We first see the Patronus in J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'.
It is magical, a trained wizard conjuring a mist-like shield to ward off the Dementors, dark entities that feed upon happiness. Except it really isn't magic, is it?
Consider what Lupin tells Harry while explaining how to make his patronus.
"With an incantation, which will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory."
That incantation, of course, is Expecto Patronum. But there is so much more to it than those two words, isn't there? For me, this is such a wonderful allegory of something so simple yet so hard to master. And yet so many have missed the beauty of what the Patronus represents.
Godyears, this blog, turns 12 at the end of this month. Statistically, the numbers sound good with the blog reaching over 14 lakh views. But the truth is rarely about numbers alone, is it? It has been a tough year both personally and professionally. There were a lot of unexpected twists that sprung up and painful decisions made. Reliving them brings me no joy.
Most of the happy memories of the last year, the ones that got me through the year, were via the world that many still tell me (12 years after I joined) is a passing fancy, the blogosphere.
The moments I truly cherished this year?
I finally got published in Huffington Post.It is a 'bucket list' moment to see your name lodged between a Prime Minister and a US Presidential candidate.
More satisfyingly perhaps, I stuck to what I do best at the blog in my published articles as well - writing on multiple genres.
1) My first article was on Violence against Doctors in India and a multi-pronged solution to it.
2) Two weeks later, on Valentine's Day, I wrote on a love story you have all read about in the comics section of your newspaper without even realizing it.
3) My third article was on suicide prevention, a topic dear to me.
4) And my fourth and final topic (for now) was published on World Anaesthesia Day, celebrating my profession and was placed at the top of the Huffington Post page that day.
A Panelist at Aegis, HyderabadI was invited to be a panelist for a debate at AEGIS, a national medical conference in Hyderabad, a first for me. The topic dealt with the 'role of technology in teaching medicine for doctors in India'.
With Dr Sumer Sethi, the pioneer behind DAMS
who shapes the lives of thousands of Indian doctors every year.
Featured in the Doctors Day Special of Manorama ArogyamThere was a three page article featuring me in this year's Doctors Day Special of the popular state health Magazine, Manorama Arogyam.
It was, of course, related to the viral post from last year where I ended up in the news for my detailed post explaining why I would never allow my child to be a doctor in India.
For years, I have been fighting to get people to listen to the woes of the young Indian doctor and open their eyes to the dismal conditions we are forced to work in with terrible odds against them. Who would have thought reverse psychology would do the trick?
Write IndiaI recently spoke about winning Write India, India's largest literary competition ever, and what a wonderful book launch we had in Mumbai. It remains one of the best moments of my life.
In my muddled acceptance speech, I did thank a thousand faceless people - everyone who had kept encouraging me in the blog over the last decade with their comments. Without their brickbats and bouquets, I would not have kept trying to do better with the next attempt at fiction... I would not have won.
In real life, darkness often lies within us in the pain and sorrow of despair and depression. In J K Rowling's world of muggles, wizards and fantastic creatures, this darkness attains a foreboding but real physical form as the Dementors. And luckily for us, she shows us how to defeat them. Her concept of the Patronus is a shield we create by ourselves, warding off the darkness surrounding us by focusing on our happiest memories.
Harry Potter thinks of his parents. Snape thinks of the woman he loved. The memory differs but the strength to ward off despair using a happy memory holds true for them both. And Rowling does showcase how difficult it is to manifest your Patronus, especially when confronted by a Dementor.
Years ago, I had talked about the concept of making a list of your good memories and holding on to it to read during tough times. I do that even today, saving the supportive comments of readers and friends alike. And when I feel it is hard to continue, I return back to those comments I have saved separately.
The common thread binding all the above cherished memories of mine this year are not my words...but the support and comments I got. And that's what I turned to this year when my Dementors came for me.
My patronus, in the end, is words. Not my own but the kind words of others.
My sincere advice to you - learn to identify and Conjure your patronus.
Think carefully of the memories that make you happy. Save them, not just in your mind but also in an actual physical form, accessible to you instantly via online drives or your own laptop and mobile devices.
They will remind you of how cherished and valuable you are when your dementors come and you cannot think straight.
They will help you get through the darkness and back into the light.