Posted by: dlip | September 21, 2008

No Man’s Land

You may have heard of a place called “No man’s Land” well now let me welcome you to “one man’s land”.

Maximum population: three, “me , myself and I” or “thee, thyself and thou”.

An American singer of yesteryear once sang a beautiful song, the lines went something like this: “the autumn leaves drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold”…which brings me to the central theme of this section. With the advent of autumn, the trees shed their leaves. With the advent of a stroke the individual sheds his dignity, self respect and most other terms that are synonymous of the same. Before the stroke I was the provider and protector of my family and in return they looked up to me and called me the equivalent of Bwana!

After the stroke I cannot even cross the road on my own. How on earth can anyone hold me in awe?

Earlier on I never had to raise my voice to get the respect of domestic help. One indication with my eyes was more than sufficient. Now I feel they laugh at me and any vestige of respect they might have had has disappeared out of the window. Can you blame them? How can anyone respect a creature they have just seen and noted a while back when giving the blighter a bath or helping him take a pee?

Earlier on I had a voice that was commanding and was a deep baritone, I believe it demanded and received attention even when in a roomful of agitation. I could teach a classroom full of fifty young students, my voice carried to each individual without much effort. Now, all I can manage is a pitiful squeal that is easily brushed aside and consequently ignored. I cannot put my point across in a group of four because the vehicle of communication, my voice is all but defunct.

Earlier on my gait was described as an (almost) arrogant swagger now it is a crippled shuffle. You cannot blame the world for its changed opinion of me.

When in college I used to tell my students that the individual’s perception moulds the truth and brought it home to rest. Likewise the situation I have just described is that, I suppose, of most, if not all stroke victims.

Now, there are many types of responses one may have to this. You could throw your hands up in defeat and wallow in loads of self pity but I don’t think that would bring you any comfort or joy. I am not an authority on the subject and can only speak on the basis of my own personal experience.

When the oppression becomes too much to handle I tend to adopt the silent mode. This constitutes erecting walls of silence around myself. These walls do not actually protect me or steer off the onslaught from the external world but they do afford temporary relief.

Anyway, as I always say: “ to each his own”.

The ultimate clincher came the other night when my wife out of exasperation shouted or snapped at me, I retorted in a loud voice telling her she had no business shouting at me; to which she pointedly asked me; “Or else?? What will you do?” And I realized to my shock and horror that there was absolutely nothing I could do.

This exchange brought to mind an amusing scene from one of Sanjeev Kumar’s old movies (Bollywood) called “Pati Patni or woh’ ( Husband, Wife and ‘Them’).

The husband is in the habit of yelling at his wife, “bring me the water for my bath; or else…”  And each time she goes hurrying off to fetch the hot water.

However, one night she decides to call his bluff. So when he yells “get me the hot water for my bath, or else…”  she asks, “or else what?”

He meekly replies “I’ll bathe in cold water damn it!”

I refer to the area contained within these walls as my “silent well of loneliness”…. sole proprieter and occupant – myself – Dalip K Singha.


Not being conversant with the urdu language and literature. The following may be an imperfect mish-mash of incorrect quotations and facts, so before I proceed, I offer my profound apologies to you, dear reader and beg your patience and understanding. This, I believe is what emperor Jahangir said when he first laid eyes on the completed Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir. The story is that he was so stricken and over awed by its natural beauty and charm that he wrote the following verse:

“If there is a paradise on earth

            It is this!

            It is this!

            It is this!”


Let me; in all humility present the flip side of this coin of appreciation, if there is…



  1. Oh Dalip, I said you hadn’t been on the blog–it is I who hasn’t been around to see what people are doing so I apologize.

    Listen to me please….You are still all you were. Believe that very very much. Do not let the voices of others get to you.

    I believe much of what you write is because of the different culture in which you live, but some things cross cultures. As I have said my mother was always active, etc. After her stroke, her sisters called to see how she was, but God forbid to talk to her was not going to happen.

    My own sister comes to visit my mother and rarely speaks to her. Why? Because from the time of the stroke on she believed my mother had dementia. My mother, even today at 87, is more coherent than many and knows what she wants. Before the last 2 months I would talk to her and I was amazed at the wisdom within her heart.

    Dalip, you also are filled with more wisdom, more understanding,more information, more intelligence (I will believe), more determination than any other person around you and you are that way because you of what you have experienced.

    I pray to my God, that one day even your wife will understand that the physical disabilities you may have now are only cosmetic, because the man she married is still within.

    Yes it is right for you to withdraw to the metaphorical walls of silence. Do go there–you must now–but never forget your worth and the presence you have in your blog.

  2. Frank
    Three such different comments! And this one is so encouraging. I will try to keep this in mind. Also regarding your mother, please when she throws up her ‘walls of silence’ don’t be discouraged. A show of compassion without being patronising, will I’m sure reach through to her. Thanks again for your comments and your visits.

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