December 1st – Mokshada Ekadasi. Today is the day the Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna on an ancient battlefield. Arjuna was nervous before the battle began and on this wet winter morning I am also in need of some courage. I arrive at the hospital by 7.00am and get ready for my operation – the removal of a bladder stone – and then Dr. Agarwal has a word with me. My blood analysis shows that the prostate gland is not behaving properly. It could signify some complications – these will be come apparent during the operation.
I come to a groggy consciousness in a bloodspecked hospital gown around 11.00, nurses sorting out tubes in me. I’m wheeled into a room with a large window and after half waking up I manage to focus on my Bhagavad-gita, chapter 1, verse 1. Some time later – around the sixth chapter – Dr. Agarwal, smiling, comes to tell me that the operation has gone well but that it was, as he’d suspected, a little more complicated. I had a ‘non-benign’ tumour growing out from the bladder wall which he’d had to remove.
‘Non-benign,’ I come to understand, actually means ‘cancerous’ and that had this been allowed to grow, undetected, I would have been much the worse in just a short time. Certainly if I had waited until coming back from India in January. Cancer – the C-word – the disease other people get. Me? Surely not.
The good news is that it seems to be ‘superficial’ and not ‘invasive’ and that most cases of bladder cancer like this – when dealt with decisively – do not cause further complications. However, the cause for this growth is unknown, and if its happened once it may happen again. The nastiness will be sent away for laboratory analysis and I will come back for a further checkup in January.
I complete the Gita – interspersed with readings of Vedanta-Deshika’s beautiful poetry – by the late afternoon. Whether it is the effect of the oxygen mask, the painkilling drugs, the reading of Krishna’s words, or simply a profound sense of having been saved, I shed tears of gratitude and happiness by the day’s end, relieved that by an arrangement of divine grace and the kindness of an excellent doctor, I have been allowed some more years in which to try harder to be a devotee.