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The strongest person I have ever met

In my last entry, I promised to reveal what I believe to be the first rule of travel. However, I met someone one week ago whose story compelled me to save the lesson for another time. Her strength did not stem from bench-pressing 1,000 pounds or even from climbing Everest a record number of times.
Charu could neither lift one pound nor walk a single step.
I walked past the construction workers and overwhelming noise into her bedroom. As I opened the door, only her eyes turned toward me. They echoed the tender smile on her face. Lying in bed, her legs were covered by a white blanket with pink roses on it. Two pictures hung on the wall behind her. Without ever meeting him, I recognized the young teenage boy in both of them as her son.
Her arms remained crossed as I approached her. Her maid got up and arranged a chair for me beside the bed. Before leaving the room, she reached down and repositioned Charu’s head so that she faced me during our conversation.
For the last 20 years, Charu has suffered from muscular dystrophy. Other than her mouth and her eyes, she is unable to move a single muscle in her body. Yet, she feels everything. From a mosquito sucking the blood out of her arm to the broken femurs and outlying bones in both her legs as a result of a fall one month ago, every nerve continues to transmit pain signals to her brain.
During our conversation, she told me “the good news is that my bones broke in such a manner that they will heal shortly and I will be back on my wheelchair.”
Regardless of what life threw at her, she seemed to maintain an unwavering positive attitude and faith in the goodness of God.
Five years to the day before the birth of her son, she lost a child during the delivery. The doctors told her that because of her condition, she would not live through another childbirth.
But, “God was kind.” She survived.
For 17 years, she raised her son like any good mother. With the exception that she could not lift her arms to hug him.
“Even if it was only for a short while, I wasn’t even supposed to have lived a day after my son was born, so I am blessed that I got to live with him for 17 years,” she said.
On December 1st, 2005, a medical error during a routine procedure killed her only child. A child who only 7 seven years before passing away suffered through a debilitating liver condition that almost ended his life. That time, he recovered.
Then two months ago, she lost the last person she felt closest to.
Her sister-in-law took care of her every need from the moment she entered her house. Even before getting to know Charu, she welcomed her in and shared her struggle. Two months ago, she died of cancer.
“Sometimes I wonder, God, what are you doing?” Charu pleaded.
Words escaped me. I looked away in contemplation. I noticed that her gray shirt had a black Om symbol on it. Her red bangles sparkled above her well-trimmed nails. It occurred to me that she had to ask someone else to do all of that for her.
Glancing back into her eyes, I tried to understand the words they spoke.
“So how do you maintain your faith?” I asked.
“This is just my Karmic destiny,” she said. “If I smile through it, perhaps I will move up in my next life.”


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13 thoughts on “The strongest person I have ever met”

  1. And we complain about every little discomfort in our lives….God bless Charu.
    Akshay, I know about her from your mom. What an amazing person.
    So much to be thankful for……
    you definitely make your mom proud….with all your adventures of life for her to see this soft part of you is amazing itself….God bless you son

  2. I met Charu aunty barely a month ago with Akshay and she has become a part of my life ever since — effortlessly yet so powerfully. Beautiful words that have done justice to the essence of a truly remarkable lady.

  3. Akshay,what do i say. As a friend, Charu is my idol. Never in my lfe have i known a person who can smile thru life as she does.
    As a mother, i am so proud of you, you have reached out beyond many,and have begun your journey to search,understand and capture the meaning of life….love you son…God Bless you

  4. I happen to b the Husband of ths strong and courageous Lady(Charu) and i agree everybit of all you people think of her I would like to add one more thing to what Akshay has said is, that apart from being what she is, the most beautiful Quality she has is that u will always c a smile on her face and one can not have a put on smile for 24×7. I thank God for bringing her in to my life.

