Battle Within and Outside

September 19, 2020 at 9:15 AMSep (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Some years ago, while working on a project far from home, I fell ill. When fever wouldn’t come down even after two days of home medicine, and because of severe indigestion followed by immense weakness, I had to be hospitalized. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with cerebral malaria.

Though the project was opening me to not just a new world altogether but also a new worldview, I still was a loner in the city; a city that was more of a small-town aspiring to be a city, or rather a small-town on which now there was an imposition of city-ness if I can call it so. Falling ill in this stranger city, with no social circle or a support system, pushed me into a very strange zone of loneliness. Being all by myself when unwell, led to a feeling of general anger color my overall behavior those days. The person who I was working for, a very friendly person, did attend to me when I was in the hospital and also once got discharged. But that wouldn’t erase the sense of loneliness within me that kept fueling restlessness in me.

Once discharged, I was asked to take rest for over a week, and that left me with more alone time and lonely time, adding to my frustration. During that rest period, I kind of built a narrative about how I contracted the disease. A week before I fell sick, I had visited an Adivasi village as a part of my field trip. After spending some days there, I had returned to the city from where I operated. Within a few days, I fell ill. But in my analysis, it was not my stay in the village which disturbed the equilibrium of my health, but the unhealthy nature of the city I had returned to. To the best of my knowledge, I wasn’t wrong with my analysis. I was quite kicked my analysis and also, by then, my frustration had reached an unbearable state. Both my excitement and my frustration needed a release!

Around the same time, I remembered this one person of whom I only knew back then, but wasn’t friends with. She lived in the same town, about which I had learnt from. I had earlier texted her a couple of times after arriving in their town. So I decided to contact her to speak with her and find an outlet for my frustration and excitement in the speech.

“In a city/ town which does not have proper garbage, sewage and drainage facilities, in such place malaria is not (just) a disease, but state violence.”- I wrote to her. In response, this person asked me why I said that and on learning what had happened and my lonely recovery phase and my simmering anger asked which part of the city I live in. I named the area I lived in. She expressed her sadness of not being able to help much since it was far from where she lived and also said, if not, she would at least help me with some healthy food daily. Still brimming with anger, since my anger and my loneliness was not validated, I said my food was being taken care of and that wasn’t a problem. I wanted her to acknowledge that their city’s administration was responsible for what had happened to me. So I repeated my statement. I was also proud of myself for linking malaria to state violence and wanted an appreciation for that analysis! On hearing it the second time she said, “You can fix that later. For now, you focus on your recovery.” (no exact words but something on the same lines)

What her words meant with that was quite profound which I did not grasp entirely back then. But over the years I have remembered this conversation quite often and have told myself how important it is for one to finish the battle with oneself before venturing into a battle outside of self, or with the world beyond, but connected to, the self!

It is only when one finds a foothold in their personal world that one is able to operate effectively in a space outside of the self. A broken self requires some amount of healing- the building of inner muscle- to be able to fist-fight things outside. It is true even if the fracture of the self was caused by external forces. Fixing of the matters outside alone will not cement the cracks within. But a healed or healing soul can certainly effectively contribute to the repairing of the faulty order of things outside that causes injuries and damage to several selves. The battle outside is not half begun if the battle within is not at least half won! But in the end, it is only in the constant and simultaneous healing of the within and outside which can liberate both, self and the world!

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