Death, The Inevitable End

9/11 was this past week. I don’t live in that country anymore and I was quite young to understand what was happening when it did. But since then I’ve heard many different versions of what went down on that tragic day. I only took one thing from the dozens of stories I heard – innocent people died for the personal gain of someone else. I don’t care who the person behind it was. It only matters how many family members were made to suffer because of it.

911

I believe there are two kinds of death. The one that comes naturally and the ones that arrives when disaster strikes. But when someone dies, the world doesn’t differentiate it like that. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘Good riddance. She/he was such a horrible human being” ? Death in the human mind is always differentiated in two ways – the kind hearted person’s oh-so-soon passing; the ill hearted person’s long overdue riddance.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before – Death plays a huge part in my mind. For a fairytale believer, death is probably a more commonly occurring thought process than love because love doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people live their entire lives not knowing what it feels like to be loved unconditionally and passionately. But even to them, death is inevitable. It cannot be pushed away. It cannot be erased. This quote is simply a hint at just how much the world tries to make it go away :

“The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches.”

But it is the undeniable truth. And I’m not as afraid as I should be. For it is the only thing in life that is certain. It has to come some day and I will accept it when it does.

Yet everyday, I wake up in fear of who around me is still safe from it. When the phone rings, my heart skips a beat and I have to check in on everyone to know my family is where it’s supposed to be. Here. With me.

A friend of mine passed away a few months ago. This past week he’s been on my mind constantly. I see someone with a mohawk and think “Oh look ! He’s here !” And then I remind myself, “That cannot be him. He’s dead.” He was a nice guy. Quite young too. His mother was orphaned for he was the last family she had left. I hate to imagine how many mothers were orphaned on 9/11. How many kids were orphaned. Engagements broken, weddings stopped, successful marriages turned single parents.

Then again, just how many of those people were thought of as “Good riddance” ?!

“We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love.”

– Mad. De Stael

It’s so easy to talk about it from a distance. It’s so easy to dissect the process. It’s so easy to say, “Life has to go on..” And it is definitely easy to say “Good riddance.” But the ones that lose the person they love – disastrous or natural, sickness or an accident – to them, Death is but a ghost that continues to live in them and haunt them everyday for as long as they live. It doesn’t matter if the dead was innocent, arrogant, ruthless or stupid, the ones that get to live never really get to live.

Ever wonder why Disney movies always have parents that die early in the story or are already dead? Especially the mother?

Disney Princess

Walt Disney’s mother died in a fire accident in the house he bought for her. It’s suggested that it may be why the Disney movies don’t have a significant mother character in them.

How many days would he have spent thinking to himself “Wish it had been me” ? You and I may think of 9/11 once a year, but to those families that lost someone they loved, every single day they have lived since the life altering disaster is 9/11. How many times do you think they would have thought to themselves, “Should have been me” ?

I say this now and I will say this always. I will always rather it be me than anyone I hold dear to my heart.

There’s no moral to this post. There’s no inspiring message. Just a passing thought from me to you – Death has to come and it will. To you, to me and to every living being on this planet. It comes to the good guys and the bad. Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t all kill each other and just spent whatever little time we have on this beautiful planet laughing away and spreading love?

In memory of every lost loved one. <3

(Images courtesy : Google)

Beauty…

We all have those unanswered questions we wouldn’t dare ask in fear that someone might call us stupid. Here’s mine : What is beauty? A perfect winged eyeliner? A Picasso painting? A genuine person? A generous heart? Why? Can anybody really explain beauty?

Wikipedia tried : Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction.

Pleasure. Have you read The Fault in our Stars by John Green? That book just about killed me. It was in no way a pleasurable experience. But I thought that book was absolutely beautiful. I cannot explain why.

I decided that the best time to get my question out there without being labelled stupid was now. Hence I started with the closest of friends and family – “I’m doing research for my blog. What, according to you, is beauty?”

I got the typical answers – Beauty is my girlfriend. Beauty is the love of my life. Beauty is a genuine person. Beauty is a loving heart. Beauty is confidence. Beauty is perfection. Beauty is anything that makes you feel good.

Then I asked them “How do you say that? What exactly makes you use the word ‘beauty’ towards those things?”

I got one answer : “I don’t know. I can’t explain.”

