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Meet my brother: Jehangir Saleh

By: Jasmine Saleh

My brother was a curious and creative individual, a fellow fighter of cystic fibrosis who succumbed to his illness in June 2013 at the tender age of 28. Jehangir was an inspiration to those around him, not only through his capacity to find meaning in the challenging experience of living with a chronic illness, but also through his desire to encourage those around him to confront their own challenges and find meaning in their lives.

Jehangir would often compare living with cystic fibrosis to “mopping up a floor that kept getting dirty,” with physiotherapy and antibiotics as his tools to “clean things up” when his lungs felt messy. To Jehangir, living with cystic fibrosis was just something he had, not something he was, but as his illness progressively became more difficult, writing, poetry, and studying philosophy became an outlet for him to understand and ultimately cope with his challenging reality. As Jehangir once said, “There must be some lessons, some aspect of human life that having an illness speaks to. I am interested in trying to figure those things out, mostly because I needed to figure out how to live with my own condition.”

And so he did—writing, reading, and engaging in thought-provoking discussion with his family, friends, professors, and even his medical team, all while balancing long and frequent hospitalizations. Those late night discussions, that also left me thinking, are some of my fondest memories of us together. After completing his studies at Ryerson University, Jehangir went on to pursue his Masters in philosophy, but his battle with cystic fibrosis prevented him from continuing what he aspired.

A few months after his passing, Jehangir’s philosophy professor from Ryerson University approached us [my family] with the idea of establishing an annual lecture series to continue his philosophical exploration on the experience of living with a chronic illness. The Jehangir Saleh Lecturewas made possible with the support of family, friends, and Ryerson University in hopes to honour the life of a truly special soul and continue the important work he was doing.

In the true spirit of my brother, the annual lecture series uses creative ways of exploring themes related to chronic illness and disability, using music and art to engage those thought-provoking discussions that Jehangir will always be remembered for.

I invite you to attend the lecture next week (September 27) at Ryerson University, or follow along online via the webcast. If you are interested in attending, please register at this link.