Publisher: Om Books International
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Heartfelt, the book written by celebrated film journalist and writer Bharathi S. Pradhan, pans the life of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral’s niece, Medha Gujral who grew up in Lutyens’ Delhi, as happy as can be in spite of a heart murmur, which was discovered when she was a toddler. The book goes on to reveal her short-lived engagement to college sweetheart Kiran, touches on her brief marriage to acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and her anguish at being betrayed by boyfriend Vikram.
So when the attractive Medha and the bhajan singer Anup, who had two unsuccessful marriages behind him, met they had nothing in common except for their failed relationships and a passion for music. The book divulges how Medha and her friends scoffed at Anup when they attended one of his concerts. But things soon took a different turn and they grew closer. Medha discloses in the book, “I was 39 when I met Anupji, and an official marriage didn’t really matter to either of us. Anupji brought me here to his Shivaji Park house and introduced me to his mother as ‘aap ki bahu’ (your daughter-in-law). I touched her feet. Then, he came to drop me at Versova and didn’t return to his own house. He said, ‘Now that we have decided to be together, why should you live alone? As far as I’m concerned, we are husband and wife.’ He stayed with me for one year in that little house in Versova.”
Anup and Medha were blissfully happy and the arrival of baby Aryaman added to their joy. But the happiness was short lived. Health problems soon began to plague Medha. In 2001, she needed a heart transplant and seven years later, due to the strong medications she was on, her kidneys collapsed and she needed a kidney transplant.
Bharathi writes, “The alarming state of her kidneys was a problem that Medha had anticipated. Aware that the heavy medication necessitated by her heart would eventually take its toll on her kidneys, she watched with alarm the rise in the creatinine levels in her blood reports. She had to battle a bout of TB too during her miracle pregnancy (she was suffering from blocked tubes).” Medha’s long and arduous ordeal in the medicine world is best explained by herself. On going to the US, “Getting a little screwed by their systems. During my biopsy, they inadvertently cut off a chordae of my mitral valve and I almost went into a coma-like state. I was haemorrhaging, the blood was flowing backwards. It happens maybe once in 10,000 cases.”
Never-say-die Medha never let her health issues ruin her life. Though a bit resigned, Medha does say in the book, “My social pattern changed. I am not always well, I get tired easily. I may look well but the truth is, there are certain aspects of the dialysis that I am not taking to very well. I keep getting fever after every dialysis, which is very exhausting. The only way out for me is to opt for a kidney transplant. Otherwise, I will have to be on dialysis all my life. I am living on borrowed time.”
Writer Bharathi sums it up, “Heartfelt is not Medha’s bare-all biography, it is an inspirational, true life story of this cheerful patient. A smorgasbord of doctors have corroborated the story all through the book. Anup and Medha have been so forthright in Heartfelt because firstly, they haven’t been up to anything they should be ashamed of. Glossing over the past would have been like a selectively edited memoir to hide shameful experiences that you don’t want your kids to know about. A failed marriage or a struggle for finances is not exactly a crime, you know!”
Heartfelt is not just about heart transplants, dwindling health, near-encounters with death, emotional oscillations and spiralling medical bills. It is a book that celebrates life. Bharathi S Pradhan sums it up with the statement that ‘the mind can battle, even heal the body, when medical science has given up on you.’
For more on Medha and Anup’s story, check out what The Telegraph had to say about this book.