The trees beckon me as I walk pass them . I noticed one tree with leaves well marked and serrations at its edges . I picked one and walked further . How about the new leaves , I thought ,which looked appealing . I returned to pluck the little fresh leaves and walked home .
Aging of life struck me . Just as man ages so does all life . However the life lived is important. Have you noticed the old leaf has a few tears , may be due to the weather . It has good markings and well shaped . Of the Young leaves , one looks good while the other has tears.
Environment has an impact on the life of the tree and its leaves . How does the tree adjust to the strong winds , heat and even polluted atmosphere? There will be some wear and tear when it is exposed to such weather. Good rains and a good environment will help the growth of this tree .
In mankind, our lives get affected by our surroundings and our adaptation to them. Whether young or old , how one lives is important.
Do I live a life of moderation or one in the fast lane ? I am sure you will know the effect of either .
Wear and tear can occur at any time, irrespective of age . The day we are born , one begins to age ….however one can live a full life with grace from God. Facing the challenges of life become easier.
In autumn, leaves begin to change colour . There is beauty even when a leaf ages . It’s colour can be very attractive.
Inner beauty gets reflected on the outside in a person , no matter the age.
Jesus helps to live a full life .
He says ‘ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)
Emma Raducano won the US Open Tennis Grand Slam 2021 . It has been a fantastic achievement for a qualifier ranked about 150 in women’s tennis.
She won her match with Leylah Fernandez another teenager 6-4, 6-3, after a pulsating final , which the score line hardly suggests .
What was the turning point of this hard fought match ?
Without detracting from Emma’s game the point was when she fell while returning to Leylah and was 30-40 on her service . The momentum was with Leylah. She could have broken Emma’s service at the next point . However Emma began bleeding a little from her bruised leg . The referee called for a medical timeout .
This got extended while her wound was dressed . On the other side we saw Leylah expressing her anguish at the length of time being taken . Her protests with the tournament supervisor went in vain .
When play resumed , Emma held her serve and went on to win the match.
My dear reader what is your opinion ?
Leylah had come back from the previous rounds after being a set down. She won matches against Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Kvitova and Sabalenka all in 3 sets . These are previous champions or in the top 5 .
Do you think Leylah could have won this match with Emma ?
Is there a difference between friendship and brotherhood ? Aroon is a friend but has been more than a brother to me . I could not resist in writing this blog.
Aroon shared stories of his younger days . He spent a part of his childhood until 4 years old, in Mangalore as a result of which his knowledge of English was limited.
When he was brought to Bombay ( now Mumbai) his schooling in English left him lagging behind others . A teacher Mrs.Betty Guerra included him in her class for slow learners . This brought about a sea change and Aroon began rising to the top 10 in the class .
At the high school level he proved to be an excellent sportsman . He won the Intermediate championship in Athletics, and was good at football, basketball and hockey.
He thought he had a calling to the priesthood and joined the Jesuits seminary soon after school. He spent 9 years when doubts crept in . After serious discernment he decided to take a break from the Jesuits after completing a Bachelor in Philosophy degree .
In a short time thereafter Cupid’s arrow struck . He was on the ship to Goa . A group of teachers were also on this voyage. That is when he met Elaine . As the ship sailed through choppy waters, Elaine was impressed with his calm faith in God .
Much later Elaine heard Aroon speak at a church event and the rest became his -her-story leading them both to the altar for a marriage made in heaven.
Aroon later did a diploma in HR with Xavier’s Institute of Management. He worked several places with Contour, Chaitra , Lintas, did Head Hunting and then Administrator with a Teacher Training Organisation.
The best still awaited . He left professional services to make himself available to the Community of Jesus: Light of the World, and went on to lead as Senior Coordinator. This is a community of committed Christians affiliated to the Catholic Church and the Sword of the Spirit Communities worldwide.
I remember writing a tribute in the Community newsletter ‘Maranatha’ , when he handed over the mantle of leadership to his successor Agnelo, that Aroon will never hang up his boots ; he will continue to serve in any way he is called .
He has proved to be a brother who always affirms and reaches out to others . He is creative and musically inclined . His writing skills were given as an example to others when studying at the seminary .
He has written and directed several plays for the J B Petit School where Elaine was a teacher .
Importantly Aroon is a great Family man …
He is father of 2, Sandeep and Sangeeta and grandfather of 4. He dotes over his grandchildren of whom he has written some humorous articles (always beginning with Papa:) in the Community newsletter .
Some years later , I requested him to join my team when I took on the mantle of Senior Coordinator in the Community of Jesus:Light of the World. He obliged and was a great support to me during my tenure. We consider each other as Badey Bhai and Chhote Bhai (Hindi for big brother and small brother) I have known him to speak up when it matters. We were so close that we fought the good fight in discussions when one did not agree with the other …. but always maintained our brotherhood .
In Aroon’s words :
“The years of being in the Leadership Team of CJLOW brought me into closer interaction with you (Vincent). We developed a closer relationship because of openness, transparency and (forthrightness??) Our candidness insaying what was on our mind, even heatedly at times helped to clear the air. Agreed to disagree, sometimes. But remained friends”
He visited me often during my cancer treatment. The chats with him were always encouraging . I know that Aroon has likewise reached out to many who may be sick and need assistance.
