Saturday, July 6, 2013

BOOK REVIEW : MY STROKE OF LUCK



The latest book which Blogadda delivered at my door step was a book called “MY STROKE OF LUCK” written by Vijay Santhanam. And believe me, I am indeed lucky to have read this book.

Firstly, I myself am a doctor. So that changes my entire perspective towards the book. I have seen people suffering from all kinds of strokes and brain abnormalities, ranging from mild to severely debilitating. But Vijay Santhanam’s book moved me, deeply.

STORY – One can’t really call it a story. It is a true and heart wrenching write up of the odds faced by a single man, how he dealt with it, how he came out of it and what he is capable of achieving even after facing so much in his life.

Vijay Santhanam, at a young age of 41, was afflicted with a cerebro vascular stroke, resulting in paralysis of the right side of his body. His speech was lost. A stroke at such a young age is distressing, both to the patient and the people around him. But then, as I have learnt in medicine, disorders of the brain can afflict ANYONE in this world. There is no alternative but to deal with it. 99% of the patients resign to fate and lead a life governed by negative thoughts. But there are 1% of people who fight back, believing they can overpower God’s doing. Vijay Santhanam is one such brave person.

Post the stroke, Vijay realized that while his motor movements and verbal functions had deteriorated, his powers of logic, reasoning, thought were still very much intact. And so he gradually began a fight – to come out of what had befallen him, to never think negatively. This is not a tale of how a man loses against the inevitable force of God. Instead it is a heart tugging tale of what a man can do if he has a strong willpower and a positive attitude.

WRITING AND LANGUAGE – It would be criminal to even say anything in this department. That a man can pen down an entire novel 6 years after having a stroke is something unheard of. And that too such a grammatically correct novel is praiseworthy. And yet Vijay very humbly warns us that there might be a few grammatical errors in his novel. Don’t worry Mr Vijay. Your book is flawless.
Vijay’s writing is simple, very VERY logical and straight to the point. He never beats about the bush but comes straight to the point. Where he requires his readers to pay extra attention, he says so. Where he feels his readers might benefit from a particular portion, he says so. He even keeps the medical terminology to a bare minimum (Though I wouldn’t have minded it!) and explains in such crystal clear language that the readers would have no difficulties understanding the plot.

THE HIGHPOINTS – There are innumerable brilliant things in the book which deserve a mention. But I’ll enumerate a few of them.
Firstly, the entire incident revolving around the word “CREDIBILITY”. I have no words to describe what I was feeling when reading that. I simply wanted to hug the author and applaud him for the hard work he was putting in for a single word.

Secondly, the entire theory of thinking in one language and then converting it into another is something we all have gone through. We always, by default think in our native language and then convert it into the language in which we are speaking. For instance, I always think in Gujarati and then translate it into English or Hindi. Imagine what would happen if I lost this ability. To relearn it entirely right from the first alphabet is something unthinkable. And yet, Vijay describes it so beautifully in the book. His ultimate failure to relearn Tamil entirely is something even I regret. Hope you learn it soon Mr Vijay.

And yes, I wish to see that wedding card of yours Mr Santhanam. Although I’ll need a bit of help translating it, I still am curious to see what magic you did with the language in the card.

LASTLY, this one is for all the readers as well. As Vijay mentions in the beginning of his book, there is a list of symptoms starting with the letters S,T,R,O,K,E. out of these, one is Killer headache. As a medical person, this is my advice to all of you. If ever you get such a headache, do not ignore it. There is this phrase which says “THE WORST HEADACHE OF MY LIFE”.
That is something which happens only in a stroke. If you ever get such a headache, please DO NOT IGNORE IT.

OVERALL, please read this book. It is a must read, and there are no two opinions about it. As I finish reading the book, I simply marvel at the title of the book – so perfect and so apt.
As for Vijay, all I want to say is that I want to meet you, salute you for everything you have achieved post stroke. Please keep up the awesome work, keep improving and keep writing. I am eagerly waiting for your 4th and 5th books. Hats off to you, Mr Vijay Santhanam.       


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