That’s the thing. Nobody knows. I was almost on the verge of giving up when someone I know gave me her definition of beauty :

“By the magic of sight , anything which on looking makes me feel fresh.
By the magic of my palette, anything that tastes and gives me the yummy yum yum
By the magic of my nostrils, anything that gives the fragrence which I want to capture”
I didn’t ask her how she came to that conclusion because to me, that answer was beautiful.

She might not have nailed it, but her explanation was something I couldn’t question. Beauty was her accepting the simplicity of the complex things in and around us. Beauty was that she noticed something no other person I know did. Beauty was that she found it magical.

I wish I was someone that could figure it out and give you scientific facts. But I can only talk about what I’ve observed.

When I look at Miranda Kerr, I think she is so cute. When I look at Meryl Streep, I think she is dynamic and utterly gorgeous. But when I look at Angelina Jolie, I think she is beautiful. There was a time when I hated her. But as I realized just how much she gives to the world, I began to love her.

There was an Indian celebrity that I used to love. I thought his talent was unbelievably amazing. His grace so utterly beautiful. A few years ago, his personal life took a hike. His behavior during that period was everything I stand against. From that day, every time I see him do what he does best, I see an asshole. I think to myself “Look at him, trying to cover up his act with grace. He can’t fix what he’s broken.”

I’ve noticed that our perception of a person or a thing changes when the story about them changes. I used to love Romeo and Juliet. It was the most beautiful love story on the planet and an incredible one too. Then I saw the movie Shakespeare in Love. The idea (which I highly doubt is true but is the story of the movie) that Romeo and Juliet was based on an affair that Shakespeare had, ruined the book for me. Ruined the love they shared. Whenever I pick up the book, I no longer feel like I’m reading a beautiful love story. I feel like I’m reading a scandal report of how a man cheated on his wife.

Our emotions define the beauty we see. When the girl we hate looks absolutely perfect, we don’t see beauty. We say “I cannot stand her and her perfection! It’s so fake.” But when the person we love looks like crap, we see a beauty we can’t define.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is in his heart. It is in his emotions. It is in his love.

Beauty is the book that makes his heart yearn. Beauty is the song that reminds him of happiness. Beauty is his family and a place he calls ‘home.’ Beauty is the girl he fell head over heels for. Beauty is his first pet. Beauty is the way his mother takes care of him. Beauty is the doll he’s had on his bed since he was two. Beauty is the unforgettable connection he had with the girl he met at a party weeks ago.

It might be painful. It might hurt you. But if you love it, you’ll find beauty in it. We can’t all love the same person, the same book or the same movie. There arises the difference in our ideas of beauty.

John Green had me falling in love with Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace. He had me falling in love with their stories. With their personalities. And no matter how much that book kills me, I will always love it and I will always think it was beautiful.

Because love doesn’t always come from a place of joy or pleasure. Sometimes love comes from pain and hurt.

And hence we call it Beautiful…

Life Choices : Choose Happiness

My friend and I were just having a very heated argument about life choices. The guy I have the world’s biggest crush on works at a giant corporate and gets paid a pretty decent amount. He can ask the company to send him a cab every morning to take him to work and back, he gets a bonus for every holiday, health insurance – pretty much the whole package. Here’s the catch : He hates his job ! He always talks about how every minute he spends there he feels like he’s going insane. So why on Earth can he not quit his job and do something he loves? “The money it pays.”

I’m an intern at an advertising agency. I don’t get paid at all. But I find a reason to wake up every morning and show up here because I love what I do. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Doesn’t every person deserve the right to happiness? Should money really dictate his life? That was my side of the argument when my friend fired back at me, “What about his family crisis? What if they need the money he makes?” I did not have an answer to that. So I paused as I ran that idea through my mind. My parents don’t expect my money. So I can make a choice that makes me happy. But can everyone afford to do that? Can everyone choose to be selfish when in fact, maybe his parents have been waiting for him to graduate so he can contribute to the income in his household? How can I suggest that he stop doing that?

