Some time after I published my last post, I found what another blogger, with a far bigger audience, had written minutes before.
It mentions sandwich, frappe, Cafe Coffee Day and death. Let me quickly add that death has nothing to do with the first three. It has to do with this post.
How death must concentrate the mind. I can't imagine how I'd react if told that I had just months to live: would I do the things do with more urgency, or would I feel that doing anything was pointless now? Would I try to squeeze all possible joy into spending time with my loved ones, or would I withdraw into myself, typically morose and depressive? Would I blog? What would I write?
In 1987 I was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia and lived with this knowledge for a few days before the diagnosis was changed to generalised lymphadenopathy due to a viral infection. (If AIDS had been commonplace then, the lymphadenopathy would have led to ELISA for HIV, but I was spared that trauma!)
Anyway, a series of biopsies and blood tests ruled out the cancer and I have lived to blog about it.
Leukemia was not certain death, even in those days. You could hope. And I hadn't been given a confirmed diagnosis. But at one stage, it was about 80% chance that I had no more than 6 months. That's what I knew and had to handle, whether it true and in line with the doctor's estimated odds or not.
My first thoughts were that my parents need not know "till absolutely unavoidable". The doctor said I'd need their support even to go through with the chemotherapy. But he agreed that it could wait until the treatment had to commence, if indeed it had to commence at all.
However, I told my friends about it. I could handle their reactions, only not those of my parents. But I think they already knew.
I remember celebrating the Diwali that year as the only patient in the cabins not allowed home for the festival. Because my home wasn't in the city where I was hospitalised. And what I called my home (in Bombay) was a lonely bachelor pad anyway.
A friend of mine brought me a wonderful, home-cooked dinner on the festival evening and stayed behind till it was bedtime. I was also visited by a rocket that strayed into the wards and died there without exploding.
In later days, I enjoyed reading the books that my friends brought me and their chatter when they visited. We were brave! Only they didn't share all their thoughts with me, as I later learnt.
The nurses was very nice and I enjoyed little chats with them too. And some of the doctors I now count among friends.
I was not a typical patient. I was "ambulatory" as was noted in the papers; friendly, which they omitted to mention; and if the diagnosis did not turn out to be true, just a guest that stayed a fortnight.
I was never filled with dark, depressive thoughts. Perhaps, because the news didn't sink in fully before I was let off the hook. Maybe, therefore, I'm not qualified to answer Amit's queries. But anybody can speculate and blog, isn't it?
Amit asks, would he blog if he was given six months time?
I would if have an audience that I relate to and converse with. They would be immensely helpful through such times. Just like my friends in flesh and blood were in those days when blogs hadn't been invented.
Yes, priorities would change because there won't be enough time for some things that are otherwise important. I'd resign my job and play more piano. But if I have time, I can hope to play even more piano by keeping the job and, perhaps, also own that baby grand I've been eyeing.
But I won't have anything unimportant to give up. Because if it's not important, I'd cut if out anyway.
When still at the hospital, I escaped and went to Maratha mandir to enjoy an ice cream, for which the poor nurse on duty received a reprimand. I apologised to her but would do it again, because "every sandwich must be enjoyed".
Yes, even those that come with an unforgivable corn mean and rice offering.