Wednesday, March 09, 2016

440: First Impressions: Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani

This is a real life account of Anita Moorjani's Near Death Experience. She had been suffering from cancer for a long while and one day, had lapsed into coma. The doctors felt that they were losing her. Her mother and husband were crying and pleading with the doctor to try something...anything. But the doctors had given up hope. And the heart monitor indicated death. And Anita Moorjani revived.

The book is mainly about this incident and her observations on what she'd seen on the other side. You'd think it would make for fascinating reading but somehow I felt a little underwhelmed. In hindsight, I think it's understandable why.

Moorjani isn't a writer. She had had an experience that was profound and well, annihilating to logic and reason and vocabulary. How do you describe an immersion into a feeling of such peace and healing that you know it's love but it isn't love the way you know it? What word describes certainty of goodness? Sure, you call it peace because that's the closest you can come to that emotion. And how do you use words and language to describe something to a populace who haven't, or will not, ever go through what you've been through? Some may want to. Like I did. But I'm a writer who is reasonably proficient with words. And I get overwhelmed if I have to describe a stunning rainbow. Moorjani has to describe to someone like me an entitiy called God. Who she'd been with, by the way.

Yes, the immenseness of the endeavour does not escape me. Although the text may feel a tad plodding, the things she writes about are quite immense. She'd grown up in Hong Kong and describes her childhood vividly. We get a sense of her fun and wholesome time with her maid and the smells and colours of the markets in Hong Kong. We also understand the kind of a child she was whose main feeling was fear. She went to a Catholic school where she was scared that she'd be left alone on Judgment Day because she wasn't Catholic and didn't worship Jesus. She was so paranoid that her parents shifted her to another school.

She was from a conservative Sindhi family and battled her way through social mores to get a job, say no to a suitor who wasn't right for her, drank wine, and had fun. She also kept feeling guilty about a whole lot of things for a long time. Soon enough, her best friend died of cancer and so did her father. She was so afraid of getting it that she monitored her diet and exercise regimen. And then she got cancer herself.

This is where the book got really interesting for me. It outlined the philosophy that it doesn't matter what you're doing, if you're doing it out of fear, the very thing that's making you afraid will come to pass.

Moorjani's healing, her understanding of her place in the cosmos and the light, her subsequent work of writing her book - all point to some kind of a plan that was charted out for a specific life on earth. She was one of those who got to find that out.

I read it the way I'd pore through an entry in a Lonely Planet magazine. It looks like an interesting place - the one she visited. Who knows when I'll visit? But if I do, I'll know of a few interesting hangouts.

I am done with reading my copy and would like to give it away. If you're in Pune, I could give it to you. You'll have to meet me in the Aundh or Baner area. You can email me at


Stertorian said...

I will borrow it, Mukta. Your last line reminds me of Alan Ball in American Beauty - "you have no idea what I am talking about, I am sure. But don't worry, one day you will.

- Rajesh

mukta raut said...

Okay! I'll bring it along when I see you next. Hopefully this Saturday!