‘One Thousand and One Nights’ is a classic Middle Eastern literary work of short stories and poems supposedly narrated by a young wife Scheherazade to misogynist king Shahriar who, upon discovering the infidelity of his first wife, had her executed then proceeded to marry virgins, spending one night with them then executing them the following day.  His most senior advisor, the Wazir, was charged with finding new brides for King Shahriar, but found the assignment harder and more distasteful by the day.  The Wazir had a young daughter, Scheherazade, who was well read with a sharp mind, and a keen sense of adventure.  Scheherazade asked her father to be the next bride for the king.  Acutely aware that his daughter would end up being executed after the first night, the Wazir naturally refused to entertain the idea but, arguing she had a plan to avoid death, Scheherazade insisted, and the Wazir had no choice but to comply and propose her to his king.

Marriage arrangements were hastily made, and Scheherazade moved to the palace to begin a new life as the latest 24-hour Queen.  After the marriage ceremony, the newlywed couple retired to their royal chamber and Scheherazade offered to regale the king with a story.  The story reached a cliff hanger, but Scheherazade complained of tiredness and promptly fell asleep.  The following day, the king could not order the execution of his new bride because he wanted to know the conclusion of the story.  The couple had dinner and retired to their chamber, whereupon Scheherazade continued her story which ended, once again, with another cliff hanger, complained of a headache, and fell asleep.

Every night, Scheherazade weaved new plots, inserted riddles and poems that left the king wanting to hear the next instalment.  This went on for 1001 nights by the end of which, the king had grown fond of Scheherazade and the three children they had in the meantime.

Scheherazade’s stratagem delayed her inevitable death for two years and 9 months by using her knowledge and intelligence and eventually earning a full reprieve and the ever-lasting love of King Shahriar.

Back to the here and now.  I would like to share with you a dichotomy about my own mortality.  Let me explain.

The negative side of my dichotomy, I am continually frustrated with my health condition.  For as long as I live, I have to take five or six medications every day at different times where I could be tempted to stop taking the medication and just let nature take its course.  I regularly get an internal infection which is the first stage of sepsis that can develop into septic shock and almost certain death.  These episodes are checked in their tracks by taking two additional medications, albeit until I get over the sepsis bouts. I also get anemia which requires transfusions of blood, infusions of iron, albumin or all three.  If not treated, my body literally runs out of energy and I could barely get out of bed for a few minutes before having to return.  Further, I get internal varices in the esophagus that delivers food and drink from the mouth to the stomach.  If not identified and treated quickly, by tying a knot round the varices (banding), they would cause serious internal bleeding.  The whole process is at least unpleasant and at worst, intolerable, a procedure  I would happily refuse to submit to.  Finally, I have a tumour that is slowly growing over the liver which cannot be cured.  Any chemo/radiotherapy would only slow the rate of growth but not diminish the tumour.  Many of the above treatments require regular blood tests that involve the insertion of cannulas, which I detest with passion.

In short, I have many good reasons to ‘let go’ or to refuse treatment in exchange for tranquility and permanent release from discomfort/pain.

On the positive side however, I am motivated to keep going by a promise of a reward in the not-too-distant future.  This could be the urge to write something like the semi-autobiographical story I wrote last year.  I had no plans to publish it and the number of readers has soared to the dizzy heights of SEVEN so far.  The reason for this strict number is a personal choice not to even attempt to put it out in the public domain in any shape or form.  I currently have a new idea for another story, which is purely fictional, save for the source of the theme of the story.  So, writing or having the material to write does indeed motivate me to keep going.

I also feel that my work in the kitchen is not yet done.  There are so many dishes to master but most importantly, there is the eternal struggle to produce the ultimate sourdough bread loaf.  I see progress and this motivates me to keep on going and improving.

Above all, my daughters keep on giving me reasons for carrying on by announcing they are pregnant, or their children are about to start school, or they have a role to play in some school production or another.  Prior to my illness in 2018, when our first two granddaughters were born, I foolishly took it for granted that I would be around forever.  Since then, however, the new reality I find myself in began in July 2019 when Faye and Adam announced they were getting married in a matter of days after I suffered a serious health scare.  I am convinced I survived and recovered, contrary to medical experts’ opinions, because I wanted to walk Faye down the aisle, a story I related in a blog I wrote that month/year called ‘One Wedding and No Funerals’.  I am now, along with the rest of the family, awaiting Faye to deliver her first baby in June.  So, now I wait for more news to be announced further milestones such as pregnancy news, school achievements by the grandchildren etc., so I can vicariously live on until each milestone on the horizon is reached.

So, this particular dichotomy is easily won, as far as I can help it, by the positive side, accepting that the negative side is just part of life’s rich tapestry.  After all, Scheherazade put her own life at risk by volunteering to marry a powerful murderous misogynist armed with her wit, intelligence, and an unshakeable desire to live.