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A Relook at Cancer

You may have heard that cancer is curable. But you need to know that inspite of good medical research and care, the cancer can return. My type of cancer was considered the milder one. In 2019 I went through 6 sessions of Chemotherapy, from January to April. There was a gap of 3 weeks between each session. There were some bad side effects and that is the time I found solace in prayer and importantly others praying for me. God gave me courage and grace to endure and by June 2019 I was cancer free.

This led me to think that I now needed to lead a full life and make the most of the extended time given to me by the Lord. My children arranged for us to be with them from August until November, partly in Dubai and the remainder in UK. Anjean and I were overwhelmed with joy to be with them. I did a lot of travel,  and met so many of our friends, community members and family. I even got an opportunity to play tennis, which I had not done in the past 25 years.

However on my return to India, in December I was diagnosed with a mild relapse of cancer. So after a round of investigations I was given 6 sessions of radiation . The subsequent report was good,

Then in April suddenly I saw some nodules on my right arm and shoulder. My doctor sent me for a petscan and it showed that the cancer had spread to 4 different areas. I was shocked. Over and above the shock, I was given to understand that Non Hodgekins Lymphoma is generally curable; but if it returns , then I fall in the category of 40% where it will not be cured. So this left me quite stunned.

Then began the chemotherapy at end of April, which was given in two parts ….a full day session and a half day session to complete one cycle. I was scheduled to take 6 complete cycles. Again I saw the provision of God in my finances through family, friends and medical insurance.  By June 2020, I was again given a scan which showed an all clear report. My doctor though recommended that I complete the 6 cycles so that the treatment dealt with the cancer thoroughly. This last part has been very painful and  I have had bad side effects. Constant Diarhoea and inability to retain a normal meal. Anjean has been rock solid with me at this time to standby me, praying and looking after all my needs…truly an angel to me as  her full name is really   ‘ Maria dos Anjos’.

I am grateful to my children, who have been doing their best , even though so far. They give us the feeling as if they are with us, with their numerous phone calls and even zoom meetings to pray together.

I  specially acknowledge a good neighbour Hansel Baptista. He has  gone out of his way to help to take us to and fro to the Hospital for these sessions. Hansel  has become like a family member to us, in the absence of our children. Likewise Ben and Sandra, have always been ever ready  to help us at any time ( we specially appreciate the times of intercession) . Aroon and Elaine from our Community and neighbours Avina and Carmen have made special efforts to reach out in significant ways . The call to pray from current community  leader Eugene Peres, via telephone network of members,  before every chemotherapy session has been a blessing.

Yes , prayers from my own Community of Jesus and Communities in India and all over the world, specially London, Glasgow and Dublin and Manila, and the Brothers from the Servants of the Word,  have sustained me with courage and grace, to live a life fully. The Lord’s presence is sufficient indeed. Romeo Fernando and his team of intercessors from the  Community of the Good Shepherd have been consistently praying for me.

Finally I acknowledge Fr Nigel Barett our Parish Priest from Our Lady of the Rosary,  who made a special effort to bring me Holy Communion on a few occasions when I needed the Lord so much.

This has set me thinking about a lot of things.

Did I seriously think that after the first round of treatment and being cleared of traces of cancer that I will not get it again.?

Did I ever realize that many caṇcer patients suffer much more than me.

Am I aware that I have courage and a positive approach , only because this comes from the grace of

God and that  many people  known to me and even not known are  praying for me?

What am I going to do in the months ahead? How will I respond to a God who loves me so much?

Finally  , should I not accept that the final call can come any time irrespective of all the medical  treatment I receive ?

So  this second round of cancer relapse has helped  me to realize and relook at life.

Importantly it is a reminder to me that my life on earth is limited.  It has given me the assurance that whatever happens, as long as I live now…………

‘If we live we  live to  the Lord ; and If we die, we die to the Lord , whether we live or whether we die,  we are the Lord’s.’ ( Romans 8:14)

The Wedding You Missed

Dedicated to Karen , Annalize , Ralph and Larissa

These are some memories of my wedding with Aṇjean, on 26th May 1985. Naturally, our 4 children missed this wedding. They have now grown up and spread their wings to other countries. This blog is dedicated to them.

