My wife claims that she can identify the mood of the person by how I or our daughters press the doorbell. I’ve never really believed it but last Friday night she was right. I was in a very sombre mood and I had to share this story with her.
I had got into the car from the airport. The driver signalled to me that he is going to take me through a different route because of the road-work and ensuing traffic jam. As we crossed the toll gate I gave a call to Mr R, my colleague. It was meant to be a courtesy call. While I was preparing to see the new routes and terrain I thought I just had to tune out and tune in. It was the longest call we ever had.
I had met him a few days before, for dinner. According to him, the day after that was the toughest day in his life. His cousin had met with an accident when he was travelling in his office cab. He was a young man in his early twenties. R had been taking care of him as the cousin’s parents had passed away a few years ago. He only had a minor sister and a very old grandmother. So, R rushed to the hospital and took charge of the situation. For the doctors, relatives, cousins and colleagues he was the go to man.
Unfortunately, the next day his cousin developed multiple organ failure and passed away suddenly in front of his eyes. He had SMSed me minutes later. It was a very disturbing news for me, but I never realized the plight he was in. The only thing I could do was to inform others.
During the conversation he mentioned to me how a stranger saw his cousin at the accident spot and rushed him to hospital. The stranger then visited him the next day and cried so loudly hearing the news of his demise. It seems the stranger and his cousin had a bet that they will have a party soon after gets out of the hospital. I was so touched by that stranger’s act.
I didn’t’ know his cousin, I don’t know that stranger, I didn’t know R personally that well, but the fact is that this is how we as humans can move others. By their acts of gratitude and kindness. On the one hand it was the act of kindness and gratitude and on the other hand R had to face the reality of our narcissistic, Machiavellian world. From the hospital to the mortuary and then to the crematorium, he had a taste of our corrupt system. In fact, quoting his words, “money is required from womb to tomb.”
I am sure Mr R would have asked the right question.
R is a man full of energy, he was no less energetic on that day too. The only difference I noticed was his voice cracked. I could understand the sense of grief, sadness and despair that must have engulfed him. In the past I have heard sad news over the phone and I used to compose myself. But this conversation literally made me realise how much it is important to lend your ears as a support to a person who is in grief. In fact, R mentioned that therefore I am telling you so that it can help in writing your blog. I was touched by that and I was sure that I will share it with the rest of the world. It was the longest call we ever had, it lasted 39 minutes.
It was a new route from airport to home, but I discovered his roots.
In the words of Brendon Buchard, “I have reverence for difficulties in life. They made me better and I don’t want a friction free life” and he goes on to say that, “The journey to greatness begins the moment our deep desires of comfort and ease are overpowered by our desire to connect and contribute”.
Yes, our stranger and Mr R are already on their way to greatness. They honoured their struggle and difficulty. I would like to thank both for giving this extraordinary support.
A few days back I received this WhatsApp message from my friend Kavitha. The “meaning” of life is to give life “meaning”. In an instant I typed back “we discover the means to that every day.” At that moment I was recollecting my experience from that Thanksgiving weekend.
In India I am not sure how we look at Thanksgiving. But for me it was a weekend of Thanks and Giving.