your life can change any moment, appreciate what you have now

A couple of months ago, one of my friends’ cousins was diagnosed with skin cancer. Though it is in the second stage now and doctors believe it can be cured it has changed his life.

I prayed for him to get better as I prayed to God to never let anything like that happen to me or people I care for. I wasn’t being selfish. I started pushing people to doctors for routine checks and urged them to take better care of themselves. Including my parents.

But fortitude never defied death. If anything it delayed it.

A couple of days ago one of his relatives passed away. A mother of a five year old. The child now runs around the house. Calling his mother.

Yesterday, when I was thinking about it. I felt thankful for the life I have. There is so much suffering in the world. Compared, my life then is great. Not perfect. But beautiful. What matters is whether I’m doing anything to make people’s lives better.

It brought back memories from my previous PG in South Delhi. The pgwalla family owned two 5-floor buildings in East of Kailash. The owner family lived in the basement and the entire building was rented out to students and professionals. We really hated these guys. These guys made a lot of money, but were pure misers. Shrewd and brash. Typical landlords.

So all of us unanimously hated all of them. Or all but one of them. The owner’s wife was really pretty and the owner was a real jerk so we kind of felt sorry for her. So we hated the owner, the owner’s parents and his kids but not the wife. The kids, although younger than 10, were the spitting image of their father. And we hated them. And they knew it and returned the favors.

One winter night, a fierce scream literally knocked me out of my sleep. A woman’s wail joined by a man’s. Followed by shouting and chaotic crying of the children. All of us rushed to the basement. The door was locked from inside. We had to wait before the door creaked open. And this once fierce-looking-brash-miser-family was on the floor sobbing helplessly. Most certainly, something terrible had happened.

Being the perfect gentlemen we waited until they felt like talking. Which turned out to be more than we had expected. About 1 hour. Pretty wife of his looked so innocent with her face flushed and tears rolling. Between her sobs, she informed, that their relatives had met with an accident.

Perhaps a car-crash? Unconscious. In the hospital. Death? We could not stop guessing.The owner was sobbing too. No reason why he should not. But somehow we never thought he was capable of something as utterly humble as crying. Of course, things were different now.

The longer I waited the more sorry I felt for them. We had been living under the same roof for a year and they were like a part of an extended family. Okay, a family you do not talk to and are not in good terms with. But a family nonetheless.

In bits and pieces from the gloomy conversations over phone, we started making sense of what might have happened. And it was very sad. Yes Shimla. No. Just one. Yes.. Yes.. Coma. Twenty… the whole bus.

The next morning, over breakfast, we heard the whole story: the owner’s paternal relatives. That is, his father’s siblings. All of them and their families went for a vacation to Shimla. Together in a bus. On their return journey their bus fell down the valley. Everyone died. Except one. A family of twenty. Completely wiped out.

It completely changed their lives. It changed them. It changed a lot of things between us too. The bitterness was gone, never to return. Everyone was mellow. Months after, their smiles returned. But deep inside everyone’s heart was an inexplicable lingering sadness but a deep seated appreciation for whatever was left. The little family grew inseparable.

That is how life changes us. Someone said, life is what happens to you when you are busy planning something else. These storms come and turn our lives upside-down. They destroy us completely for once and it is not possible to remain unaffected no matter how strong you are.

But remember the human spirit is very resilient. And once the storm has passed you have to pick up the straws and bits and pieces, the little of whatever is left and start building a life again. But that is for later. And it is unpredictable and unknown.

What you have. What I have. Whatever all of us have is here and now. And I cannot be more thankful for it. For there’s something I know for sure: nothing lasts forever. Nothing.