August 13th, 2013


Zafar Futehally, 190320 -110813

Here's an email from Shyamal:

In 1961 the famous poet Nissim Ezekiel dedicated a poem to Padma Shri Zafar
Futehally. It was published in the third issue of the first year of the
Newsletter for Birdwatchers. The spelling used is "casurina" and the
inclusion of this poem in the Newsletter was apparently much disapproved of
by Salim Ali !

== Paradise Flycatcher ==

White streamers moving briskly on the green
Casurina, rouse the sleepy watcher
From his dream of rarest birds
To this reality. A grating sound
Is all his language, spelling death
To flies and moths among the leaves
Why go this way to Paradise.
But he, in mask of black, with tints of green,
Is legend come alive to the dreamer
Whose eyes are fixed on him in glad surprise.

So many years ago, his predecessor
Came-it was an afternoon like this-
And clung with shaking streamers
To the same casurina, catching flies:
But Fate that day, and not the dreamer,
Fixed his eyes on him and shot him down.
He lay with red and red upon his white,
Uncommon bird no longer, in the mud.
The live one flashes at the watcher
Chestnut wings: the dead is buried in his mind.

- Nissim Ezekiel (1961)

Zafar Saheb, may your sould rest in peace.

Boarding the Treatment Train to the Terminus of Good Health

Life has a way of suddenly rearing up and throwing stink-bombs at you....a young friend of mine (25 years old!) has been diagnosed with a 2-cm hole in the heart, which, by virtue of its position, needs major surgery for closure (sometimes such holes can be fixed laparoscopically.) In the course of the diagnosis, diabetes was also discovered, and the path towards surgery has become further complicated. I feel miserable that I am so far away from this young couple at this time. However, the internet allows me to keep in touch, and I wrote to them, likening their lives now to a train journey....the Passenger Train to the Good Health Terminus.

I feel this simile is apt, because once ill health strikes, there is the hopeful journey forward towards eventual good health...but it will have a lot of stops along the way, like a passenger train. There will be good stations, and bad ones...good things, and not-so-good things, will happen. But the train will go rolling on....

Another thing I have found, while dealing with projected plans of action, is that "healthy (pun intended) pessimism" works for me. I *expect* delays and if they happen, yes, I can take them in my stride...and if they don't...I feel happy that this part of the journey is smoothly accomplished.

Having said this...I think that it is NOT easy to continuously feel positive. There are the doubts, the "why me", and the "what if". They keep rising like thickets of weeds, in our mind. It's a constant
battle and we have to keep fighting! Prayer, puja, homa, friends, family, humour, meditation...I take whatever help comes along. The confidence that I build up this way is the currency that will get me through this difficult train ride!

In a way, I suppose, this way of handling things works for me, no matter what difficulties I face in life. I've been lucky that I've been able to laugh at myself, and at my checks and reverses, and to me, being able to deal positively with the stink bombs is the ultimate victory. RSH (Random Shit Happens)...but if we are able to grapple with the shit and move forward, we have been successful in defeating what life has thrown at us.