January 25, 2020
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The Year Of The Crab

Without pathos or melodrama, talks of how a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, bringing with it fear, shock, anger, disbelief and panic.

The Year Of The Crab
The Joy Of Cancer
By Anup Kumar
Rupa Pages: 238; Rs 195
No job, no money and four months to live. This is the start of Anup Kumar’s journey into himself, his fight against a death sentence and his final victory. It may sound like the formula for a wet novel—stories of adversity being pivotal turning points are common enough. But Anup’s tale is different. More important, he tells it differently. Without pathos or melodrama, he talks of how a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, bringing with it fear, shock, anger, disbelief and panic. The sense of ‘why me’. He describes the series of devastating truths he had to face, the emotional trauma, the strategy he adopted and the solutions he found. And finally the metamorphosis that came about in his person because of the disease. There’s a lot specific to cancer, but such details diffuse into the narrative, forming part of Anup’s very readable story. There is pain, surely, but also humour (the illustrations are a riot), a large dose of pragmatism and an amazing level of positive thinking. You don’t have to have cancer to find this book gripping.

A step-by-step guide, premised on belief in mind-body healing, Anup emphasises the effect (positive and negative) of one’s mental outlook. Spirituality had a major role in the solutions he found, particularly Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism that showed him how the desire to overcome problems is the greatest incentive to overall progress. He also tried meditation, yoga and reiki. "Buckling in a crisis, we seek outside help," he says. "Very rarely do we resolve this through the mind-body continuum. It all begins from within. A positive attitude must begin from the day of the diagnosis."

There is a wealth of useful information—lists of associations, websites, a section on dos and don’ts, myths and misconceptions and the largely uncharted area of life after cancer.

The title seems a bit weird till you comprehend the message—articulated beautifully in the quote from Kahlil Gibran that speaks of joy being sorrow unmasked and "the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears". This isn’t just a story about defeating disease. Anup believes he is a different person, has a dynamic sense of well-being, finds pleasure in almost everything. And he attributes all this to cancer.

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