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Kumar Kanti Ganguly



Kumar Kanti Ganguly


A Positive Hope To Why Me

A Positive Hope To Why Me

9 mins

This was the first time I observed myself looking at the mirror for more than 5 minutes and that too under the bright glow of the tube light. My old t-shirt fitting perfectly, my black jeans which were a skin-tight a year ago, now acting as a cozy companion to my waist. My face is devoid of all the diffidence and doubts.

“I never wanted to lose weight because I of the desire to look good, I will never look good. The shape of my forehead is never going to widen, the two pairs of rabbit-like teeth that get highlighted whenever I laugh out loud is going to remain the same till eternity. I just want to create a new version of myself” I remembered saying to my best friend Ravi on a video call when the Government had imposed its initial way to deal with the novel coronavirus.

If I rewind to a few months ago even before comedians started making fun of China about eating anything that moves by itself, even before the virus entered India; in fact, even before the novel Chinese curse out of the bat flesh (supposedly) came out; I remember being in the metro city, Namma Bengaluru where people care more about whether you have had your meals on time than how you are. Ootahari?? That’s the greeting line because they know if they say ‘Welcome’ in Kannada to us north Indians, we may misunderstand it and get angry at the choice of their Hindi word.

I drank like Bacchus and smoked like Shiva and soon got the punishment of trying to be equal to God. No no, that was not my primary intention. I was working in an IT company, and every Friday, three of us co-workers would sneak out of the office in the evening as soon as one of our cell-phones would ring an alarm of 5:30 PM. We would go to a local bar and over ‘I don’t remember’ number of 8:00 PM whiskey pegs, we would blurt out our frustrations. Since each of us was from a different department, we would have a debate over who's boss is more insane. Yes, sometimes what they show you in English movies about the office culture is true. Over the weekends I would lose myself to Netflix while having enough whiskey, weed, and junk food to accompany me through the day. Surprisingly, my weight at that time, instead of increasing, started to decrease. Co-workers in my office would take me as an inspiration and a few overweight liberals who used to wait for someone to call them fat so that they could accuse them of body shaming; would have a reflection of jealousy on their faces.

I went from being feeling happy about myself to feeling suspicious of having a constant cruel stomach ache. This stomach ache would be such that I wouldn’t have the courage to be Lord Shiva anymore. It reached a point where my doctor in Bangalore told me to get admitted. That’s when I told my parents the whole scene and was advised by parents to come back the next day. Luckily I got my flight ticket, informed my landlord of my health issue, told them I would return after a certain time period while paying my rent every month, sorted things out with my boss, the same boss about whom I would make up complaints under peer pressure during the booze get-togethers, she was kind enough to assure me about how my good time will return back soon. My HR whose kindness I thought to be diplomacy assured me that she will take care of communications about my absence in the office and the list of the well-wishers goes on. These were the moments when I had realized the false notion of paranoia I was under. I didn’t pick the bad habits because I wanted to be like Lord Shiva or Lord Bacchus, I just used those Gods as an excuse to justify my bad habits which were the result of my depression.

In my hometown i.e Varanasi, the city set up by Lord Shiva himself, I was taken to hospital the next day and was restricted from eating solid or even semi-solid. I didn’t know some pathology departments have to use enema into your colon for injecting medicine in certain cases, my case was one such. Needless to say, it was gross. I was on a liquid diet and it’s really difficult to jump from delicious chicken wings to rice and lentil starch. It was not even clear whether the disease I had was cox or Crohn’s. My parents in the meantime tried all ways ranging from medical to mythical ways of getting me cured. This was the first time I got to know about the treasure of temples in my city was, the ambiance of the religious places. I was never an atheist but during this time I was definitely a God hater. And why not? Most of my friends used to drink, smoke, do drugs, party like wild, I didn’t go to that extreme, then why just me? My hatred for the all mighty increased while I was admitted to the hospital for surgery. It was not because of surgery that I would go through in a few days, it was because the stomach pain was unbearable. I had tubes inserted into my stomach through the nose and another tube inserted through the urinary organ. The idea of seeing myself like these made me believe that my time is over, am I going to die a loser, a loser with no legacy, just a depressed individual who got carried away by dopamine secreting entertainment, abundant amount of junk food that I didn’t even have an idea about the hygiene level and of course booze, joints, and cigarettes.

