Battling in the face of adversity
05.05.2009 - 29.05.2009 35 °C
My first inspirational story from India, is the tale of a man who has had his life torn apart, yet refuses to give in to what, for most, would be an enduring fate. His name is Naryinder, and he is my friend and hindi teacher. Naryinder is paralysed from a broken neck he sustained falling backwards on the patio of his home. Before this tragic accident he was a mountaineerer, who had climbed many great peaks of the Himalayas; what great irony that his career should be cut short in front of his own home, and not on one of the great mountains he has conquered! Naryinder is a sweet man and an excellent teacher. Each day at 6pm i go to his house and sit by his bed or wheelchair. He has an assistant as he cannot write, in fact both his arms and legs are severely bent the wrong way. His assistant and friend Vikram stays with him for six months of the year, the other six he is a farmer from a valley over the mountain. He helps Naryinder simply because he loves him, and receives no pay but his lodging. We practice hindi for an hour and then drink lemon tea, eat pakoras provided by his wife and talk.
Natryinder has been paralysed for six years. Last year, he went to Delhi to receive stem cell implants to repair his spinal column, however, the operation was unsuccessful and cost Naryinder his life savings of 500,000 rupees. He then had no arms, legs or money, so reinvented himself as a hindi teacher to get by. Following this huge setback, Naryinder found solace in drinking heavily, assisted as ever by the faithful Vikram. His love of whisky numbed his pain but was also sending him to an early grave, and had it not been for the intervention of another, he would surely now be in it. This intervention took the form of a teacher of pranayama, one of the eight arms of yoga, that focuses on healing the body through prolonged breathing exercises. He persuaded Naryinder to discard the whisky bottle and practice pranayama instead. Naryinder has been doing so now for three months, and says that he is already, very gradually, starting to feel sensation again in his body. This has transforemd his life and given him great hope, and he has promised me that next year i could come back to Dharamsala, stay with him, and he would take me up the mountain himself! He is convinced he will heal and regain what he has lost. As crazy as this may sound to convential western medicine, i do believe that, if not climbing mountains, he can at least learn to walk again. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see this happen.....it would be a true emblem of the victory of the human spirit.