The miracle of answered prayer : much before our wedding date was finalised, we surveyed the Mumbai venues for our wedding. We may have gone for the Catholic Gymkhana venue which was the most convenient for wedding receptions. However Anjean surprised me by suggesting the Air India roof garden. The AI head office was my work place. It was certainly not a venue for weddings . Her response was you make the request and I will pray to Mary Help of Christians . On tenterhooks I approached the Director of Administration with the request , and I was stunned when he acceded to it.

Which is more important ….the  bride or the car: the bridal car was supposed to leave from Mazagon  to ṭhe bride’s location at 3pm . Till 3.15pm the car had not yet left . Under great stress, I went out to check on this, and then the famous words spilled  out …”Which is more important the car or the bride?” On paper the question seems an innocent query, but it was expressed in a tone which made the decorators (my close family volunteers) quell at such anger, and the car was despatched immediately.

Arrangements at the reception venue: since this was going to be the first wedding reception of the kind (Catholic wedding : a celebration of dinner with dancing) , frequent phone calls kept coming home to me. How do we set the tables? The table cloths are flying with the wind. We want additional manpower. Why? Because the regular catering staff wanted to join in the celebration. I was so exasperated that I decided not to answer any phone calls. In those days mobile phones had not yet existed.

At the St Anne’s Church: Anjean’s favourite colour showed in  the  pews which were tastefully decorated  with yellow flowers, specially  done by Mother Teresa’s nuns. My cousin Blossom and her  choir were ready in advance at the church.

We had three priests celebrating the Eucharist. Fr Juan ( St Anne’s) Fr Hillary Rodriques ( my spiritual advisor) and Fr Matthew ( Nagpur) . Fr Hillary’s homily on Luke 1: 42 , “Nothing is impossible to God” stayed with me for many years of our married life, and helped me to grow in surrendering any difficulties to the Lord.

Air India Nariman Point : Our entry at the roof garden was so dramatic. It gives me goosebumps as I remember the 7th Galaxy band striking up the grand entry of the bridal couple with the tradional tune …. Some flashes of memories come to my mind. The fast lifts at the AI office was a treat for the young children who were bold enough to take the lifts to the uppermost floors (22nd) and back. My little nephew Adrian was covered with powder as he enjoyed rolling on the dance floor.The 7th Galaxy belted out music, even more enthusiastically when they recognised some of our guests from Goa . There were Beatle songs and also the Portuguese medley to bring everyone into the mood. Talking about moods, well a lot of gifts came in through the security gate by our guests from Goa, which also helped a good deal in raising the spirits : these contained mature and good wines and spirits carefully gift wrapped. My Dining Facility Staff joined in the wedding celebrations with gusto. They were also given a share of the spirits that were sneaked in.

The reception  ended with group photographs taken for memories.  

Finally the time came for us to move to our new home in Matharpacady. I did fairly well in carrying my bride Anjean over the threshold . But then we both climbed the stairs together helping each other as we progressed with family life.

 Karen , Annalize , Ralph and Larissa , may you treasure these little anecdotes of your parent’s wedding.

Photo credits: Subodh Amin

( pictures taken on regular film, and later copied by digital camera)

A Cold Night

Karen and Annalize

In the spring of  1989  ,  I was posted at the Centaur Lakeview Hotel , Srinagar. At  the earlier  posting in autumn of 1988, I had a bad time adjusting to the suddenness of that trip, and was terribly homesick.

Hence when I got news of this second posting, my family decided to help me by also taking a holiday at Srinagar during this time. We had  Karen ( nearly 3yrs old) and Annalize ( 1 and 1/2 years old) with Anjean and my Mum along for this trip.

They took the flight  to Srinagar via Delhi. I was thrilled to receive them at the airport.

As I looked throught  the terminal glass, I first saw Karen, who looked so lost amid the other passengers. When she saw me, her face brightened up as she wondered what I was doing beyond the glass panel. Finally all came through the formalities of  checking out of the terminal., and it was a grand  reunion of family with me.

We then  proceeded to tḥe  Hotel  Brown Palace for their short holiday.  I was granted 4 days leave during this time , to be with them.

