Will To Live

Sujitha J.

© Copyright 2018 by Sujitha J.

Photo of Azeem Bolar.

How this man salvages life in his fight with deadly diseases.

An electrified crowd stood in awe hearing Azeem Bolar sizzling on the stage like a pop star and bellowing "Rig it up! Come on Bengaluru! Say with me. “Come what may, Why should I give up?”

Looking at the immaculately dressed Bolar delivering a powerful speech, joy fizzing through like a bottle of champaign, you would never have imagined that Bolar is battling a life threatening disease and his body is breaking down bit by bit, part by part.
Vasculitis, a condition Bolar is inflicted with, is a rare disease that would weaken body parts by blocking blood flow to them forming clots in the blood vessels.

I can’t see, my eyes are gone; my limbs are num. I can’t feel the ground, I don’t have balance,” Bolar says, explaining the effect of his ailment.

With his weaker hands, lifting a teacup feels like lifting a mountain. He struggles to breathe and remember things. “My face is getting numb; my mouth, cheeks and chin stiff. I can’t speak without difficulties these days. Pain hits my head like a crowbar and radiates all through my body. I can’t sit for too long,” he said.

Blood thinners and immunosuppressants are holding up his life. Bolar said he would cease to exist if he stops them for a week.

A fighter

Born with the heart valve condition, Bolar had a rough ride with life. He was knocked down by a series of ailments, starting with Juvenile arthritis at 13 from which he recovered. At around 23, when young Bolar was chartering his career path, the onset of blindness left him shaken.

In the late twenties, he encountered the double strike of Meningitis and cerebral malaria. At tis time, a mild stroke left him with a limp on his legs. Stroke struck once again with debilitating ferocity at 34, paralysing Bolar on the left side and blinding him completely. With Vasculitis making him too weak to walk at 45, he was confined to the wheelchair.


Bolar responded to blindness by learning screen reading software and mastering mobility skills. He switched gears in career, training to be a counselor, NLP practitioner and psychotherapist. All these as he weathered Vasculitis for around 37 years.


I will Never Give-Up!” Bolar thunders.

Hit by Meningitis, with piercing pain on my head, I still tried to get up. They said it was rare to survive Meningitis. But I did. While I was hit with stroke, unable to walk, I crawled, exercised for hours and kept moving. When the speech therapist and the neurologist wrote me off saying I can’t walk or talk again an account of several clots on the brain, I told myself. Who are they to say that. I will do it."

And he did it by training to walk and talk again, until Vasculitis bound him to a wheelchair. Still he is not not short of taking short steps and moving around his house with the help of a walker.

Making life meaningful

Bolar is now a counselor with an IT company which he visits two days a week.

I spoke with Bolar a day after he had the lenses removed from both his eyes on account of cataract. Still dozy and dizzy as the blood thinners were withdrawn for the surgery, he passed: “Hum, who is this? Sujitha? Tell me what?”

But he turned animated when the phone buzzed with a name. ”Sujitha!” He hurried. “It is a distress call from a counselee. I should attend.”

Being a giver

Bolar had done hundreds of counseling sessions without charging a penny. “Those who can pay, they pay me very well. But when someone has a problem and they can’t afford, I don’t charge. Why should I charge them? I am a giver. That keeps me going."

Cherishing Human connections

In our conversation on the sixth of August, Bolar prided on a precious possession That showed me how he cherishes human connections. "Yesterday, a little girl tied friendship band on my wrist! That is so special to me! I will not let it go just like that."

Offering strength with love

Bolar amazes with his strength despite the diseases. He offers his best with love, making him the therapist, the curer.

"I am there." are the first words his clients hear when calling for a counseling session. He hears the counselee’s troubles, opens up his compassionate heart, holds a mirror to their minds and offers a helping hand and an emotional touch.

I have brought people who were injecting and snorting heroin out of the habit. It is often, they try to fill a void in their lives through Substances. I address the emotional need in them and give love and compassion that helps and heals them,” he told me.
Activities may change, not the spirit of adventure

In the prime of his youth, when health was still to evade him, Bolar did Hotel management in France and London apart from touring various nations observing the industry. He had ever been boisterous biking, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling among sea sharks in the Red Sea, snow  skiing and so on. But when Vasculitis shackled his adventurous spirit, he accepted it stoically .

With very week hands and limbs, I shave, shower and dress myself. I used to walk with walker to the bathroom before. But due to an issue in the prostate gland, I am forced to use diapers now. There will come a time when I will not be able to do my things. But why worry? I don’t like to Regret.

Now, at the time of writing this piece, An alteration in the dosage of immunosuppressants is slowing down Bolar a bit, though it is not too strong to stop him.

Post cataract surgery, my eyes are still paining,” Bolar tells me. Sometimes, he feels a splitting pain on the head. An excruciating body ache made Bolar cancel a couple of physiotherapy sessions, but he is in no mood to relent. In fact, he is getting ready to resume the sessions sooner. And why not? For Bolar, giving up is not a choice. “If I do, I will fail before my own eyes,” he said.

Mind over matter

Bolar believes its Mind Over Matter. If I think the conditions in my life to be too big to debilitate me, , I will be defeated. I think I am too big to demolish them. Priyanka, Bolar’s physiotherapist shares. Bolar had overcome partial paralysis post stroke quite well. Muscle strength in both his limbs are equal which is a rarity for a stroke patient. It means, he had worked hard on the muscles.


Faced with trials throughout, there is no trace of depression on Bolar. Even today, he wakes up at 5.30 AM clockwork to perform his prayers. He is a wellspring of happiness and humor.

Sujitha, please wait.”  He sheepishly said. My girlfriend is speaking. I should listen now.”

He was hinting at the screen reading application with a female voice on his phone even when ending the interview.

 I am a visually impaired budding journalist, blogger  and aspiring biographer. I came across Azeem Bolar, the subject of this biography, while I  was interviewing him  for my teacher’s project. After talking to him, my life changed and I believe, you will not be  the same person after reading   about Bolar’s life.  

I was born blind. As a girl  child, a child with disability,  a girl hailing from rural India and a first generational learner in my family, I have faced and still facing a lot of challenges in life. I have done masters in English literature specializing in journalism.  I blog at https://sujithaj.wordpress.com/

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