Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I Got Your Back, Shape, December 2007

I got your back
The importance of physical strength hits home.

It’s 8pm and my mother is lying on the floor of my balcony. She’s just fallen on her side, slipped, hit her head on the sliding glass door, and her right arm is twisted around behind her.

I am frozen for what seems an eternity before I rush forward to pick her up and assess the damage. But as I shove my arms under hers to lift her, I realise I can’t. It’s like we’re both partially paralyzed. She from panic, me from just plain fear and a thousand thoughts. I pray her arm is intact. I mentally prepare myself for a dislodged hip and everything that kind of injury brings. I tug again in determination. But nothing happens.

In a single moment, I am, metaphorically, on that floor with her. Without the physical strength required, I am helpless in the face of my mother’s accident.

I chronicled my mother’s stroke in this column a few months ago. Since then she’s been on meteoric mend, attending rehab classes and gaining mental and physical strength. Yes, there are still gaps, falls, frustrations and mistakes. Every day can be a challenge or a breeze - we all find ourselves learning as we go along, in grudging acceptance that we don’t always know what to do. Yet somehow, we get there.

The day my mother fell in front of me was a typical Sunday together. She makes the effort to climb four flights up to my apartment just to be with me, enjoy the breeze floating in, and speak of her life and dreams. We hang out. It’s no secret that I “force” her to come over, but it’s my way of making sure she remains active and actively involved, and knows she is neither abandoned nor useless.

It’s ironic how the tables were turned in an instant. Without the ability to pick my own mother up off the floor – I have never felt more useless in my life.

Miraculously, my mother walks away from this with a surface cut and some bruises. Me? With leaden legs and a head and heart heavy with a jolt of reality.

While I am mentally prepared for the complications that my mother’s chronic illnesses may throw up, I have not prepared my body for it. As time goes by and age catches up to her, would I be able to stand by and see another lift her, when the task should be mine? Not a chance.

To be her unflinching rock of stability I need to develop a broad back of strength, shoulders of determination and a core that holds me together, no matter the challenges that I am certain are coming my way.

We spend a lot of time on our bodies, mostly sculpting physical beauty to be admired by the flab stricken envious. We spend as much on developing our minds too, so we can command conversations with the might of out intelligence and wit. Rarely do we speak of being or becoming tougher and stronger.

My trajectory from here on? Fit and fearless.

Anita Kapoor thanks her mother for giving her strength.

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