My mother got a call one day. An old friend of hers had called to say that she was dying. Advanced stage of cancer had given her six months to live.
We human beings are basically scared of death. Thousands of philosophies, hundreds of movies and all-world religions later, we still have not been able to quell this inherent fear in our hearts. What if my car is banged by a truck that takes a wrong turn? What if the elevator suddenly comes down crashing? What if I choke on the strawberry shake? What if I fall down the stairs and break my skull? But we continue to live and believe, don’t we?
I have had a very cordial relationship with life, saving myself each time from illness, tumble down the stairs, unwanted swim in the rapids, bikes rolling down rocky roads while holidaying. It was a failed relationship that brought me close to death. Alternating between wishing I was dead or he too suffers my pain, it was perhaps very easy for me to give up contemplating on a life beyond that roadblock. Believing that everything is going to be alright one day without an iota of effort by me was how I was spending each day of my life; screaming at those who love me, shutting the door of my heart to friends who care and becoming the failure I had always shunned.
For six months till that fateful day when my mother picked up the phone to be informed that her friend was dying. Six months is a very long time. I had just spent six months of my life doing nothing. I could very well engage another few months doing the same and cursing somebody upstairs for dreams that lay shattered at my feet.
Dreams like my mother’s friend had seen and which now didn’t exist anymore. Dreams of living a long life with her partner, of moving into her new house in the countryside, of travelling to places that she could not visit being busy with jobs, family, children and responsibilities of the world and self, of dancing at her kids’ weddings and the birth of her grandchildren. Dreams of knowing what it is to retire from work, of becoming a grandparent, of reducing eyesight, hearing and number of teeth but overwhelmingly increasing love and companionship, of simply lounging lazily and sipping tea at the end of each day with her beloved of thirty years.
And you can ask me what do I know of dreams. But uncannily, I too had the same dreams as my mom’s friend a few years back when life was all rosy and smiling at me. Brevity of time binds her and me and you, and this now scares me. What if I was given six months to seal off my mortal work and dreams on earth? And what if the last six months that I had just spent cursing myself were all I had and now it is time to go? All of a sudden, I do not wish to die; I do not wish an end of my suffering because that would mean death.
Human beings are selfish. They mourn the miseries of others and feel empathy but pray that none of it befalls them. But I am not praying this time. I am only asking for forgiveness. From each fellow being who is suffering and still standing tall, from them who live by the second, from them who are handicapped as I misuse my blessings, from them who have not a family that supports them unconditionally and friends who look after them even when wronged and ignored, from lovers who are cheated in love because they suffer silently and more than I ever did, from those who unsuccessfully try to scrape time out for their families and the burdens still never get lighter, from each and every one of them who smile at me while being ripped apart from within.
To them I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry. Please forgive me…