Fresh to Death

Death.

Not the lightest of subjects but my life hasn’t been ‘light hearted’ since being touched by the death stick.

Currently ‘terminal’ medically I find myself infatuated by death, dying and grief, well completely consumed by it at times. 

Everyday I wake up and have to check myself, am I here, moving, breathing, is this a dream? 

Am I really living with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis? 

I was approached to co-host a BBC Asian Network podcast all about this taboo subject, something so certain that will come for us all, death.

I jumped at the chance to work with Maleena Pone and Faraz Osman on ‘Fresh to Death’, talking about death, dying and grief from a South Asian perspective.

A bonus was that we were going to have these conversations at my restaurant Masala Wala Cafe over chai and snacks.

So why not openly talk about it? We talk so much about our future dreams and especially South Asians we love talking about weddings, settling down, but death? 

Silence, in between funerals, silence when loved ones are dying, missed opportunities to connect and really understand each other’s human needs. 

The gang taking over BBC Asian Network for the night – Feb 2020

In the series we speak to will writers, funeral directors, end of life specialists and grieving Asians up and down the country. 

This experience was a total honour for me and changed my views on death totally. 

I now feel confident in speaking about it, I do not feel hesitant and do not feel like a failure if someone one was to tilt their head and say sorry because it’s going to happen to us all. 

I face anticipatory grief being given the news that my condition is incurable, yet someone next to me could be gone like a flash very suddenly. 

One of the conversations that touched me alot was father of three, widower Raj who runs Sikh wills. 

His attitude is totally infectious and his story resonated the most as his wife died of cancer and he had to go through the motions of watching a loved one deteriorate and leave this life.

As a will writer for the Sikh community he is meant to be swatted up on dying wishes and the needs of those looking to secure their loved ones futures. 

What he wasn’t prepared for was loneliness, isolation and quiet moments after the dust settled and on a human level I admired his total honesty when sharing his story with us. 

This also reminded me how much I need to write a will no matter how little assets I believe I have. 

I know that this is the 31 year old me still in denial that i’m closer to death than others.

The last thing I would want is for my family to suffer making decisions about how I want to be buried, dealing with my business arrangements and personal belongings so I better get to it having spoken to two will writers on the series. 

Another contributor who wished to stay anonymous shared her harrowing tale of going on holiday with her boyfriend who the extended family did not know she was dating, he tragically died and she faced traumatic grief in an unfamiliar country then had to navigate her grief in private back at home.

It’s a must listen and made me count myself lucky that I do not have to live parts of my life in private. 

The process of recording could not have come at a better time as I faced aggressive chemotherapy last year, leaving me with a range of side effects from total hair loss to neuropathy and an underactive thyroid. 

Recording at Masala Wala Cafe – Summer 2019

Usually I like to keep myself busy but with this treatment I needed to exert energy carefully as my immunity was compromised. 

I was able to record segments and interviews mindfully with Maleena and Faraz.

Recording such powerful conversations gave me strength when going through constant uncertainty, this podcast has been total therapy for me. 

I have always said I am more than my diagnosis, I have lived a full life and continue to do so, why not add broadcaster to my credentials? 

Please check out ‘Fresh to Death’ podcast on BBC Sounds and all your usual podcast outlets, it’s something I will be forever proud of, so go have a listen!

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/deep-down-desi/id1462192881

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