“Have you ever heard of Kintsugi? Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, rather than disguising the breakage, Kintsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item, making it part of the object’s history. Our life is no different…
Cracks and wounds, no matter how mental or physical, are very much a part of our lives, they are evidences of those storms that could not wither us away. They are those scales that measure our strength and resilience. In the words of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, “The wound is the place where light enters you.” Further, I ask you, “Why cover it with a lid?” Let them be open and accessible, they are those pages of our history that need not be skipped, rather, bookmarked.” The beauty of Kintsugi lies in ‘recovery’. The process of healing is accompanied by learning, with the heat of learning ripens the fruit of knowledge. That knowledge is essential for in depth self-realization.
The first time we exchanged e-mails and I introduced her to my platform, Dr. Mala Srikanth sent me a few words of caution. She said, “My journey has only been about personal growth, and changing myself. It has never been about others, or the world or anyone else! It’s a journey undertaken on my terms. Although, I find it quite gratifying and amazing to see that I have helped others in their journey, but, you see, it’s a side-effect of it, not the main story.”
How can we forget that heroes are humble, they do not acknowledge their victory over adversities of any kind? They keep moving fearlessly, letting the time decide its trajectory. Their power lies within self, they say, “why look out when the treasure lies inside.”
Please meet Dr. Mala Srikanth, she is a part of my Real Life Heroes Series.
She moved from medicine to administration to knitting and writing, from the city to small towns, to desert villages in Oman, to camps and cantonments, to finally setting up home in the tiny hill town of Ranikhet. Dr. Mala’s life is composed of three very important elements –
- Her beautiful daughters
- Her passion for knitting in the most organic way possible, the knitters who support her enormously And,
- Her dogs – 2 at home and 8 follow her during walks
On a perfect Sunday evening, I called up Dr. Mala and the voice behind the phone was filled with ‘gratitude’. It did not reveal the fact that our friendship was just two e-mails old. She was candid and windless, while, I was curious and snoopy and we started what went on for nearly an hour.
Here she goes…
“In the year 2005, I had an accident. It so happened, that, just two days before the accident, I lost (yet another) my mobile. The driver (who got killed on the spot in the mishap), suggested that this time, I get a small mobile which I can easily hang around my neck. At the accident, the handbag got stolen, but since, the mobile was around my neck, it was found amidst the pool of blood and glass and panic calls were made.
I had fed in only 4 important phone numbers— the phone number of my boss, my dad, my best friend and my home number. Calls were made from my phone to all the four numbers and people just swung into action. The magnitude of the accident was such, that, I was declared dead by the duty doctor at Rae Bareli district hospital. Coincidentally, his best friend, a trauma surgeon from Lucknow had dropped in to have morning tea with him. He heard and insisted to check once again, somehow destiny took a U-Turn and he managed to revive my heartbeat. The Medical college notoriety came to my rescue, when trauma care had been suspended due to a medico strike at Lucknow. The Command Hospital had officers who were from AFMC, my alma-mater, and I was shifted into their ICU as a civilian patient and given the best care possible.
Having an orthopedic surgeon and a dental surgeon for siblings helped me to get the best possible medical treatment. Liver injuries healed miraculously with a 4-week diet of only coconut water (subject for thesis of a surgeon who had specialized in liver injuries, and who was my brother’s best friend). Facial and eye injuries were given the right treatment, so that, I did not lose my sight. Look at the avalanche of miracles at that time…my life was saved by a zillion people coming to assist me, as the fight to keep living continued. My bag that got stolen from the accident site came back to me all the way from Allahabad, with nothing missing.
The accident was a near-death experience, I could have lost my existence but, I got another chance to say, “Thank You God”. I did with all humility. As time passed by, I bloomed from where I once bled…”
When a river hits a rock, it does not stop moving, instead, changes its course of action. While she was talking with utmost ease and simplicity, my imagination was still swinging in between the storm that she had walked out of. Instantly, I wanted to know more. How did she arrive at the idea of knitting? Why mountains? We all love to stay in that solitary comfort, but, that stay is momentary, why did she choose it for a lifetime?
“I realized everything that happens in life, Manvi, is a choice made by us. I choose to feel sorry, to feel good, to speak up for my beliefs, to move to Ranikhet, to sleep…and everything which happens, is a consequence of my choices. Why blame others, if, we choose to be a victim. Knitting takes care of the creative and occupational part of my psyche! The process of knitting helped enormously to get movement back in my arm and fingers, as well as reminding me to maintain correct posture and getting my physical fitness back. Mentally, knitting is like meditation—one can go into the nooks and crevices of one’s mind, while the fingers are busy with the yarn and the needles. Looking back has never been my mantra for life. Staying in the present, finding the good things happening right now and feeling good about them—that’s the key to my life. I could not have moved out of a challenging marriage, taken on single parenting, shifted back to India at the peak of success in Oman, and so much more, if I had looked back! So, no, I do not look back—I am busy looking at the surroundings now!”
Every woman is her own first, before she belongs to anyone else. Dr. Mala’s story is very special, she not only resurrected herself from ashes, but also, gave meaning to the lives of many around.
Especially ‘The Knitters’ who have come a long way from blind belief systems to clarity about customs, for standing up for themselves and finding time to knit and choosing to back out of social calls etc., from making excuses about mistakes (don’t know how this happened), to finding and correcting the goof ups by themselves.
We ended the conversation on a powerful note…I could imagine the sparkle in her eyes when she said,
“I love the way they are so comfortable with each other and me… I am the universal Didi (sister), and that itself, (from being a terrifying Madam) is a huge step for me!!”
This is a story of a woman who lost her closest relationships, only to find a beautiful family in the lush green mountains of Ranikhet.
(These journeys have been personally shared with me by our ‘Heroes’)
Know more about ‘Our Hero’ – Dr. Mala Srikanth @
Website – Needles To Say More