  5. ” A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE” Today Charu Mam is my best friend. I am very proud to share how my friendship began four years before with her. Delhi was getting ready for the Delhi Marathon and one fine morning I got a mail if any child is interested in running in the Delhi Marathon I can send the registration form and they will sponsor the fee of that child. As I am running an orphanage with 100 orphan children under the banner of Asha Deep Foundation, I was touched with that mail and immediately I contacted the number and they said I can submit the entry form to Mrs. Charu Malik. So I called her and she was sounding so loving and kind and she told me I can submit to her and she asked me how many children I have in our orphanage, and I said 100 children. After few hours I received a call from Charu Mam, saying she has found sponsor for 50 orphan children. I could not control my joy and happiness and I had no words to express how grateful I am to Charu Mam and her BIG GIFT for the 50 Orphan Children. The children First Time in their Life experienced and had a memorable day on the Delhi Marathon Day. A very Big thanks to Charu Mam. Her love for the orphan children did not stop here. Again I received a call from Charu Mam, she was so kind that she could manage to get 50 more kit for the children who could not participate in the Delhi Marathon. I was so touched by her love and concern she has for the orphan children. She said I can pick the kit from her residence….I went to her residence and Charu Mam welcomed me with a lovely SMILE on her face. Yes I have to write the same what Akshay ji has written , The love she had for the children continued and Charu Mam started supporting the orphan children by providing needful items for them and also monthly she provides delicious meals for all the orphan children and she is continously bringing SMILE on the face of all the orphan children.. Charu Mam has donated so many things like furnitures etc. for our organisation. Our Orphan children enjoy playing table tennis which was recently donated by Mam to our home children. I can go on writing in this blog ……. Charu Mam is my role model . She’s the one who gives me my encouragement, After meeting her my LIFE style changed . I am Blessed to have her in my LIFE. I visit her quite often just to see her SMILE…………..Thanks Charu Mam for EVERYTHING you are doing for me and for all the orphan children.

  6. Hi Akshay,
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful words about Charu didi! She is indeed a symbol of strength, patience, knowledge and beauty. Inspite of enduring so much in her life, she is always positive, calm and optimistic. We all have a lot to learn from her. Charu didi you are definitely the person I admire most in the world!

  7. Thanks for writing about Charu.
    She is indeed one of her kind!
    I have known her for the last almost 30 years, and yes, the smile is always there. She is an inspiration. And here we complain about minor aches and pains. God Bless her!

  8. For me and my family, chary is a very special person. I have known her, since a lifetime. The first time, I saw her, she was wearing a red chiffon saree, and was looking as beautiful, as she does till date. She is not only a friend, but I have got to learn so much from her.whenever I feel low, I just have to think about her and all my worries disappear. When I meet god, I will surely ask him, why, in charus case. She has been through too much and I hope and pray, that it’s the end. She smiles, through every problem, that doesn’t mean she should be subjected to all these never ending, emotional and physical agonies. We all must remember her in our prayers, everyday. I love you charu.

  9. I uv known charu as a young bride and am constantly in touch with her ,my wife sees a sister in her and my children call her mama ,I know of no other person who is stronger than her,no person can go thru life what she has gone thru and yet smile like her. She is a living example of strength inner and physical and we all shud learn from her,I must also mention here that Sunil has equally borne the burden that life. Has given them ,I only wish humbly to ask our maker to shower them with his blessings now

  10. Keep sharing your life experiences! Many of the lessons you have come across in your travels are those that can touch and change the lives of others! You keep writing about it and ill keep reading. A woman like that deserves to have her story told, for it is not only a moving one, but it is also a story that touches the heart of anyone who reads it!

    • Thank you for your support Dahl. I hope you keep getting value out of my blog. She truly is an amazing woman. This post barely does her strength the kind of justice it deserves.

  11. I always find it fascinating to hear people’s stories and how they maintain a positive attitude through such difficult times. I can’t imagine having such a positive attitude in her situation. I am not religious but I can understand why she finds comfort in the idea of a karmic destiny.


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Fearvana inspires us to look beyond our own agonizing experiences
and find the positive side of our lives. ~ The Dalai Lama