Life and Meaning

Created Date : 05 May 2014

How can one go away just like that? Disappear suddenly with no notice and no further possibility of talking or meeting again. My LIC agent was visiting his ailing father in his native Kerala town. The evening he reached he had a sudden pain in the chest. While they were taking him to a hospital he suddenly collapsed and died on the spot. The whole event, his daughter recalled later, took about two minutes; two minutes’ notice before going away forever. He was 53 years of age and had no previous cardiac history. I was on the way to my car on the Friday afternoon after offering prayers at my father’s grave who had passed away two nights ago when I saw a call from my LIC agent on the mobile. His assistant was on the line and was talking about a death. I thought she had come to know about my father’s demise and had called up to offer sympathies. It took me a minute to realize she was talking instead of my LIC agent who had passed away. He had shared a bitter-sweet relationship with my father, as any insurance agent is bound to. My father had provided him with new business but would not mince words when he expected service, and the LIC agent would politely offer all assistance possible. When something was not possible to fulfill, he would call me and entreat sincerely to mediate with my father. On his first visit to our house when I offered him tea, he accepted it immediately. Later on he clarified that he never refused any beverages offered because that provided him some additional time to converse with his customers. His whole business was based on conversations. Just a week ago, as my father lay critically ill, I had called him up to seek his and his staff’s forgiveness for anything hurtful my father would have ever said to them. He called me immediately the next morning saying he had done as conveyed and his staff had forgiven my father and wished him good health. That was the last conversation we had. And ironically it wasn’t about a new policy or a premium to be paid, it was about forgiveness. As I drove down to my house from the graveyard, my ache was no longer for my father but for this soft gentleman who peddled his business almost like an apology, who till that moment had always seemed fit and healthy. And for the shock and grief of his wife and daughter who had suddenly lost the only man in their life. How does one go away just like that with no warnings, no time for a proper farewell? And I wondered about the meaning of life. Most of us will not die at 53, not so suddenly without a ‘handover.’ Yet there can be no doubt that life is finite, temporary and insulated – in the sense that nothing that is acquired here can be taken forward. And yet most of our striving,and consequently most of our pain is for acquiring. It didn’t take much time to realize the futility of trying to decipher the meaning of life – for there can be no definitive answers; everyone would have their own meaning. It was rather more important to add meaning to life. And I realized that no matter what one chose to do, it was important for it to be meaningful. That was the only way to ensure a life well spent.

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