Thursday, February 08, 2007

Falling leaves

Why are those who are so very important to their families asked to wind up and return to their heavenly abode leaving much of their work either undone or only half done? How does one explain why a ninety six year old man, whose sons and sons-in-law have retired, manages to survive 3 heart attacks and continues to live partly bed ridden much to the dismay of his family members who feel tied down on account of him?

Some forty-two years back my dad was given 6 to 8 months to live after cancer struck him without a warning. My younger brothers were just 3 and five years of age and it was unfair that they should be deprived of their father’s affection so early in life. In my naivety I prayed hard that I would willingly suffer and die on his behalf if only God granted him a lease of life. I was about fourteen years old and we were doing Moghul History. The story of emperor Babur who prayed for his son Humayun’s recovery and how he fell ill and died while Humayun recovered, seemed so impressive!. I studied in a Christian Missinary school and had a kind of bargaining session with God. I offered to convert to Christianity if only he allowed me to die in my father’s place. I made a quick mental calculation that since I would die in any case, it would hardly matter whether I converted or remained a Hindu. I only hoped that my mother would understand my reasons for doing so. But nothing happened. My father died in about 8 months and my maternal grandfather who was a practicing lawyer took over and life went on. Today I realize that life is not that simple and we all have a role to fulfill. Conversion too involves one’s head and heart and is not a business deal.

Since then I seem to make a special note of more such cases. M…. the Accounts Assistant in our college was not only an expert in her work but a caring mother too. I met on a Diwali day and she told me that she had sent her daughter to her mother’s place for the day. There was nothing unusual about a child spending a day at her grand mom’s place. What was unusual was the fact that the girl had been left there on her own for the first time. Little did M... know that the girl was to be totally left in the care of her grandmothers very soon? The day after I met her, M… fell sick, medical tests, hospitalization and emergency surgery followed and finally in less than 3 months she left us forever. The same was the fate of V…. who was in the Examination Department. Both of them were troubled with occasional gastric problems and would joke about starting a new Graduate School in heaven. Both of them left behind girls in their pre teens that were looked after by their relatives while the surviving parent was busy with office work.

And there was Dr. M.... who was an asset to our college. She was a born fighter. Her husband’s business wasn’t doing well and her children needed help in their studies. She did not want to unnecessarily spend for tuitions. She therefore would first come to us with doubts in Science subjects. (She was in the English Department) She would understand the concepts herself and then teach her children. She got a grant from UGC to carryout postdoctoral research in tribal languages and was doing a great job of it. She suddenly lost her voice and we thought it was a throat infection. We were amused at the way she’d write out whatever she wanted to say and even joked that it would be better if we all spoke less and worked more. She recovered her voice but the diagnosis was not good. Hers was a rare condition of an atypical cancer growth in the lungs where the line of treatment was more speculative than direct. I, for one, felt that it was unfair that a person of her caliber should be allowed to pass on. Time and tide wait for none. On the very day that tsunami struck Mimi joined the victims of tsunami in their final journey while her family dealt with a tsunami of its own.

Such examples leave me frustrated. I have a paternal aunt who is ninety-four years old. She has lost three of her four sons and last year she lost her only surviving brother too. She found her own way to deal with her grief. She has chosen to live on her own and says that keeping herself busy is important to her. I know better. She wants to be left alone to grieve in private.

Strange are the ways of God. When he takes away a parent he takes it on Himself to ensure the family’s well being. He does send someone to care for the children and often such children show a maturity and responsibility not found among their more fortunate counterparts. Very often, such people who are called back are assets to society and their family and the question oft asked is “What next?” However important the person may have been, life goes on with or without him/her. Is there perhaps some element of truth in the sentence I often hear when people refer to my father- that his blessings have accomplished that which he could not have done himself?

M… would have been proud of her daughter who has accomplished a lot as a golf player and has won a scholarship and has left for the USA where she pursues her studies. The same is true of M… the accounts assistant’s daughter. By some co-incidence I happened to read a poem relevant to this post. The jist of the poem was that the leaf that falls first laments the fact and asks why it should be the first to fall when all other leaves were merrily swaying and having fun. The leaf that was still stuck to the branch, while all its “branch brothers” had fallen, asks why it should be the last to go? Neither state is desirable but there is little one can do about it.

14 comments:

Srijith Unni said...

The truth, Hip grandma, is that none of us are afraid of our death. It`s the death of our loved ones that we find impossible to bear. The parting however has to happen, and no matter who leaves first, someone is bound to suffer. But we all have to go and that`s the truth. We are all souls enacting a drama, we finish our part and then we leave the stage. What finally lingers is the play not the actors.

A very heartfelt post. You have done good for your departed friends, I assure you.

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

lalitha5151 said...

There are no answers to these questions.I have always wondered why.My parents also died young and never lived long enough to live and enjoy life.

passerby55 said...

Hello Preeta,

STRANGE are His ways. No doubt. But He gives as much as one can take it. ANd Faith in HIm has always shown that he does prepare you very well to face all that happens.

Hope and Faith are GOd given and God proven too.

I liked my tea today as I read your post this morning

Usha said...

I have been asking similar questions in the recent past when I ahd to come to grips with the untimely death of certain people who actually wanted to live just a bit longer for the sake of their children.
May be we have to accept these and move on and understand the meaning and value of life.
Nice post but made me feel very sad.

Balaji said...

touching. And unfortunately i have no answers.

Mahadevan said...

The greatest mystery of life is its duration. As we do not know when life would end, we believe in determinism. If it were to work rationally, on the basis of seniority, batch by batch should disappear, as it happens in the case of retirements. But there is a thrill in uncertainy, which would be lost.

It is certainly cruel for young ones to go away, when they have lots of unfinished task.

'Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither, ripeness is all', says Shakespeare.

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
Though I understand that death is a part of life and one has to face the death of a loved one or friend at some point,I still feel let down when the person concerned has not lived a full life.I do realize that we have no control over such incidences,but my heart goes out to those little children who may eventually turn out to be achevers but do not have the pleasure of seeing their parent/s raise a thumb in appreciation.I invariably end up asking why this should be so?

NZ said...

Very touching post specially for me cos, I was asking the same questions just 3-4 days back. A similar thing happened, the person that passed away had a very yound family and I felt so sad that his son will never know him. It bothered and saddened me a lot - I wrote a post on it yesterday.

visithra said...

How true the one who wants to live goes the one who doesnt remains ;)

every single word you said is right - n u are right despite the lost at a young age - the pro of the situation definetly is the maturity that kics in - we should know

artnavy said...

i often wonder why God does these things... remember the dialogue in ANAND- hum sab rang mach ke kalakaar hain....

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/mah-falling.html
chech this link out- u may like this chapter

Hip Grandma said...

nz:Your post on Sameer was very touching.I felt sorry that he could not watch his son grow and as for his family,words fail me.It is indeed unfair.God alone can give them courage.

visitra:Why should a person who has so much to do, pack up and leave?I suppose that is life.

artnavy:I read the entire book while I was in America.It was superb.Thanks for the reference.

artnavy said...

have you posted on that book?

Hip Grandma said...

No but I made a mention of it in a book tag I did when I was there.

Just like that said...

'The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, moves on...' sad isn't it? Very true that neither the first nor the last want to be in those unenviable positions. Hard to know which is worse... A moving post from you, GMom.

Wonder what the tree's feelings are? And could the tree be likened to Life?