The hotel was quaint with the comforts of a medium hotel. The family  room was spacious and well furnished . The General Manager gave us a warm welcome. He also cautioned us about the cold weather at night, and hence sent extra heaters.

We had dinner and retired to the room since they ( family) had travelled and needed to rest.

The room looked cosy with heavy curtain at the windows. We started  all the heaters.

Soon it was lights out and all in  bed. But the night was still young when little  Annalize cried and cried with the cold….despite the heaters., .. we could  do nothing., except cover her as best we could.

The temperature ,.was too low; the heaters made no difference, but  we survived the cold night.

As the sun rose next  morning,,and the weather changed a bit to become warmer, we met the .General Manager again. He  enquired “ how was your  night ?” … with a twinkle in his eye .

“ The heaters were not helpful , and our little ones could not bear the cold .” we responded.

 “ Its not surprising , that  you felt the cold. Your windows were open. I noticed this on my round last night,”

So with this embarrassing bit of information we made ,sure that the windows behind the heavy drapes were closed.

Thus  the remaining nights were peaceful, and we enjoyed the stay , and sightseeing in Srinagar.

Family group
with a shy poser

Tale of two tails ( the two pigeons)

“Say Saffy  , why don’t  we play a game.”  Suggests Daffy as he  and Saffy perch on the nearby parapet.

“Are you ok ? To think of playing games when all these humans are so stressed about some virus.”  

“Any way tell me what do you have in mind” Saffy looks with enquiring eyes.

“ Well have you ever thought of  how tḥe wind blows?”

“Daffy , I don’t understand what game this is? Please be  simple and clear.”

“ See, Saffy , when we fly, which is easier ; with the wind or against it ? “

“Obviously with the wind is easier.”

“Ok then , lets fly around the world , and see whether we reach this place agaiṇ.”

“ We can both go together , with the wind. “

Thus started ān adventure by these two pigeons . What is in Daffy’s mind ?

They both realized that as they flew, there was a lot to observe. The entire environment had changed. The skies were clear. Forests  reappeared.  The rivers flowed with pure water.

“Have you any idea whether there is still a hole in the sky?” asked Saffy.

“ I don’t understand such things , Saffy, but I do know that flyiṇg in the sky is less stressful and a real pleasure.”

The two friends continued ,their journey. They saw new developments …. not  the Crane and  Construction  work. No in the various  trees, nest building began with great fervour.

“Daffy , when do you plan to settle down ? “

 “Hey Saffy , please don’t speak about settling down. Just see what the smart humans have done with their ‘settling’ and ‘developing’ “

“ I’m surprised that  these people can stay in one place and quieten down. Why could they not do this earlier? Their incessant desire to be on the move, certainly caused changes, harmful to us. “

Thus Daffy and Saffy flew along , chatting all the time.

As they flew together ,they encountered   many other birds. The various calls and flurry of feathers, seemed  to be a celebration of life. Clouds floated serenely against blue skies .

“  Hey Daffy, just look below. Is this the new earth? “

“ What do you mean ‘new’ earth; it was always meant to be like this, until all the new ideas of man changed everything for the  worse. “

“ And Daffy,these same  humans , want to spread their ‘wings’ to the moon and beyond.”

“ You better not talk too much , Saffy, nowadays , we are being watched closely.”

The two pigeons soon realized that their dream of flying around the world , would not materialize.

The direction of winds changed and  they thought it best to return to old nesting places.

There is a saying that birds of a feather flock together. Dear reader, when you see the two pigeons of  differing  color and breed, does it surprise you ?

They have  one  tale to share, inspite of differing tails. . Where are we with our differences. Do exteriors matter?

Do the hearts that beat in man , differ ? Can the same heart love and hate at the same time?

Tell me what gives life?  The choice remains….can I love or hate? 

Will my choice determine peace or strife?

The Barbets

Why dost thou look at me ?

Will I steal from thy little nest,

so well prepared,

to allow only you and yours

to feed the little ones

Yes , you do not fail

In your search for food ;

a provider in earnest .

Where do you go

And how fast you return ?

