By Shonar Joshi
A Blade Of Grass Is Bliss For The Goat
A friend sent me an SMS recently, inquiring about my state of health by referring to all the malfunctioning bits of my anatomy. I replied after a few seconds, and will reveal what it is that I wrote, but first, let me do a quick recap of all that had passed.
I have always thought of myself as a mountain goat in a previous incarnation. For they are determined to go against all odds, on the edge of a precipice, for a taste of bliss – a blade of fresh grass in the case of a goat. I think I do the same. I push myself to the edge for a taste of my own version of bliss which keeps changing, but one thing remains constant – the desire to do something that some forces of the universe are trying to stop me from doing. I am sure that many would not consider it as healthy. If you feel that all life is a challenge, and one just has to meet these challenges or lose and succumb; then healthy or not, it is enough to goad you to the edge and reach out for that blade of bliss.
But I have digressed. Another reason I fancy myself as a mountain goat is because of the love that I have for the mountains. Give me a mountain and I will scamper along its length and breadth, explore it inch by inch, speaking to it endlessly, hoping that it would share a secret or two with me as well. Sometimes they do, sometimes they are rather stubborn, as only mountains tend to be. The lungs in this body that I have been given, unfortunately, have been weakened by asthma, which they have carried since birth. Thus, climbing mountains is not considered as the right activity for this goat – but that is perhaps one of the reasons why, determined to face the consequences, I have pursued it even more. Trust me, I may wheeze and pant and go blue in the face, but my heart springs with the joyful abandon of a frog in the rain!
For years, I continued thus, but then all of a sudden, the feet, which do all my work, began to ache. Although it was a gradual build up, ignored for most part, there came a moment when no longer could I remain aloof from the pain being inflicted upon them. A period of rest followed – no walking, no trekking, no goat-dreams. That was when I felt that life would be so unbearable if one was unable to have the use of one’s feet or legs. What could one do really? Life would be so static and restrained, physically. I thanked God for giving me what I had and promised to look after it.
A little later, I developed eczema in the fingers given to me. They were so septic, that I was surprised that so much pain could reside in something so small. It came to pass eventually but gave me enough time to reflect. As a writer, to not have the use of one’s fingers is doubly painful. What could one do really? Life had once again become static and restrained – physically and mentally. I thanked God for giving me what I had and promised to look after it.
Time rolled on, until one sunny morning, when I woke up and found that the eyes given to me would not open. When I forced them to do so, I could see little. The next day, they were the size of a golf ball. Days went by in a blur of pain, of medication, of hopeless inactivity. Life became the dreaded ‘static and restrained’ once more. I thought how insufferable life would be if one did not have the aid of one’s eyes, without vision, what could one do really? I thanked God for giving me what I had and promised to look after it.
Just as the aforementioned episode ended, the muscles of the body given to me seemed to collapse even as I looked on. The back could no longer take on the weight of the body without straining to support it. To sit was hard, to lie down was harder. I would walk, pacing the room like a caged lion, restless in spirit, agitating to bound once again. But this too shall pass. In the meanwhile, the familiar thought did turn up – with a body that doesn’t feel capable of supporting one, what could one do really? Life would be so static, so restrained. I thanked God for giving me what I had and promised to look after it.
The phone beeps. I read the message. It asks about all the parts of the body given to me, which have been challenged by Life. I key in my reply, spontaneously, without thinking for once, “As long as one has the capacity to speak to God, to offer gratitude, to love and be loved, one is in fine health.”
My own reply was a revelation to me.
The goat chewed on contentedly.
Writer and film-maker Shonar is author of Past Dawns and Future Noons and lives in Pondicherry.
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