Death and Statistics

Around a million people die from renal failure every year. That is just a line on a paper. That is just a statistic. It doesn’t evoke any emotion and if it does its fleeting. Just a whim of sympathy. It isn’t something to feel awful about. Its human nature. It’s only news until it happens to you. But once you delve deeper into the statistic, things start to become different. A hundred thousand people die of renal failure in a country, a thousand in a city, a hundred in a hospital, a single death on 27th February, 2016. The death is no longer a statistic; it’s the loss of a brother, a husband, a father. The single deaths that make up the millions then have a face. They have a family. They love and are loved. They have a legacy which has been smeared with the memory of their gradual fall into the abyss of pain and suffering. The father who used to bring home birthday gifts, the brother who used to play football, the husband who used to quote poetry is lost and what remains is this image of a man fighting for every breath, and losing. Death comes and snatches away a soul and leaves in its wake a sea of tears. Cries that will haunt the hospital forever pierce the silence of the night. Another death leaves the doctors holding their heads, questioning their career choice, wondering what they could have done different.
A million people will die from renal failure this year. That’s a million families robbed of their happiness. That is more than a statistic, it has to be.

Sun Krishna Chandyo, a 65 year old male, died from causes directly related to renal failure at 12:15 am on Saturday, 27th of February 2016. 

Posted by Marred | at 8:17 AM | 0 comments

Chandra Maya

Chandra Maya Magar is old. She is 58. She is poor. She suffers from end stage renal disease which is just another way of saying both her kidneys are virtually non-functional. Her kidneys cannot remove the toxin that build up in her body. Her kidneys cannot produce urine. The excess water that builds up in her body has no escape. It starts collecting in her lungs causing her shortness of breath. She requires dialysis at least three times a week. The government provides dialysis two times a week for free. So that’s all she gets. That’s all she can afford. Every third day she is left gasping for life. At least once every week she is pushed to the brink of death and up to now somehow someway her doctors have been able to pull her back. Someday, within a few months or less, they won’t be able to. This is not a grim view of the future or a wannabe writer trying to dramatize for added effect, it is the truth. Unfortunate, yes but inevitable. She will die. She needs a transplant. She cannot even dare to imagine that she can afford that. Her life will amount to nothing. She will not be remembered by friends or family. Her husband is a drunk. Her son is tired of all the hassles that come with a dying mother. All they wish is she be released from her suffering and they from theirs. What happened in the first part of her life is lost. The second part of her life has been nothing but a struggle for survival. She has to fight for every breath. She looks upon the next day not with hope but with fear. She might have to be rushed to the emergency room. She might need a haemodialysis session, one she cannot afford. She might die. A life that will amount to nothing. Born in poverty, abandoned by a family, destroyed by a disease. She is fighting a lost cause. A painful death awaits. The only question that remains is what will it be that kills her? The failing kidneys, an abandoned life or poverty?

Posted by Marred | at 6:32 AM | 0 comments

Contradictory Beings

People are horrible. The horror people are capable of goes beyond inhumanity. They rob, they rape and they murder. They hunt animals for trophies.  They seize the rights of others. They exploit others who have been ravaged by natural disasters. They exploit others who are trying to help people who have been devastated by natural disasters. Everyone is so easily offended. One can’t make a joke without offending one fraction of the population or the other. Someone works their whole life towards something great. He finally achieves what he had always hoped for having spent endless hours working towards that single goal. He wears an unfortunate shirt during an interview and people only focus on the shirt. His achievements disappear in the avalanche of unintentionally hurt pride. There are paedophiles. Why is it that there was a need to coin a word that describes a person that sexually exploits children? Why do words like necrophilia exist? Every day the news brings about newer examples of how ghastly we are.  People terrorize. They force their beliefs unto others and punish the unwilling. Everyone thinks their way of life is correct. The world has become too small for different ideas to coexist.
This was a logical conclusion. It was based on facts and evidence too difficult to ignore. I mean, I could see people were manipulative, destructive and downright rude. It was clear that people were vile, horrid and hateful and this realization was so powerful that I thought this was the ultimate truth. This was the path to follow, to look at everyone as the despicable and depraved creatures they were.
And then I had to go and watch this stupid video.
People are insufferable it’s true, and yet they are also capable of creating music. A few strings of a violin, a few beats of a drum and a few notes from a clarinet and people create something that makes one feel that the human race is not so bad. Music makes it seem that we are yet redeemable. A gentle melody that can put a smile on a child’s face and can amaze adults. It is possible that the people behind those instruments may themselves be racist and bigoted but in those five minutes or so when they construct such a crescendo of impeccable harmony, it doesn't matter. It shows they are capable of something better, something wonderful. It evokes goose bumps, it soothes the soul, it washes away sorrow. It brings about a smile. A species that is capable of creating music can’t be completely lost in hate and loathing, because music is in itself evidence to the contrary.

