Suddenly, everything changed.

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Humans have a funny nature. They keep crying out that nothing is permanent in life, and that everything changes with time. However, they choose to be ignorant to that biggest truth in our life, which is death. Death is that one thing which will never change. It will always be there, lurking around you with its invisible presence, reaching out to you when it’s your time. When a person dies, a major part of everybody else who loved that person, dies too. Having experienced one recently, my mind was host to a number of questions. Why did this happen? Why me? Will that person know I miss them? Do they still hold the times I hurt them against me? Where have they gone? Why couldn’t I say a proper goodbye? Why do people leave? The only answer to these limitless questions is a simple four-letter word : life. This is how life is. Take it or leave it.

The first feeling that creeps into our mind when we come across a death is that of denial. And then comes in the guilt, regret and finally the grief. The denial goes away after a while. The guilt and regret makes you suffer for quite some time. The grief never goes away though. One can never get over death, you just learn how to live with it.

We all are running this rat-race and have this mind-set that we have a list of things we need to accomplish, or a list of things we must do or achieve in life. We stress out over our exhausting jobs, and continue searching for new jobs which will pay us more, irrespective of the workload. Students succumb to the pressure meted out by society, parents and teachers and get engaged in the race to “come first”, without actually gaining any knowledge whatsoever. We buy loads of things with our money and decorate our houses with beautiful things. But then, how many of us have a ‘home’ these days, filled with beautiful memories and not decorations? How many of us actually end up doing what we love in our lives?

And, in the end, none of this matters because when you die, you just leave with nothing but your soul. Hell, even your body stays back in earth. It sure feels weird to see all their belongings around you, but the person who owned them is nowhere around. And that is when all your materialistic possessions hold no more value, because in the end, this is how it’ll be with everyone. All the things you were stressing about, all the things you bought, etc., no longer matter anymore. All that matters is the memories you made with the people you loved. Goodbyes are never easy, especially a goodbye like death. The hardest part of it is to have to do it all over again every single day. Everyday, we face the same truth that life is fleeting, and that our life is short.

And to honour the fallen, we must live our own lives well. Thus, the cycle starts again. 

What we really “need”.

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Being a mere autorickshaw driver wasn’t what Govind expected from his life. At 43 years of age, he had a loving wife and two adorable kids. He was able to provide them with a decent living, but devoid luxury of any kind. Nevertheless, they were a very close-knit family. His younger child had just joined school, and his older one was in class V.

One morning, Govind was feeling particularly dismayed at how things had turned out when his wife, Neeta came up to him and said, “Can you come home early tonight? There is a puja at our temple and we must attend that.”

“No,” he said shortly. “Why should I waste my time praying to God when he believes in so much inequality?”

Surprised, Neeta said, “Is anything wrong?”

“Of course, something is wrong! Look at us, look at our house. This is not what I had in mind for us,” yelled Govind.

“I don’t know what has gotten into you. I’m attending the puja with the children, and you can come if you want to,” replied Neeta and walked away.

That day, Govind stormed out of his house, and got into his auto. Another meaningless day of deprivation, thought Govind, as he started the engine.

His first customer, that day, were two teen girls. They wanted to go to a mall nearby.

“What do you want to buy today?” asked one friend to the other.

“Does it really matter?” she asked, pulling out a cigarette. “My parents don’t really care about what I do, so I have stopped caring too.” 

“Yeah, good thing we have a credit card. Atleast we get some happiness from the things we buy.”

As they paid him for the fare, Govind looked at them. They looked so happy on the outside, with all their rich-looking dresses and shoes, but inside, they were not even close to happy. He started his auto again, to search for a new customer.

His next customer was a man who wanted to go to the new fancy MNC building that opened up a few months back. Govind envied his distinguished suit and expensive mobile phone on which he kept texting. His customer then, received a call.

“Look, Naresh, I told you. If ExCorp wants to play tough, so shall we. Make sure everything is ready for the presentation, we need to complete it by tonight.”

Govind took a right turn, as his customer continued talking on the phone. “I know it’s my wedding anniversary tonight, but my wife will have to understand, work comes first. I cannot help it. You go ahead and set everything up, I’m on my way.”

Govind thought about his last anniversary. They didn’t do much, but Neeta made his favourite dishes and they spent the entire night talking. As he collected the fare, he had a smug smile. You can strut all you want with your fancy clothes and phone, but atleast I spend my anniversary with my wife, he thought to himself. However, he felt bad for the way he yelled at Neeta earlier.

The rest of the day passed on uneventfully. At lunch time, he opened his tiffin box and found a picture drawn by his youngest kid which said “My daddy is the best.” Govind had a tear in his eye, as he smiled to himself.

He was on his way back, when he saw a young boy waving out frantically for a ride. Govind stopped and the boy got on. He wanted to go to the beach. Just as Govind went a little further, he heard a woman’s voice scream, “NO, STOP!” Shocked, Govind stopped the auto. The lady was the boy’s mother.

“Where do you think you are going?” she cried out hysterically.

“I DON’T KNOW, mom. Somewhere far away from you and your drunkard new husband.”

“No, no, please don’t go, Rishab. You know I love you, right?”

The boy laughed. “Oh love? Really, mom? Do you even know how I spend my nights in that big empty house of ours while you are out with your husband?”

“Please, come inside,” said the lady, looking at Govind. “We can talk inside, Rishab, please.”

“I will not enter the house of your husband because he made it very clear that I am unwelcome and that it is his house, so fine, I am going away,” yelled the boy, his eyes welling up.

Govind could see that they were quite well-off. Yet, again, they were so caught-up with their problems. Somehow, the lady calmed the boy enough to take him back.

He checked the time. It was 7.30pm. He made his way back to his home and found Neeta getting ready.

“You came,’ she said. “How are you feeling now?”

“You know,” he said, smiling. “For the first time, life doesn’t seem so bad after all, because when it comes to a choice between want and need, one must always choose the latter.”

Neeta smiled. “And?”

“And, I don’t need anything else in life as long as I have you and the kids,” replied Govind.

 

Chasing materialistic pleasures, we have truly lost contact with the simplicity of life.” – Paulo Coelho.

Are you true?

Image Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that is true. Our words have the power to potentially cause either a lot of pain or joy. Sadly enough, not many of us recognize this hidden power of our words. The world renowned psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The man who promises everything is sure to fulfill nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition.”

The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course because not everybody can be trusted in this “modern, fast-paced, ever-changing” world of ours. Some people break promises for the pleasure of breaking them. Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible. A person could make ten thousands of different promises to different people, but that’s not the point ; the point is, we must take every step possible to actually do what we say. Like the famous proverb goes, “Actions speak louder than words”, we must focus on DOING things rather than SAYING we’ll do things.

Since our words have so much power, we must avoid making empty promises. It is easy to make promises – it is hard work to keep them. But, why does it have to be so hard? Who complicates it?

The only answer to that is being honest – with yourself and everybody else around you. Only then, you wouldn’t have to resort to making promises you can’t keep because YOU know the truth and when you do, you’ll say the right thing. Unknown to us, our words may mean a LOT to someone around us. Atleast for the sake of that person’s feelings, we must try to be honest and only make those promises that we can keep. It is really not that hard. There’s this song by Def Leppard called ‘Promises’ and a few lines go like this :

I won’t make promises that I can’t keep
I won’t make promises that I don’t mean
I’ll even mean the things I tell you in my sleep
I won’t make promises babe, that I can’t keep

So, ultimately, it all boils down to this : don’t keep promises which cannot be fulfilled.