Life is not always a bed of roses

Gladys Staines, Deepa Malik and Andrea Bocelli
(from l to r): Gladys Staines, Deepa Malik and Andrea Bocelli

Yes, indeed. It is sometimes a bed of thorns we are compelled to sleep on with no end in sight.

When misfortune befalls an intrinsically good person, it is not only his near and dear ones who are affected but others as well. They start to think, “Why did this happen? He did not deserve this. It may happen to us.” They try to rationalize, “Perhaps God is punishing him for the sins of his ancestors.”

The truth of the matter is that sickness, pain and death are an intrinsic part and parcel of life. All the wealth of the richest person cannot save him from pain. If life was just plain sailing with no storms off and on, then it would be boring. Suffering throws up challenges which make us resilient and resourceful, provided we take it positively.

Obsessed about why something painful and irreversible happened to us is not going to drive away the pain. There are ordinary, everyday people and famous individuals who have taught us that the only way forward is accepting the inevitable. For instance, a soldier who has lost a leg when stepping on a landmine has to accept that his leg is gone. But naturally he will be bitter at first and think, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Actually it was not God’s will nor His hand that hid the landmine but that of a fellow human being. But if bitter thoughts pervade his mind, he has effectively handicapped himself more than the landmine. His next step, both figuratively and realistically, would be to learn to walk with an artificial leg.

The famous tenor, Andrea Bocelli, was born blind. But that did not stop him from spreading cheer and reaching great heights in his career. Deepa Malik is a confident para-athlete who has won medals in various sporting events including the Paralympics. She has won accolades for her participation in adventure sports and is also a motivational speaker.

A person who has been hale and hearty and suddenly suffers from a debilitating illness may find it more difficult to accept his fate than a person who has been born with a disability. The demise of the breadwinner could be a very difficult situation for his family to accept. At such times, an unshakeable trust in God is a quality that has stood many in good stead. Stella was a kindergarten teacher who lost her husband unexpectedly. She had three young mouths to feed, clothe and educate. She started a nursery for toddlers which she ran in the mornings. The rest of the days flew by as she was busy cooking and looking after her kids. She would bake cakes and make sweets for sale after the kids went to sleep. Prayers and faith got her through those difficult years.

To me a true hero or heroine is not the dancing-around-trees type. He or she is someone who has wholeheartedly forgiven a criminal who has killed his/her family members. One such person is Gladys Staines. She, her husband and three children lived in Baripada, Odisha, where they took care of leprosy patients. One fateful night her husband Graham and two small sons Philip and Timothy were brutally burnt alive by fanatics. Shortly after the perpetrators of the crime were sentenced; but Gladys said that she forgave them. Her only desire was that the killers repent and reform. She continued to stay and serve the leprosy patients she loved for several years before moving back to Australia.

Those who have overcome mental and physical challenges, who have faced tragedy and difficult times in a positive way, are beacons of hope to all of us.

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Monica Fernandes
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Monica Fernandes

Monica Fernandes is a freelance writer from Mumbai for whom writing is a satisfying hobby. She writes for several magazines including The Teenager Today. She has authored a book for teenagers entitled Towards A Fuller Life published by Better Yourself Books.