There are the many glories of nature and men that inspire awe; that force one to acknowledge that ‘greatness’ really is not easy to court and definitely not easy to conquer. All celebrations of the heroic in man can well be counteracted upon by still greater heroics; but it is death that takes the cake. Almost always successful in humbling men, death fails not even with the most realised of men, to humble. Whether it is wailing women with beating chests, brave tears, sympathy and solace or turning to the divine or philosophy for comfort, death surely makes itself manifest. Of all beings – good and bad, poor or rich, vain or humble, winners or losers, the big or small – death stands tall - taller than the reaches of most human vanities. For a while, it shattered mine too…today.
One of my students from MIT-SOG died today. He’d been in the hospital in coma for a while due to brain haemorrhage and passed away this morning after unsuccessfully battling for life for ten days. Death is mightier than all weaponry of all the life support systems of the world put together. Even the strong arm of Robert Svoboda (author of the book Aghora III – The Law of Karma that I’m reading now) hasn’t been of much help for my psychological leaning. I’m not as ‘objective’ as I thought I was on the way to becoming.
A young guy he was – called J K. The kind of stuff that rural backgrounds, big dreams, low self confidences and much lower than average looks are made of. Twenty five odd years and the pride of being the only barrister in his family - all gone to the dust in a matter of days.
Of my limited memories of him, one scene keeps flashing again and again before my eyes. It was one of my counselling sessions with him. Like most Marathi-medium students, he was terrified of English and I was trying to boost his confidence with English speaking. I remember I was telling him, “There are a million possible personas in an individual. Each time you find that the fumbling and nervous J is taking over, rouse the powerful J in you and kick ass.” He smiled the smile of confidence and I returned it with a smile of contentment.
I believe this one incident keeps coming back to me because it was the only real exchange of honour – much greater than words. In the following classes, I saw him internally kick his fears as he rose to face the class and speak in wrong yet brave English. There could be no greater tribute paid to a teacher. It’s time I return those tributes. These words I write for you J, as those words that you spoke for me.