Stupid Optimism or Inadvertent Wisdom?




Sitting in the car after a 10 hour journey negotiating deceitful hairpin bends and torrential rain when we finally saw the tree/boulders blocking our way – the first thought that popped into my head?
No. It wasn’t that we might have to turn back.
No. It wasn’t that we might be stranded in the cold nowhere for the night.
No. It certainly wasn’t that we might be victims of a landslide.
It was – How much longer will I have to hold it in before we get to a decent restroom ?  
Seriously. That is EXACTLY what I thought.
Of course after that my thoughts went to other more serious issues. 
But not once – not even once did I think that this might be my last day on earth. 
I think there are many many others like me. 
People who don’t think of death/accidents in situations like this. 
I don’t mean we don’t fear it. I do. I just mean we are so sure that it is not going to happen TODAY.
I wonder why. 
Are we that vain as to imagine that death will find us in a more glorious setting? 
That a lonely unsung unheralded death off the side of a mountain is not going to happen to us? 
I bet most of the people who died that night – falling off mountains, swept away by a raging river, flattened by boulders, killed by drivers blinded by the rain – thought the same too. 
But I prefer my foolhardy overly optimistic stupid way of thinking.  It helps me live better. 
I know – I will die. 
Just not today. 

Butterflies on the Wall


It is just a wall. 
Plain and cream.
With a tree. A river. Flowers. 
With dozens of little butterflies painted on.
Each butterfly has a name and a date under it. 
Name – of a child. 
Date – when the child died to become a butterfly. 
All had become butterflies after they died of AIDS.
All of them contracted it from their parents.
All were abandoned or are orphans because of AIDS.
I saw the wall years ago. I never can forget it. I never can get over it. 

There is a lonely wall in a far far away land
A land of promise, of incredible and unimaginable riches
Where the earth regularly belches up 
Women’s best friends from tiny unassuming niches.
The wall is part of a room in the middle of a conspicuous nowhere
Where eyes are perpetually widened spotting big game
Clueless and immune to the many miserable little ones 
being stoically enacted without the balm of fame.
The room is in an artificial village of necessity and need
Where butterflies flutter having no wild in their fate
But live as tiny splotches of color on a shared sacred wall
With a unknown name and a heartbreaking date.
This room has mothers who have borne not a single child
and yet have ten creatures they hold, all the while admitting
That they wish them a poignant goodnight and goodbye 
Every night, not knowing which is more befitting.
This village is in a country which sees millions every year
White, black, yellow, brown merge as one ignorant soul
But different from tiny faces the color of mocha 
Carrying a dark demon within them eating them whole
When the country meets the village as it must sometimes
A heart will fall for a suffering blameless face
But the morning will come again and it will look but find
Once again it is gone without a trace.
Maybe the village will hear the cries of – Where did he go? 
Maybe a search among the proxy mothers standing tall
But if that heart keeps up the futile search, it will find
Mocha face with the others -A paint blotch butterfly on the wall.

Living and Dying and Living again

Imagine watching The Sixth Sense and knowing how it is going to end. It would still be a good movie but probably half as much fun.
Do we enjoy reading books where we already know the end in which the principal character dies? 
Or movies where the climax scene in which the hero turns out to be the killer is leaked out?
Or a play where you know the protagonist is the villain? 
Most of us don’t. 
We find the whole exercise pointless. At least I do. The whole effort of watching and reading something when we know how it is going to end seems so utterly futile. 
If the above holds true for the most of us – isn’t it odd that we love living so much? 
I mean don’t we already know the collective end to ALL our stories? God leaked out that climax even in the days before spam emails and whatsapp. 
Maybe thats why some people commit suicide. They probably don’t see the point in reading a book when the end has been known for centuries. 
How is it that we find living so thoroughly fascinating? Does the end not matter to us? Or is it that somehow by some extraordinary will power we manage to temporarily wipe out that end from our minds?  Do all of us have the power to forget about death and some of us use that power and some don’t? We could spend all day talking about this. 
But this is not about gloomy stuff like dying. 
This is about living. 
I think we like living because we think of death as the interval. 
Death is NOT the climax scene. Just a really invigorating, depressing traumatic, painful, gripping scene – PRE INTERVAL. Just to create a buzz. 
You go out of the theatre for a bit during the interval. Buy caramel flavored popcorn in heaven or hell. Get a cup of coffee, chat with the folks milling around at the snack counter, comment on the movie so far, criticize the director and analyze cinematography. Come back in and look at trailers for other movies for a bit. 
Then you start with the second act.
The life we have lived so far and what we will live till we die is only – Pre-interval. We got a whole lot of movie left to experience. 
Maybe subconsciously we understand this. Maybe that is why we love living. 
In fact some of us know something even more interesting. This is not just a two act play. There are a dozen more to go. This is just Part I of the Harry Potter series perhaps.
Those who end their own lives Pre interval unfortunately just didn’t get the memo. 

Tick tock – Tick tock

The movie ‘In time’ depicts a future where time is currency and the time you have left to live is displayed on your wrist with a backward digital countdown.
I wonder if we all knew exactly how much time we had to live and we could see that time slip away minute by minute, second by second – would we live any differently? 
Would we be paralyzed by fear seeing each intangible second slip away or would it serve to shake us out of our lethargy and start to live a lot more? 
We all know we aren’t immortal. We all know that there is a a definite time we will die. But it is all so vague and hazy and indefinite that we always believe we have many good years left in us. We have our cliched supporting lines – ‘Only the good die young’. 
But what if that truck is going to hit you tomorrow in a freak accident? Or the doctor is going to diagnose you with cancer on your next routine check up? Or you just don’t get up from bed one morning? 
Most people who face death never saw it coming. 
I suppose we should use our imagination and imagine that clock on our wrists. Imagine it ticking and imagine the time slipping away. 
For some of us it may be the only way to get out of bed to see a glorious sunrise after a dank rainy night. Or to hold someone’s warm hand and watch fireflies glow in the dark. Or have a sparring contest that ends with a pillow fight. 
Believe it or not I think when we do things like that – the countdown slows. Perceptibly.