Episode 10. Thank Your Lucky Stars

I wish I could...
Glimpse the splendorous sight
Of the rising sun over the horizon
Twinkling stars losing their sparkle
Through the crimson and gold tinged clouds
Majestic sight of the dawn of a brand new day.

From A Song Of Wishes
By Irfan Hafiz

A while ago, a video popped up on my screen about a man in Sri Lanka, lying face down, bed-ridden, attached to a respirator. On first view, seemingly a sorrowful sight. Irfan suffered with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Over time this once active, mischievous little lad, lost all use of his body. Only able to move his facial muscles and fingers.

I felt compelled to know more about this man, so I did some research and sent him a friend request through Facebook and  I was delighted when he accepted it. Over the months, I learned more about this wondrous soul.

Irfan decided to become a writer. He decided to learn English. Not only did he do that, but he became a published author of three amazing books, none in his mother tongue of Tamil, but in a completely foreign language, a different alphabet. He typed all three books, with one finger. These things alone are fantastic achievements, but Irfan was also fighting a huge internal battle against despair and depression. That to me was the most admirable part. Not to give up, not to to lose his enthusiasm for life. In his own words, not become a 'walking-dead.'

My need to connect with Irfan, came from a place within me, of admiration and respect. A fantastic example of someone, even with the most difficult of circumstances that fought to flourish and bloom.

After becoming friends, we would correspond. His words came alive on my screen. His words changed my world a little. His words painted beautiful, colourful films of his life. Through his words, I could see things through his eyes. I saw a little boy getting into mischief. I learned how it feels to be imprisoned in a body that won't obey, when faced by a snake that could have struck him dead. With no way to avoid a certain death, albeit for the miracle of his sister, her broom and her quick thinking. Above all Irfan gave me his views on gratitude.

Irfan's teachings tell us that, even if faced with huge adversity, we can still find things to be hugely grateful for. That we should never take anything for granted. To be soothed by the beauty all around us, in every tiny moment.

Irfan recently reprinted his books and I happily bought all three. I couldn't wait to read more of his wonderful work and to have discussions with him about them. Reading Irfan's words, isn't like reading at all. It's like looking at huge, magnificent, colourful tapestries. Each stitch a chosen and carefully typed character. Added one by one to create the full picture for his readers. Woven through those words are Irfan's essence, his philosophy, his beliefs.

My books arrived yesterday. Irfan was taken from us today. (25.07.2018.)

So my dear friend and inspiration, I chose your words to grace my own, 'I wish I could' from A Song Of Wishes, because with a heavy heart for our loss, and joy for you,  I realised -  now you can.

My Dad used to say 'thank your lucky stars!' as a way to remind me to be grateful for all the good things I had, instead of complaining for things I hadn't.

I'm thanking my lucky stars today for you and how it was possible to connect with you. I thank my lucky stars that you taught me something valuable. I thank my lucky stars that you wrote your beautiful books, in a language that I am able to access. I can read your words to remember you.

Rest in peace Irfan Hafiz. My friend and mentor.

©Gillian Cullis 25/07/2018


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