What have you earned, in life?


If someone were to ask me this Q before 22nd August, I would have probably measured my answer in terms of my achievements that have fetched me fame or money. Isn’t that the most plausible answer for many? I thought so. After all, we are so concerned about what we own. We indulge in countless purchases to ensure that we live a life, king size. In an era of a rat race, as soon as a child is born, its success in life is written in terms of its academic performance, career achievements and, extent of riches he or she shall own in future. There is an unrest in the competition even when one in the family thinks differently. Ambition is the key to success, is what children are taught since the time they learn to perceive the world on their own. However, off late I am beginning to wonder– What if, we were taught wrong from the very beginning?

Something unexplained and faceless triggered my center after I lost my beloved mama a few days back. His demise has suddenly made me see things in a different way. Perhaps, I am more in sync with the thoughts of my parents now. More than ever. Even as I am struggling to dodge the dense cloak of void caused by his untimely good bye, I am also feeling a bit more matured than yester years. It is as if, God willed the meeting of family this year and, I could peek into the noble man’s wisdom and, revel in it. Sometimes, God makes us sad by creating an empty space. But at the same, the empty space also reminds us how precious human bonds are.

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Looking back, I remember my mama as an extremely simple man who lived a very very simple life. No great ambitions whatsoever. He took an early VRS and, dabbled in various hobbies. From the way I know him, he did not even own too many clothes. He wore veshtis and simple checked shirts in shades of white. Sometimes, he wore T shirts too. He had a simple pair of footwear. He owned an old model of mobile phones (I think it was Nokia or Samsung, cannot remember precisely) and, used it rarely. In a world that is enslaved by technology and gadgets, here was a man who was least bothered by its existence. So, if you took a glance at him, you may not think about a second glance as he would blend in the crowd inconspicuously as some ordinary man with some ordinary life.

  • But then, lucky are the ones who knew him. The man was a genius as I have mentioned in the previous post! The intelligence and wisdom mama carried could not be matched. Besides supporting the family and taking free Math tuitions for weak students in the neighborhood, he was learning about Vedas and a lot more about how they were chanted. Mum remembers him as a the dignified, matured, quick witted and an intelligent elder brother who never ever shared his sorrow with anyone. Like many in the family felt, if he had some ambition, he would have probably scaled greater heights than anyone we know. But mama had no such interest in money or fame. However, money is a sensitive note. It gets offended when, not prioritized. And, the past two years were tough on him. When I last met him in May this year, none could not have imagined the amount of worries that may have plagued him. To me, he seemed the happiest man on earth. And, the amount of knowledge he had to share, was not only priceless but seamless too.  His simple motto in life was to help others even when he was not in a position to help. And I wonder, how?

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How can someone have that big a heart with zero expectations? For the past one year, he worked as an accountant in a small hotel. So, if anyone asked while he lived– “What has he achieved in life?”, the answers would have varied. But 23rd August changed my perception of the question.

“About 150-200 people had gathered at Lakshmanan’s home. His students from every nook and corner of the small town had gathered to pay respects. And, the tears won’t stop ! There was not one face that had not cried. Every soul that had come, felt a shock and a void that only time can heal. It was as if a small town was reeling from a shock wave.”, recounts my chittappa and chitti who had reached that day.

So, “What has he achieved in life?” Mama has perhaps achieved what none could achieve in a lifetime – blessings and love of countless people whose lives he has touched and brightened. From what I hear, he was a calming influence for people in distress. While he was alive, he was the link between the extended families. But, he always preferred to stay in the background. He did not relate with anything that was extravagant but, never complained about it either. I always wondered at his absolute acceptance of people around him, notwithstanding how he was treated. When I asked him this time, how did he do it, he said very casually – “Narayani! It is fine at times if we expect from people and they don’t fill our expectations. Just do your bit. If the expectation is not met from the other end, it does not mean that you must dislike them. Just don’t expect. And then, count the ones whose company you enjoy.” It was nothing new as an advice to me as hubby, mum, dad – all of them have said this to me at some time or the other. But perhaps, the way mama said it this time calmed me down. I, for one believe that he had some divine aura that only a few people are born with.

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Today, as I write this post – I ponder deeply over the very purpose of life. When my mama passed away, a whole town came together to pay homage. It reflects on how spiritually rich my mama is. He may not have had a sprawling mansion or, a car. He may not have had a high flying career or the perks of travelling to exotic places across the world. He may not have had the luxuries of life that many of us take seriously. And yet, his demise invoked an unfathomable grief in countless hearts. He was probably richer than the rich, when it came to blessings that came from his good karma.

After all, he is a testimony to the adage – It does matter how far you have come in life. But, what matters more is how you have made people feel about themselves along the way.

Although it is still difficult to imagine this world without him, I am also gradually accepting the fact that he has left for a better place. This grief has mellowed me down in ways I cannot possibly fathom. It has made me understand that I need to take life as it comes. I have to let go of my inhibitions and, just be myself just like mama was! In a world where one is so sensitive to being judged for anything and everything, to be oneself is by far the toughest job.

His life taught me five things that I felt like sharing on my blog. This is someway of remembering him each time I feel low.

  1. Life is unpredictable. Be nice and kind to people around.
  2. Life is unpredictable. Be humble no matter how rich you are.
  3. Life is unpredictable. Don’t be a fair weather friend or a relative who only peeks in, during good times.
  4. Life is unpredictable. Give respect to everyone even if the respect is not reciprocated.
  5. Life is unpredictable. Make people feel warm and happy in your presence.

These were the lines he lived by. And, the proof of the good karma lies in the love of million hearts that cried on the day he passed on peacefully from the world of mortals.

When you pass on, leave something inspiring for people to hang on with hope and faith. Amen.”

angel looks

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