Friday, December 30, 2022

When Breath Becomes air

 Buy When Breath Becomes Air Book Online at Low Prices in India | When  Breath Becomes Air Reviews & Ratings -

When Breath Becomes air, by Paul Kalanithi

I can’t go on. I’ll go on” – Samuel Beckett

I don’t think I will ever relate to a quote as much as I did to this one. This quote sums up the book in more ways than one.

When brilliant neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, just months from finishing his residency, his life is turned upside down. A man who spent all his time searching for the meaning behind life and the truth about death is brought face to face with it by a cruel twist of fate. His bright and shining future is snuffed out by a single blow. Forced to come to terms with his own mortality, this book delves into Paul’s journey of acceptance over the span of two years, from the time of his diagnosis to his untimely demise.

At first glance, to some this book may seem to be sad and rather depressing, but it is SO much more than that.

“When Breath Becomes Air” may quite literally be one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It exudes rawness and sincerity with every page. The last few years of a person’s life are chronicled so beautifully that you can’t help but fall in love with its pure honesty.

I wouldn’t say I’m a very emotional person when I read books, but this one broke through my barriers and reached parts of me I didn’t even know existed. The epilogue written by his wife after his demise was probably one of the only things in the world of literature that has ever made me tear up.

The title itself is a testament to the true meaning behind the book. It was probably one of the first things that made me pick it up and I’m so glad I did.

People always say they have things that inspire them or keep them going. However, when it comes to this book, inspiration would probably be insufficient to describe my relationship with it.

 It was arguably the reason I ever got interested in medicine, and cancer specifically. The numerous cases described in it were so fascinating. The book doesn’t shy away from the difficult parts of medicine and the truth about being a doctor. Reading it helped me realize what my passion was and confirmed that I really and truly did want to get into medicine, no matter how hard it was.

It helped me come to the realization that if I wanted to do something, I needed to do it.. I may not get another chance and well I should probably take it (right?). I learnt not to care too much about other people’s opinions because the chances were that I wouldn’t meet them again and I couldn’t cater MY life to someone else’s expectations. Life is SHORT and I wasn’t going to spend it in a daze of anxiety and constant overthinking (at least I was going to try).

Ultimately, the message that I took away, comes down the quote I mentioned at the start. The quote became Paul’s mantra in the last years of his life and in some ways it is also mine.

It’s so true because even when I felt like couldn’t do something, I realized I didn’t have a choice. Being a high-schooler in India is NOT a walk in the park, throw in COVID and you’ve got yourself quite a mess. But even when my stress levels were at an all-time high, I somehow persevered and got through it. This was because I didn’t have any other options since I couldn’t really stop living could I?

No matter how hard things seemed, I knew they HAD to get better at some point.

It’s impossible to put into words how grateful I am for this book.

So remember, even when life is being especially hard on you just take the advice of this book and you’ll soon find that every cloud truly does have a silver lining.

“I can’t go on. I’ll go on”



  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage (5 January 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9781784701994
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1784701994

 © 2022, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


This was just something I wrote when I was bored one day. It's a rather dramatic and comical take on an everyday situation, so i hope you enjoy....


I open my eyes and as I scan the crowd, I know this is not going to be an easy mission. Much like the bulls of ancient Rome, I dig my toes in and scan the area for any and all possible escape routes. I ignore the shoving and pushing all around me and tune out the noise. Everything fades until all I can see is my destination. I can almost visualize neon arrows tracing my path for me. I take a deep breath and prepare myself for what would be one of the fastest and most dangerous races of my life.

Within seconds of leaving the frozen food aisle of D-Mart, I’m shoved against a shelf as a horde of shoppers stampede past me in an attempt to get the 50% off soaps and shampoos. My fingers quickly turning numb from the frozen items in my hand, I attempt to maneuver my way out of the discount crazed crowd. Luck is however not on my side, and I find myself pressed against a shelf for the second time in five minutes. The culprit this time is the announcement of a new discount on the sale of towels on the second floor. As my lungs are crushed, black spots appear in front of my eyes from the oxygen deprivation. My life seems to flash in front of my eyes, and I’m transported to ten minutes ago when I had been innocently waiting at the checkout counter. I can still remember the panic in my mother’s eyes when she realized we had forgotten to buy any curd or cheese. The look of anguish on her face had been enough to propel me into action. I had bravely volunteered to carry out the task for her and now I am minutes from death.

When I’m almost on the verge of blacking out, the crowd finally thins and for a few seconds I can see my mother scanning the crowd hoping to see me bringing her the precious curd and cheese that I had so foolishly ventured into the throng of shoppers for.

I take yet another steadying breath and push my way into the crowd once more. This time I am determined not to let anything, or anyone get in my way. Shopping carts are pushed out of the way, and I become one of the crowd as I join them in the ritual of elbowing that seems to be such an intrinsic part of them.

With an enormous lunge, I am finally clear of the aisles. As I gasp for air, my heart sinks as I realise the hardest part is far from over. For now, I have the most treacherous section of the store to cross – the narrow strip between the aisles and the checkout counter where EVERYTHING became an obstacle. I am now in a race against time. My competitors - the shopping carts that appear out of nowhere, the staff members walking with all the speed and inclination of a dead walrus, and the screaming children being pulled away from the toys by their exasperated mothers.

The cold of the items in my hand have numbed my fingers to such an extent that I can’t them anymore. Frostbite means nothing though, when the end is so near. Ultimately, it is the desperation in my mother’s gaze as she lifts the final few items from her cart onto the counter as sluggishly as possible in order to give me more time, that gives me the strength to launch myself into the fray. 

Dodge, duck and roll a trolley out of the way. Lunge, lean and leap over an abandoned basket. Pirouette, push and turn to avoid the incoming employee.  I’m almost there, I can nearly touch the counter with my fingertips if I stretch when I suddenly find myself flying into the air and falling on my ass with a resounding smack. All the items fly in the air, and I groan out loud when I see the fallen bag of fruit that caused my fall. With a bruised ego and bruised well everything, I lift myself up and try to limp way to my mother with what’s left with my dignity, when I feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I turn around with fear and trepidation in my eyes and find a horde of around 20 aunties coming towards me as they walk to a destination on the opposite side of the store. In a few seconds they would be on me, and I would be back to square one.

I have had enough at this point. Battered and bruised in more than a few places, my brain goes into overdrive, trying to figure out possible solutions. With steely eyes and a fiery determination, I get down on my knees and resort to the only option. Before I know it, I’m safe. YES, I army crawled/Mission Impossible-d my way to the other side. I’m just in time as not a second later the aunties pass me, their high-pitched giggles making my ears pop.

After they leave tears of relief spring to my eyes. My horrible ordeal is FINALLY OVER.

As I look up at my mother, I see a foreign look on her face. It almost looks like pride. I stand proudly with my chest puffed out as the curd and cheese are bagged. We walk out of the store and a sense of accomplishment settles over me. I had been through hell and back, and I HAD SURVIVED. I had tapped into a strength I had never known existed.

However, as I sit in the car headed home, a feeling of dread begins settling over me. I now have a new mission. A mission that would require a different kind of bravery. I cringe as I imagine my mother’s reaction when she finds the six pack of coffee I had slipped in when she had turned away………………………





 © 2022, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.