Mankind exists in a spectrum that is on one end blackened by misery, hate and sorrow but on the other brightened by joy, generosity and love. People can do incredible things. The kindness people are capable off is astonishing. And these are those times when one can’t help but realize that, people are amazing.
Inspired by the greatest video ever made

Posted by Marred | at 11:05 AM | 0 comments

The Free Bed

 The smell of the wards was hard to describe. It was the odorous outcome of a perpetual battle between diseases and drugs, one vying to conquer the battlefield that was the human body, the other, mercenaries trying to successfully complete the duty they were manufactured for. One striving for existence, the other trying to fulfil its destiny. It was difficult to get used to. Even Dr. Sayid Ahmed, who had been walking in and out of the wards for more than twenty years now, crinkled up his nose, just that little bit, every time he walked into one of the six wards in the hospital. An eternity ago, he had begun as a student in that very hospital. Slowly he had clawed his way through school, through an internship, through his masters in a foreign nation and though it had taken him long he finally stood where he wanted, where he deserved: the head surgeon of the same institution that had initially equipped him to be a significant soldier in the fight against diseases. He had saved innumerable lives, he had lost a few but there are always casualties in war. He had gained a reputation for taking on even the most difficult of cases and more often than not succeeding.
People came to him from distant corners of the country, pleading for a way to postpone death and a fortnight or so later profusely thanking him but he didn’t listen to the gratitude, not anymore. Just like years of practice had inured him to tears and sorrow, he was now also accustomed to the profuse appreciation which he believed wasn’t necessary. He was, in the end, just doing his job.

His daily routine was pretty set. A nine o’ clock visit to the wards, then the three hour long stay at the outpatient department except on Saturdays and Wednesdays, which were surgery days. Today was a Thursday. So like every other Thursday he was ready for his ward rounds at nine. Dressed in a light blue shirt, black pants and the white apron he was followed by an entourage of junior doctors and interns eager to listen to everything he said and prepared to answer every question he asked. The first ward was S.M.-1 or surgery male-1. He crinkled up his nose as he entered and then like a well-oiled machine got to work. An auscultation here, a x-ray report interpretation there, this was his work, this was his domain, amongst medical terms and stethoscope voices, this was where he belonged, in the truest sense of the word, this was his home. Nothing else mattered, the huddle of third year students giggling in a corner, three attendants wasting their time in fruitless gossip, none of them mattered. If there weren’t lives at stake he could have confessed to himself he even enjoyed these daily skirmishes with fluid imbalances, bacterial invasions and malignant wanderers.

“Present the case Dr.Nadim.” he said and the intern did so. His sentences were commands. “And the blood test reports, what do they say?”

“Sir, his CBC and differential count have dropped to normal levels. The electrolytes are normal too … … Sir. The electrolytes are normal too, sir.” Dr. Nadim replied. 

He then faced towards the patient and told him he could go home today. 

Bed 14, S.M.-1 ward. “I don’t feel that well. I would like to stay for a few more days.” The patient meekly protested. 

“I’m sorry but there is no need for you to be admitted anymore, so please you should go home today.” He explained to the patient. “But doctor, I don’t…”
“Do you understand me?” Dr. Sayid raised his voice, just a little and the room felt silent, the
students, the attendants, everyone except for the ceiling fan squeaking oblivious to the rare sight that was unfolding right beneath it. For Doctor Sayid was always restrained, always very professional in his behavior. It was just for a moment but he had lost his cool. His interns were shocked and now even more afraid than before. 

“You will be discharged today.” And just like that he was back. The professional tone restored.