They said they had to omit a small part of my intestine where a mesh of food was stuck through which only liquid could pass. For the first two days I was uncomfortable during which a scene from The Mahabharat was constantly playing in my mind, The scene where Yaksha asked Yudishthir that what is the most shocking thing he came across, Yudhishthir looked behind at the dead bodies his siblings and answered that the most shocking thing is that people live like immortals even after knowing death as an inevitable phenomenon.

The third day however actually felt like a new life. I started slowly eating semi-solid food, it was like a promotion for me. The tubes to which I had gotten used to by now were removed. I was able to slowly get up and walk with the help of people around me including my parents, relatives, family friends, and of course, the doctors, etc. It was like second life and all I had in my mind was to figure out how to bounce back. I have to build myself up.

As I came back, about a week later Corona entered India to such an extent that our honorable Prime Minister had to come live on TV to announce Lockdown. Honestly, I didn’t have a very healthy social life so the lockdown didn’t really affect me in a way it would to most of the people. My office announced work from home for us and since then, I could use the time I spent on traveling ( to the office) for my personal grooming. I started eating healthy, found a dietician in my mom, and eventually myself also. I learned some easy yoga poses that wouldn’t stress the operated area on my stomach. Being a UX designer, this lockdown gave me enough time to improve my designing skills by doing a few courses except after 3 weeks I was diagnosed with cancer. Another battle to fight this lockdown. I am still stuck there. Every three weeks, I have to go to the hospital to get my chemo. With me recovering I have discovered that I was never a winner but definitely a fighter. Surprisingly Lockdown made me realize that. Surely I am sad about the increase in cases of COVID-19 in India but everything comes with its own package of pros and cons. The lockdown made me realize that you are never too old or too young to draw out a new version of yourself. Today I am able to be in touch with my old friends, I am much more confident because of perseverance, I don’t feel the need to drink or dope anymore. I can watch Netflix without those. The lockdown also taught me that vegetarian and hygienic home-cooked food can be tasty too. My weekends go on in researching vegetarian recipes and getting myself better at my craft i.e designing, that too while dealing with the side effects of chemo which involved tingling sensation in my palms of hands and soles of legs. My introvert nature which at one point I hated didn’t matter now as it made me realize that I am not missing anything by not stepping out of my house. 

During this time I started praying regularly against my will in order to keep the words of my dear ones.

Standing in front of the mirror I realized that cancer stole away my weight, the protein intake brought back some, the vegetarian food due to its own class of deliciousness didn’t allow me to remain underweight either. Today lockdown has ended, I am going out to one of my cousin’s home. My parent is waiting for me downstairs in the car.

Why did I go for a trip to flashback all of a sudden??? I asked myself.

A voice subconsciously answered-

It was to answer your earlier question actually. Everyone does the same thing as you, in fact, they consume more intoxicants than you, then why did you have to suffer?? It was because you were depressed and from inside you, there was an urge to an extent that you wanted a miracle in your life to start all over again. You were the one who wanted a second chance, not them. Also, you are made for a bigger purpose, how could I allow you to end yourself with substance abuse??? You have all right to criticize me, I will never have a problem with that. It’s your choice whether to consider this as a warning or as a blessing or maybe hallucination but don’t underestimate the bigger picture here. You can type and use your graphic tablet effortlessly even with this tingling sensation in your palms, although comparatively slower than before but still even you know it’s going to get normal soon. By managing your office work and newfound hobby i.e designing your thoughts and healthy cooking, you learned the skill that you lacked the most, ‘Time management’, remember?? Just do a little more exercise in the morning. I am keeping the weather pleasant every morning to make the lockdown better for people like you. Have a good day Karan.

‘Wait, what is that bigger purpose you are talking about?’ I asked

No need for you to know it right now. Please wait for the right time. Please try to increase your patience level again. Anyways, enjoy the tea party with your cousin this evening. No need to indulge yourself in this suspense right now. 

Now I have realized, things happen for a purpose. No doubt how much you pretend to be an atheist, there is always some invisible element beyond science that you can have faith in.

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