Here’s how. Sure, they need the money. But parents who have waited for four years for him to complete his university, can wait a few more for him to make this kind of money again. Except, this time around, he’ll make that money happily. My friend got a job that he loves. But he can’t take it. I asked him why and he told me that his dad had made a comment : “When you’re getting your sister married, you expect the guy to have triple degrees. What’s to say that the girl who marries you won’t expect the same of you? You have to study more.” (This is in accordance to the Indian arranged marriage system) But shouldn’t the girl he’s with care that her husband is someone that is mentally happy and peaceful? Should she just look at his bank account? Should he marry someone like that?

My crush isn’t the only person I’ve known to complain of these things. My friends who work in similar companies pretty much all hate their jobs. “I have to work weekends.” “I have to work night shifts.” “I don’t get a holiday for New Year.” But why? If majority of the employees feel this way, why can’t the companies make a difference? What are the organizations doing that keeps their employees so mentally depressed and stressed? Why aren’t the employees (who are in majority) taking a stand against it and saying “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY !” ?

My dad’s friend was talking about how his son had quit Harvard Law to pursue music, about how much he hated his son for giving up what so many other kids in this world would kill for. But in the end, he understood that his son is now happy. He smiled at his happiness. He said “Isn’t that what we parents want in the end? A happy child?!” I assure you three quarters of the parents in this world are no different to this one. They might be furious in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be happy that you’re happy. So why is it so difficult for us to make this choice?

Why do we fail to see thirty years into the future? You need the money now. Sure. You’re unhappy now, but you earn enough to save for the future. What future? You’re not going to quit when you’re forty and take a trip around the world. You’re stuck in a job you hate already and thirty years from now, you’re still going to be stuck in a job you hate. Only then, you’ll be taking your stress and depression home and instead of depressing only yourself, you’re going to be depressing your entire family.

So think wisely now. Make life choices not based on financials or current situation, but plan them for what your life would be like ten or fifteen years from now. Choose to be happy rather than rich. When you’re working out of your mind with no time for anyone, you’re not living. But even if you don’t make enough money and don’t live in a fancy beach side duplex, when you’re happy, you’ll attract people and those people will always be there for you. You’ll have all the love in the world. Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway?!

Cancer and the Battle | World Cancer Day 2014

A couple of days ago, I read the book “The Fault in our Stars” by John Green. Though it may sound overdramatic, I’m simply being honest when I say, that book killed a part of me. To lose someone you love is tragic. But to lose someone you love for no fault of his/hers is unfair. It’s also the definition of Cancer. Every day you hear stories about it. Our parents, our well-wishers inform us about the vaccines that prevent it and advise us to get it done immediately. If we have lost someone in our family to Cancer, we live in fear that we might end up having to battle with it someday.

I lost two granddads and a grandmother to Cancer. Last year, I also lost an aunt to Cancer. I can never say I lost them because of Cancer. They didn’t die because of cancer. They fought a battle. A war, even. But they lost. They lost to a disease that seems to be affecting more and more people all around us every single day.

The thing is, if someone dies of a head injury, a drunk and drive accident or even a cardiac arrest, I’d get over it. Maybe not immediately, but at some point I’d accept it and move on. But I can’t seem to do that when I lose someone to Cancer.  Because they didn’t just die. They didn’t just say “Hey, I have Cancer” and fall flat to the ground. The pain, the agony, the screaming and shouting, the mood swings, the humiliation they feel, the loss of self-esteem, the loss of a life they dreamt they’d live, the regret they feel for putting their loved ones through so much pain, hurt and trauma – if this was so upsetting for my aunt who was above 60, imagine what this is like for a 6-year-old. An 8-year-old. A teenager.

Beyond the victims, imagine the trouble their loved ones go through. The mental torture. Every time I think of it, I just want to hug them. Every parent, every child, every husband, every wife and every friend that has had to lose someone they love to Cancer. There’s a part in this book where the mother says to her husband when they think their daughter is about to pass away, “I won’t be a mother anymore.” That broke my heart. It might be a fictional story but I can imagine so many mothers out there having to live with that as a reality. What did she do to deserve that? What did that poor child attached to twenty different tubes do to deserve that?

Especially, to learn that the cancer has been cured in their system, only to go back to the hospital three years later and realize “the Cancer’s back.” I have no words to describe that emotion. I can only hope that the love and the support they find around them gives them the strength to fight and win that battle a second time. In my mother’s friend’s case, a third time.

