Friday, June 28, 2013

The Chronicles of a Crusader: Swati Amarnath

Swati Amarnath: The epitome of Strength, Courage
and True Beauty.
Swati Amarnath is an anthropomorphic form of courage. Having earned a stellar reputation in media circles, what is little known is Swati’s story of resilience behind it. Born as Lata, on the insistence of her father, she changed her name to Swati. “Under my new name, my first article ever was published in Kalaimagal in December 1996. The next month my father passed away, confident that his daughter’s new vista of life had opened up.” Swati has since written for a plethora of Tamil and English magazines and newspapers, handling a wide range of subjects - everything from celebrity interviews and personality profiles to banking, finance, insurance, taxation, real estate, medicine, health, fitness, education, religion and even art! She has as many as ten thousand articles and counting, to her credit, including a crime novel in Tamil.

She once held office as the Probationary Officer at the State Bank of India, Swati had accolades to her credit, when tragedy struck. “The maid taking care of my first daughter consumed an insecticide after a failed affair. We saved her life and sent her back home. Later, she confessed to having abused my child!” Swati moved to Bangalore, and then Lagos, Nigeria. At that juncture, she witnessed the first noticeable symptoms of her brain tumor. “It crept up innocuously in the form of a constant ringing noise in my ear. By then my physical sufferings were unbearable as I was struck with trigeminal neuralgia, suffering severe spasmodic electric shocks in the face due to the stimulation of the affected nerve.” The tumor mangled her body, and paralysed one side of her face. “Recovery from the surgery was traumatic. I needed continuous physiotherapy sessions for my paralysed face. The eye on the paralysed side was stitched up at the edge to prevent infections.”

Amidst trying to find out the reason for the debilitating symptoms that cropped up, Swati completed her B.Ed. Suddenly, Swati’s first child was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. “She had to stay in the hospital for a month as she was nearly in a coma. The entire body was thrown out of gear due to the diabetic condition she had!” That was another major turning point in her life. “I was determined to provide both my children with more than the best. I decided that my health or the lack of it will never come in the way of their goals and desires.” Swati contended with a lots of health issues. She even fell a few times due to partial vision and lack of hearing on one side, developing lower-back pain. 

A strong fighter, Swati simply looked ahead, staring adversity in the eye without being daunted. "I don't know if I could have even snatched a second to think of a situation as an up or as a down." No matter what she faced, she continued working hard to complete her deadlines. “I remember, once, I had a deadline to send several stories comprising interviews with chairmen of eminent hospitals in Chennai to The Hindu. I was doing the entire health supplement. My first daughter was admitted in hospital for an emergency appendicitis surgery. With my heart fluttering in panic, I sat down and wrote out all the interviews in the hospital room, watching her come out of anaesthesia. I went back in the evening and typed out my stories, mailing it on time!” Another time, Swati returned home after an endoscopy, and was asked to immediately write up a booklet on a renowned personality. Despite the difficult cards life has dealt her, Swati is not one to be defeated. “I would not like to pigeon-hole events in my life as challenges, difficulties or anything for that matter. Every person’s life is replete with several events and people, which the individual has to deal with in the best possible manner.”

She is a brave-heart, really. “Life is like mathematics. When you complete one problem you go on to the next, more difficult one and try to solve it. If one has decided to make the most of one’s life, there is no need to even think of personal qualities like courage!” Swati runs her own media venture and has also taken to event management. She finds her support system in her husband and daughters. “My second daughter once bought me a small make-up kit. I cried, then. She has never seen her mother smile. My half-functional face happens to be the most beautiful face in the world, which I happened to read on her note to her sister in the Facebook.”

Swati also had a brief stint in the visual media, when she was involved in producing women’s programmes for two leading channels in South India. “I had conceived and coordinated a programme which was a talk show. It was similar to Satyameva Jayate which is being telecast now, though the format was different. But, when the management changed hands, the executive producer of the programme developed differences with the new management and left, taking the master tapes with her. Barring a few episodes that were telecast as individual programmes on Women’s day, the serial never saw the light of day.” Swati was left feeling disgruntled with the prevalence of an unprofessional attitude behind producing programmes and the rampant dubious practices. The experience firmed her resolve to stick with the Print Media.

Presently, Swati runs her own media venture, called Eve’s Times, and has also taken to event management. “Along with a friend, we coordinated the SAARC women’s exhibition in 2010 and another women’s convention last year!” She finds her support system in her husband, who she counts on as being her lifeline. “Today, whatever I am is due to my husband. He has been the only person who has stood by me through all the vicissitudes of my life. It is rare to see such patience, kindness, maturity, equanimity and strength of character in a man today. If a woman can get this kind of respect and love from a man, she can move mountains!”

Quote Unquote:
“Amidst the lack of understanding by friends and relatives, by school teachers and ridicule by classmates, my daughters continued their studies, and achieving all the time. For a woman even a little blemish on her face or body brings down her confidence- level and self esteem. But for me, my father had taught me the value of our culture and how every human being should decide on a goal and work towards a productive life. I have learnt a lot from my husband who nurtured me back to health and has done everything a mother would do for her child. From him, I have learnt the meaning of true love and dedication. I want to continue my mission of taking forward my awareness drive to the people, to millions of women, youth and children about the latest advancements in the world of medicine, education, about entrepreneurship, social and civic responsibilities. I want to initiate a trend in the media world where medium sized media ventures can encompass all the different forms of media such as the print, electronic, audio and visual media and be  successful enterprises. I want the media to be a part of the nation building activities, by being educative and a vehicle of transformation of mass attitude.”

Based on an interview conducted by Kirthi Jayakumar