Never visit the ill with a glum face

Never visit the ill with a glum face
Highlights

\"Don\'t come to meet me with your gloomy faces and words of sympathy. Come smiling, bring me some cheer.\" This was the plea noted choreographer Ananda Shankar Jayant made to those who wished to meet her when she underwent treatment for a bout of cancer a few years back.

Mumbai : "Don't come to meet me with your gloomy faces and words of sympathy. Come smiling, bring me some cheer." This was the plea noted choreographer Ananda Shankar Jayant made to those who wished to meet her when she underwent treatment for a bout of cancer a few years back.

A senior Indian Railway officer, Ananda, who battled cancer successfully, is not only back in her office but has been actively pursuing her passion for dancing. Besides, she also engages herself as a motivational speaker and social worker.
"Light up the passion to achieve the goal and fulfil it by redefining your skills," is the mantra of 54-year-old Ananda, who also runs a dance institute, Shankarananda Kalakshetra, in Hyderabad. The centre has groomed scores of dancers and organised several cultural festivals.

It was in 2008, shortly after she was honoured with Padma Shri, that the 1987-batch IRTS (Indian Railway Traffic Service) officer was diagnosed with breast cancer. The initial shock lasted only for a while. She resolved to fight it out by pulling all her inner strength. Ananda recalls how she used to tell those who came to see her when she was under treatment that they should cheer her, instead of simply sympathising with anxiety writ large on their faces.

"Whenever someone would come to see me, I cautioned them to meet me with a smiling face with no sympathetic words. Usually, when someone or your relatives come to meet you in such situations, they first come with a dejected face as if it is a pre-requisite condition," Ananda, who was in Mumbai recently to perform at a dance event, told PTI.

Ananda is not just a bureaucrat and choreographer, specialising in Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, two major Indian classical dance forms. Of late, she has also been giving a lot of motivational speeches. An alumnus of the famed Kalakshetra in Chennai, she started taking lessons in dancing at a tender age, and believes in the dictum, 'Catch them young'. With this aim, she has launched a dance-practice app called "Natyarambha", to make learning Bharatnatyam easier.

A TED speaker, her talk is ranked as one of the 50 Amazingly Motivational talks on YouTube as well as one of the 12 Incredible TED talks on cancer. A few months back, she addressed an India Conference at the Harvard University in the US. Emphasising the role of challenges in life, the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee said such crises could be overcome by pulling the inner strength.

"Challenges may come in many forms like financial, physical and health. They work like a mirror or say a prism that reflects the real colour of the life and describe what kind of mettle we are made of. If you take it sportingly, it gives you the chance to rise and shine," she said.

A doctorate holder in tourism, she has an appeal to people to help patients battling cancer by setting aside a portion of the money lavished during festive occasions. "Rather than spending lavishly on festivals like Diwali or Ganeshotsav, or gifting designer sarees to your family members, gift her with a mammogram test," she added.

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