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The fragility of life


As I opened the newspaper today, the following headline grabbed my attention

Baby Falak leaves for a better world

Five surgeries and 56 days after she was admitted to hospital, two-year-old Falak suffered a third heart attack at 9.40pm on Thursday. All efforts by the doctors to revive her failed — and Falak left the brutal world she had briefly inhabited for, hopefully, a better one.

It was a tragedy that sickened and shocked a nation and had millions offering prayers. On January 18, the little girl was admitted to the AIIMS trauma centre with severe head injuries, both arms broken and human bite marks all over her body. The same day, she suffered a heart attack, followed by another on January 21. But she clung on tenaciously, to a life that had offered her nothing but pain and trauma.

Public outrage at her plight spurred investigations that uncovered a sordid tale of exploitation and callousness, and led to the arrest of 13 people accused of human trafficking. Police finally tracked down her biological mother, Munni — herself a victim of circumstances — in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Munni, who had been separated from her three children, was reunited with them, but the happiness proved short-lived.

Falak was in the news for a while when “this story broke” but just disappeared to be one of the stories that was just not ‘breaking news’ after a point. Other stories came and went and we heard of Falak again today when she was no more. Not just as a parent but as a human being it makes me wonder and a little sick at how callously we treat the value of human life here. Till the time she made news, Falak was all over the press, who would compete to provide the sordid details of her tragedy to have that bit of an edge over the reporters. When something more newsworthy came along, she was forgotten and we just went ahead with our lives—– Me included.

What does that really say about me as a human being? Am I so engrossed in my own personal life and immediate surroundings that I really don’t see anything beyond it? A child lost her life in the most heinous circumstances and I really did nothing!!!! What’s more, will I even feel this way after a few days when the initial disgust has worn away? Am I so numb to the suffering of those who do not affect me that I really don’t care? How close does it really need to be for me to really care????

But the day was just getting started. I just got back into town to hear to the passing away of a young boy (well a very nice man really) who was family and my daughter’s godfather. In his late twenties and one of the most decent people I ever met. And POOF just like that he was gone. I had not really been in contact with him for a while but it never occurred to me that I would never see him again. I could only imagine what his parents and family were going through. It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a loved one and I can only shudder how it must be to deal with the loss of a child. Someone you have seen born and grow in front of you. You nurture them, watch them blossom with the love and grow into beautiful human beings only to be lost forever – leaving you with memories and all the things you would have wanted to say and do before they went. Always putting things away to deal with later and the appropriate time…. So when is the appropriate time?

These two incidents made me think of all the people who I have lost over the years and it all came racing back……my doting grandparents, my uncles and aunts, the classmate who I competed with to be the top of the class, secretly hating her guts because I thought she was better than me yet going onto become good friends when we moved to another city to study. I remember feeling the emptiness when one day she was gone… just like that…..just 19 years old. I remember being upset, numb and yet accepting it as a part of life and, dare I say, even forgetting about it when I got caught up in my own life…..

The other buddy who I lost – in his mid-twenties, just married and starting a new life and POOF, gone again – Just like that. It came back all over again, the good times and just how we grew up together…..

I often hear that time heals everything…. well atleast most of it…..But is that really the case? Or is it just that with time we learn to put these thoughts and feelings into the deep recesses of our heart, never to access them again and it is only when we are forced, through incidents such as this, that we have to open our hearts and remember it all over again…. The fragility of life……So has time really healed anything for us or are we just better at putting it away in a part we never want to remember and hope that we will never have to.

As I look at what I am writing there is really no connect between the two losses – in one, I am saddened at my own insensitivity to the loss of a child’s life. Could I have done anything to help that baby? Maybe not, but the more important question, really is that whether I even consider it? It did not directly affect me so why would I? Is this what I am becoming? Are there more such people like me and is this how we are as a society?????

The second loss is closer to home and has just opened pandora’s box of all the feelings that I have bottled away for so many years. It has also made me accept that I will not have all the people that I love, in my life forever. I have to accept that sometime I will be alone or will lose the ones closest to me. But can I not push that into the deep recess till I actually have to face that in person.

I read somewhere recently that “Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning. But still we set the alarm to wake up. that’s called HOPE”.

Is it really hope or am I just caught up in the routine of life that it never occurs to me what a gift it is to be alive and have all the love surround me….

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive. To breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

~Marcus Aurelius

But can I really do it? Or will it also just pass and get lost in the routine of life only to be jolted back with another loss I want to avoid…….