Mrigank Warrier is a 22-years old medical student who blogs to “let go”. His last piece, written after a few of his friends went abroad for further studies, is “…a vent to my apprehensions of the years to come”.
Mrigank, here is what happens!
All of you do well, some exceptionally so. Those who go abroad don’t come back. Most marry. Have kids. Work long hours through your 30s. Some of the wives get along, some not. When you touch 40, you ache to have a reunion. Not all of you make it. You relive some memories. Make new ones. When you touch 50, you try and meet a little more often.
And then one day, in the middle of a lazy Sunday afternoon, you get a call. One of your medical college friends, while giving a lecture to some GPs in a suburban hall, has just dropped dead.
A sledgehammer starts pounding in your head, incessantly asking for answers and reminding you of the lack of control you have over your own destiny.
He may be one of your eight close friends, or one of those 30 that forms the larger fuzzier group you are still in touch with, or one of those 80 you still remember but are not in constant touch with or one of those 300 from the batches above or below. It hits you, irrespective!
You spoke to him just three days back and discussed a patient. He had no vices, no risk factors. He was here and then just like that, not!
When that bloody soft plaque ruptures and occludes the left main or the LAD and the heart stops, there is nothing anyone can do. Could he have foreseen this? Prevented it? Can any of us do anything in our lives that could make something like this not happen? Sudden deaths are sudden and raise a host of questions…but they are almost always unpreventable and unpredictable.
When someone dies suddenly in a car accident, you at least have an explanation and can blame the vehicle or the other person involved. If there is a natural calamity or disaster, it doesn’t make it any easier, but at least you know it is unlikely to hit you. When death is gradual with chronic disease or cancer, there is time to attain some degree of acceptance and while you lament losses at such young ages, you take comfort in the knowledge that these are outliers, unlucky to have been hit this early.
But when someone who has so much more to offer this world, who is at the top of his game, making a difference to the lives of his patients, disappears…poof…just like that, it takes a long time to come to terms. It’s not fair and it’s not right.
I have been trying to make sense of this by talking to friends from my ’82 batch. Obviously, there are no answers. This is no longer an incident about a patient or a friend of a friend or a CEO dropping dead that you can file away unaffected…this is someone you have known and met, on and off, for the last 31 years…and it all finally hits home and burns through all those layers of detachment we have so assiduously cultivated as doctors.
And somewhere deep down where the words refuse to reach, this serves as a constant reminder of the frailty of our lives! And tells us that we should make the most of the years we have left. And make a will. And smoke some weed. And travel. And write. And spend more time with family and friends.
Samir Desai! May your soul rest in peace!