The Final Deletes

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?

16 Comments

  • Sohini Bagchi wrote:

    We all will die someday leaving our imprints in the digital world.. There r so many such profiles on fb..the person is no more but the profile stays on..

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    That is an interesting thought. If the profile is not deleted it stays on. Who deletes? What if the spouse does not know the password?

  • Pushpendra Shah wrote:

    No, Bhavin,there are no “right” answers . . . Life goes on . . .

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    One never “gets over” the loss of someone very close But one gets to learn to go on with life. One has no choices

  • Vasumathi Sriganesh wrote:

    The only way I learned to handle deaths of closest people was by some spiritual training (NOT religious). I learned that our ability to go on with life and our natural reactions & feelings of deep grief – both are part of us. Both surface at different times. If we learn that, then we know that neither lasts too long. And as Mrs. Varadachary says – we learn to get on with life.

  • M R Sundaram wrote:

    You gave words to what I exactly felt, while deleting a number of a deceased friend. You feel guilty that the memory is deleted for ever!.But then I realised that an electronic gadget can never successfully delete a contact of lifetime!

    Beautiful expression it was, so vivid and ‘connecting’. Keep it up Bhavin

  • SWATI SHAH wrote:

    What you have written so truely expresses the feelings of most of us while deleting numbers from our respective cell phones, but sometimes life is just not prepared to this untimely death and deletions. Life today is so very unpredictable, its good memories aren’t. Sometimes we just leave the name and number intact that maybe while browsing through the cell that number will reflect and burst the memory dam. excellent article

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Yes, “Parting is such sweet sorrow” this was meant for the parting of the lovers. And when dear ones depart forever the sorrow turns bitter! We should be prepared both ways, in our dear ones departure and one day in our own exit.

  • Jayesh desai wrote:

    one can never delete memory from one’s brain of someone whom you have loved, with whom you had close relationship. That is the difference between artificial brains and human. I lost friend on 12 March 1979 to Ca-testes, but even now some of the memories are fresh as if it had happened yesterday. the days spent in canteen, on playgrounds in class rooms, in cinema hall. You may delete from gadgets but it never happens in your brain. you may not remember phone number or address but the person will always exist in side your brain as a memory.
    In this vast unfathomable universe with its unending past and future we are too small and insignificant. it is the memory which leaves footprint, accept it and carry on. This is how I have come to terms with the questions raised by you.

  • Deleting the mobile number of a friend is as painful as disposing off the personal belongings of a close relative who is no more. I have experienced this when I lost my mother and then my father. But their memories are mine forever.

  • It is not easy to describe the pain and suffering at the loss of a near and dear one, especially Parents, siblings and a good friend.
    Best is to keep all memories of the good and some not so good times spent together.

  • Mrs. Mehroo S. Kharegat wrote:

    Who better than people of my age to say how true your sentments are! When we are young they are our parents acquaintances who pass away. Before you know it , they are your own loved ones who are no more. Later comes the pain of scratching out names from the list of invitees to your Children’s Wedding to your own Silver Wedding, to Ruby Wedding and then your Golden Wedding.
    That is life!

  • Surendra Shah wrote:

    Death surrounds us and is a reminder of our final destination.

    But live each day to its fullest because that is what is given to us! Tomorrow is yet to come.

  • You are strongly recommended by a fried of mine, prakash nanavati of bombay. I am not too impressed by this, sorry, but did like few earlier works. am subscribing today to see what all you come up with.

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    Have myself been subjected to three bereavements in the last few days…in fact only this morning have I attended the funeral of a building resident-an erstwhile colleague on the Society’s managing committee and then made it to the office. This leaves one wondering… who’s next? for death is inevitable and is the final truth. If you lose someone on the wrong side of sixty as most colleagues would be…you take it in your stride, but when death cheats you of a young life then you question the futility of it all. Anyway time is a great healer and we all come to terms with our loss-however great. As far as deleting contact information is concerned I think one must wait for a respectable amount of time – say a month or two (as a mark of respect-so to say)and then do the needful!

  • Ganesh Parameswaran wrote:

    Dear Sir, Do not delete. Keep it if you had valued it at anytime.

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