Yesterday, I had the fortune of meeting a person whom I have admired throughout my life and has been a source of inspiration whenever I found myself down and out. It was probably the last time that I was meeting him.
The man is in his late nineties and is on a ventilator. It is an irony that a man who has been instrumental in breathing life in so many, is now himself struggling to get that one gasp of air and is surviving, courtesy the ventilator that has come to his rescue.
On entering his room in the hospital, the sight of him lying on a bed with the ventilator on, brought tears in my eyes and I could barely speak. As had always been the case, and true to his nature, he took the initiative of breaking the silence that had ensued there in the room.
“Kush, how have you been, son?” Even in the state that he happens to find himself in, the sight of seeing someone he knows, springs him back into the positivity that I have always found associated with him.
“Son, I was wondering whether I will be able to meet you before I bid adieu to this world.” He carried on as I sat next to his bed on a chair.
“You know, Kush, I have had a great life and have no regrets what so ever. But sometimes, I feel bemused by the kind of importance we tend to give to certain things at certain point of time in our lives. How insignificant they are, we only realize when, say, we are on our death bed. May be, that is because our priorities and the maturity level associated with the same are bound to change with time and I guess it is a natural progression for one to be moving through all the ashrams that are so well described in our Hindu religious texts.
It is only now, that I realize what a great man my father was. What great thinking he possessed. With the kind of simplicity that he led his life, he was sure to derive immense pleasure and satisfaction. He always used to tell me about the virtues associated with simple living and high thinking. But how naive I was at that time, to have not taken him seriously. I guess that’s because of the generation gap that we had amongst us and no matter how hard he tried explaining the same to me, I wouldn’t listen believing that what I thought was right.
Now, when I tell my children the same things, they don’t take me seriously. I am sure they will only realize when their time would come. This makes me wonder about how well this cycle of life is inscribed on our slate of destiny. At the end of the day, all the materialistic pleasures and things like ego, self-esteem don’t really matter. What you leave behind is your deeds and emotions and reactions associated with those deeds. It is your choice, after all as to how you would want to be remembered once you are gone.”
As he spoke, the doctor walked in, “Mr. Sharma, how are you feeling you? You are not supposed to talk this much. So take some rest.”
“Doctor, these are possibly going to be my last words. And here you are telling me to withhold even these.” He smiled back at the doctor, who signalled at me, that it was time for the check up and that I needed to leave.
I got up from the chair and took his blessings. As I walked out of the room, I wondered whether I will be able to see him again and the words of wisdom that he had spoken resonated inside me: “What you leave behind is your deeds and emotions and reactions associated with those deeds. It is your choice, after all as to how you would want to be remembered once you are gone.”
On second thoughts, does it really matter how one remembers us? Does it have any kind of bearing on what we are going to do when we are gone from here? And for that matter, should we really care about the manner in which this world might want to look at us?
Well, to be frank, the answer to all the above lies in, “it won’t really matter once we are gone.” But somehow, whether we like it or not, we do leave a legacy behind us in the form of our children and grandchildren. So, even if we are being really selfish and are concerned about ourselves and even if doing good in this kalyug might not be the aim of our lives, we cannot just ignore our near and dear ones, as they are the ones who might have to bear the brunt of all what we did in our lives.
In that case, the best option is to chose a path where one is able to do good for others and to others. I agree that it might not be the easiest of paths to tread, but one thing that I can assure you is that it is indeed one of the most satisfying of paths that you will ever tread in your life.