Saturday 11 December 2010

from Sunia to Miral

क्या हो रहा है? क्या हो रहा है?
दिल में चोट? पेट में दर्द?
Her name is Sunia. I don't know this yet. We haven't spoken yet, so she does not realise I can understand her words. I let her Hindi-Urdu wash over me in cool streams of green.
"What is happening? Does your heart hurt? Your stomach?"
क्या हो रहा है? मुझे कह दो? क्या सोच रहे हो?
"What are you thinking? Will you tell me?" 
Her husband says not a word. And I know she does not really require a response. I know she is really saying, "Beloved. My beloved. I am here."
Her name is Sunia. It means 'one who listens'. She is beautiful. She is younger than me and anxiety has erased her smile. She leaves for a while. Her husband gets on with his chemo. She returns, with two little boys. I smile at her. She relaxes, walks over, and I give every ounce of my joy and spirit and Addenbrooke's knowledge until she looks young again. I tell her I know her doctor. I trust him. I know a cure for anti-sickness. A home remedy that makes her laugh. I know too, that her husband is brave, for saying nothing, only turning a little green and a little yellow now and again.
When I am in hospital, I don't watch the other patients. I talk to them, but I watch the relatives. The Sunias. The listeners. Even when the patients say nothing, the listeners are listening; for the slightest hitch, to the breath beyond words, to the heart of the one who is suffering.
दिल में दुख है? Is there pain in your heart?
Beloved, I am here.
Sunia is Pakistani. She looks like Freida Pinto, the Indian actress from Slumdog Millionaire, who plays Miral in a film about Palestine, chosen because she looks like Rula Jebreal, the Palestinian author of the novel and screenplay. The director of the film is Jewish-American Julian Schnabel, who, listening to Rula's story, fell in love with her. Everyday we see faces that remind us of others, of the interconnections, of politics and pain. And then we have a conversation. And the complexities fall away. For a while, only a single language exists. The language of the heart.


lupie said...

What you have done is wonderful ...
I have no nerve to walk up to other patients and talk to them ... :)

Do you still need to do your rounds of cyclo / chemo?

Ruth said...

From the rawness of pain and suffering of disease, and the helplessness of a loved one, you carried us to the deep ache of Palestine and a beautiful film. Yes! We are all connected. Everyone's pain is our own. I am so moved that you look at the pain in the loved ones. It speaks of how you always look beyond yourself, feel beyond yourself, and also for how you must bear what your own family must feel, for you.

mermaid gallery said...

She is beautiful....amidst the pain, there is something else to focus on....your mind is always coping....your heart always have lived so many of life's lessons and you are always a little bird on the windowsill....we love your song....

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love "the language of the heart", which you speak so well. You must lighten that ward with your presence. My son does the same when he goes for his chemo. As I sit with him, I marvel at his joyous spirit, and the positive attitudes of all who find themselves in that ward. A place of smiles and quiet courage, not despair. It inspires awe.

I love the film clip and must watch that movie. So beautiful. Have you seen "My Name Is Kahn"? Also beautiful with a wonderful message.

I was trying to find a link to what I wrote about two books you might also like, but cant seem to find it. The best is "I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey", by Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish. He daily crosses the border from Palestine to work in an Israeli hospital. He is Being Peace every day. Also Mornings In Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa, about a Palestinian family coping with the loss of their land.

I love these stories of people bringing the very best within them to difficult situations - as you do, Shaista, so admirably.

Lisa said...

You speak and write Hindi. You are amazing. I love the Hindi language but of course limited only to the nahi nahi and kabhi kabhi of the movies.

We are of one, we are made of tribes and nations that speak different languages, so that we can get to know each other. It is a blessing, that if not, this world would be a very dull place.

Cinquefoil said...

I keep reading your posts, and am left speechless. Such beauty. Strength. I have no words.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

Beautiful post Shaista.
Angel of words and mercy.

Juniper said...

Thank you, when I come to your blog I always leave it changed, and again your words, kindness and perceptions of what is around you told so beautifully. I had not heard of this film but just the preview sends me nearly to tears, I hope to see it.

monsoon dreams said...

A touching post,Shaista!
Get well soon,dear.

* said...

What struck me the most in your post was that you reach out to the relatives of the patients. And how your seasoned view (at such a cost, I can only imagine) helps others.

I love you, you know that?

monsoon dreams said...

You made my day!In my times of pain you are one of the persons i derive strength from.When life seems unfair and I struggle in my sea of troubles,I come to your blog,read your posts for two reasons-I love your words that come straight from your eart and I love the paintings by your mom!And I'm fine again.

all ways 11 o'clock said...

Your spirit is beautiful.
Thank you for sharing it so eloquently with us.


rauf said...

i had no choice Shaista, i would have chosen not to come at all. life is such a trap. What makes life worse are the promises and dreams we humans offer to the suffering. To be honest, i have no complaints at all personally but i am not deaf and blind to what is happening around me and i cannot insulate myself and watch the suffering from my train window. i protest, i say don't give them any dreams. There is no escape for any one.

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