Yesterday’s papers were pretty much full of just one thing…the budget. I completely fail to understand the point of this yearly tamasha. But the whole “event” does provide gainful employment to everyone from the finance minister to the financial analysts…so I guess the entertainment value is worth the effort!
Last Sunday, 4 minutes before I finished the Hiranandani half-marathon, a regular runner collapsed. I heard announcements for an ambulance but it was only the next day that I learnt from the papers and various Facebook runners groups that he couldn’t be revived. I didn’t know the individual, but my condolences to the family. You can search for Aashish Contractor’s blog, which talks about this issue in much more detail.
The fall-out of course was that on hearing about the collapse, my wife, goaded by some friends she met at a wedding reception that evening, decided to ration out the number of kilometers I can run each week and month, on the assumption that most passionate runners seem to be overdoing the whole running thing…and apparently only for the benefit of cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons.
That weekend two other colleagues suffering from chronic illnesses died. I then came to know of another colleague who had collapsed after a session at the gym in January. Another aunt died last week after having a strenuous pilgrimage.
As we grow older, we keep losing people along the way. A few have accidents, but the rest die because of acute or chronic illnesses related predominantly to the heart or cancer.
It doesn’t matter how many deaths you may have seen as part of the profession. Each time someone close to you dies, it shakes you. You would think that with each new death, it would become easier to understand and to deal with the situation. And while accepting deaths in others and being able to handle the emotional baggage may become a shade easier with time and experience, the ability to accept the inevitable truth of our own mortality does not. If that were to be true, every doctor diagnosed to have cancer, would be an island of calm and sereneness given the extent of suffering and death he would have seen in others. That never happens and sometimes the knowledge of the possible consequences triggers an opposite, oversized response.
I still find it difficult each time someone I know dies. Over the years, I have learnt to reign in the emotions involved, but for that brief moment when for the first time the news and its impact seep in and until I am able to process the information and bury the heaviness away, something inside still goes quiet.
Thanks to modern technology, this emotion has started surfacing again under different circumstances. I first experienced this a few years ago, when I was sitting at the airport, thumbing through the “contacts” list on my cellphone for duplicates. I came across a name…this senior colleague had died six months ago. I paused…not sure what I should do. He was no more and his number obviously was not in use…I finally deleted his name and entry. It felt as if I was killing him and his memory off in some weird act of final closure.
These “final deletes” are happening all too often these days and each time, I pause. Should I wait? Is it too soon? If I keep the name and number for a little while longer, will it help me remember him a little more? Am I desecrating her memory, by swiping across and deleting?
Are there ever any right answers to these questions?