His interest in music and song is notable. Often he could put a choir together and either sing or contribute with the guitar. The occasions could be for church events, weddings and even funerals. He has written poems and adapted songs to suit the occasion . He has raised memorable toasts at weddings with his wit and command over the English language .
One attribute I admire most is Aroon’s ability to affirm others for their talent , or a job well done . The second is his sense of humour . Occasionally he sent me into splits of laughter when he recounted incidents and gave it a twist of wit.
So this my friends is all about brotherhood
A call to go beyond oneself to be of service to another .
The last six months were very eventful . I was given the latest treatment for cancer in UK which helped me to recover remarkably .
I’ve been suffering since the past two and half years , and this Car-T cell therapy was the last option .
The NHS specialised department , gave me the best care . I was also a recipient of care from the Beatson’s Center for Scanning .
Now I’ve been able to live a normal and full life . One of my dreams was to return to playing tennis . A good friend agreed to have a few sessions with me at the Giffnock Tennis club , of which I’ve become a member.
A recent event was organised by the club to raise funds for the Beatson’s Center . It was the Jean Invitation Tennis Tournament . This lady was herself a regular tennis playing member who has cancer .
I being a beneficiary of the good care received from NHS and the Beatson’s Center decided to also participate .
It was a great day . The tennis was more fun than competitive with two large teams being formed from about 40 gents and ladies . The points and games were a mix with a lot of innovations mainly doubles . Sponsors for beverages pitched in to quench one’s thirst between games .
I enjoyed myself , with tennis and meeting the various participants. Towards the end of the event Jean ( in whose name the event was organised) made an appearance and was given a grand ovation by all present .
The thought of fundraisers for cancer has struck a chord in my heart .
I’ve also heard of marathons and half marathons being run for this cause . Surely the generosity of people will help in alleviating a lot of distress when terminal illness strikes .
It was a pleasure to meet Ganesh Tayde, at his exhibition .
The Strokes exhibition was unique. It thrilled me to see the various exhibits .
There were art works of fashionable models in elegant attire . Birds and animals seemed to present themselves in just a few strokes of a brush
Intrigued I asked Ganesh how does he conceptualise this work .
I was under the impression that with a few strokes he developed the drawing at that moment .
He shared his story that , he first looks at what is required of him by a client . He then works around the idea on paper , sometimes about 35 drafts for one product. He selects the most suitable one and then gives it a finish .
His work speaks for him . This latest venture into strokes is most creative . He also exhibited some excellent paintings with various themes .
Ganesh has been an Arts professor for years and many of his students are now renowned artists themselves
He specialises in graphic designing and paintings and has been in this line for the past 40years . We wish him many years of Creativity .
May he inspire all his students to become inspirational like him.
The visit to Edinburg was keenly anticipated. We thought of joining the walking tours with a guide .
This idea had to be shelved as I realized that at Edinburgh there were steep slopes and being a senior citizen I would not cope with this .
Anjean and I with our daughter Larissa and her husband Lloyd agreed that we do our own walking tour.
There seemed to be a holiday atmosphere. People were dressed in colourful summer attire, good walking shoes and cameras .
We began our walk with first a visit to Starbucks . The coffee and hospitality was warm and efficient.
We then proceeded to the St Giles Cathedral which has so much history…. a bit of heartbreak in that , bringing into focus the split in the church . I was very impressed with the stained glass Windows. The special cordoned area for the choir , seemed quite unique.
As we walked along , we approached the Edinburgh castle . This was a good spot for photographs .
I was surprised to be see the India Cross made of sandstone. It was erected to commemorate the 78th Regiment of Highlanders who quelled a mutiny from the Indian soldiers who fought against British rule in 1857. The Regiment was jointly awarded the Victoria Cross .( I wonder what happened to the Indian soldiers )
The India Cross has an elephant carved at its base . This elephant badge was awarded to the regiment in 1803 .
Thirty years later the regiment brought a real elephant to Edinburgh. It was well looked after with beer etc and led parades at ceremonial occasions.
We resumed our walk and refreshed ourselves with waffle icecreams .
The most interesting part of our walk was to see a statue of Greyfriars Bobby erected for his fidelity .
The legend goes that Greyfriars Bobby befriended Colour Sergeant Scott . He would follow Scott to his home at 38 Candlemaker Row . The latter trained him to move from Greyfriars Kirkyard when the guns from Edinburgh Castle sounded at 1pm to Traills Coffee House at 6 Greyfriars Row where he was fed his dinner of a hot meat pie . Colour Sergeant Scott often joined him there.
When his master died in 1858 ,Greyfriars Bobby followed his master’s remains to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered there until his death in 1872.
We had a quiet moment at the Churchyard .
