We saw him dying each day once we came to know that his cancer was untreatable as it’s origin was undetermined. We knew him as a reserved, shy and reticent person, but he was strong willed and there was no doubt about this quality of his. For most of the times, he took his terminal condition in his stride, which was, in any case, openly discussed realistically amongst his sisters, wife, children and mother.
But he had his weak moments when he clearly wanted to live and not die. He was especially attached to his collegiate daughter with whom he would once in a while share his “ Man ki baat”. So, he readily and willingly agreed to undergo extremely painful chemotherapy and radiation in spite of doctors clearly declaring his strain to be incurable. He underwent alternate therapies that came along with extremely restrictive food regimens. For months he gave up his favourite foods to be on the recommended diet.
And then as unlockdown started slowly, he went back to his native to wait for the inevitable. He deteriorated much faster than expected and after battling with cancer for close to 15 months, he succumbed during the auspicious Ganpati festival. Ganpati, also knows as vignaharta or remover of all vignas or obstacles or problems, whatever you may call them, bestowed deliverance upon him, ending his pain, misery and bodily life. The only solace in this entire agonising moment was the presence of all those who mattered to him by his death bed.
Anand by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and starring Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles is one of my favourite movies. Here Anand, a last stage cancer patient comes to Mumbai to stay with Dr Bhaskar Banerjee on a common friend’s recommendation. And both of them are different like chalk and cheese – Anand is boisterous, friendly, outward types while Bhaskar is serious, silent and inward type. Anand, knowing full well that his end was just a few days away, tried to live life king size and in the process taught Bhaskar also the art of living life. Towards the end, of course, Anand develops a deep bonding with Bhaskar and doesn’t want to die! And the scene of Bhaskar’s disenchantment in his ability to save Anand is heart rending.
The protagonist in my Anand also comes to Mumbai for his treatment, knows that he only has a few days to live and faces all the realities with great strength and aplomb. Of course, he’s not open like Anand but reserved like Bhaskar, but nonetheless he has inner strength like Anand and zeal to live life just before dying.
Only difference is unlike Anand of celluloid who is a fictitious character, the protagonist of My Anand is a real life character, whom like Dr Bhaskar, I helplessly saw him dying each day but not before he taught me the meaning of life!
As they say good stories are those that come out of real life experiences. Hope my readers like My Anand.