That was the final bed in the ward. He exited ward -1 and entered ward -2, crinkled up his
nose, just that little bit and got down to work. Lost in the moment of Dr. Sayid unusual outburst Dr. Nadim had forgotten to leave behind the case report on the bed which was the normal practice, so the nurses could collect them and properly store them. He returned to the ward to leave the report where he should have and he heard the attendants discussing what they had just seen. He wasn’t accustomed to the culture of medical profession as his teacher, so unable to avoid people talking about someone he respected he listened. 
There were three of them; all waiting on their loved ones. The worry of the first day of emergency where every word their loved one spoke was accepted with care as if it were a treasure had vanished and had been replaced by boredom, a vacant space that they were trying to fill with idle gossip.
“That’s what doctors have become these days. Did you see that?” one of them said. He was
an elderly man of about sixty. 

“They do not respect us. Do they understand that without patients there would be no doctors? They need us just as much as we need them.” The second man joined in. 

The third man, a middle aged man, with a strong moustache and receding hairline couldn’t keep quiet for long. “What was the need to humiliate the man like that? He is paying for his stay. He says he doesn’t feel well. Do doctors kick out patients as they wish now?”

Dr. Nadim stood with the case report in his hand. He hated each one of them. “It’s a free bed. The doctor doesn’t get paid for it.” He defended the doctor. 
It seemed the men had been defeated, for a while at least, till the middle aged man spoke again, almost in a confrontational voice, “Just because he doesn’t get paid doesn’t mean he gets to treat patient anyway he wants. Is the health of a patient not worth a few minutes of his day? He just wants the patient to get discharged so he doesn’t have to waste his time doing free work. It’s all about the money these days. Even for the people that save lives.” 

Dr. Nadim was angry but he was also late. He left the file and walked out. He couldn’t concentrate from then on. Dr. Sayid was his idol. When he thought about how his life wanted to be he looked at Dr. Sayid’s life for guidance but what he had seen today disturbed him. It couldn’t be the reason the men were talking about but if that wasn’t the reason, what was? Why the sudden outburst? Why the unprofessional manner of disapproval? Why would he do that? 

Dr. Sayid didn’t know any of the things that weighed down Dr. Nadim’s mind that day and even if he did he wouldn’t have cared. He couldn’t stop to pick up every little child that fell down. There were things that one had to learn by experience. And also, it was 11 o’ clock and time to move to the outpatient department. The OPD was always hectic. Doctors, patients, students, attendants, laboratory workers, peons, everyone gathered under a single roof.

The examination room was more organized. The peon admitted one patient at a time. The
doctor examined the patient made a provisional diagnosis and either prescribed the patient some medication, told him certain investigation that needed to be done or that he needed to be admitted. Dr. Sayid was proficient as always, ignoring the tears and the gratitude, just doing his job. One after another patients came and went. Tears, smiles, sorrow, joy. Every day the examination room was filled plethora of emotions, every color displayed in a vivid rainbow.
After about fifteen or so patients an elderly man walked in. He looked anaemic, malnourished and poor. He found it difficult to put steps together. His every bone was prominent; his sub-cutaneous fat was non-existent. He was a picture of poverty. The very thing that was wrong with this country, people living on meagre morsels that accidently overflow from cups of content rich gods. The news was not good either, of course it wouldn’t be. Dr. Sayid didn’t betray his emotions. “You’re going to have to be admitted.” he said; nothing more, nothing less.

The old man looked crestfallen. Everyone in that room could have guessed what thoughts were haunting his mind then. Money; a hospital meant bills. How could a man barely able to feed and clothe himself afford a hospital stay? With the dejected look, which had now become a fixture, the poor old man stood and before turning around to walk away remembered to thank the good doctor. Before he reached the door Dr. Sayid called out to him, “Excuse me sir,” he said, “I don’t know if you need it but a free bed is available which I can keep reserved for you if you can come by this evening.” He then nodded to one of his junior doctors. “Yes sir. Bed 14 of S.M. -1 should be available by this evening.” The junior doctor replied. The poor old man stood for a moment, powerless to move and then unable to control his emotions turned around and walked out with tears moistening his faded shirt. Dr. Nadim, an intern, still an amateur in the fine art of professional restraint, had a wide smile spread across his face. Dr. Sayid in his calmest voice asked for the next patient to be sent in.

