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A proud mother’s note

Anjana – A Journey from Within and Without 

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     This is Anjana’s story – a story of her journey. It’s a story beginning with pain, suffering, risks, uncertainties and hurdles

     But today, Anjana has overcome all the initial difficulties of her birth. She is 38 years old and living a life of purpose. She is also an inspiration and motivation to all those who have come to know her.

     Dr. Indira, Anjana’s mother recollects the story here. “Anjana was born in 1982 in the Medical College Hospital, Trivandrum. I, her mother, would say that she was unlucky in the “genetic lottery”. She was born with a condition called “Spina Bifida” (“Meningomyelocele” to be exact), where the spinal cord does not develop completely downwards. She was our firstborn and naturally we awaited her birth with eagerness, anticipation and joy. Her condition required an immediate surgery, very risky and critical, with a very low percentage of success.”

     After the surgery, baby Anjana hovered between life and death. However, the hand of providence came to her rescue and she survived the operation and got through the post- operative weeks of infection and high fever. The family was in a state of shock and trauma, and uncertain of what physical and mental issues the child would face in the coming months. The doctors were not very encouraging about her physical and mental conditions.

     Physically, she was paralyzed from the waist downwards. Mentally, they feared that she would develop “Hydrocephalus” (accumulation of fluid in the brain cavities), which would damage the brain and cause mental retardation. But destiny had other plans for her. A fighter from her birth, she survived all the initial critical medical problems. Fate had extended her life, though she was paralyzed with other accompanying physical problems.

We went through a bad phase of distress, helplessness and hopelessness about her future. However, we soon shook off the negative feelings and learnt to accept our, and also her fate.

Actually, none of us understood the strength we had until we met the tragedy right on the face. In such situations, we realize and discover that we have the strength and qualities not only to survive, but also to live our lives meaningfully with intelligence, wisdom and confidence. As parents, we were like tea bags, not knowing how strong we were, until put into hot water.”

    “So, drawing on our inner strength and reserves that we didn’t even know we possessed, we focused on giving her as normal a life as possible. We knew that her life would not be a bed of roses, there would be a lot of thorns in it. But we decided that with love, acceptance, caring and proper education of the school curriculum and good values, she could turn many of thorns into roses. We tried to keep her positive and happy. Friends and children were encouraged to come and play at our house. Along with that, a taste for reading, a sense of humor and other hobbies were inculcated in her.

      As parents, we knew that bringing up a special child needed double the effort than that required for a normal healthy child. So, we had to bring about a shift in our attitude and outlook. We learnt to be more patient, encouraging and strong. These changes were necessary to prepare ourselves for the task of parenting a special child. We learnt many other things in this journey.

     First of all, the tremendous support of our family and friends who were there to give us all the strength. Random acts of kindness from the most surprising of people and places. She has a wonderful rapport with all the medical professionals she has met over the years and they appreciate her positivity towards meeting her challenges. Doctors from her Vellore days continue to keep in touch with her to this day. She also has a good friend circle. She had developed a spiritual bent of mind and has strong faith and belief in prayer. This has helped her stay calm and peaceful and has made her more resolute.

     Confidence and self-worth are two of the qualities that Anjana has developed over the years and are part of her character. She was taught to know her personal values, strengths and weaknesses and never to allow anyone to make her feel inferior.

     The importance of education was stressed upon her right from the beginning. Anjana obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Calicut in 2004. We taught her to not harbor fear, anger and failure. Fortunately, and proudly, we and everyone else know her to be free of any negativities. Today, she motivates many others to do the same.

     Anjana had always been keen to “stand on her own feet” and has been working from home since more than a decade. She has several years of experience in the marketing field, especially in the travel sector, which she has predominantly worked in. Her health problems raise hiccups from time to time, but she refuses to allow them to lower her passion and undermine her efforts towards life, and work.

     Anjana has been actively involved in several social causes, from being a consistent member of Blood Donors Kerala and numerous other non-profit organizations.

     Finally, I would say that she is one of the rare persons to be “genetically gifted” in the art of love, compassion and dignity. She has an extraordinary character and she exhibits a state of peace and tranquility at all times, setting an example for us to follow.

     Every person has a lesson to teach the world. Anjana’s life has been a learning school more for all those associated with her. I would say that she has created her own life map, holds the compass of it in her hands and knows which direction to take and what choices to make. We parents, family and friends are only external aides to help her in her journey.