RASHMI OBEROI | 13 JUNE, 2017
Poetry Can Save Life? Yes It Can
With so many terrible stories in the news, there is something happening in Chandigarh that bespeaks of an inspiring act of kindness – the story brought a smile on my lips and rekindled my hope in humanity as I came across it and then spoke to those involved in spreading this joy.
Believe you me, there are small things that can restore our faith in changing the world for the better; that each of us has the power to create a chain reaction of good; that every act we do can transform our reality into a better one.
Amy, a poetess and theatre artist from Chandigarh, recently found out that Anam Narula, a fellow poet, had been diagnosed with Leukemia, a blood cancer, and that his family was struggling financially to get him proper treatment. She decided to take things in her hand and instead of just sympathising with the family, she went a step further to raise funds for his treatment.
Let me introduce to you all to the brave heart Anam Narula who is a 21 year old student of DAV College Chandigarh. He belongs to Faridkot, Punjab. He is a big fan of Ghalib and loves to read poetry. He is a wonderful poet and writes his heart out in Urdu and English.
Anam is the only son of a private firm employee and a teacher from Faridkot and had been getting some support from grandparents, but the amount was too big for them too. His family had managed to raise around ₹ 3.6 lakh. He needs another ₹ 25-30 lakh for a bone-marrow transplant, as per documents, at Christian Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana.
Full of compassion and a will to help, Amy decided that Anam would get all the help and support she could muster. Amy first decided to seek help on Facebook, and posted: “Anam is a beautiful human and a poet. A lot of us would have heard him recite his poems in many open mics. Anam is diagnosed with cancer and of course it’s sad beyond telling, for me to break this news... It is possible for us to help him! I lost my mom to cancer and I know how this battle is.”
Amy hit upon another brilliant idea a while later of writing poems to raise money. Her new FB post read: “If there’s a poem you want to be written for your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your siblings, teacher, parents, friends, anybody to convey anything! Please approach me. I would love to write it. But I will charge you anything from ₹ 200-500 per poem. Because I am donating this amount for Anam’s treatment... PS: Can poetry save life? Yes, it can!”
She was soon joined in the task by others, some of them superstars of the spoken-word poetry movement in India from places as far as Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Pune. Paramvir Singh, Shivam Dhall and Avleen Kaur, students and poets, came on board; and the big names include Bengaluru-based Shantanu Anand, co-founder of the Airplane Poetry Movement, which is India’s biggest spoken word poetry platform; Bharath Divakar, Daniel Sukumar, and Khawaja Musadiq. Akshay Kapoor, a photographer by profession has offered free shoots if you donate ₹ 2,000 or more. On FB, he too underlined the power of poetry in what has fast turned into a movement: “I think there’s no better way of helping someone and getting yourself something as beautiful as words and yourself.”
The poetry alone has gathered a huge amount of money. The team is now seeing the rest of the money coming through direct donations to Anam’s bank account or e-wallets because of the uniqueness of the pitch. A petition on crowd-funding website milaap.org has got stupendous response, and a Facebook page has been made too. Local clubs and philanthropists who wish to remain anonymous have put in a chunk. In just one week, the young Samaritans had managed to raise ₹ 10 lakh for Anam. The job is only half done, so the team is planning fundraisers that include a poetry showcase, an art exhibition, and a marathon, besides other organisations holding such events too. Tired and yet going strong these young poets who just wish to save a life at the moment are not deterring from the task at hand. Promulgating on the social media and attending fundraisers at different locations the lot seems to be leaving no stone unturned.
Before any of this happened, Anam’s father took a loan against a plot for his treatment. Anam’s mother Monica Jain Narula can only spare a frugal amount from her job as Hindi teacher in a private school. Her parents, both retired government teachers, have been supporting their grandchild Anam’s treatment.
So far, the crowd funding campaign has generated over ₹ 19 lakh. But Amy isn't going to rest yet. Now she's planning to organize a "Run for Hope" campaign to generate more money and awareness and let people know that there's a lot of hope left in the world.
There's no act bigger than humanity and Amy Singh is a shining example of that. Amy says that she knows how it feels to lose a loved one and if she can help give a person a chance to live, she will do whatever possible in this mission. Amy has dedicated "Kabhi Mayoos Mat Hona" to Anam, a poem which she claims, saved her life.
Right now, Anam is feeling motivated and ready for the battle ahead and that's all because of the support and love that has been extended to him. Those wishing to visit him may do so at CMC Ludhiana, 4th floor and 3rd ward. There are no visiting hours as such but visits are only allowed when Anam is feeling alright. If you plan to go, tell Amy and her friends a day in advance so that they can give a heads up to the family and connect you with them.
Those who wish to help or donate please do reach out to this Facebook page and help support Amy and her friends in their quest to get Anam the best treatment possible. Please do your bit. A little help goes a long way. Family and friends of Anam don't have enough words to extend their gratitude and say they are blessed by all the support they have received.
Chandigarh has been brimming with activities. Last weekend artists of all kinds from painting to photography came together and displayed their art and sold the same. The amount collected is being donated to Anam. Chandigarh’s finest storytellers also spun a few tales in a story-telling fund raising campaign.
Call me naive or hopelessly optimistic, but I have a very positive view of humanity. Sure, we see greed and rudeness and abuse and selfishness every day. But I believe that’s more a symptom of the systems in our society, rather than of an evil human race.
I have faith in humanity…you should too!
The very best to Anam on his recovery and I doff my hat to Amy and her friends!