I would have loved for an opportunity to meet my granddads. The way my nieces/nephews would someday wish to meet their grandmother and I’ll them the story my parents told me. The story of how the vicious and scary ghost of a sickness and my aunt got into a fight. How she lost to it because she didn’t have the love of a very very very adorable little child. They’ll live with that story until they grow old and learn all about Cancer. How all the love in this world couldn’t have saved her. In fact, all the love in this world cannot save anyone battling with Cancer. But it can make the difficult journey a tad bit easier.

So on World Cancer Day, this February 4th, join me along with a million others across the world to raise awareness about that vicious and scary ghost of a sickness. Teach the world to accept and love the ones struggling to fight Cancer.  It might not save them, nothing but their own strength and possibly a cure for cancer can save them, but I assure you, it’ll make their journey a lot easier.

If you or anyone you know wish to give or seek support, there are so many websites and organizations that will connect you to the patients and their families. You can simply Google them.

Last but not least, if you are someone battling with Cancer, I want you to know, you have my love and support and I will be waiting for you at the winner’s lounge. Last round’s on me ‘kay? 🙂

Speak Now , Live Now

Cory Montieth, 31, died in July this year. Paul Walker, 40, died in a car crash on November 30. Someone else I know, 23, is battling for his life for over three months now. It’s sad. It’s depressing. It’s shocking, really. None of them ever thought this would happen to them… Their age makes me think “For all you know, it could be me..” What if it does end up being me?

Before YOLO became the biggest thing on the internet. Before I knew anything about the internet, an incident.. or should I say disaster?.. changed my life, changed the way I live it.

December 26, 2004.. Earthquakes and a Tsunami destroyed lives, destroyed families, destroyed homes..

I was supposed to be at the beach with my father that morning, but I’d overslept. I woke up and jumped with joy about leaving and my parents told me there’d been a Tsunami. I had no idea what it meant but with time, I understood it and I wished I hadn’t..

I’ll never forget what it did to me. I remember the TV ads asking for help. I remember switching channels because I couldn’t listen to that music, couldn’t watch those images. I remember crying under my blankets praying for those lives and those children who just lost their parents.. I remember my mother telling me about this woman who’d killed herself out of depression, a child who’d had a heart attack because the ads were too depressing. I remember wanting to help those kids. I even took a bag of my clothes and went to the beach, to the families living in tents on the streets because their houses were gone. I gave them clothes and in minutes, my car was surrounded by kids asking for food and clothes.. I was terrified, depressed, pissed with the universe..

How many people woke up that day with plans? How many had had a fight the previous night and told themselves “Today, I’ll fix it..” but never got the chance to? For one second, forget the dead.. Imagine the ones sitting at home who never got to tell their loved ones “I love you” “I forgive you” “I need you” “I miss you”..  Praying they were the ones dead and not the other person.. Hoping that the people searching the waters find their loved ones’ body so they could go ahead and do what they had to? Imagine waking up late on a Sunday morning, turning on the TV and realizing, your friend, your family, someone you know was probably dead by now. I always imagine someone with a coffee cup turning on the TV and dropping that cup with shock..

I swore to myself, it doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t want to hear it. I’ll always tell everyone – the ones I like, the ones I love, the ones I hate – how I feel about them. I will never miss an opportunity. I will make the most out of my life. As a teenager, all it did for me was get me into trouble. But with time, experience and a lot of mistakes, I’ve learnt to fine tune that attitude. I’ve learnt what LIVE NOW means to me. What SPEAK NOW means to me.

It may not always mean the same to everyone. But to me, Live Now means doing something with my life. Helping myself and everyone else around me. I’ve learnt that Live Now does not mean I have to go bungee jumping and skydiving as soon as possible. It means I need to help the ones in need. So even if I’m gone, I would’ve made a better life for someone who gets to live.

And as for Speak Now, it doesn’t matter whether it’s my parents, my siblings or just a crush, I have and will continue to tell them what they mean to me. I’ll tell them how much I care and how important they are to me. I’ve learnt to keep the hate to myself though – Because if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything..

So here’s a piece of advise to anyone that’s reading.. Do you have a dying need to do something – for yourself or anyone around you? Do it today. If it’s a long-term plan, start working on it. Do you have a loved one? Tell them today. What if you never get another chance?