncomfortably (meaning indecently or say in sexually suggestive manner) even for 14 seconds, he could be sent to jail. (This is a rough translation of what he spoke in the native language Malayalam.) woman safety

Mr. Singh was addressing a crowd at a women’s college in a state where staring at women and even teasing comments were traditionally considered compliments. Being noticed by young and desirable men meant you were attractive, maybe irresistible. No, I do not subscribe to this notion, nor would young girls of this generation.

But our poor cop became a butt of many online jokes following the statement. While men complained, many mockingly, that women would misuse the law and land them in jail if they had some old score to settle. Women too complained, some saying 14 second was too long a time to allow some lecher to check them out, compelling Mr. Singh to respond with a hilarious, “It is not the period of staring but the manner and intention that mattered”.

A trail of mocking trolls later Mr Singh even gave a full comment to a national daily: “The stare need not really linger for a full 14 seconds to make it an offence. It is an offence if it makes a woman uncomfortable even for a few seconds. Womenfolk should come forward to register complaints against such offenders,’’ he told The Hindu.

It all started of well-meaningly with the cop trying to educate girls about the legal protection guaranteed in Section 354 A, B, C and D of Indian Penal Code in the face of eve teasing or molestation in public spaces. Perverts are aplenty in the state, as in many other states in India; the menace of flashers around women’s colleges and ladies’ hostels is no secret.

Mr Singh was only saying that though there was now a strong law to protect women against voyeurism and stalking, no case has so far been booked for such offences. The reason, he said, was women largely being unaware that staring at a woman becomes an offence under IPC Section 354 D when the stare has an obvious sexual implication.

But with everything else in life, this legal protection for women could drive some harmless admirers or absent-minded habitual ‘starers’, not oglers, into tight spots.

Men, moderate your appreciation; women, make sure you are not branding innocent men, sentencing them to lifetime disgrace.

 

 

Sideffects of bad reviews…

Okay, finally, after all these years, I am ready to accept bad reviews as part of the deal for authors.

The first really bad, read harsh, review I got for my first ever attempt at writing and publishing (self) a novel – back in 2013 – was, wait a minute, maybe I didn’t get a bad review at all!

But when I decided the book was not good enough, I retired it and worked tirelessly revising over and over, till I could not do it anymore, sending it to three more copy editers , costing me (US$ 1,200). The first book had gone to four editors, one developmental editor, a line editor, a copy editor from India to recheck the facts were right and a proof reader, making me 3,000 US $ poorer. I am not even mentioning the formatting, cover and promotional expenses to spare any aspiring writer reading this a heartache. bleeding-heart-800x800

I was pretty sure I had it right this time. I had spent about six months revising and perfecting the book structurally, chopping off scenes that I thought bored the readers, basically gave it my best shot, and published it as a Kindle book, renamed it ‘Meantime Girl’ chose a more suitable cover to match the story, as a novella of 32,000 words approx (the original novel was 50,000 plus words!).

cover copy fullI sat back and hoped for some appreciation. I still didn’t think I would earn millions. But I knew I had made an honest effort to “unbore” my readers.

bad reviewsInstead, I got really merciless reviews,and mostly from readers who got free copies to read during promotional offers for which I had paid myself. (I did get some good reviews as well, one got removed by Amazon admin who suspected it was by one of my wellwisers!, my efforts to convence them failed :(, sadly).  In short I paid for those harsh reviews, again hundreds of dollars to get pelted with stones. I have been flogged in life, literally and metaphorically; but here I was doing more than what I was expected to do, and hence the hurt surpassed the bleed.

Initially, whenever I read a really bad review, it used to feel like a slit thorugh my heart. Now it is better, I mean easier to bear.

Maybe I am getting used to it; is it a good thing? Don’t know.

But each time a harsh review appears on my Amazon page or as an email, it hurts like hell and robs me a couple of weeks of productivity. I feel like a looser and am unable to write, read or live normally.

So dear readers, if you don’t like my book, please resist an urge to be mean or so harsh. Don’t ever read my books, tell all you friends what a lousy writer I am; but don’t, please don’t, put it where I can read.

Why am I writing this? Can’t waste any more time over bad reviews. Don’t know how much time is left for me on this earth, to live and write. I really want to leave behind a legacy my son can be proud of when I am gone.  No, I am not suffering from any known tricky heath condition. I just feel within this nagging urge and rush to write something brilliant. Hopefully…