by Sukur Khan, PhD.
When you are diagnosed Alzheimer’s along with many other disorders, how would you take care of yourself? Hank, in his old age, a memory-health researcher across cultures and generations, suffering pathological memory loss and being recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Hank is trying to take care of himself and challenging himself to preserve who he is even though he always feels a stranger in his head; the disease has taken away his memory feeling—it burns and hurts but does not warn. Hank finds only some aspects of consciousness and self-awareness are truly lost in him.
One morning, Hank gets a phone call from his friend Denise after 30 years of no contact and learns that her ex-lover friend Alfredo is coming back to her life, and he does not remember a thing about his past. Denise and Alfredo were lovers as students at Cambridge, until Alfredo graduated early, and Denise became pregnant. Alfredo offered a “love” marriage proposal with strings attached – Denise did not get married and got a job instead. Thirty years later, their child, Nadia, now a grown-up in the US, falls in love with Nicolas. By an odd coincidence, the two are employed by the same company as Alfredo’s brother, Jason. Nadia and Nicolas attend an international festival in Beirut, Lebanon. While Nadia is dancing with a stranger, an unusual response to the music in the form of an elderly dance festival move — a memory moment — becomes the first connection clue between father and daughter. Nadia finally finds out whom her father is — a stranger, lost in the city of Beirut, who happened to be Jason’s brother and whose whereabouts had been unknown for three decades. Nadia goes back to her mom and confronts her. Hank narrates his experiences with the new Alfredo, calls himself Al-Emir, who along with his family battling Alzheimer’s creates living Café in Malta. It was Nadia’s idea to name it: ‘A Place for Dad’. Al-Emir and his family surrounds him in that Memory Café.
Hank is battling the disease with a brain health strategy – a journey into reality. Hank recently had a stroke that led his fighting most challenging. In Hank’s mind the major issue seems to be the abnormality in ‘himself’. Alzheimer’s steals self. Hank is fighting for the self-preservation of who he is. It matters how one lives in his end-life. Hank chooses to live in a friendly, assisted living/memory care Center and wants to contribute to biomedical knowledge writing about the facts and challenges Alzheimer’s faces every day hoping something needs to be done to protect their social and personal selves. Alzheimer’s reminds you every day that your magical moments are not granted because there are holes in it.
In Quest of Creativity
Sukur Khan, Ph.D.
A fictional account of life in old age; how compassion, friendship, and connections may help in facing the growing problems of Alzheimer’s related to aging issues; and stories of how being creative and doing simple things might contribute to living a healthy life in the final years of old age. Do all you can to be creative–creating art, photography, creative cooking, writing novels, or songs–and contribute to the happiness of others. In old age, if the memory decline can be slowed down and thought of the mind could retain its vigor, a former intelligence may have a new breadth of understanding of the young and a new loving friendship may grow among the young and old. So, the use of knowing anything about the old age ahead of time becomes useful. The memory problem is a big issue in old age if you’re on your own, as ability to think matters.
Sukur Khan, Ph.D.
Candlelight’ is a lovely collection of “snapshot memories” of an old man (the author’s) and a creative fantasy for an emerging generation who may deliver hopes for the future generations to come. It is a Fictional Memoir. It is written in clear and honest prose, varied themes and emotions are delivered well. The stories shed lights of a life with many struggles and accomplishments, love and love-lost, sufferings and finally joys of children and grandchildren filled with heartening sense of hope for our society.
What is remarkable about the book is its characters (real or imaginary) around Ravi’s life story.