Problems for some, Luxury for others

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A heart touching encounter with a patient of epilepsy, leading me to view life with a completely new perspective.

Submitted: June 24, 2016

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Submitted: June 24, 2016




Writing is probably not one of my usual practices, but today I feel obliged to share a story of just another human being walking through the different phases of his life.

My encounter today was with a man who besides all hardships, misfortunes and troubles in his life, was fighting for survival.

Just this morning I woke up, from the comforts of my air conditioned room, in the blazing heat wave ongoing in Islamabad, to the calls of my sister. To quite a surprise, every family member was present outside on the terrace. Something exciting must be happening out there.

This feeling of excitement was short lived as it instantaneously turned to a feeling of shock, horror and pity when I heard that someone has just fell off his bike outside, and now cannot move.

I rushed downstairs to see my father pushing a motorbike off, a well-built yet an apparently weak figure, in the traditional Pakistani dress, a brown Kameez Shalwar. The man had his back facing the glazing sun and his face separated from the earth just by the barrier of his helmet. And to add to the tension the man was not moving, but actually shaking. His muscles seemed to be dancing on their own even when his body seemed lifeless.
I reached out to the man still unaware to what had actually happened to him. Turning him around startled me even more as the man had half his body brushed by the white dust off the ground. Half his face covered in white and his eyes wide open yet blank, revealed that the person had just shaken hands with death itself.

We removed the helmet off and lied the man back. It came as a sort of relief when the single word “paani” (water) limbered off his tongue. My cousin was already on his way bringing cold water, which itself is a medicine everyone needs in this raging heat. I lifted the persons head up while father touched the bottle to his lips. Just a few sips and the man closed his eyes and laid back again.
A minute passed by as we tried to hold the man up and carry him to the shade of the garage. His legs couldn’t move. His arms were motionless. His body was weak. But fortunately the shaking had paused. We laid the man back against a gate, on a sheet of fabric, hoping he would say something. But no.
He closed his eyes and rested like a man who never slept, a person who couldn’t care less of what was happening around him. He just needed to close his eyes for a while.
Everyone was silent. No one knew how the man fell off his bike in a motionless street where no one else had woken up on this Saturday morning.

And then he jerked again.
Asking for more water. At least he was better enough to hold the bottle himself this time. After the water trickled down his throat and he regained his breath, “Epilepsy”, was the single word he spoke out. He could’ve said the term “Mirgi” which is the common term used to refer to the disorder in Urdu, but instead he chose the English word. Maybe because we seemed foreign to him or maybe just because he thought we wouldn’t understand otherwise.

That explained a lot.
People suffering from epilepsy can suffer from instant body seizure, regardless of what task they were doing. The trembling of the body during this state is also a sign of this disorder. The man had suffered from such a seizure while on his bike and thus he fell.
I, not quite sure of what to do stood at a side while father asked the man if he needed medical help. The answer was no. He explained that he just needed 10-15 minutes to recover.
The person was helpless. To break the silence he began his story. The story that moved me to write today.

“Since 2005 I am suffering from this illness. My life has become nothing more than a misery. People of my village diagnosed many different things. Some say it’s a curse, some say it’s a defect in me. Some even say I have influence of Jinn’s upon me. It is heart-aching. I believed that such things are not true but still helpless to the pressure of my mind and illness, I visited many religious and esteemed personalities, hoping to find a cure to this ‘disability’ of mine. But to no avail.

4 years back I moved to Islamabad with my family. I ‘had’ a job here. I visited a doctor in the PIMS hospital who after several tests diagnosed my illness. I had Epilepsy. I was given medicine of different dosage. Starting off from 100mg I now require tablets of 1000mg. These pills I have to take are considered pills of life by me. I can live without food but not without these. The silver lining in my story is the fact that I am completely fine as long as I keep taking the pills. And the hope that I will be cured after 3 years of continuous medical treatment is the light at the end of the tunnel that is dragging me through life.”
“Well if the pills cure you what went wrong today?” I asked.
“It’s not just today. Since the past 2 months I am jobless. The company I was hired by has now left me stranded. I have a family of six and I am the only provider. The medicine I need is worth much more than I can now afford. 1300 Rs worth of medicine can last me a month but I do not have that much to spend. I haven’t taken my medicine since a month now and these seizures have now become regular again.
The doctors had strictly told me to avoid driving but what can I do? My legs cannot walk very long due to a similar accident that happened when I fell off a bike and a car ran over me.”

Left awestruck by the story of this man I and my father were speechless. For a while my father went back to the house. I could not understand why at the time.

“Even today I came out looking for a job. Anything would do now. I just need to make enough to pay my rent and feed my children. I have been put through this suffering by God and by his will this all will be over soon too. I just need to keep faith and that is surely the hardest of tasks for me.”
Father returned and went straight to the person who was still sitting with his back against the wall. He was given an amount of money I could not identify but I could see the reluctance of the man in taking it. He needed it and that need picked his arm up but his hands couldn’t grasp on the paper due to his dignity. He was fighting his own will but on insistence to take the money solely for his medicine the man grasped on.

In a while the man picked himself up and left with many thanks and good wishes to our name. The two of us came back inside with a feeling of satisfaction that we helped humanity a little today.

The reason I shared this story was to remind everyone that life brings difficulties for everyone. One should not feel that his problems surpass everyone else’s. I, preparing for my CIE’s these days feel like a hopeless person but todays encounter surely brought me back to my senses. What I refer to as my problems is a luxury many people cannot afford and I should be very thankful for that.


© Copyright 2018 Mujtaba Noor. All rights reserved.

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