They wait with outstretched beaks

To feed on the finest you bring ,

Surely that day will arrive,

When they too fly away.

So is the circle of life ,

They will find new trees

Build new nests

To bring in new lives

To begin a fresh verse

Tennis Courts and Dreams

My love for tennis, goes back to more than 25 years ago. I remember playing the game with my eldest brother Allwyn at the Catholic Gymkhana. We enjoyed a good set and developed reasonable skills to play in the member’s tournaments and even represent the Gymkhana at a local tournament.

However as  the years went by, and our tennis too ended. Among many reasons was the  closure of the courts at the Gymkhana

I remember purchasing a book on learning the nuances of tennis and had passed on some of these tips in coaching my son Ralph when he was 8years old. Many things were discarded during my house repairs some time ago. This book however remained with me purely out of a dream of playing tennis again.

The year 2019 was very eventful when I was diagnosed with cancer. I recovered with treatment and in August departed on a 3 month holiday with Anjean. This holiday was a gift from our 4 children and covered Dubai, London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

My dream of playing tennis again began in Dubai,  with  the Saldanha brothers . Ian my son in law was very considerate in arranging  tennis sessions with his brother  Colin and his father in law Alex.

Our first session was at  Alex’s courts and the next at Colin’s courts. Ian and I played some good tennis , but with Colin  on the other side and his fast serves ….we  lost closely.

The second session was even better  . I was quite adept at placements ; we still lost…with a tough fight. Ian and I shared a ‘never give up attitude’ .We ended with some cold beers and relaxed time with Colin’s piano accompaniment to our spontaneous songs

My next visit to a tennis court  was at Glasgow. This just  happened when I casually mentioned to a friend John Jackson  over coffee, about my interest in tennis. He later spoke  to  John Coyle a lover of tennis himself, who  arranged for us to  play some good  tennis ‘doubles’ with regular members. I played fairly well, losing the first set , and then winning the next two sets, rotating our  partners.

The second session was  the following week and happened to be a tournament. This proved a challenge for me. The tournament was played on a  round robin basis of doubles . About 20 members many regular and established tennis players  teamed randomly and  points were awarded according to the games  a person won. Thankfully I was given a handicap with whoever teamed with me. My game improved a  bit and I was surprised that I could get some good volleys, cross court shots, and deft placements. To top it all, I got some good serves down the T . There was a winner and  runnersup, but for me , the best souvenir was the group picture at the end of the mini tournament.

My final encounter with tennis courts was at tḥe Bombay Gymkhana. Courtesy Kirk D’Cruz a good friend , with whom I reconnected. He was gracious to host me for a couple of sessions at the Gym. We got into the rythm quite fast and were soon stroking the ball well. I was surprised that we could actually play singles and enjoy it, The second time we went for a session, I struck the ball so hard that the strings of my aging racket snapped . This was adequately compensated when Ian , my son-in-law gifted me an excellent Wilson racket on his visit to Mumbai.

Ralph joined us at the most recent session of tennis at the Bombay Gym on his visit from UK. He too had not played the game since the age of 8 years . When he got on court , I was stunned to see him hit the ball so well with tḥe correct style . He enjoyed the session a lot . From the sidelines I just admired his game, as he practised with Kirk and both had some power packed ground strokes.

We never got a repeat of these sessions , as Ralph soon returned to UK.

 My fascination with tennis began in school, when I had not yet learnt to hold a racket. But I read every tennis article in the sports page from start to finish. One of my brothers even enquired , how and why I did that.  Famous names of those days were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Margaret Smith, and later,Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker.. and some more like Cliff Drysdale, Mats Wilander , Steffi Graff. We cannot forget Nadal and Djokovic !

 As I end this note on  tennis, I must also mention some books I’ve read on tennis players. Rod Laver’s ‘An Autobiography’…I always admired him the way he carried himself, with  a quiet dignity and confidence, but a rocket on court,  Andre Agassi’s , ’OPEN: An Autography ‘  he was very candid about his love and hate for tennis, Roger Federer’s ‘Biography’ by  Chris Bowers, ( wonder when he will write his autobiography) , and finally Arthur Ashe’s ‘Days of Grace’ . the last was the most inspiring for  the way he handled his  unfortunate Aids  infection through blood transfusion  at the time of his heart surgery .

