Life Is Like That Only!

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It’s been a topsy-turvy month, a rollercoaster ride of emotions, first a cloud of sadness followed by joy, then sadness again. It?s been a case of two funerals and a wedding, a screeching halt, a smooth ride, a sudden turn and then….well  …life goes on.

The course of the events over the month left me wondering about this cycle called Life. You are born, you get married and then you die and in between you live Life. It is in this life that you leave behind your legacy. You are remembered by your actions and deeds in this life. The news of a death brings a flood of memories of the deceased and the images of these small moments of joys that have enriched your life keep on playing in your minds eye. It was these pictures which I had believed I had lost forever that kept on coming to mind.  Some faded, some black and white but all giving that feeling of sadness of having lost a part of what you are today.

It was the evening of the 4th of Feb when I got an SMS from a friend that Fr. Bernard was no more. Although it was not shocking, it nevertheless plunged me into a state of sadness. A lot of words have been written about his qualities and his deeds but what stands out to me is one incident on a cold December morning of 1976.  I was a student staying on the campus of St. Josephs College Bajpe.  It was the Patron Saint?s feast, the celebrations which had gone on till midnight were still echoing in my subconscious when I heard Fr. Bernard call me from outside my room.

He was on his way to serve mass from his residence and had heard a faint cry from an unsecured dry well 3 feet in diameter and 40 feet deep.  It was Cyril; he had celebrated ?Besp? well into dawn and had found himself at the end of the hole in the slush. The wake up call saw me and a friend who had stayed over, rush to the well with a rope. With Cyril not in a position to hold on to the rope my friend was lowered, Cyril was tied and as the early morning sun was rising so did Cyril, all of 60 kgs being hauled up by Fr. Bernard with yours truly just watching in awe holding on to one end of the rope. The silhouetted image of Cyril against the rising sun will remain etched in my memory forever.  The mass was delayed but a soul was saved. Cyril today works in the Cargo Handling section of the Bajpe airport.

…They say, they measure your popularity at your funeral. …..

It was not long after this, when I opened my e-mail and saw a familiar address.  It was from a friend much senior to me who had gone to the United States of America to witness the marriage of his son.  Vinod is the only son of Deviprasad and Usha.  He went to the States for higher studies after his engineering and found the girl of his dreams Beatrice there. The captioned pictures sent in the mail showed a very happy family with the young couple inseparable, looking lovingly into each others eyes, holding hands, in front of the Niagara Falls, with Devi, all of 60 in a baseball cap looking smart as ever. 

These photos reminded me that we were all part of a chain. A chain of life and death. A single photo brought about cheer from the somber mood that preceded a few days earlier and the roller coaster ride of emotions took another turn when news drifted slowly of the death of a close relative Mrs. Lizzie Serrao, a cousin of my father.

They say, they measure your popularity at your funeral. Well, Lizzie Aunty?s popularity was immeasurable. Living in a house next to the Milagres School, bang in Central Hampankatta, her house was a place where children form the suburbs used to stay and go to Milagres School or St. Aloysius as the schools in the suburbs did not have English medium section then, or the parents were outstation.  From the 1960?s boys of different age groups (I would think it about a 1000) have passed through her house or partaken the mid-day meal which she would so lovingly prepare.

Although living in the centre of a busy intersection, looking back I now realize that the doors of her house were never closed. Boys from Milagres School would invariably make it a point to visit her, have coffee or water and go to school. I remember barging into her house one evening exhausted playing a game of barefooted Hockey in school and demanding something to eat.  I don’t know why but I felt it was normal to demand. There was nothing to serve at home but she pressed 25 paise into my palms and said ‘Vos re Rajkamal aanth sajige bajil kha.’  Rajkamal Hotel was owned by  a Mr. Somappa,another generous soul with a heart of gold and whose hospitality was genuine. His servings were enough to feed an ox.

It is very normal to talk good about the departed and not gloss over their shortcomings but these deceased souls were different. There was genuineness in their goodness. I hate to say this and pray that I am proved wrong, but they don’t make people like Fr. Bernard, Lizzie Serrao and Somappa any more.

My little son Pritish’s Annual Day Concert took me to his school in picturesque Sohar yesterday. The stage was very tastefully decorated by the teachers and as the programme started you could feel the energy and the enthusiasm generated by these kids of all ages. Each one of them trying to give of their best, happily performing their acts and attracting the audience, so that they are remembered, teachers guiding them from the sides, the parents cheering them on from the audience, it set me thinking of this whole chain, of this cycle called Life…..

Life must go on….everything else is meaningless…Life is like that only.

Author: Brian Nazareth- Koppa

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