Waiting for life…

Ruskin Bond

‘When the garlands wither on your brow, boast no more your mighty deeds, for-

So many of yesterday’s heroes crumble…’

In the short story ‘The garland on his brow’, the famous Anglo-Indian writer Ruskin Bond mentions the yesteryears of his protagonist in a way that is harsh, painful and yet beautiful in its’ own right.

I am 26 years old. I know for a fact that I am not where I thought I’d end up when I was in school. I can only assume that life has a plan of its’ own. I’m not a fatalist by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t believe in ‘Karmam’  and ‘Karmaphalam’ (Actions and consequences). If that were true, none of our politicians would live this long. Rather, I believe that the choices I have made contribute only partly to a destiny, that is largely defined by agencies outside my control. My life is basically an endless wait for the unknown.

We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I had collected a large number of names, all of whom I could call my classmates.

One of my friends, coming from a financially weak family, committed suicide a while back. We were working on making a short-film. He was the funniest guy in our group. We’d talked a couple of days before the incident. And then I got a call, informing me that he’d died. I still don’t have a clue why he did what he did.

One of my friends, a guy I’d studied with briefly had a sudden kidney-failure. Some of my friends formed a group and started sending out requests for donations so he could have a transplant. He died before anything could come out of that.

Another one of my friends was returning from a party in his bike. He was drunk. Barely a 100 metres from his home and his family, his bike stumbled on a pothole and he fell. He died from the resulting injury immediately.

One of my old classmates, died in a car accident in Amsterdam this year. I heard about it through facebook.

All of these people, like me, saw themselves at different places from where life would eventually send them. I am only 26 now, and I already have this morbid list of friends who did not make it past 26 years. If I am lucky enough to reach a ripe old age, I wonder what it will be like. For starters, the list would would be much longer. People – family members, relatives, friends, co-workers… So many people whom I started my life with me, none of them alive to talk about it.

Or I may die, and become a name in somebody else’s list.

I have a joke playing in my head. It is about this very old man who starts his day by going through the obituary section of the newspaper. His grandson asks him why he is poring over the obituaries, and why he has that stupid grin on his face. In reply, the old man says – “ Every person who died today is another human being I have outlived”

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The Muslims have an interesting practice. Religious Muslims punctuate conversations with the refrain ‘Insha Allah’(God willing). Basically, they say – “I’ll see you tomorrow, God willing”.

I’m not a religious man myself, but I can see the point. Pinning your hopes on a God helps you to make light of things. It helps you unburden some of your thoughts and fears and anxieties. But I’ve always felt that faith has to come naturally. I can’t just go to a temple tomorrow, and expect to feel what genuine believers do. I sometimes envy those who can pin their hopes and futures on a deity. The freedom must be exhilarating.

I don’t know what the point of this article was. I’m not sure I had a point writing it. It does not take an Einstein to figure out people die.

I wish I did not take life so seriously. Like my main man William once said, we all go one way –

“Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”

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17 thoughts on “Waiting for life…

  1. Death is tragic, but then again, that’s life. This post made me stop and think – about what exactly, I don’t know, but it was a nice reminder to value life and make the best of it. 🙂

  2. Truly moving.. the incidents you talked about, if they happened for real, may the souls rest in peace and if they are fiction, you totally rocked that 🙂 But, besides post, I would say that when people start taking death in a negative sense, they take life in a more negative way… If you accept life with the element of death, only then can you live….

    • This is true. However,I wasn’t feeling negative or positive while writing this piece. I was in the twilight zone.
      BTW, why in the world would I make up fiction about my friends dying??? Unfortunately those 4 people really did die… In fact, I was thinking about one of them when I started writing it.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Lovely post about questions that many of us ask, basically, what’s the point? We’re all going to die anyway, some sooner than later, some tragically and ‘before our time’. My husband died of a brain tumor at 43 and was otherwise healthy, active, a good person, etc. It was the most random, unfair, painful thing that he or I had ever experienced. I still struggle to make sense of it. I also continue to go after what I want in life, to make each day count, to enjoy what I have. It’s not easy all the time, but I’m definitely more grateful now than I used to be.

    I’m very sorry for the loss of your friends. That is a lot of loss to deal with at your age. My only suggestion would be to keep going… your friends would want you to, too.

    • Sorry to hear about your husband. Glad to know that you have managed to find peace. It must not have been easy. I only knew one of the friends well enough for it to be a shock. Can’t imagine what it must have been like for you.

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