Nature repairs, unconditionally - Maneesha Ramakrishnan's survival story
Known as the Queen of Carlton fire, Maneesha Ramakrishnan survived the Bangalore Carlton fire in 2010. The smoke inhaled during the accident left her vocal cords permanently constricted, and repeated tracheotomies could only partly restore her voice, today reduced to a faint murmur. Her sense of smell is permanently lost and she now breathes with the assistance of a tube surgically implanted in her larynx. After the incident she, a determined soul has come a long way. SHEROES talk to Maneesha who is now a chef, here is her story-
Tell us about yourself.
"Home" that’s me, if I have to give myself a second name. I have launched myself as "Chef " and love to see happy bellies. All healed and feeling loved you know. Just a day back I have been offered to be a "Consultant chef" at a take away.
What was life like before the Carlton fire?
Life before Carlton fire was designed perfectly to mould me to face the deepest form of suffering. A tumultuous childhood, which introduced me to myself, my feelings, a vow that I took as a four year old that" I will give much more than I expect", that I can nurture, and provide safety to all in my care, that I so want to be a mom. Soon a "rebel with cause" was born in me, early motherhood ,a bitter divorce to follow, marrying my therapist so that kids and me are safe, but in vain, aren’t we all human after all.
Series of setback, and then yet again rising up with tears, fear, and absolutely no self-esteem, but then a heart full of responsibility for the two innocent souls I created. And that bought about "gratitude" as theme of my life, a small step someone takes for me, I would take ten steps to show my gratitude. And thus I arrived at a state of "mindfulness"
Life after the Carlton Incident.
At first it was happiness to be rescued after inhaling and burnt with toxic fumes, then it was stint with the medical world, my first hand experience of "disability" breathlessness, medical world, the melodrama caused by my family, which boomeranged to the company I worked for, my children, and me, in a way I tried harder to come back to life to protect my children from all the wrath .It took time, it took surrender, and immense faith that there is a plan here, god has a plan, as always ,so after cheating death several times, hounded by uncertainty ,yet there where instances where "love ' would look up from a corner at me through a nurse, or ayyama, a doctor, and assure me in many ways that "am here", I was given the title that of being the best patient they ever had...and those kindnesses encouraged me to keep my goodness alive amidst all the horror.
After long hospitalisation, barely 30 kgs, I was exuberant to be alive and freedom to be away from tubes, oxygen cylinders, the negativity, the "to-do lists" and I was full-on back, panting heavily, coughing which makes my uterus and ovaries jump ,and thudder, yet I was in a mighty hurry to bring back normalcy, Not realising my body is not the same any more, which followed with series of infections, lack of funds, lack of support, it was walking through another gallows of death yet again, I kept doing the necessary like always, started going for therapy, reading a lot, attending healing workshops.
One night as I sat pondering on the answers I was desperately seeking, I remembered a moment, a profound one, while I was battling in the ICU, my parents standing beside are discussing the hopelessness of my situation, it didn’t occur to anybody that I would survive, even if I do, I may end up bed-ridden, the thing was the government stepped in to support my ICU costs if I agree to move to a general ward. Now looking and feeling their anxiety I agreed with so much fear, but didn’t want to cause them any kind of burden, that I obeyed, now that struck me like lightning and engraved in my soul ,that I chose love over death. That moment onwards life transformed, I did, I promised myself that I will never ever betray myself again.
What has been your motivation throughout your journey?
"Give" much more than you expect and judiciously. I am still learning.
A message to all the SHEROES out there.
Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn. The unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of "love" back into our hearts, and to experience that love in ourselves and others is meaning of life. Nature repairs, unconditionally.