Live to Learn – The Hindu
Life can be unfair, short and cheap, but it can also be hopeful, kind and beautiful.
She was the same age as me, maybe a little older. His shack behind the bike rack had an asbestos roof and a stone stove lit with sticks. She was cooking at an age where I was not even allowed to come near the kitchen to feed herself and her little brother while their mother cleaned our toilets and swept our classrooms. I remember my needless pride and superiority when my friends and I burst into her house laden with old clothes and toys. However, our visions of philanthropy were quickly shattered when we saw the meager furniture visible only by light entering through the cut door. But brighter than any lamp was the smile she gave us, genuinely happy if a little embarrassed to welcome us into her home.
It was the first time I thought, “Life isn’t fair.
It was the beginning of the Christmas holidays. We were driving across the state to spend the season with the family, our stomachs full from a late breakfast and our throats sore from singing along to an old CD we never got tired of. Exhaustion and excitement quickly gripped me, barely a nine-year-old, and I fell into a deep sleep in the front seat of our car. Luckily it turned out that shortly after I had dozed off, our car slid down the empty highway from a burst tire, spun in the air and crashed, barely more just a crumpled piece of metal. When I was finally dragged out of the vehicle, confused and disoriented, the first thing I saw was my mother, blood streaming down her face. If not for the grace of God and the kindness of nearby villagers, she might not have survived that day.
That’s when it hit me: “Life is short.
The Mumbai terrorist attacks on the Taj Hotel shook the country and the world. At the time, I was 600 miles away, safe at home in another state. I remember watching the horrific events unfold on television, my heart pounding as I listened to the news anchor’s commentary on the gunfire that killed over 150 people. They didn’t even have a chance to defend themselves. It was the first time that the word terrorism meant anything to me. It meant fear. I could barely understand it. How could people die and families broken up just because someone with a gun decided to do it? Who gave people the right to take another’s life just because of baseless hatred?
That’s when I realized, “Life is cheap.”
But while each of these revelations rings true, they don’t quite convey what I now believe to be the true meaning of life. With the global pandemic wreaking havoc on our world, it may seem ironic to find such meaning among so many deaths. But it was during this time, when praise fills our ears more than the sound of laughter, that I realized what life really means.
There is one point of consistency between all funerals: the praises people sing of those who cannot hear them. I’ve often found it odd and slightly hypocritical that people want to talk about the dead but hesitate to talk to the living. Kissing a corpse does not bother us but hesitates to offer a hug to a friend.
If there’s one good thing that has come out of this widespread calamity, it’s the change in people’s attitude towards their relationships. People started realizing the importance of their family and friends. Isolation has helped us cherish our bonds and mend broken ones.
Time and experience have taught me that we are only worth the number of lives we impact, and that it is never too late to love, especially when the call of death is as unpredictable as it is. is in these times. Therefore, I wish never to lose an opportunity to touch lives, as much as I can, during my remaining time in this world. Because life can be unfair, short and cheap, but it can also be hopeful, kind and beautiful.
If only we try.