Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who will cry when you die?

(No, I have not read the book by the same title by Mr. Robin S. Sharma and hence this article is not a book review. But still I am using the title of his book. Does that amount to an act of plagiarism? If yes, I do not have any hesitation in giving the credit for such a nice title to you Mr. Sharma.)

Let me tell you a small fact. A fact with which most of us new age people will associate.

A simple compounder by education, my grandfather was not a very degree-d man (Education and degrees are two completely different things even though these days they are used almost interchangeably). However, back there in my village, where we still own a medicine shop, he was highly respected. He used to perform small operations at a very low cost and was available for service almost 24*7*365. Doing so, he must have saved the poor villagers quite a good amount of their time and money by saving them from running to Patna at every medical emergency, small or big.

The day he died, the whole of Mahnar Bazaar was shut down for a day and a huge crowd of around 1500 people had assembled at our home. He had lived a satisfied man and he died a satisfied man as well. And, with his death, he left a void in the society that the people who were left back in fact could actually feel.

I am sure many of you will find similar stories in your own families if you look back a generation or two. But take a look at our own generation, especially those of us who have migrated to big cities in the search of big career/money, who live lonely lives in cities bustling with millions (and hence, to fill the void in the real world, create virtual identities on platforms like Orkut, Facebook and Twitter or write blogs – sharing ideas while doing really nothing), earn quite decent enough money and live a life of luxury dining in Mac D-es or shopping-till-dropping in the hyper malls that keep opening somewhere or the other almost every day.

Let us ask ourselves a simple yet highly disturbing question. After all the education that we have got, exactly how many individuals are going to benefit from our lives or our careers? I think not many. And in most of the cases – even zero. Heck, we do not have time for our parents back home, how are we supposed to have time to do good to others? We are a generation for which success is defined simply in terms of our pay packages and nothing else.

Isn’t it weird that the more the society invests in educating an individual, the less useful he seems to become for the society itself? So, it turns out that a simple compounder of the yesteryears – or may be even today – is far more important to the society than the people who have gone to big institutions, have invested lakhs in their higher education and are earning big money for themselves. Whose fault is that? Education? Or society’s?

Coming back to the original point, since ours is a generation immersed completely into the race of blind money-making and self-gratification, isn’t it an apt question to ask – Who will cry when we die?

Family? Not sure. 30 years from now, many of us will be so cut off from our families back in our home towns, that it seems unlikely that our deaths will be bringing any real loss to them. Parents will already be long gone, and children will most probably have flown off to distant shores in search of even greater money making success.

Colleagues from our offices? Are you kidding me? Ours is a generation of job hoppers and continuous migration. By the time you become friends with your colleagues, either you have moved on or he has. Sure, a few will obviously hang on with you for life through phone or virtual platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Orkut, but can interacting on these platforms really compete with the face-to-face interactions that people in small places have over a home-made or road side hot cup of tea? Leave crying apart, colleagues will be so busy with their office work; they will probably not even have enough time to think about you. Even the place that you are working in will be filled up by some new guy even before your funeral pyre has lost its heat. The world has become a fast moving place not only in life, but in death as well, you see.

Why is that so? May be because we were so engrossed in making success out of our lives that we in fact forgot to allot some part of it to genuine everyday causes that would have connected the society better on an emotional level. What we did instead was that we shopped and shopped and shopped, we dined in great places (which often charge more for the ambience rather than the food itself), we purchased costly cars and other gadgets - and wrote blogs - and ultimately surrounded ourselves so much by these things that the real people from the real world were seldom able to peek in and say a genuine, warm hello to us. 

And things to which we gave our time, cars, gadgets, shopping, dining, blogs, work, offices, money simply do not know how and why to cry. People know that, and people is what we forgot to really connect with on a more genuine and humane level.

This is a question that has been troubling me continuously for the last few months. I have completed by graduation from Pune and am employed in a well-paying job in Mumbai, am planning to pursue an MBA, but am not really interested in doing any higher education. Have been feeling terribly home-sick for the last some months which is kind of strange because I had been snatched away my right to stay at home when I was in class 4 itself and was sent to a hostel. Sometimes, I feel the urge to just let go of everything and go back to the place where my grandfather lived his whole life and start a school over there. But then, I am probably too educated to do that. Moreover, such an act of mine will be at a complete collision with the definition of success that the society has carved out for me.

In the race of making a career, I never properly stayed with my Maa or Papa and in the race of making a career there will be very few people, if any, who will cry when I die. I find that frightening.

