Srinagar was dressed in her autumn best. Like blushing brides, the trees were clothed in bright red, their graceful limbs swaying eagerly forth in the wind, and then, as if suddenly recalling their modesty, holding back just a bit.
Neerja’s grandmother was busy in the kitchen. The smell of pickles enticed the chubby little girl and she walked in to watch the elderly woman create magic with her wrinkled hands. Every now and then, she would steal a piece of sour green mango, flick it into the air and catch it in her mouth. The taste was heaven… pure heaven.
“Oh nani, I love you!” Neerja sighed. “This is the greatest treasure you could ever give me!”
“Oh, no, my little one”, replied her grandmother, beating masalas into a bowl to marinate the cut raw mango pieces. “Raw mangoes are not the greatest treasure.”
“I give up Nani! Tell me, tell me now, what is the greatest treasure?”
Equal parts humorous and soul-stirring, the deeply personal and disturbingly honest I Inspire reveals how the human spirit is much, much bigger than anything it endures.
Neerja Malik, a double cancer survivor, works with cancer patients to spread awareness. She was instrumental in setting up the Apollo Cancer Support Group at the Apollo Specialty Hospital, Chennai. She is also the trustee of the NGO ‘Sankalp’ that works at providing free education to the girls.