Posted by Marred | at 8:33 AM | 0 comments

The Duality Of Men

I do not judge men. I also do not believe that god is the only entity entitled to such privileges. I am an atheist. I do not judge men because I believe in the duality  of all men. Someone cannot be entirely good or entirely bad. But it doesn't matter what I think. Me, refusing to judge men has the same value as a beggar claiming that  he doesn't prefer expensive wine; it holds no importance. My opinion is insignificant because I am insignificant.
I work as a peon for a high ranking government official. My life revolves around saluting him every morning, getting him tea and running small errands. That is the  purpose of my life. Some men have immense power, some men serve men with immense power. My master, he is one of those men with immense power. Most things of  significance that happen in this city only happen because he has permitted it. His word is followed, his friendship is sought and his enemies are shunned. He is a  powerful man indeed.
Powerful, ambitious, corrupt.
Day after day people in expensive suits, carrying briefcases, enter his chambers hoping to please him so that he may grant them some favours. They walk out empty  handed, the briefcase and its content offered as a motivation, a small gift to help him make up his mind. Gifts offered and inevitably, gifts accepted. Words of  congratulation still fill the room after they've left. Feigned camaraderie, fake laughter that spews from both the parties still lingers like a disease refusing to give  in. Both parties know that no one there cares for anyone but themselves. He will cease to exist for them the moment he looses his power. He wouldn't even feign concern  if they weren’t rich enough. But the pretence of an environment of trust and faith seems mandatory in such transactions. Unfortunately such things aren't surprising.  The way he is, is accepted as a norm among government appointed officials. Such are the times we live in. The progress of our nation has been brought to a complete  halt so people like him can fill their personal coffers.
But I digress. It is not my intention to elaborate on the degradation of this country. That is for you to discuss, the way you do, with your friends over a bottle of  imported whisky into the late hours of the night.
Discuss and then do nothing about it.
I wish this was all that was wrong with him; a corrupt official indulging in bribery. An acceptable sin. But that is not where the atrocities end. Forget the rich men;  his main prey are young girls. Young girls that are naive enough to believe that some men still exist that would help them, out of the goodness in their heart.
I was shocked the first time it happened. Anita. She was a young troubled girl. Her rich landlord was evicting her family and every other family in her building so he  could sell her home to some rich hotelier. Her life of late had been a struggle against an enemy she couldn’t defeat. Her fight had forced her to her last resort.  Still holding on to the minutest of hope she had come to my master to ask for help. He welcomed her. The eyes of the beast, gleamed with excitement as it asked its  prey to sit and offered something to drink; a glass of water perhaps. The girl refused. He approached the door. Before he closed it shut he looked at me and he smiled.  He smiled. And me, a lowly peon struggling to make ends meet, what could I have done except smile back. And I smiled back.
I was an accomplice.
I smiled back.
I should've looked away when she came out. But I didn’t. Now the look on her face is etched in my memory. Her fight didn’t matter anymore. She had been defeated. Her  hope which he she had so fiercely protected had vanished. Even her life, it seemed, didn’t matter anymore. Her eyes were swollen, drenched in tears of horror. I will  never forget those eyes. Innocence lost at the hands of this monster. And what did I do? Nothing. I did not try and console her. I was ashamed.
That day I decided I would never let anything like that happen again.
But then it happened again and again. And every single time i did nothing. I have lost count now.  Everyone who knows my master knows that he is a monster. Everyone thinks he is horrible person and he is horrible. He is abominable and he is disgusting.
So why does he greet me every workday? It baffles me. Why does he remember me by name? Why does he ask to make myself a cup every time I prepare tea for him? Is that  what monsters do? It would be explainable if he put up appearances for people that have a bearing on his future. But I am not one of those people. I know that and he  knows that and yet he enquires if everything is well with me. Why does he do that? I am insignificant. Being good to me does not benefit him in any way. He should be  treating me with disdain. He should be screaming at me for every mistake I make but instead he jokes about me being too old to get married.
He is a horrible person. The way he treats everyone else is proof of that but what of the way he treats me. When I was on the verge of death from pneumonia, he  questioned my replacement about what had happened to me and then he got me admitted into a hospital and paid for my entire treatment. He saved my life.
