In the spirit of not letting mental illness define yourself or how you see other people. Diagnosis isn’t a label or an identity. That is what 2016 taught me.
“I want to talk to you about the flowers
tell you how beautiful they are
But I suppose the only way to do so
Is to lay them down by your grave
And speak to the stone carved with your name.”
Dedicated to my parents and how much they loved greenery
Thor, Captain America and Marvel’s Avengers, what do they all have in common? They’re all heroes. While they may be entertaining on screen for a few hours, I think the real heroes in life are strong women. Mrs. Sheel Bhatia, an 87 year old woman, who I knew when I was a kid, still living in Ottawa and she had a great and truly inspirational story that teaches us that not all heroes wear capes. This is what she once told me, from the memory of a nine year old polished with a nineteen year old’s writing skills:
Q: You have lived through a devastating part of Indian history i.e the Partition( the splitting of India to form Pakistan and the subsequent migration of people). Can you tell me about that difficult experience?
A: The Partition was a very traumatic time for everyone since families were uprooted and separated. I myself was separated from my brothers who had gone to Pakistan while I remained with my husband in India. It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I was reunited with them.
Q: What made you decide to move to Canada?
A: I lost three of my children due to malnutrition and shortly after our fourth child was born my husband passed away. I was left a widow without money to support my infant daughter, Veena. She fell ill and when I took her to the doctor, he told me that she would die of malnutrition too. It was this doctor who told me that I should go to Canada as a refugee and earn by taking up a nursing job. I took his advice. I owe that doctor everything because neither my daughter nor I would have been alive today without him.
Q: So you had to move to a new country on the other end of the world and build a new life there without any support. What did it feel like when you made this life-changing decision?
A: At the time I was anything but strong, in fact I was terrified. I had never been anywhere outside India. The only thing I was thinking of was saving my daughter’s life and if that meant shifting to a new country I’d never been to and starting a life there, I was willing to do it. After moving to Canada, I became a nurse and raised her on that salary.
Q: It is hard to believe that such a jovial woman like you has had to face such adversity early on in life. How do you stay so positive and cheerful?
A: I think that it is important to focus on god’s blessings rather than the negative things in life. There are always those who are less fortunate than you. We should give back to the community. I became involved with a charity called Hindu Society of Ottawa that raises funds for orphanages and schools in India.
A guest lecturer, a philosophy professor from Boston, spoke to my literature class on slavery in America, telling us about the experiences of his grandparents at the time and at the end of his speech, he said something that really resonated with me and thought I’d share:
“They’re your parents and grandparents. They may not be the most polished or of high society. They may not know English that well but they are the ones who teach you to be a person. That’s who they are.”
And it is true. For parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth. I know I’ve done my fair share of that myself.
Big love to all the parents in the world, single, divorced, married, separated, teenagers, everyone 🙂
“Parents are the bone on which children sharpen their teeth.”
I grew up in Ottawa, Canada and there was a milk carton contest where if the carton moos you win some pretty cool prizes, I don’t know how many of you guys know about this.(If you’re curious you can find out more here.)
Anyway, I finally won after buying a milk carton at a local Wendy’s; a very exciting time for an eight year old. I won three free song downloads, not the coolest prize but hey it was still something I won right? And this was also the time when I didn’t really appreciate music the way I do today so I just asked my dad if he wanted to use the free downloads. So he did.
The only song I remember that he downloaded was Dido’s White Flag. I’m personally not much of a fan of the song but it’s the first one that pops into my head when I think of my dad.
Now as I listen to it, it’s not so bad.
I finished a newspaper internship this summer and I’m so excited to post the links to the articles I’ve gotten published. Please spare a second to check them out 🙂
(This was co-written with a great friend of mine!)
*I’d like to dedicate all this to my dad who always supported my writing since I was a kid. I actually teared up when my first article was published.