When Breath becomes air

breath becomes air

Life is finite. I knew it well but never thought of reading an experience of a journey of life that would suddenly culminate at the young age of thirty six, “When breath becomes air” by Paul Kalanithi is an autobiographical account of a neurosurgeon who at the peak of his career discovered that he was dying of lung cancer.

My sister told me about this book and after reading its review on internet, I placed an online order. Once, I got the book in my hands, I finished reading it in two days. It’s an easy read but the deeper meaning of life which Paul’s want to narrate through his experience demands us to not only read but ponder over his words.

Here’s this quote from his book in which he shares his thoughts about life. He writes

“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”

In the beginning Paul was confused about choosing his career. He loved literature and he loved doing writing but in order to understand the mysteries of human brain, he decided to pursue his career in neurosurgery.

I would recommend this book to medical students and to anyone who’s interested in reading about medical cases. There’s an account of real life dramas that happens in corridors of hospitals. Paul’s gives us an account of details he witnessed as a medical student and also describes his experience of saving many lives as a senior neurosurgeon.

The best thing about Paul’s writing style is his way of mentioning quotes from literature that goes well with his life experiences. He was a doctor and he was aware that his illness of lung cancer was life threatening yet he did his best to fight off his disease. He continued doing his job till his body became too weak to carry weight of struggles of life.

Sunday Times considered it a powerful and poignant tale. There are many passages which I liked to read again and again but reading this one passage where Kalanithi was bidding his final adieu to his dream job of neurosurgery left me speechless.

“I left the OR shortly after, then gathered my things, which had accumulated over seven years of work___ extra sets of clothes for the nights you don’t leave, tooth-brushes, bars of soap, phone chargers, snacks, my skull model and collection of neurosurgery books, and so on. On second thought, I left my books behind. They’s be of more use here.

On my way out to the parking lot, a fellow approached to ask me something, but his pager went off. He looked at it, waved,turned, and ran back in to the hospital___”I’ll catch you later!” he called over his shoulder. Tears welled up as I sat in the car, turned the key, and slowly pulled out into the street. I drove home, walked through the front door, hung up my white coat, and took off my ID badge. I pulled the battery out of my pager. I peeled off my scrubs….

This book has taught me that life is finite. There’s a certain amount of time that’s been allotted to all of us on this earth but “Cease not till death” should remain our approach in life.

This post is written in response to daily post Finite

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Shimmer

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As the sea shimmers in the sunlight so do the words in darkness of night.

The word shimmer reminds me of Wuthering Heights, the book whose abridged version, I read in my college days.

Last year, I chanced upon the book and finished reading it in ten days. The novel with its complex psychological characters and soft flow of thoughts is my all time favorite.

The daily post asks us to write something about the word shimmer which takes me back to an interview of a Canadian actor. Sergio Di Zio shared a little secret about his reading habit.

He explained that while reading any book, he’s in a habit of taking notes. So whenever he finish reading book, he not only writes his thoughts about book but also writes about the environment in which he read it. Jotting down thoughts in this way, he keeps record of his own memories.

From that day on, I have also started practicing this routine and whenever I read my thoughts at the end of books, it gives me a strange pleasure.

For me it is a precious feeling which reminds me that words are powerful because they joined to form a thought which can bring “shimmer” in our lives.

Here is a note from a book Whuthering Heights.

“July 18, 2016

It’s 12:40 p.m, I started reading this book on second day of Eid. It’s a journey of ten days which could be less, if I didn’t get under weather.

Reading the book was an unforgettable experience.”

Now reading this note reminds me that how I caught flu which got so worse that I was bound to bed. It was late in the night on July 18 when I finished reading it. It was a hot month of summer. At night, I couldn’t read the book in bedroom for the lights were off and others needed to sleep.

So, while everyone slept, I sat outside in sitting room and enjoyed reading the book in the calmness of night.

You see a single note can remind you of a lot of memories. Memories are precious and what’s more beautiful than saving them at the end of a book and that too in your own handwriting.

I very much like to see the shimmering rays of sunlight in sea. I can’t visit sea because it’s not in my city but rereading these notes in books is my sorce of getting happiness which brings shimmer in my life.

This post is written in response to daily post Shimmer

Those were some volunteers

volunteers

2005 earthquake in Pakistan is considered deadliest in country’s history. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake claimed some 76,000 lives.

October 8, 2005 was the month of Ramzan. On that day, I was on leave from college. It was around 8: 55 in the morning and I was busy solving Mathematics questions when I felt, the sofa on which I was sitting was shaking. At first, I stayed where I was but when shaking got worse, we all went outside.

Standing in my courtyard, grabbing my register, I looked at the houses; it was so bad that they were swaying like trees. I can’t remember the exact duration but it all lasted for few minutes.

That was a horrible experience. Though, I was reciting kalma but being a human being my heart was beating profusely. Once, on getting inside, I performed ablution and offered prayer. It gave me some satisfaction but the news on T.V channels weren’t good. It took some time before we realized the intensity of devastation. In capital city of Islamabad, a building got collapsed. It was named Margalla tower and the death toll in the northern areas of Pakistan was extremely high.

Once the news broke out, Pakistanis living abroad started leaving for their country. Volunteers from around the world offered their services.

That was the holy month of Ramzan in which Muslims abstain themselves from eating before the break of the dawn till sunset. In those days, I remember at the time of fast there were lots of blessings of Allah on our dining table and on every other day, I could see such pictures in newspapers in which group of volunteers were sitting patiently waiting to break their fast with nothing but water and some dates.

Those were some tough and painful days. There were stories of death and there were miracles of re-birth. Volunteers from the country and from all around the world performed their selfless service.

Reading the word “volunteer” for daily post took me back to that time, I can vividly recall watching all those faces in newspapers and on T.V which needed nothing but ready to give everything.

Those were some volunteers, mostly they were ordinary people, they didn’t need any kind of accolades and yet performed their selfless services and saved many lives.


Written for the daily post Volunteer