“Zindagi ke Safar me Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam , Phir Kabhi Nahi Aate, Phir Kabhi Nahi Aate !”
Thus go the words of the famous song sung by Kishore Kumar for the Rajesh Khanna starred film ‘Aap Ki Kasam’ (1977), which are relevant to everyone of us in respect of the persons who come into our lives and go like co-passengers in a train or bus, but not without leaving their sweet and lasting memories. (Not in airplanes though, where people are more interested in reaching their destinations at the earliest than in ‘reaching out ‘ to fellow travellers for making acquaintances and friends)!
Many people come into our lives by chance, leaving sweet (or sometimes bitter) memories. Years ago, a friend of mine married a slightly elderly widower whom she loved. Unfortunately, the man expired soon after their first marriage anniversary, leaving her heartbroken. At that time, when I had gone to offer her my condolences, I asked her whether she felt that it would have been better if she had not got married to him, as it made her a widow after hardly a year of marriage. She said, ” No. You feel as if I made a mistake in wedding him because you think that I forfeited my unentangled, carefree maiden’s life for just a year of married happiness; that is, I made a bad bargain. However, if you see that in this one year, I got all the love and bliss that my wonderful husband could give me, which I could never have got if I had refrained from the marriage, looking at his age, you would not feel so sorry for me.
After all, there is a risk in every marriage or relationship. Does it mean one should steer away from marriage or close relationships because of the fear of pain of losing the person/s? Are the lasting, gratifying memories the person/s leave behind not worth anything?
A lady known to me lost her only grown up 38 years old son of sudden and unexpected cardiac attack . She had already lost her husband some years ago, and her son was her immediate pillar of strength thereafter. So someone made a remark that rather than having and raising a child with much love and care, and losing it in one ‘s old age that is heartbreaking, one feels that perhaps it would have been better not to have had a child at all. To that, the bereaved Mother gave the same reply as the Widowed woman had said in respect of the loss of her husband, -“Why, was the delight and pleasure of bringing up my son from a baby to the smart and accomplished young man that he had become, not of any value? He has left so many sweet memories of the affection and support that he gave me through the difficult years after his father’s demise, that are enough to provide me with sentimental satisfaction for my lifetime.And after all, he too has left me with a wonderful memory of his, My Grandson, just as his father had left him behind, for me to cope with the sorrow of his loss.”
I too still remember with fondness all the fulfilling moments spent with the people who have come into my life from time to time, from my grandparents who lived in Bombay (as it was called then), my parents, my two younger sisters (who also graduated in Medicine, of whom the elder one retired as Prof and Head of Dept. of Medicine from Nair Hospital in Mumbai, and the other, worked as Pediatric Physician in a US Hospital), my cousins, our jolly and helpful neighbors at 21 Pratap Ganj, Baroda(who gave us company and support through thick and thin e.g.Climatic excesses like floods, death etc.), my school/ college mates and friends in my early life, down to my colleagues at the working place, and my present family. Unfortunately, my husband and some close relatives too have left this world one by one, of whom one was very special. So the actually living, closely related persons left in my life at present, have been reduced to a very small group including a niece, which my youngest sister is most grieved about.
“Our family has become empty, almost empty”, she always laments. I too miss all the foregone persons and our life with them. However, Death is an inevitable part of life, and there is no alternative but to accept the departure of the dear ones from our lives, and move ahead with composure, which I try to make her understand and take life as it is in her stride, as I myself learned to do with great difficulty.
” Yes dear, it is a sad truth that our parents, spouses, as also many of our family members and close friends have LEFT this World, some at a premature age”, I tell her, “But every Cloud has a Silver Lining. Look at the persons who have been BORN and COME amidst us to fill up the Void, for example, my grandson, who is your grand-nephew.”
Several decades back, when I was10, a paternal cousin and a favourite and lovely childhood friend of mine, with whom I remember having played pranks like throwing pillows at her and her younger sister in bed as nursery school kids, and accompanied them for sight- seeing rides later, died tragically at a very young age in her twelfth year of Rheumatic Heart Disease. As she was a very pretty and intelligent girl and their eldest child, her parents were crestfallen at the loss. But, instead of spending their life moaning over her loss, they planned and had another child, a son, the next year, and reconciled themselves to their daughter’s demise. They had two more daughters who have also accomplished themselves very well, the elder lotus-eyed one who graduated in Fine Arts, viz.Painting from the Maharajah Sayajirao University of Baroda, and the younger one in Pediatric Medicine from KEM Hospital, Mumbai. The Son too bas no mean achieve- ments to bis credit. Years later, in our adulthood, the Artist sister too passed away. Another loss for our family. However, I take solace in seeing how well her sons and grandchildren are doing.
For Life is always Rising at the horizon to make up for the Sunset at the other end. Hence We should take comfort from that, and also learn to get gratification by ruminating over and emotionally reliving the pleasant times we spent with the ones we miss now, who had added unforgettable happiness to our life in their lifetime during the past years. Most special among our parents’ generation whom I miss the most, was a maternal aunt who used to take us for strolls along the Marine Drive in Mumbai, to films, for swimming and was very enjoyable company. I love to think of her and go down the memory lane through the times I spent with her with relish.
I also remember the days in 1945 during the World War II, when there used to be total blackouts at night and one had to manage with candles and lanterns to do anything. I still recall hearing in the pindrop silence of those nights the menacing siren sounds of Fighter planes going overhead the roofs of the houses opposite Girgaum Chowpati in Bombay, where I used to stay with my grandparents during my school vacations. At that time, I was only 4&1/2 years and did not understand the dangers of War, so I used to feel thrilled at that unusual experience of living in candlelight with our entire family together, as my parents had also come to Bombay along with my younger second sister who was a baby of 1 year, to stay with their parents, that is, my grandparents. My youngest sister had not arrived then.
Our extended family, including the grandparents of both sides, had moved to Belgaum to our ancestral house for some days for safety sake. What a Journey it was, with our whole family going by train to Belgaum in a single compartment booked specially for our family. It was like going for a Picnic with the whole family, taking home cooked food as there was no pantry service on trains in those days.
Besides cherishing memories, I often dream of going for walks with my parents and for shopping with my mother, so that when I wake up, I feel as fresh as if I had just met them in real life.
There are some people who believe in Occult Sciences who try to call back the departed near and dear ones to communicate with them by the use of Occult Media and gadgets like Planchette, through which they claim that they can request or summon any soul whom they wish to talk with. However, my parents and husband all disapproved of such practices, as they felt that the exercise is painful to the soul of the demised one who is already struggling to break free of his or her earthly attachment to close relatives, dependents and worldly possessions. So they used to tell me that one should accept the fatality of anyone’s death, and never try to call the person back through Occult Experiments or even by wailing hard, but leave the Soul of the Dead person free to move on unhindered to the Life After Death.
It is upto us whether we see a half-filled glass as half- full or half empty! Therefore, I would like to modify the words of the foregoing song as follows –
“Zindagi ke Safar me Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam, Phir Kabhi Nahi Aate, Par Mahek Chhod Jaate!”
(“In The Journey of Life, The Stations That Pass By, Never Come Back, But Leave Their Fragrance Behind!”)