Monday, October 24, 2011


Ten years ago I had a terrible cereberal stroke the day after Diwali. Delhi got so heated up with crackers, that it set off a condition I did not know I had, that is multiple sclerosis. I landed up in hospital with the left side of my face twisted, and a clot in my speech centre. By the kindness of friends and family, and the amazing ability of my physicians at Apollo hospital, Dr Vinit Suri and Dr Prasada Roy, I recovered, and then have never returned to the hospital, because of the tremendously creative powers of palliative medicine. Once every month I go to Dr Qasim's clinic in West Nizamuddin, and collect my dose of homeopathic medicine. He treats me symptomatically. From April to October, I am always telling him I cannot cope, I have problems with sleep, memory, stiffening of joints and sometimes familiar mind shattering migraines. From October to March, I am fine, though the sclerosis manifests itself sometimes through arthritis, since the absence of mylin means the cold can be a catalyst to disrepair too. For that, there are oils which the JNU yoga teacher gives me.
Crackers really heat up the atmosphere. So this time, I thought I would buy plants instead. I went to the nursery near the Homeopathy clinic, and got bush roses, (they are called desi gulab) and two hybrid,  (red and yellow) which are called English roses, and an odd delicate croton in a pink, which looked like a maze of cappilaries on green. I also got azalea, which the gardener told me would have crowds of red flowers.
Sita waters the earth, they say, and in Sara Joseph's version, Ravana sleeps eternally, absorbed by the earth for his frugal ways and the honour he gave her by not abusing her. As opposed to the Draupadi myth, where kinsmen and neighbours wrest clothes off their kinswoman, the battle of Kurukshetra so close at hand, this is an interesting motif in the South Indian narrative tradition.
Niranam, where my father's clan lives, had its own poets who wrote a 13th century Ramayana. They are called the Niranam poets, and they  all came from the same family. Niranam was known as Nelycynda to the Greeks and Romans. It is a calm and gentle place, where St Thomas the Apostle is supposed to have made his first convert to Christ's teachings.