I liked his famous quote …..If I were to say,” God, why me? About the bad things,” then I should have said ,”God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life. …

This helps me to reflect on the numerous blessings God has blessed me with, since all these years, despite my recent challenges.

Thank you Lord , for all these , even, for the  dreams of tennis, being fulfilled.

An Experience of Wales

The trip  to Wales by train introduced us to the peace, quiet and natural beauty. It entailed a train to Euston and thence to Birmingham, and Barmouth . The transit at Birmingham was just 10 minutes, but we made it. Then onwards to Barmouth via Shrewsbury, Machynlleth (where one coach of the train was detached) to proceed to LLwyngwril and onwards to  Barmouth.  The other coach  went  to Aberystwyth. The names were tongue twisters , besides keeping us alert to our rail route to our destination.

The journey by the seaside is breathtaking. On one side you see hills with sheep, quaint houses, and the sea view as the train chugged along.

Our little train was suddenly engulfed with school children . They brought liveliness into the compartment until they disembarked at their little quaint town, LLwyngwril.

We were received by Fr Alex at Barmouth. The station was very quiet. He arranged a taxi to transport us to St Tudwal’s , our home for the next 3 days.

When Fr Alex mentioned that he welcomed us to a sparse 1 star lodge , I was surprised to be given a comfortable room, with a view …St Matthew’s …normally the room for a visiting bishop. The remaining rooms were Mark, Luke and John. We had a  view of the seaside, play grounds, township and the sunset.

 We sat to tea and Scottish shortbread .

But ,dinner proved special as Fr Alex actually took the trouble to keep a menu card ready … for a special meal he prepared himself.

Salmon curry, Fresh Steamed Garden Peas, Veg fingers, and Toasted Pitta Bread.

It was meticulously planned with the table laid out . We enjoyed the dinner , specially with apple cider …which I grew to like a lot . the meal ended with tiramisu…

We thence decided to reciprocate with a meal prepared by Anjean and I . Fish Baffat , veg fingers, onion rings.

Breakfast was DIY , with a trolley kept ready very thoughtfully; all ingredients for a good breakfast were at hand to prepare.

Time at St Tudwal’s was memorable for the conversations with Fr Alex . He is a prolific writer and a contemplative at heart.

His favourite quotes…Spirituality …spending time with Jesus. … hospitality ….welcoming Jesus in our midst.

‘Pray your petition, listen to what God is saying  and act on it’

. ‘In joy God  whispers into our lives ’ ; ‘In times of difficulty , God shouts into our lives.’

On Saturday morning we were welcomed by Fr Alex to the main church. He was preparing for the Sunday service . He combines many roles in one. Pastor, Sacristan, and Mentor….along with help from the few parishioners who make up a congregation of about 12 people.

He has looked after all aspects of the church and explained the relevance of the paintings and carvings on the altar which begins with the Nativity of Jesus and ends with the Ascension spanning his entry into and exit from this world. The Last Supper takes pride of place at the Altar front.

On Sunday we attended the Eucharist. His homily left me reflecting on the few loaves and fish , and how God takes what little we have and multiplies it .

A parishioner from the neighbouring parish , also visited Fr Alex with the gift of a salmon that was caught and smoked specially for him.

I noticed several remarkable things at Wales. They have a language of their own , quite distinct from English.   Most young people had moved to cities , so were noticeably absent .

People are very honest. Anjean had absentmindedly  left her shopping bag one evening on a public bench . It remained there , until we returned, without anything missing.

Anjean relaxing by the wayside; note the Welsh language on the menu display behind

On the third day we walked to the beach and enjoyed the windy walk. We saw a few people walking their pet dogs . Later we spent time at the pier . I met another visitor who recounted his time in India as a child when his  father served as an officer in the British Army.

The sea gulls and the distant rail bridge made good pictures for my collection.

I left with one souvenir of Fr Alex…. his portrait picture , he requested me to photograph himself,  for the new book to be published in January 2020. ‘Face to Face’ . I know and am confident that this book will be among the best of his, since its all about encountering the Lord Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Alex Rebello

Our time came to an end when we left by train for the trip onwards to Glasgow, via Wolverhampton.

