Business Standard

Chronicle of fight against cancer by diarist who didn't live to see her book launch


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Surrounded by family, friends and reading enthusiasts, posing for photographs and signing copies of their book, authors are the stars of their own book launches. But Ananya Mukherjee didn't live long enough to hear the encomiums being showered on her debut book.
"Tales from the Tail End: My Cancer Diary" was launched at the India International Centre on Thursday evening, eight months after its author died of breast cancer on November 18, 2018.
Mukherjee was 39.
The book, published in Hindi by Rajkamal and in English by Speaking Tiger, is, as the name suggests, the journal Mukherjee wrote while undergoing treatment.
It chronicles the story of a woman who put on a "cheerful fight" against the disease with her strong will and inimitable humour.
"She would have whispered in my ears, 'Dekha tumhari biwi khubsurat hi nahi intelligent bhi hai' (See, your wife is not only beautiful but intelligent also) to which I would have replied, 'Yahan pe zyadatar log mere rishtedar hai' (Most of the people present here are my relatives)," her husband Shantanu Bhasin said and the audience, many with tears in their eyes, broke into laughter.
Humour permeates the book as she makes light of her darkest moments in her battle with cancer which involved over 50 cycles of chemotherapy.
In one place, Mukherjee compared her balding head to the dishevelled crow on the windowsill.
"Self-pity is bottomless. So now I've crawled out, and walk nosily around the house with a shawl draped around my shoulders like Rajesh Khanna in Anand, scolding the husband and teaching him for the two-hundredth time how to fold a towel correctly, with the right side up. I'am past my dukh," she wrote in a chapter titled 'Dukh, Dard and a season of Hope'.
A Masters in Journalism from Australia's University of Wollongong, Mukherjee had a 17-year career and worked with several reputed PR agencies.
Her publishers described "Tales from the Tail End..." as a book "of hope, courage, even sunshine", which without once being preachy, very subtly, tells one how important it is to reflect on one's life or making the most of it while we have it.
"I'm just glad to have had a beautiful spring day. A day of life is still life!" she wrote.
Mukherjee has some practical advice on gifts to bring to a cancer patient -- "a fuzzy little feeling", "your children's art", "sell me some dreams", "tell me a good story", "Macherjhol".
"What I found wonderful and inspiring part of whole book was her ability to find happiness in just watching the sunset, the monsoon rain ... these small incidents that made her happy even if it is the reflections... or the stories that the grandmother told her, the ghost stories... was very delightful," said writer-columnist Sadia Dehlvi.
"I found it very honest and brave," Dehlvi, who is also suffering from the disease, added.
The book is titled "Thehrti Saanson ke Sirahane se: Jab Zindagi Mauj Le Rahi Thi" in Hindi.
The blurbs are written by cancer survivors, sport star Yuvraj Singh and actor Manisha Koirala.
Proceeds from the book will be given to the NGOs Muskan and YouWeCan.

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First Published: Aug 30 2019 | 4:55 PM IST

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