And what if you were dead tomorrow?

9:15 PM

I never feared death. Like everyone I believed I was young enough to fret myself over a topic as such. But I knew for a fact that if I were to die, I would die peacefully.

With no regrets.

Until the day my father’s close relative, Navin, a middle-aged man, pondered over his life and started crying in front of me. I knew then, and I know now, that death, whether it takes you away silently or it tests your valiance in the fight you put up… it will most often never allow you to die with a light heart.

Let me tell you something about Navin. He was the most intelligent man I had ever met. I never had the fortuity to know him as much as I now wished I had, but the bits and pieces about him I knew had spoken volumes about the man he was.

As a teenager, he had done all that his heart yearned for. He was also ahead of his friends. He had the brains, the wit, the intelligence and he was humble. His love for books broke all boundaries. He was well read and a great orator. He did what he loved and I would say, he lived his life.

But that afternoon as he sat by me, pardon me, I should first explain to you about his condition. Navin, during his later years, had both his kidneys failing and every three days a week he had to go and get his dialysis done. During the short time I used to see him, I always knew how tired and drained he looked. Sometimes he used to stare into the void for hours. The young energetic man he used to be, was overtaken by a slightly crouched figure now, who desperately wished he could do more in life.

Coming back to the topic again, he started talking to me about how much he wished he was active in arranging his daughter’s wedding. He was worried by the fact that he was sitting around at home while his wife did most of the work on her own. He desperately wished he could move around, he could help in it together. We tried explaining to him about his health and how he was supposed to take rest.

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And all of a sudden the tears came rolling down. I knew for a fact that his silence that day, was the time where he had his life flashing in front of him. He said ,

“I have never done anything in my life. I never achieved what I wanted to and I am never going to achieve anything anymore. It’s my daughter’s wedding and I am sitting around here unable to help or join in. I am just not able to do this. I feel like taking my life away”

At that, the first thing that struck me was about his reference about not achieving anything. I have heard countless stories of his teen years and even his later years where he always did what he really wanted. On trying to comfort him I said “You were a great person in your youth. You should never say you have not achieved what you wanted”. To that, he said “All that was in the past. I had so many wishes for my future. I wanted to write a book, and now I can barely type into the computer. I want to walk around and I can barely stand. It’s my daughter’s wedding and I can’t even do anything what I wanted to do. There are so many things I wanted to do and now I am unable to do any of it”.

His tears spoke a lot of words. It was mainly sorrow mixed with desperation and frustration. His tears meant that, I figured out from the unspoken words, that somewhere at some point in his life, he had been careless, and not done exactly what he ought to have done. Now he wished he could do it. He desperately needed to do something.

Today he is no more. It’s been quite a while without him now. Life has moved on but I will never forget that afternoon. It made me realize how important life is. I am just 20 now, but that afternoon has instilled upon me what it is that most of us fear the most.

Reading this article I do not want you to assume that I fear death. No I don’t. I am only scared of what I think I will not be able to achieve before I die. You may say I am 20, a very young age, to talk about death. But… you never know when it will call for you. All I can now say is that, I am trying hard to change myself, to amend my rather careless way of living of the past. Unlike before, I am now trying hard to keep my relationships with those I am close with because I don’t want to regret it seconds before I leave the face of this earth.

Many fear death will part them from their loved ones. But more than that, I fear I will leave words unspoken and deeds undone.

We may never have the time at a later time. If you wanted to do something, I think now is the time. It hardly happens but that is why I am desperately trying to change. Love and compassion is what you need to hold on to and stubbornness and vanity and carelessness is what you need to give up on. I really need to change myself gradually. And the best part is, I know I will. If I were to die tomorrow I want to die happily.

I pray for Navin’s soul. I know it has attained nirvana. It brought profound sadness to learn about his demise. I have always looked upto him and I will still continue to do so, because apart from the role model he has been to me, he also taught me one of the most fundamental things in life…


Note : All references to the incidents are real. Identities have been changed due to considerations of privacy.

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