Saturday, May 4

Dying is inescapable, suffering is not!


I saw him for the first time after he was diagnosed with cancer. His health had deteriorated quite alarmingly. Everything about him now reminded me of what he never was; he was a strong man, robust and well-built and even his words had power of their own. But now, now, he struggled to complete a sentence. His skin was so pale you could see the blood vessels getting entangled amongst each other and his muscles so weak he’d moan in pain while lifting a water kettle. His headache and chest pain had become permanent and his eyesight became so weak, he couldn’t place who I was. His knees would make a snapping sound every time he got up and the mere getting up only was an exercise in itself. For the one month he stayed with us, I saw him die from the inside. I remember him saying once, ‘Eat good healthy food. There’s no alternative to health. None.’ If what happened to him, a man full of energy and cheerfulness, is any sign, I have a good lot reasons to worry. I have blatantly refused all the advices on health, I have refused to wake myself up early for some exercise and I have always given the silliest obsessions more importance than health. I always argued with my Maa over this, ‘he was our role model wasn’t he, he never touched cigarette or tobacco or ghutka and see what happened? What is then the point? We all are going to die, no matter what we do.’ She had no counter to it, perhaps because she knew half my focus was always on my phone. I wondered how she managed to love me still, a mystery of sorts, oh wait, she is my mom.

The point I’m trying to make is when people who have not even touched tobacco and who have done physical labor are prone to cancer, what makes us, the generation feeding on internet, inaccessible to its claws? The problem with technology is it has replaced our outdoor activities as well. I remember once I was flirting with this girl. She had to leave for her college in 20 minutes, and I had to leave immediately. It wasn’t possible for me to walk and text so I decided to get a rickshaw [when a walk would have sufficed]. It might sound insignificant at first, but think about it, think about how we have started making decisions. I know I don’t represent the whole population and in general you wouldn’t get a rickshaw so that you can continue flirting with a stupid girl. I am sure you’d do something else as stupid and as irresponsible as what I had done and what I keep doing, when it comes to priorities related to health. Maybe you stay up till late, so you can talk to your friends and wake up all grumpy and distraught resulting in an unproductive day, maybe you don’t carry tiffin your mom cooked and eat junk outside, maybe you hire a rickshaw when you can easily walk. I know these are little things, but they show your degree of commitment, towards yourself. The point remains; we have ignored our health with such panache that we have started feeling cool about it. You know I started carrying tiffin; it was not because I had some epiphany, but merely because-don’t hate me after this-merely because I thought it was cool to carry tiffin. The real problem with ‘being cool’ attitude is when it becomes destructive, like a friend of mine who hadn’t eaten for a whole afternoon and when asked, showed me a small Tupperware case and said ‘I have eaten grapes!’ Ten ordinary grapes he ate in the whole afternoon! I was bewildered. When I confirmed he said, ‘Look Vineet, you gotta eat fruits, buddy! Replace your afternoon meal with fruits. That’s how I roll!’
I always read news and heard whimpers about someone distant getting cancer or other life-threatening diseases and every single time I thought me and my close ones were special, I thought it would never happen to us. How wrong was I! How stupid I was to think along those lines. This was a wake-up call. I still am hitting the snooze button to be honest. Health still is not my top most priority. But I have hopes; I will overcome my laziness and triumph one day. And I sincerely hope you try to do it to, I hope you make health your first priority and everything else your second. Why is it that we do not believe anything unless it happens with us? God forbids, if it happens, believe me, it’ll be the pain of acutest kind seeing someone close to you struggling with life. You’d see the hands that guided you till now since times immemorial and you could do is cry silently. The sheer helplessness of the situation will make you abuse your Gods. I urge you to make health your first priority. In fact, I urge you to humbly request everyone around you to do the same, like I’m trying right now. How will you enjoy your good education, your great relationship, those night outs and those parties, your rainbow-colored future if you’re too fragile to even move on your own, if you just die, every single day, internally? It is never too late, sort out things, make a schedule, and give health a prominent place in it. After 15 years, when you’d have everything you ever wanted, you’d realize how important this first step towards better health was.
Remember, dying is inescapable, suffering is not. 



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