Our walk ended with a sumptuous lunch at one of the popular restaurants Macker’s Mash Bar. We chose to sit out for our meal. If you are familiar with Glasgow and Edinburgh you notice many seagulls flying around . I was shocked to see a bold seagull land up on the table nearby after the diners finished their meal, to enjoy the remainder!
One cannot forget the grand architecture of the buildings at Edinburgh . George Herriots School was a spot where ‘Harry Potter’ fans show so much interest . Of course the story is quite different from the reality .
The pastry shop Patisserie Valerie was quite appealing. Lockkdown has not been helpful as the display was limited and the pastries we selected were well decorated but not too fresh.
We strolled around the shopping centre . The trams plying through the town caught my eye.
Finally we made our way back to the car park and Lloyd and Larissa saw us home to Glasgow after a long drive back .
This has been a long journey of cancer since the past two and a half years .
I’ve been through 2 cycles of chemotherapy, one cycle of radiation and immunotherapy after which my doctor in Mumbai shared that he had done his best. Nothing more could be done in Mumbai and I was given just 3-6 months to live.
He recommended Car-T Cell therapy which is currently the newest treatment available in UK.
We were told this in November 2020.
Now here is where the hand of God intervened in my life. My son Ralph sent us his details from London , so we could apply for dependency visa. In a matter of a few weeks we were granted this visa and our flight was arranged by our children to fly into UK on the 3rd December.
This was a sudden departure and left us no time to even think of any concerns of leaving home .
Our time was just right to celebrate Christmas with our children in UK.
In Scotland, we were given a warm welcome by the leader of the Community of the Risen Lord. A few of our friends too reconnected with us and assured us of prayers.
In January I was given a call by NHS for consultation with the doctor . That was a scary meeting , when I was told the risks involved with the new treatment. However I chose to go ahead , as this was the final recourse .
In February my T- cells were taken for re-engineering and within two weeks I was admitted for 3 weeks at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital when my T-cells were re-administered into my blood stream .
Thanks to God , I did not suffer any major side effects except for a loss of appetite, for a short time. The care given by the team of doctors and nursing staff was outstanding . Even the food provided was good .
I must share , that throughout my two years of cancer treatment, I had lost count of the number of Covid tests and blood tests done . Also petscans , biopsy, the Hickman line and the PICC line , were things I just accepted.
After 3 months my petscan showed that most areas were clear of cancer except a few remained . Then by end May 2021 these also cleared up ; however a small area in the lower back still glowed in the petscan .
So a biopsy was done and on 17th June 2021 , I was finally given an all clear report .
There was a moment of concern when I caught a cough and cold virus from my grandchildren . This got aggravated and led to me being hospitalised . Antibiotic drips were administered and I’ve recovered .
Looking back , I’m amazed at the events which led to my cure from cancer .
This does not mean my life here on earth is endless, but to appreciate the new lease of life God has given me .
He is the living God who cares , loves and heals . He is my greatest treasure . I know that I can now suffer the loss of everything here, in the knowledge that God is always present to hold and care for me .
I’m extremely grateful to all my family , friends and community members, my priest friends and Brothers of the Servants of the Word who have been praying for me and reaching out to me in so many ways.
A special thanks to members from the Sword of the Spirit Communities worldwide , who have been praying for me . My batch mates from college too have been encouraging and offering their prayers .
I’m grateful to my children Karen, Annalize, Ralph and Larissa for all their help. My daughter Karen and her husband Tommy, have been hosting Anjean and I in Scotland . They have been with me through all the visits and checkups at the hospital . Anjean has been my rock , always praying for me .
What is my purpose in life ?
…..importantly to accept all that God sends into my life and sharing the suffering with Jesus who can continue his work of redemption as only he can , through each of us .
…… to give glory to God in all that I do , accepting his will at all times. May his name be praised for evermore.
This struck me when I got an insightful comment on my blog ‘Captain or Manager’ by Michele of ‘Rabbitpatch Diary’ an avid blogger who left me with this comment “Thankfully this world is big enough for all of us to shine. “ The essay was on who makes a better leader the captain of a football team or it’s manager.
So striving to be a better version of oneself , rather than comparing oneself with others is a big step in being a light for the pathways of life . A light at home , or outdoors in the dark can shed light to all . A life lived well can be an example of good light, always ready to reach out and mentor the younger people . Can I pass on to others what I receive ?
Light has an identity of its very own , always shining out . However I need be to be aware of self glorification, which can be detrimental, and that very light loses its lustre.
How about ‘salt’ ? It cannot be seen. Yet, a lack of it in food is noticeable. There is a tastelessness. The identity of salt is to give taste . If salt cannot provide taste it is useless .
Unlike light , if salt does its job well , there are no accolades. Rather it loses itself completely .
This is service at its very best …a dying to self for another .
An example of this is where a mother can play the role so effectively as children grow up , caring at every stage … no wonder when they become adults , mothers are remembered the most . Do mothers get awards ?
We are all blessed with various talents . How we use them is important , so we can be salt or light in this world .
We pray for that grace, to bring out the best of the talents bestowed us by the Lord , to become the best version of ourselves.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” ( Matthew 5:13)
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)