For someone who has a body of work that spans almost half a century, who has been feted and celebrated all through her career, who was close to two Prime Ministers and whose perspectives are constantly sought and respected by both intelligentsia and common-folk, Sivasankari is very grounded and anchored. She attributes her equanimity to her favourite sloka, from Adi Sankara’s Bhaja Govindam. Roughly translated, it means, “Never be proud of your youth, your money and the people around you; at the blink of an eye, they will all be gone!” Sivasankari says that her awareness is imbued by the spirit of this sloka’s message. “This awareness helps me in being detached from everything that happens to me, around me. It keeps me happy, content and at peace with myself,” she adds.
Sivasankari believes that the key to happiness lies in understanding the true nature of life. “Loss and grief have to be faced in life. You can’t escape it,” she says. Her father died in 1970, when she was just 28.
Soon after, her aunt, who had been through 13 miscarriages, died tragically, leaving behind a 7-year-old son. Sivasankari was distraught. A close friend told her to ‘make use of her grief’. She wrote her first novel, Etharkaga? (Why?). In 1984, when she was 42, she lost her husband. Her mother encouraged her to make her grief irrelevant by embracing the sufferings of others. That’s when, moved by the plight of a 9-year-old drug addict, she researched on the social evil and wrote Avan (He), which was later made as Subah (Morning) for television. And when her mother died recently, Sivasankari decided to liquidate her assets and donate most proceeds to charity. “Grief is a natural response in some life situations. But my awareness has helped me to accept my grief and channelize it usefully. Over time, I have learnt that life is all about letting go and moving on. That’s how you can be truly happy and peaceful,” explains Sivasankari.
How do you develop acceptance, I ask her. “Do you have a choice in the face of life? Whatever it is, you have to accept the reality of your life. Else you will suffer. Suffering comes only from resisting life. I have learnt to never to contradict reality. Only acceptance can lead you to happiness,” replies Sivasankari.
Now, that’s a valuable life lesson which each of us may want to take away.
@AVISViswanathan is a Life Coach, Happiness Curator & Author of ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’