The journalist who suddenly forgot everything

5 April 2013

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In the fourth anniversary issue of Open, Forbes India managing editor Charles Assisi recounts  what every journalist dreads—losing the one thing that counts most in our profession:

“To cut a long story short, a little over two years ago, some neurons misfired in my head. I was in my office when this happened. I won’t gt into the sordid details and drama that accompanied the episode—except that my colleagues were witnesses to my falling down in a heap, frothing and convulsing. A couple of them bundled me into a car and drove like maniacs where I was admitted into the intensive care unit.

“A month after I was discharged, my family and friends were told a virus had invaded my immune system, permeated the blood-brain barrier, damaged some parts of my brain, and triggered a bout of viral encephalitis—a rare disorder with high mortality rates in some conditions.

“I was among those who survived.

“The only problem is, survivors have to deal with various kinds of complications, In my case, I had lost my memory. I had no idea who I was, where I was, and save a few people close to me, who everybody around was. For all practical purposes, I was dead, But I was breathing, most of my other faculties were still intact, and I hadn’t forgotten the language….

“Between my wife, brother, parents and a few close friends, they took turns to tell me who I was. But I’d get in a few minutes and get back to being a body of nuisance to pretty much everybody around by repeating the same sets of questions.

“No, how do I know all of this happened? Because my wife Anna began compiling a notebook that outlined I detail answers to my questions. My brother Kolya tried to explain what was happening in my head. And my cousin Niffy wrote me long notes of events, places and things from our younger days when were growing up.

“My colleageues at work—IG [ Forbes editor Indrajit Gupta], [director of photography] Dinesh [Krishnan], and special features editor Peter [Griffin]—pitched in by trying to help put in place the pieces of my day job as a journalist.”

Photograph: courtesy Charles Assisi

External reading: Charles Assisi on Ankit Fadia

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