Yesterday night I lost a classmate from college to the vagaries of time. The last time I met her was 7 years ago in law school, the next time I met her or rather a shadow of her was yesterday night, when I went to pay my last respects to her. She still had her trademark soft smile and her skin still glowed flawlessly… nothing much had changed about her, except for the fact that she would never ever raise her hand in class to challenge a professor on a point of law, or burst into a song, or whatsapp her friends to meet up for coffee. The subtle, sublime, intangible thing called ‘life’ that we all take for granted… had slowly, but surely evaporated…leaving an empty space not just in her body, but in the lives of many who knew her.
Standing by her bed, gazing at the hint of a smile playing on her lips, that back in college would have at any moment burst into a hearty laughter, I was forced to introspect and ask myself many uncomfortable questions in the post sunset hours of her life.
Death has this quality. It is the harshest reality check. It is ugly, obscene and rude. It ties up your hands and assaults you, leaving you desperate and helpless. There is no beauty about it and there is definitely no two ways about it. You are forced to strip yourself of all layers and masks that you have put on over the years …. and face your soul and answer your conscience.
We travel to many exotic places and proudly blog or talk about it, take pride in the frequent flier miles we collect and populate the world map with the places we have visited, boast of the mountains we climb and the oceans we sail across…. but how many times do we even bother to travel the distance between two hearts?
Technology has definitely made it easier to know who is getting married, who just came back from their honeymoon, who had a child and who passed away. But except for these banal realities of life, how much do we actually know about what is happening in the lives of friends or even family…. and do we really even care to make that one phone call or meet up for that one coffee in years?
We argue and scorn our lovers, little realising how we leave them shattered and heart broken. We criticize and shout at our parents, just because we know that we are their weak spot and they will never ever give up on us. We do not think twice before bad mouthing a colleague, not even bothering to find out what is his/her story for doing something. We are one step ahead of line when it comes to criticizing, arguing or finding faults with our own friends… but how often do we point the mirror at our own self?
Lovers of travel, this is the lesson I have learnt …. we need to travel not just in the physical sense… but also in the metaphysical sense. It is not how many miles you travel, but how many hearts you win over, how many bright smiles you ignite and to how many people you are ‘one in a million’. Time goes faster than you think and there is never ever enough time to spend with all the people you would like to.
The most beautiful journey is that of life…. we can choose to travel through life like a tourist in a coach just skimming the surface… or like an intrepid traveller, digging a bit deeper, getting under the skin of things … and realising how on the stage of life, the drama gets a shade more powerful and the mood a tinge more blissful.