THE UNPREDICTABLE VAGARIES OF LIFE

It has been over four weeks since I wrote my last blog… somehow with the pressures of juggling between professional commitments and a minor attack of the writer’s block, my writing became irregular, and my blog became the casualty. My professional obligations kept me so busy that I even had to skip my weekly music class – something that is akin to blasphemy for me. Anyway, it has been an eventful four weeks, which took me through the gamut of emotions ranging between being ecstatic to being pulled down into the dumps.

I took a week-long vacation with the family to visit the lovely city of lakes – Udaipur. Our accommodation in one of India’s leading 5-star hotels, was on the banks of the Lake Pichola, with a lovely view to greet us every time we walked out into the balcony. But the real charm and attraction of the city lies in its enchanting forts and palaces (now mostly converted into hotels or museums), the serene boat rides on the lake and above all the unpretentious attitude of its inhabitants. Being used to years of servitude towards the local royalty, hospitality comes naturally to the denizens of this city – folded hands and ever-smiling faces greet you everywhere you go. The places of interest are well-maintained (by Indian standards) and the guides appointed by the government are affable and tourist-friendly. Surprisingly, the rates of these guides are fixed, and they do not ask you for a “tip” at the end of the tour – something that I am used to seeing in most tourist destinations in India. The highlight of this holiday for me personally, other than the exquisite hospitality provided by The Leela Palace, was the visit to the vintage car museum – if you are a car aficionado (vintage or otherwise), this is a must-see place. It is just a large compound with multiple garages housing classic cars belonging to the erstwhile royalty – and the beauties on display are mesmerizing. It was one of my most memorable holidays ever!

A couple of days after we returned from this blissful sojourn, we were struck by the tragic news of the unfortunate and untimely demise of my one-and-half year-old niece. It came like a bolt of deadly lightning from the blue, as the tiny tot had been in good health. The previous day she had a series of sudden seizures and had to be rushed to the family doctor. The doctor after examining the child asked my cousin to immediately shift her to Pune’s leading pediatric hospitals (my cousin and her husband are based in Pune). Once there, the specialists tried their best to revive little Ishna but to no avail – within three excruciatingly torturous hours, my niece passed away. I cannot even imagine the mental pain that my cousin and her husband would have underdone while bringing the lifeless body of their daughter from Pune to Mumbai! I am not someone given to express my emotions in public, but seeing my cousin and her husband was a traumatic experience – I just broke down and could not stop the flow of tears. My uncle and aunt, who had just lost their youngest granddaughter, had reached a mental level where even their tears had dried up. My uncle, who is generally a jovial and happy-go-lucky person, was a distraught and distant shadow of his usual self. It is said that the sharing of grief reduces pain but that day proved it is not always true – how do you share the grief of someone who has lost their daughter of less than two years? Sorrow, anguish and misery hung like a heavy shroud all around, clamping our minds and wrenching our hearts. The only refrain I could hear from distressed relatives was the questioning of God’s logic in taking away a life so young. Similar thoughts echoed in my mind too, but there were no answers forthcoming from our omnipresent Almighty. The desolate gravitas which enveloped their house on that day will remain etched in my mind forever. We consoled the parents by reiterating that an Angel came visiting, distributed bliss and happiness in their lives for a short period of time… and then went back to her maker. May her soul rest in peace.

In sharp contrast to this, a few days later I read the news of a TV actor committing suicide to terminate her young life. This, coming so close to the tragedy in our family made me deliberate over the unpredictability of life. Here was a young woman who willingly took her own life – is that all her life was worth? At the same age, my problems used to revolve around my raging hormones and mounting angst, combined with a sense of frustration against everything and everyone in the world. I had seriously contemplated running away from home and even ending it all a couple of times – but the inherent sense of survival and fighting spirit that exists in all of us, prevented me from doing so. And today, looking at where I currently find myself, I am glad that I did not take the lethal route out. I have done reasonably well for myself professionally, and on the family front I am in a good space.

I have always believed that each of us is unique with capabilities that are exclusive to each of us. So why waste or destroy this ability for a moment of temporary despondency? In the end everything will be alright… if it is not alright, then it is not the end – this adage has always helped me look at life positively. Life is meant to be lived happily… and of course, with a lot of patience!

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