A Bend in the River of Life - launch in Bangalore

A Bend in the River of Life - launch in Bangalore
The terrace looked great after we were done. like a professional book launch all set out by the two of us and the help. The banner was hoisted by my husband to hang just behind our tall chairs and since the sun was still up at 5:30 pm, it cut the direct rays hitting all of us seated behind it. The pots of blazing, gem coloured bougainvillea were the only natural decor for the evening and the large bunches of firangipani scented the air. We were ready to welcome our guests for the evening.

My original book club members were the first to come in along with the goodies which they had personally ordered from Nossa Goa. “ You have done so much for us over the years,” they said, “ we would like to contribute to the evening.” And so hot chips and Banana/ walnut bread, were brought and served along with my huge dekchi of chutney sandwiches and water melon juice. Two large urns of tea were made by me, having hired the urns to make dispensing easy. One urn had tea the regular Indian way with milk and sugar and the second urn, held just black tea.

Sixty people had turned out and that was such a heart- warming feeling for me. Having run the book club for 7 years in the catholic Club and later in Kafnu and Nossa Goa, I had given so many authors a platform for their books, which no one had given me! I knew first hand how expensive it is to get a hall and everything else, as I had to do it for my very first book. The expense was phenomenal and so iBrowse, my book club was born, to give a free platform to authors to show- case their books and for book readers to be able to meet the authors and get autographed copies. It was a win-win situation!

So the three of us took the podium -- Sheila Kumar who is an author and I have hosted twice at iBrowse. Olinda Timms a Doctor and research specialist from St John’s Research section who would answer questions on Parkinsons and whose book I had hosted as well. And myself, the author of A Bend in the River of Life. We sat on tall chairs, so we could be visible to all who had come, even those right at the back.

Sheila had taken a lot of trouble to read the entire book and put together a summary for the audience. Some in the audience had bought their copies already off Amazon and so had already read the story and come prepared to share. Many were authors in their own right so it was wonderful to have them stand up and share with the audience their reaction to the book.

Dr Olinda Timms had to field a lot of questions from the audience and her main focus as she said was end of life issues, that so many of us don’t know how to handle, not just Parkinson’s.Medicine has progressed we agree, but it has also prolonged our lives-- but is the quality of life worth the prolonging was the question. The book raised the horrors of suffering from Parkinson’s where there is a steady decline in cognitive and motor capacities of the patient, finally having throat muscles collapse and the patient is in a totally vegetative state.

Do we want that in our lives going forward? Do we want to be just living skeletons with no quality of life being pumped full of medicines to linger? What are our choices? And the unanimous choice was making a living will. We Indians don’t like to talk about it and I said seeing my mothers horrendous condition, I have made a living will and registered it with a lawyer. I don’t want to struggle and be a total burden to kids, who have their own lives to lead.

It was an emotional meeting, an emotional launch which I dedicated to my parents who have struggled with the dreaded disease, each for differing reasons. It was good to have the audience resonate with the issue that the book exposes -- who makes our end of life choices? Who? I know that vibrant, beautiful mother of mine, who is literally a skeleton today with no cognitive faculties would never want to suffer like she is today, BUT, the choice is not hers to make, sadly.

The book is an ode to wonderful parents who made us what we are today and I am truly grateful for all they gave us. Not just me, but my family and kids as well.

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