Tuesday 22 February 2022

In the consolation of tears

Brimming with realisation

Almost a decade ago, I was walking towards the Weerwater in Almere, The Netherlands and I started to shed tears. In one moment, it dawned on me that I had survived cancer, been out of work for 18 months, lost my home of 10 and a half years, and was staying with a young Indian family, the only possession I had being my bed.

The tears were not one of pity or despair, just that I had all through my ordeal never thought of what I had been through, what I had suffered, and the toll on my mental and physical state, I had just kept going, taking each day as it came. Yet, I was in the mire of stagnation, I needed to shift something to get moving again.

Facing up to reality

My over 12-year sojourn in Holland had come to its natural end, and it was time to return home to the UK. This was against every advice or counsel of people around me, but I was convinced that phase of my life was over. It was necessary for me to find that time of release because I took hold of my vulnerability and humanity to begin to seek opportunity.

Then, I wrote to six friends, who in my mind’s eye I would have chosen to be my pallbearers as I was also too aware of my mortality considering what I had survived to tell them of my plans and what my wishes were if anything were to happen to me. I was being pragmatic and practical even if some thought I was giving up hope. What I had experienced was nothing like Job in the Bible but considering the catastrophic loss I had borne starting with my illness, I had my own story.

Things best left unsaid

There wasn’t much I could say to those who thought I was not putting up a fight or one who even said I needed a boot up my backside. I took what they had to say with grace, and not once did I suggest to them if only you knew from whence, I came to this adversity, you will fear misfortune and it happens to good people too, and I barely scraped the standard of good. I know good people who died from cancer that ravaged their bodies, robbed them of dignity, left them destitute and literally without hope in this world, I was spared, I had the good fortune, I was lucky, I was blessed, I am grateful.

And so, in the tenth year of my returning to the UK, I think about my departure from the Netherlands, the way things changed radically for me that within 6 days of my return, I was offered a job to go travelling Europe in my field of expertise. I have not returned to the community in which I found support, sometimes grudging, sometimes burdening. It was at a time of seismic change in that community too, I could not be that demanding. I am thankful for the ways in which they held me up from falling totally to the ground.

To thank them all

I constantly think about a long visit to the Netherlands, to see the consultant who took on the responsibility for my care, the friends who have kept in contact all this time, and just to see the places that gave me a sense of belonging and thriving in the Netherlands.

This all was set in motion from that afternoon when I found solace and consolation in my tears. At once, I was man and human, strong and weak, vulnerable and determined, never hopeless, just beginning to see where things can change for the better.

1 comment:

Ans ter Heide said...

Dear Akin, as we live in Wilnis, you will always be (more than) welcome at our place! We have plenty of room()s for you to stay, alone or with somebody...

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