Troubles come in battalions and one tends to feel all is lost. They are like thunder clouds that darken the sky and there is gloom in the air. But then there is a downpour and it is all bright and sunny again. Do we wish away thunderstorms and torrential rains? Of course we don’t. It is only on the rarest of occasions that torrential rains cause havoc in the form of floods and the human race is such that even after a tsunami people muster courage and start anew.
Take for instance Mr. T who faced a tsunami like situation some 10 years back. He lost his older brother to a major heart attack although he went for routine annual check ups and no heart trouble was ever detected. The brother was in fact a father figure since Mr. T lost his mother at an early age and it was his brother who took care of his emotional health ever since his father remarried and a step mother arrived on the scene. He hardly got over his brother’s death when the company he worked for decided to forcibly retire some of its employees and he was one among the unlucky few. With four children studying, two in high school and two in college, the family was devastated. Lay offs were not common but his organization was trying to reduce its work force, thanks to automation and computer technology. They dared not touch the workers with a solid union support. Officers were the affected ones and their services could be terminated on the slightest pretext. Everyone seemed to write Mr. T off. His wife stood by his side like a rock and the family managed to tide through troubled times. The children rose to the occasion and are doing very well in life thanks to their combined effort.
Mr. P likewise thought all was lost when following a mild heart attack he was asked to go for a bypass surgery. He was a teacher by profession and our government seems to think that teachers do not fall ill. He got a medical allowance Rs. 20/- quite enough to buy 2 strips of paracetamol or asprin but certainly not sufficient for financing costly medical treatment. His son had just joined his MBA and he had exhausted all his savings for his admission to the course. His wife again rose to the occasion. The extended family helped as much as they could. 16 years have gone by and today the family is up on its feet with the son and daughter happily married. Friendly loans have been repaid and the truma they faced is now a thing of the past.
My own sister in law suffered a stroke and was on ventilator for nearly a month. Finance was not a major issue but with a weak heart and an urgent need to have a valve replacement things did not look bright. It was sheer will power that saw her through and today she has recovered sufficiently and is well enough to direct the servants. She is once again the supporting wife she had always been.
I can give so many similar examples where a traumatic turn of events for whatever reason depresses the spirit of a family but the revolving wheels of time sees to it that a cold winter is soon followed by a cheerful spring and summer. After the initial shock one gathers strength and fights back.
When my father passed away one heard relatives saying that my mother would have been better off if the two younger children had not been born. She could have got the daughters married and lived with the older son. Now the younger two had not even begun school and were an added responsibility. Logical enough but I’d feel outraged and fiercely protective about my kid brothers. Now I realize that the responsibility of having two children to care for actually gave my mother a good reason to lead a purposeful life. She was visually challenged and was almost blind for the last 10-12 years of her life. She had stopped reading and writing long back. But her mental sharpness was immense. She’d remember details about when the interest from fixed deposits were due, what her bank balance should be at any given time, the amount that she last withdrew and god knows what else. She lived to see all of us settled and spent her final years surrounded by doting grandchildren and dutiful sons and daughters in law.
Why should people suffer at all, I wonder. There are explanations of the sins of past births and the balancing of karma. They say that the sins of our ancestors have to be accounted for and just as the son is expected to pay off the father’s debt we suffer due to the misdeeds of our forefathers. All this is fine and help one to find reason to fight back. As long as one is not directly accused and the blame lies on an unknown ancestor one seems motivated to get on with life. I have a different explanation to offer. I do not know of past or future births or the good/bad deeds of my ancestors. But I do know that just as spring cannot be appreciated unless winter precedes it, the good things we are bestowed with cannot be appreciated unless the possibility/ probability of bad times was either experienced or foreseen. I wonder if there is any other explanation.