Maneesha Ramakrishnan

The Undousable Spirit

Maneesha was a victim of the Carlton Tower fire tragedy. But like a rising phoenix she has emerged out from the flames and ashes of self pity. She has resurrected herself with a sense of purpose to live a lifetime in moments. Miraculously, this Chef on Hire has emerged victorious from the fire.

An encounter with death,which started off as wrestling match in a powerful arena,and transcended into this beautiful enigmatic yet poignant love story with ''her" (Death which is a law of nature, the truth) that radiates within me today .

The Carlton Tower fire tragedy changed my idea of happiness, and of life, forever. When I reflect back on how I was trapped in there on that fateful day, I realized that I was exposed to the “deepest form of human suffering – fighting for just a breath of fresh air!” I now know the value of each breath that I am breathing, that each of us is breathing. Ever since, I am living a lifetime in moments, and I am addicted to it. This addiction to live fully, moment by moment, to me is happiness.

I think about "'her" every day.But not the way I did on 23rd February 2010, the day when the fire happened. She(yes it’s a “she” :)) crosses my mind like a spring cardinal that flies past the edge of my eye; startling, luminous, lovely and she’s gone! The event of the fire and the tragedy is something that I’ve come to look at as a significant segment of the journey that I’ve been on in this lifetime. I have learnt from her over a long period of time. It is not about getting over it or healing. No. It’s about learning to live with this transformation. For the experience is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools.

I felt it exhilarating and liberating that I was free from the bondage of life support systems. Even as I grappled with a loss of vitality, and impairment in physical functionality, I was happier being the way I was. My wind pipe and vocal cords have got constricted because of the amount of smoke I inhaled on that tragic day. Despite repeated surgeries it never got back to normal. So, I breathe with the help of a tracheotomy tube inserted in my larynx. When I must speak, I block the tube’s opening and that makes me audible.

I resolved that I was going to work on myself. I began by moving away from self-pity. I stopped obsessing over the repeated trials and tribulations in my life culminating in some way with this gruesome fire and tragedy. I began to nurture my children. This helped me repair and resurrect myself. I started to participate in the movement to bring justice and closure to those nine families whose loved ones did not survive the fire. This gave me a sense of purpose. It was not easy. But it kept me moving in a direction that I was very happy with. I stopped viewing myself as a helpless, hapless victim. I decided to call myself “The Queen of the Carlton Fire”. That change in perspective, in personal perception, opened me to the opportunity that all of us have in embracing abundance thinking. Happiness is really celebrating what you have, celebrating who you are!

I relaunched my career as a “Chef on Hire”. It gave me a physical, practical, financial and blissful anchor. But, Bangalore weather can play truant with someone who now has a permanent breathing impairment. After struggling with a couple of winters, I realized I have to stop looking at external reference points and circumstances to change for me to be happy, for me to be at peace. I simply went within and have found complete bliss. Finally, I am alive again. Each day, each moment, I allow myself to just be! I feel all the more entitled to be living life fully now.

Yes it’s taken seven long years to get here!Akarsh and Dhruv my children are my soulmates. They have grown up into young emotionally intelligent adults despite our lives being ridden with chaos, uncertainty and stress. They have given me reason to love, live, laugh and they have loved me so unconditionally. They have taught me the value of compassion – they doted on me through my several stints in hospital; with Dhruv even refusing to leave my bedside. Ours is a great friendship – I have always been open with my boys and I am always willing to learn from them. I am so grateful to God that this area of my life, as a parent has been so blissful, so blessed, so beautiful.

Life is a tightrope walk. But I didn’t see only the tightrope. I see how blessed I am, with all the love and compassion that holds me. I remind myself daily that I am “God’s favourite” – that I will never be let down; I will always be looked after. I have learnt to accept the tightrope as an integral part of my life. I hold on to positive feedbacks with all my might, designed with a special nerve by our universe. After the tragedy, I was called brave, superwoman, I didn’t understand why. Did I have any other option or choice?

For me, my life mantra is, ‘Revolutionary love’ as a choice, an act of will. It is a choice to extend the kind of love I have for our people to those outside of my tribe, to those who do not look like me, even those who hurt me. When you are quiet the voice within you is what divides yourself from others, you lose yourself…and you fall in love.I want to share with the world this blessing I have, that of a capacity to temporarily put away all the circumstances that surround me, that hold me hostage in a physical sense, to go within and find inner peace and true happiness.

Post the Carlton fire, in 2012, when I was going through intense physical trauma, an epiphany occurred to me. I chose to let my pain be where it was instead I chose to look at the pain and suffering of another. I saw the families of those who were lost in the fire. I saw their grief. I gave them all my love. That was a huge healing process for me. I want people to learn from my experience. I want to share this awareness, and this method too (Emotional Capital Building),with the whole world.

I visualize myself driving around in a food truck, with lots of balloons, giving away food and home remedies to people who need them the most. Not just to humans but to animals and birds. I believe in living in the beauty of each moment, fully, with love and compassion, so we can be eternally happy.


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