Saturday, June 21, 2008

Death, how you doin'?

Construction work on for the Mumbai Metro project. Bid won by Reliance Infrastructure; contractor begins work in the middle of the road outside Bhavan's campus, Andheri. A sixty tonne rig is brought in for some work. Driver takes the rig over soft soil (maybe no support under the asphalt surface). Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. It's worth mentioning Mr.Humpty is thirty five feet in height. He comes crashing down on one side of the road. One lamp-post flattened, a section of the campus wall broken, a tree split in half. Similar fate of a highly unfortunate rickshaw going that route. Driver in serious condition but passenger doesn't make it. He happens to be from the neighbouring lane.

Reeves. Popularly known as DJ Reeva. More popularly remembered as Supandi for obvious reasons. Stays in a cottage three buildings away. Came second in the War of the DJs in Dubai about five years ago. At the age of twenty one. Had gone to Gorai beach with some friends. Tiff with girlfriend's father, bit of partying and a dip in the sea. Last dip in the sea.

A trip to Goa with a couple of friends. Coming back by the highway. Quick tea stop in the morning. Seven or eight of them youngsters, excluding driver. One of them is a bubbly, enthusiastic girl named Vilma. Teaches children in the parish Sunday School. On continuing after tea, she feels the driver is going a bit heavy on the accelerator. After all, home is just two hours away. She's not wrong. But she's engaged; her fiance's in the group too. The SUV plows into a tree. All except one escape alive. Vilma.

In coma for four months. Results from a stroke which in turn, results from high emotional stress. Has a daughter named Wimla who is my godmother. Real godmother. The mother passes away unable to hold on to life.

IIM Ahmedabad graduate. Just back from a visit to Vietnam - vacation after completing the course. My brother's good friend's close friend. Returned to India and was on his way to somewhere in Gurgaon. Driving a car. One tyre bursts and Vivek loses control. And then his life. The pole he rams into comes crashing down on him.

A close friend's family acquaintance. In the US. Pretty young chap; about twenty five years of age. Meets with an accident. Or actually, the accident meets with him. Falls off the motorcycle. Doesn't make it.

On his annual vacation in Mangalore with wife and daughter. Paul's wife - my paternal cousin. Has a liking for the strong stuff. People worried about his liver. Dies prematurely at about forty five. Of a massive heart attack.

Grand. That was his style. More importantly, short for 'Grandpa'. Everybody's grandpa though he has only two grandchildren. Staying in the flat above mine. One fine day, doesn't open his eyes. Family panics and admits him to a hospital. Revives and later jokes with people. But the gleam in his eye is gone. Passes away peacefully in his sleep.

My sister's friend's mother. Working at her office. Suddenly suffers a stroke and slumps. Goes into a coma. Doesn't survive even a day. Result of a split nerve. Cause of broken hearts.

Nine year old girl. One of my mom's old acquaintances, her grandparents. Have been to her parents' marriage. Long battle with cancer, pain. Even longer battle with her beliefs. Wonders why God doesn't take her away or her pain. Bleeds from the mouth and nose for two days. Bleeding stops yesterday. Breathing stops today.

Twenty five days and ten deaths; five of them youngsters. And blunt or insensitive as it may sound, I won't be surprised if the number of deaths goes higher. All of a sudden, it seems like I directly or indirectly know a lot of people who passed away. It makes me stop and wonder: what exactly am I here for? What if I get added to the list the very next moment; have I played my part of the play called life and have I played it well? No, reply. And I have this unsettling feeling that I'm not ready to go as yet.

What exactly do we strive for? Maybe to be remembered by family and friends as a good person; or for something extraordinary we did in a moment of brilliance - and then live off that till the memory fades away. Or, if we really lack or have lost motivation and ambition, to keep doing what we are doing till the heart can no longer stand the monotonous job of pumping blood through our veins.

And then, looking back, do the things we do and the plans we make agree with the big picture? One moment you're here, the next moment you're gone. Nobody, not even you yourself can do anything about it. At the most, it can be delayed but not forever. It's a good thing we don't know when death will come or what comes after it - or everything we do and everyone we know would be highly disappointing and unsatisfactory.

Most things lose their hype and importance the minute they are contrasted against such a scenario. And many more issues that we ignore or take for granted suddenly become . For example, health; or loved ones and friends. It's true, life is short. Just like the four letters that form it.