p.p1 a boy”. The newborn’s dad was overwhelmed with

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Carrying a life in her arms, noticing the slightest wiggle of its toe, attending its deafening cry, the nurse said, “It’s a boy”. The newborn’s dad was overwhelmed with joy as well as the mother in the operating room. Giving birth to a male is still deemed prestigious by a few archaic minds in my country. Anirudh, my cousin, who is now under kidney cancer treatment, was born in a family with a slight remainder of this mindset. Delighted by having a boy, his parents did all that they possibly could to reward him with a decent life despite their financial hardships. Their efforts lost the game against the economic conditions in his family and they failed to offer what a remarkable kid deserved.

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Although I am quite younger than him, we share several childhood memories. Among our cousins, we call him Ani. Ani’s life was enclosed in a bedroom-sized home for five long years. The walls denied him access to all the beauties the world had to offer. A few books laid on a small table beside him. An old television with a limited amount of channels was positioned ahead, and behind him rested the rescued puppy. It was simple. So simple that it must have been difficult to differentiate one day from the next. Despite this reality, he never found faults in what he had. Yes, he was disappointed, but he smiled too often to notice. It was impossible not to feel somewhat ashamed around him. Ashamed of my ungratefulness towards life despite having so much more.

Later down the road, his parents’ hard work amended their financial situation, and he moved to a new residence, which was a colossal upgrade and his center of delight. Ani exhausted every opportunity he received and delivered the best output. He became the town’s football star in no time. A handsome young man who stole curious glances from girls and ignited the synchronized voice of the crowd. 

But, this appealing setting was short-lived. Not long after his financial transition, Ani’s early-stage kidney cancer was detected. A non-spreading, weirdly named mass existed in his kidney. I was dejected when this news came to me, as cancer was a thing I had seen only in movies and on TV till date.

I visited him after his week-long diagnosis and medication, and I was completely stupefied. Watching him in person, I was unable to convince myself that this was someone suffering from cancer. In the middle of an overly sanitized apartment room, with everything from pillows to the wall paint being white, on par with a hospital room, resided a ‘Cancer’ patient who was no different from the old Ani I knew. I witnessed the very familiar winsome smile still flourishing his face and everyone around him. That long, laughter-filled chat with him was the best use of my time I’ve ever known. For a split second, I struggled to hide my tears as my compassionate self could detect a hint of sadness. “How can this world even consider affecting such an exceptional person?” was the only question I had. 

Ani is unable to execute and excel at all the tasks of his everyday life. But, his approach to life is no less than an inspiration. He taught me that grumbling is never an option to live with, but accepting is. Accepting the facts and circumstances of life and treating them with a smile, always. 

This world can be simply unfair, and most of the time you have no control over what happens, whether you were the most deserving person or not. However, what you do have an authority over, which is even more powerful, is what you make of the things life presents to you. I still feel disheartened coming across the slippery slopes of my life, but I’ve now quit complaining and asking, “Why me?”

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