Thank you Fr Alex for gīving us a taste of Wales! We hope to see you in India soon.

Crows are crows

Have you observed crows ?

This morning I was quietly observing them .They were busy either searching for food or just cawing to each other.

Does anything disturb them .

Crows at peace

Whether governments change or men act aggressively towards each other,crows will be crows

They still find food and still continue with life ..

A great lesson for me.

Who cares for them ?

How is that world events do not disturb them.

The answer I think

They are in sync with the Master

Our Creator

That is a secret worth thinking about

He provides them daily food .

Do they store in barns ?

Do they worry about the future ?

Do they envy others ?

Yet the crow flies wherever he needs to go

No need of any nationality or proof of citizenship .

He is welcome wherever he flies

His story gives me hope

Can I learn to live at peace with another and trust my Creator for my daily needs?

As the Eagle Soars

When I look up,
The blue skies beckon me,
Amidst the bustle below,
An eagle cruises high above
Ever watchful for its prey.

Is that all I ever see?
Can it stir up its nest,
And hover over its young ;
As it spreads its wings ,
And bears them aloft ?

In you I trust O Lord ,
As you hold me,
and quieten my soul,
Me your child
Ever content not wanting more.

In the shadow of your wings
I will rejoice,
As you set me free,
To live and move
And have my being,

Gracious Mimi

Mimi and Anjean

Our trip to London was special , as we stayed with Mimi Turner for 10 days. For Anjean and I , this turned out to be a surprise. Mimi had not yet arrived from her holiday, but was gracious enough to extend her hospitality in her absence. However we were happy when she arrived the following day. This became our home away from home then onwards.

Mimi has been hosting guests of Charismatic Renewal since 1969 with her husband late Tim Turner.

Mimi still remembers her earlier home , which was much larger before moving to the current smaller one. She has a picture frame of the old house .

Mimi loves her garden and the sitout . On a sunny day , the experience is exhilarating. The flowers were in full bloom. Birds visited the feeder every morning .

But Mimi misses her husband Tim the most . He was the ‘gardener’. He passed away about 9 months ago.

I loved to hear Mimi speak about the family history i.e his-story as well as her-story . The events around them were stunning , with the background of World War II. I encouraged Mimi to put it down in her memoirs .

The Turners have 5 children and 18 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter . They are truly international . Most in UK , and one family in USA and one in Australia .

Mimi thinks aloud “ I hope I can travel on many different holidays ; taking one different holiday per year , with one accompanying grandchild , just like my mother did.”

She had just returned from a Norway cruise with grandson Anthony . Of course she had some amazing pictures to show and a glowing account of the way Anthony conducted himself, while accompanying her.

Mimi has always had her family around for Christmas . “ The little ones would be in the hallway, the adults in dining room and older grandchildren in the kitchen . Turkey would certainly be the main dish.”

In 1970 Mimi and Tim were active in the early Prayer Groups . Later they were Leaders of the Charismatic Renewal. Tim brought ‘ Life in the Spirit’ Seminars to Britain .From 1973 onwards Tim conducted these seminars which helped more Prayer Groups to flourish..

Eventually they committed to the Covenant Community life in 1980. This Community is the ‘Antioch Community’ today and a full member community of the Sword of the Spirit Communities worldwide.

Her son Dan Turner is the current Senior Coordinator.

Mimi is very organised in her life style

She prioritises prayer and the life of Community.

Her week comprises , Gym, keeping touch with the extended family on the phone , and current news .

She is quite independent and drives to places for meetings or shopping.

She takes special care to host visitors even now .

“I never thought I would continue hosting guests after Tim passed away , as we were a team; but you are my first guests and I’m happy to host .”

One of her special gifts is Counselling . She is an asset to Community life over the years , and is one of the Senior members .

I asked Mimi what verses remain her favorite :

She responded

‘ Acts 17:28 ‘ For in him we live and move and have our being ‘

Romans 8:28 ‘ We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose.’

Truly Mimi lives with a purpose , and God has blessed her with an abundant life.