My Tryst With Mortality

Duplithingal was the name I was given by Saju. He had somehow obtained information that my last name was inherited from another source and hence I was not the "original" but the "duplicate" and hence he Called me Duplithingal. Funny how that is the thing I remember most about him apart from the fact that he was probably the one person who was cheerful most of the time. But as the cliche goes, it is the good souls that are called upon first. The call was rather jarring for a rainy, dark morning in Chennai. Saju had been in a motorcycle accident and passed away, said the caller. His body is in the morgue. Standing outside that morgue I still couldn't believe what I was there for. how can a 19 year old die. That was unfathomable to me. As the daily commuters went about their business unaware of this catastrophic event, I realized that what shakes one world goes unnoticed in another and just like that he had left us all and we continued on with life.

Dhavinder was the tallest kid in class. Lanky built but a towering figure nonetheless. He too seemed like a happy-go-lucy kind. Always smiling and cracking jokes, he had the skill of using sarcasm as an effective tool for humor. I remember the day there was a general murmur in class as to why Dhavinder had not shown up for class for the past few days and it turns out he had Jaundice. Okay, that should be something he will get over soon and we will be back to seeing him around. But then came the news that he had passed away. How does a 20 something kid die of Jaundice. Standing in that dirty looking symmetry I wondered how one finds himself standing in such places. It was again something that seemed like an out of body experience to me. I did not know Dhavinder well but it seemed rather callous of me to be examining my own existence when the real victim lay in a pyre.

Daphne was a cheerful, small built girl who I would occasionally come across at work. She was one person who was willing to get lunch in the cafeteria with anyone who was willing to come along. My closest interaction with her came when our kids started going to the same pre-school and we watched them flutter around in class over the cameras that were setup to observe them at work. Without really saying much to each other, there was a common bond of concern for our kids that kept us connected. I lost touch with her as I moved on to other teams until that rather uneventful day when I got a message on on internal chat program that she had passed away. Passed away? She has a 3 year old kid. What do you mean she passed away? Turns out she had a terminal form of cancer that showed up late and she fought it for about a year and finally succumbed. What about her kid? What about her husband. All good questions that would need to find its own answers I guess.

Damayanthi was the maternal figure in the gang of five. We were all away from home for the first time in our adult life in a foreign land trying to not mess up too much. We were all looking for some place to throw our anchors and feel like we belonged. It was in a small dingy little apartment across the street from college campus that we found that place. She was always willing to host and sometimes I felt she did the hosting just so that she felt the maternal need to look after somebody. She had a challenging couple of years at school tackling some health issues and some squabbles among friends, but at the end of it all, she never wavered from being a gracious hostess. I woke up this morning to a message on my phone saying that she had passed away. Again, she has a small kid. What do you mean she passed away? She is in her prime!!

The fallacy in that argument is that mortality has nothing to do with who you are and what your current state of affairs are. It lives among us looking for the next one to walk away with. As unbelievable as it may seem to me, the fact is that we are all living on borrowed time. There is nothing we can do about it except to look away and enjoy the moments we have in the present.

Bon Voyage my friends, I hope you all continue to smile wherever you are.


Ann Frank said…
Such a nice tribute
A reminder to cherish life and those we have in it
I love you

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