To say we are moving at a whirlwind pace in everyday life is a cliche. It is sad that we don’t spend enough time with ourselves. Use that sacrosanct space to think. And brood over life’s mystery. Ask questions about life and death and love. Try to make sense of our inner world when we have interior designers to take care of our house and our furniture.
This morning I saw a school bus right infront of ours’ on the road. The boys on the front seat and turned around and sat on their knees to talk to those behind. Animated. Chirpy. Sprighty. Sunlight streaming in and gaiety spread everywhere. In contrast to the one I was in, with tainted (shut) windows and earphone laden IT professionals.
I wasn’t jealous or sad. Because hadn’t I already lived that life? 🙂 Nostalgic? Not really. If anything, it made me remember the eyes through which I saw the world. Where every corner turned had a marvel awaiting. Wide-eyed and inexhaustibly curious. Gaping with wonder at life and what lay infront.
For some reason, my thoughts centered on death. I can’t remember what I used to think about it when I was very little. Similar to sex, I guess. I don’t remember having a birds and bees conversation with my parents. I just happened to transition into the knowledge. Pretty early too. How? Well, that’s a story for another day.
But I do remember my first encounter with death, albeit indirect. When my grandpa (Maa’s father) died, I was five years old. My mother was inconsolable and both my parents left for Varanasi the next morning leaving me and my sister under the eye of my grandma. I knew the rituals and so the vision that formed in my head said that the next time I go to Varanasi, I won’t find him in the house. That was all. I never wondered, ‘Where he went?’ and ‘Why?’. And if there was a point. But I wasn’t sad.
I was probably shielded from death’s harsh truth because I never saw death of a loved one up close. And I can only half-imagine the turmoil that children go through if they loose someone (especially a parent) at that young an age. Even when a dog is laid to rest, elders (let, children) are inconsolable and sad. And it is then, they ask two very important questions: “Why?” “And what now?”
And the pain and the grief are diminished with time and love and life. But now and again death does come to haunt us. And shake us with its unsaid words: “Everything in life is fleeting. It takes one blink of an eye and it is over” If anything, you try to live your life with more compassion and respect. But the conscious feeling lossens its grips over you and you again get embroiled in the pettiness, in the criticism and the fighting. Ofcourse, there is a fair share of happiness, achievement and love tas well. But one never gets answers to the questions asked when young: “Why?” “And what now?”
The first and only corpse I have seen was my grandmothers’. I was in twelfth grade and she died after a long painful illness. But the body that I saw had no warmth. It didn’t ooze life. And as the jaw lay open, I could distinguish between how life should be. Not cold. Anything but harsh.
When someone dies, people feel the frailty of existence. They sit together and talk about the goodness of the person that left. The memories that were created and shared and bonded over. And in their own way try to make peace with Nature’s upper hand and then dig into dinner and dessert.
It is important that time and again we are reminded of what death feels like. How there is nothing romantic after that. And inspite of the person’s departure, s/he continues to dwell in our hearts and thus live on. The only type of fame I would prefer would be the one which infuses a feeling of warmth and kindness.
Be a little less critical. A little more heart-ical. A little less practical. A little more lovable. And more importantly keep questioning “Why?” and “What now?” to allow life to lead them through a better journey. Whether the will be answered in the end (or should we say the beginning) is a separate story.