To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Monday, June 03, 2002
A year ago when I was full of my own woes (as most people at most times generally are), something happened to temporarily jolt me out of this state. I realized that I could consider myself very fortunate indeed and I had much to be thankful for. Following account written at the time captures something of my feelings.

It's not about change.........

Everything changes with time. Circumstances, people, habits, tastes, everything. Today you see something and tomorrow its gone. Today you would remark on the pranks of a child and before you know it, the child's a man. Today you see a happy and smiling face, radiating energy and life, and tomorrow, it is sad and worn, unable to hide the effects of trauma and tragedies. But one is never prepared for change.

I don't know how we got to know each other. For as long as I can remember, she was there. We attended the same school and lived in the same neighbourhood, but we never grew close as friends. I liked her, though there was always a basic difference in our personalities. I lived on an intellectual and emotional level. She found pleasure out of the material aspects of life. I always had an excuse to be sad and she didn't need an excuse to be happy.

It was the last day of my 10th standard board exams, when she told me that her family would be moving out soon, to some place not far from her present home. I took it quite calmly. It was as if an old piece of furniture, to which I had grown used to, would be taken away from the house. I would miss its presence, but not the thing itself and perhaps, after some time, I would even forget it. The family moved out soon after that.

Things moved on. College and then it was career. We communicated very rarely, just once or twice a year. She seemed to be just as happy and in love with life. That was some months back. But now, everything has changed.

A few days back, I was rifling through my diary, when I came across her number. I had this sudden urge to speak to her. I called her up. I asked for my friend and an unnatural voice replied that it was her. I knew her voice and I knew it couldn't be her. There had to be some mistake. I asked for her again, and again, the voice said that it was her. The voice also blabbered some other words, which were totally incoherent and irrelevant. I slammed down the phone in my fright and resolved to get to the bottom of this. The next day, I called up again and the same thing happened. I was totally confused. I then made up my mind to call her at a different time and the next day, when I called her, I was relieved to hear her voice.

I was curious about the strange incident and would have asked her, but contained myself out of courtesy. Instead, I asked her about her life and work. She told me that she had left her job and was now at home. Her father had suffered a kidney failure and was required to be taken to the hospital for dialysis, twice a week and this treatment had to be continued for his entire lifetime. Then I asked her about her mother, though I knew. Her voice seemed to fail her. Her mother had lost her mental balance. My friend tried to tell me that it was only a temporary thing induced by shock, but her voice betrayed her emotions. She seemed to be struggling for control.

I wanted to comfort her but couldn't find the words. Her father's condition would have come as a shock to her and just when she needed the emotional support of her mother, she lost it too. But she had no time for self-pity. They both needed her and though I would never have thought her capable of grappling with such twin tragedies, she was very much up to the task. Emotional support she could do without, but financial assistance was necessary. She had approached some trusts and was hopeful about the results.

Her words kept seeping into my brain and I remembered the girl of many years ago. How carefree she had been! and now, when she had suddenly been brought into grips with the harsh realities of life, she hadn't lost her hold.

I couldn't help marvelling at her courage in the face of the magnitude of change in her life. I realised that life is not all about change but how you react to those changes. Whether you curse your fate and fall under its blows or whether you accept it calmly and fight your way towards a better life, its your choice and if you are not afraid to make the right choice, you need never be afraid of change............................

(Her Father passed away soon after that.)