I was born in Command Hospital at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune on 2nd October 1954. It is a special day as it coincides with the birthday of the great Mahatama Gandhiji, the torch bearer of the Indian Freedom Movement. My mother, in later years, used to tell me that I was born healthy and didn’t cry too much on the day of my birth. She did not have any out of the world expectations from me. She was more than happy to have me, a little newborn, in her arms. Just like any other mother, she wanted me to lead a healthy and successful life.

The forces of nature are nebulous and difficult to be overruled. Beneath my seemingly glowing angelic skin, I was harbouring a deadly disease. As the days passed, my skin colour started turning yellow. I was examined by a paediatrician, a sturdy army guy in his 30s with a well-kept moustache and grim-visage personality, on the 6th day of my birth and was diagnosed to be suffering with ‘Neonatal Jaundice’, a condition that takes place soon after birth. It happens because red blood cells start breaking down and ‘ bilirubin ‘, a by- product of haemoglobin disintegrates and starts depositing in the tissues of body, thereby imparting a characteristic yellowish tinge.

I don’t have any first-hand memories of those days, and whatever I write, I do that at the behest of my mother’s astute recollection of memories. For the ‘Neonatal Jaundice’, I was given conservative treatment at first, which included lots of intravenous fluids and other supportive medications. Repeated blood tests were done, almost on a daily basis, but the intensity of jaundice kept on increasing. My parents passed many sleepless nights in the hospital. Hopes were taking a jolt and gloom was the predominant emotion in the family. It was then that my paediatrician decided to subject me to an interventional procedure i.e. Exchange Transfusion. This is a process in which blood is made to pass through a machine to filter out the toxic bilirubin levels. I was made to undergo left sided exchange transfusion that very night. I responded brilliantly to the treatment and the clinical deterioration was halted. My withered lips regained their rosy texture; my appetite increased and I started gaining weight. It was the first major fight of my life that I conquered.

Little did I know at the time that I was born in a warrior-suit, to fight battles of diverse proportions in the years to come. Some people are born lucky; they don’t have to struggle much as they have all the necessary resources of life at their disposal. As soon as I developed an insight, I knew I was not one of them. I knew by my inner-voice that I have to work doubly hard to reap the results that are half worth their values.


I was born in the background of auspicious celestial settings. According to my birth chart I would lead a life full of vigour and seamless health. I don’t really fathom the precision of such interpretation, but to the utter dismay and disbelief of my parents, I was soon crippled by polio before I turned a toddler. Polio is a neuroparalytic disease that takes the power away  from the affected portions of the body. Both my lower limbs got affected, right more than left. At the age when my counterparts were learning to walk unaided, I was still crawling on the floor.

Polio crippled my early childhood. Life is difficult when you develop a disability in your naive years. Not many kids from my neighbourhood wanted to strike a friendship with me. This was the first major challenge for me, and I have pale memories of those days. My parents took me to every possible place where a remedy seemed an imminent possibility. In the months to come, I was subjected to herbal medications, electro-stimulation sessions, hot-oil massages and topical application of various pungent smelling balms and lotions but no evident clinical progress was seen. This was the time when there were little medical resorts available to treat polio. Since the incidence rate of polio was high, a lot of treatment options with dubious reputations were in widespread practice. My grandfather started giving me hot fomentation in my lower limbs by tying warm chapattis to my thighs and legs. It sounds bizarre today, but in those days, as my mother recollected, it was supposed to be effective in treating polio. As time passed, I managed to learn how to stand without any support. Faith healing has known to be there since the arrival of mankind. I don’t know what really worked for me, but I started walking gradually. Some said the chapattis worked, some attributed it to the incessant application of various malodorous balms which invigorated my nerves, but I firmly believe it was the faith of my parents that eventually did the trick.

Every living being bears the brunt of his past life’s legacy. I am a staunch believer in the theory of reincarnation and as I developed some intellect, I attributed my physical limitations and sufferings to my ill fate due to karma of my past lives. They say you have to bear the fruits of your destiny in your lifetime. I never really understood the gravity of the phrase until I encompassed my own suffering.

Polio was not the only medical affliction that I battled. In my early childhood years, while watching the film, ‘Sikander-EAzam’ one lazy afternoon, I felt this excruciating pain in my perineal region and to make matters worse, I was unable to pass urine as well. I was taken home where my mother made me sit in a big aluminium pan filled with lukewarm water. This was done in the hope that I will pass urine and the pain will subside, however this did not happen. As the pain worsened I was taken to the base hospital where I was promptly attended by the Captain on duty, and was given some tablets but there was no relief. The attending doctor decided to operate immediately. Under anaesthesia, I was given a liberal penoscrotal incision and a peanut sized stone was found to be impacted in the urethra, which was extracted. Post-procedure, I was initially doing well but not even a fortnight had passed that I developed the symptoms again. An ultrasound of the abdomen and perineal region showed that I had developed bilateral hydronephrosis i.e. swelling of both kidneys in response to increasing back-pressure in the event of inability to pass urine properly. I was not able to pass urine properly due to development of urethral stenosis which was attributed to the surgical intervention that took place a few days back, and no one was to be blamed as it was known to be a common complication after any surgical procedure of such nature. Misfortunes never travel alone; and once they put on their pedestals, the caravan is unstoppable.

The face of my parents bore so much gloom, so much concern for me that at times I felt like manipulating the course of my destiny by sheer force of my fists.

Conservative treatment continued for weeks to follow. For my urethral stenosis, I was subjected to serial urethral dilatation. It seemed to me a very discomforting procedure when done for the first time. The process involved putting in a dilator rod inside the urethra through external urethral opening under local anaesthesia. It was a tough time for me, to visit hospital every week and get urethral dilatation done. My studies suffered heavily and my confidence shook a great deal. Moreover, serial ultrasonograms did not show any improvement.

It was at this time that I was referred to the Casualty Department of AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), New Delhi. The institution is known as the Mecca of all physical ailments, and it is living up to its reputation even to this day. Due to unbearable, spasmodic lower abdominal pain, I was given an injection of a widely used antispasmodic drug – Inj. Hyoscine. By the time the bolus dose was delivered in one of the peripheral veins of my left hand, I started shivering. This was followed by generalized numbness, worsening breathlessness and finally a sense of imminent loss of consciousness. I haddeveloped an allergic reaction to the medication which was expertly managed by the doctors at AIIMS. I don’t know whether it was an induced sleep due to effects of medicines or a spontaneous one due to excessive fatigue. Whatever be the reason, when I woke up, I felt very fresh. Treatment continued for weeks to follow and my kidneys, at last, started to respond positively. With every passing day, I was becoming stronger physically as well as mentally and the meaning of life was infiltrating in my cerebral spheres with astonishing clarity.

Now a days, with hundreds of published reports in medical literature, it is a known fact that in a lot of cases where traditional methods of healing fail, miraculous recoveries happen. The habitual thinking of our conscious mind creates an impression in our subconscious mind. As my parents never really abandoned their hopes and kept the faith of my good health alive, their subconscious minds responded by working in unison with Mother Nature to make their belief come true.