No doubt, in spite of having comfortable SleepWell mattresses in my home, I seldom get a sound sleep.

Any comments?


Prathik said...

Nice one....really liked it....looking for more...

Abhishek Neel said...

Thanks :-)

My... name... is... Prajit said...

You were always the intellectually bright kind. Happy to see you write these wonderful compositions.

Abhishek Neel said...

Thanks Prajit. So long we have been out of touch with each other and see, of all the mediums, it is through this blog that we come back in touch again. It is really nice to know that you like my articles. Do keep coming back to the dhobi ka kutta ;-)

By the way, where are you these days?

lokender said...

Hi abhishek, Nice

Desi Girl said...

Interesting and very true depending one one's priorities. Good piece...

Who will cry when you die... Why cry ?? Why not celebrate the life one lived and the legacy they left.

Wanderlust in blood and changing places in quick successions did poses this question at one point in my life. Since I decided to practice Kindness and compassion in my every action every day it no longer matters.

I learned celebrate the life you have and be kind to all including self and you wont feel the need to establish a permanancy in this imparmanent world...


Desi Girl

Abhishek Neel said...

Miss G ..

I do agree with all your opinions except that I don't understand what legacy the present generation is leaving behind. That is not say that we are a generation of fraudsters or anything, but then most of our life gets spent in accumulating the things of self-indulgence and most of these things are simply such as we could do without. The whole meaning of life has been distorted in such a way that it is only money that seems to matter in the current era. We all agree that we are good people, but still somewhere, somehow the emotional connection between the individual and the society seems to be going down.


The Dog.

JoshiMukard said...

A long post, but nice reading. It looks like when we die we are going to get visitors only through Facebook, and somebody will send us flowers through email.

Abhishek Neel said...

Right said. That is the tragedy of the part of history that we live in. We use things that are meant to bring us closer, but still we keep drifting apart from each other.

Suman Chatterjee said...

Dear assistant ji,

I felt so good on reading your article, it made me so warm in the cold cubicle where i sit. I always thought that as we the boys of RKM have been away from home for so long we might loose that connection, but when i started facing the real world the world outside the boundaries of our school i saw so many differences. A boy who has lived with the family for all his life suddenly decides to leave just after marriage and have not bothered yet to tell his parents about his present whereabouts, and i see a boy who has been in a hostel for nearly most of his living days stays on with his parents even though initially his parents were opposed to his marriage and gradually 'all is well' now. What makes the difference? I think we have become so adjusting now that we can even adjust without our hearts. We don't feel the gentle tugs in our hearts now, even if we feel we know how to adjust by neglecting them and moving on in our simple and straight ways, never bothering to do something which might seem unnatural to the 'public'.
Nice blog again dost, loved reading it.

Aayush said...

Liked it.

Abhishek Neel said...

Hey Scientist,

It was nice to get such a long comment from you. And yes, I do agree with you when you say that we can even adjust without our hearts. There is all round material prosperity these days, but what probably no one understands is that with the rise of materialism, there will eventually be an uprise of moral bankruptcy and the expansion of a desert where human emotions will have little values if any, especially outside the small realms of our individual families .. and sometimes even inside the families.

Leaving these things apart, tell me how is the Down-The-Well-Laboratory working? You are almost a decade behind now in delivering me the promised supersonic jets. Do you realise that? ;-)


(You do remember what 'O' stands for, dont you?)


Thanks for liking it ;-)

Anonymous said...

great blog If you are the type to update your blog regulary, then you have gained one daily reader in me today. keep up the super work.

Abhishek Neel said...

Thanks Mr. 'Anonymous' ..

Although this blog is in a passive state as of now, I do plan to make it more active. It would be really appreciated, if you could post your comments under your true name .. as against posing it as 'anonymous' .. :-)


Smitha Campbell said...

I liked reading this. It can be a frightening thought, you're right. My husband is a teacher who asks his students to write their own eulogy, as an exercise to try and understand who they are and what legacy they'll leave behind.

I too share the wondering at what we achieve in our unfulfilling day jobs. But I don't share the total pessimism about the current generation. We will leave our legacy. There are still artists and philanthropes and inventors. But mostly, there is a mass of daily, regular folk who leave their quiet legacies in their small worlds. The IT professional who volunteers in a local school. The tax accountant who coaches young children in football. I see life and this universe as a flux and we all have to find our own way of leaving an imprint. Imprints of people like Gandhi are massive. But there'll be plenty of tiny imprints like yours and mine which also will form the collective of humanity.