A few years ago, I received a shocking news from the tinsel world of the West. My favourite ‘M’ of the James Bond series, Dame Judi Dench, was diagnosed as suffering from macular degeneration, that could eventually lead to complete blindness. Being a victim of that dreaded condition (in one eye only, thank God), I could very well empathise with her miserable plight.
It is the central region of the retina, namely the macula, that gives one clear vision to see the world around. As macular degeneration is a problem relating to the nerves, modern medicine offers very few palliatives for a permanent cure.
For the past several years, I have been doggedly pursuing a stiff ayurvedic therapy, chiefly in the hope of saving my better eye. But I have to follow a very strict regimen with regard to food and daily routine. The doctors at the Ayurvedic eye hospital have rubbed off their positive spirit in me. One has to consider oneself lucky in having normal vision in at least one eye. As a result, my uneventful life has turned out to be even more uneventful.
Ms Dench, who led a very eventful life unlike me, has also fallen prey to macular degeneration. Several snapshots from her illustrious past flashed through my mind then— her early days as a marvellous London theatre actress, donning the roles of Shakespearean heroines like Ophelia, her significant portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the film Shakespeare in Love, and eventually, as the domineering ‘M’ in seven Bond films.
When my attempts to make telephonic contact with her failed, I wrote a letter expressing my concern and advising her to seek ayurvedic therapy in Kerala. Pat came a reply, signed by her personal assistant, Sue Jennings, thanking me profusely and informing me that her condition had “stabilised considerably”.
But later, reports appeared that Dench was also suffering from the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. She had started forgetting, at times, her name and address. The more I visualised her future, the more unhappy I became.
The cold, blunt eye of the head of MI6 in GoldenEye had lost its sheen. Though Tomorrow Never Dies for her, The World is not Enough to shed ample light into her eyes. Even a luxuriant Casino Royale may not afford a Quantum of Solace in a weakened state. Though ordinary folks like me would only wish to Die Another Day, can a celebrity like Dame Judi Dench suffer such a Skyfall?