To the world, treating an insignificant peon with respect does not absolve him of his crimes. But I am not the world. I am the worthless sub-ordinate that he treats  with respect. I owe him my life. So how do I judge this man? Should I judge him based on how he treats me or on how he treats everyone else? Is he the monster who has  destroyed so many innocent lives or the saviour who saved my life?
I do not judge men. I also do not believe that god is the only entity entitled to such privileges. I am an atheist. I do not judge men because I believe in the duality of men.
So, what I'm about to do is not because I believe he deserves this. In fact, I am perhaps the last person that should be doing this. It is not because I am a beacon of  justice. Indeed what I’m about to do will be looked upon with different eyes that will draw polarising conclusions. But this is not about that. This is about Anita.  No, not even her but her eyes. Those eyes that asked me why I didn't do anything.
Those eyes that have stared at me while I sleep ever since. Those eyes that have haunted my dreams.
Those eyes that look down on me, even now, accusing me and calling me a coward.
Those eyes that know that I smiled back.
Yes, this is for those eyes. Not to seek forgiveness but to seek riddance.
I serve him his tea. He asks me to make myself a cup. Today I accept. I will make myself some tea. The tea tastes good. Not like the cheap excuse for tea i have to  drink everyday but the soothing kind, the kind that makes you appreciate nature and what it has to offer to those with money. I carry the tray and start to take my  leave. Except, I don’t go out. I shut the door and lock it. 
It was surprisingly easy to procure a gun. There were no questions asked. They did not want to know what I wanted to use it for. Perhaps they thought i would have  lied. I would have lied. The difficult part was the money. When there are guns spread in a room where you are the only one that has never used a gun, its best not to  haggle over price. I spent my last paisa on the bullets.
The metal of the gun feels cool as I slide my hands inside my pocket. After all the days of wondering if i could do this, if it was what i should do, if i had the  courage to do it and forcing myself to believe that i could, i cannot look back now.This is happening.
"What are you doing?" He looks surprised. About a split second later his surprise turns to shock; and then the shock turns to fear as he sees the gun shining in my  hand.
"Wait. Why are you doing this? You don’t have to?" He shouts.
But I can’t hear him anymore.  I don’t hear anything. I don't feel anything. All of my senses are numb except I can still see those eyes. Why won't they just leave me  alone? I raise my gun. I pull the trigger. The recoil is stronger than I expected. I only hit his shoulder. He bellows in pain. I get closer. I put the barrel right  against his temple. The sound that escapes is deafening. He moves no more.
Suddenly, there is banging on the door. A gun shot is a hard sound to ignore.  “Stop", the people outside shout, "Don’t do anything stupid."
Don't do anything stupid they say. I've just murdered one of the most powerful men in the city and they tell me now not to do anything stupid. Not the best of advice.
I put the barrel inside my mouth. The metal feels warm now. The taste of gunpowder fills my world. Was what I did right? Was it wrong? Is this the only significant  thing that I have accomplished in my life?
I am more than a peon now. I, Raskolnikov, am a murderer. My intentions are selfish. But will my actions be analysed on my intentions? I don't think so. You will  interpret it in your own way. A murderer who did what he had to do, to bring about a change or a murderer who killed a man in cold blood? Who am I to you? A  revolutionary or a monster? To me, I am just a man who is tired.

I pull the trigger for the last time. I see those eyes no more.

Posted by Marred | at 11:12 AM | 0 comments

A Hero

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.– Friedrich Nietzsche

Who would you call a hero? Our world is black. In these dark times who can you call a lover of mankind? What would be required in a man for him to be regarded as a true humanitarian? Well, actually such questions are easily answered. A hero would be a good human being, a kind man. A man who would go to lengths to ensure the people around him do not suffer. A man or a woman willing to sacrifice his or her happiness to palliate the misery of others. But such answers are hastily provided and are based on the teachings that are installed in us since the time our minds were unable to think for themselves and not on what we realize and learn on our own. Everything in life should be open for analysis, our every belief should be subjected to questions, our trust should not be so easily  placed on things that are handed down from generation to generation, unquestioned and unanalyzed. Everything in this world when properly scrutinized will display different shades of colours, a different hue from every different angle. And a 'good' man need not necessarily be a perfect shade of white. No.
For once I knew a man. A good man.A kind man. A man you would use as an example of how a man should be. But a man you wouldn't know. An obscure man.A man absent from the pages of history.For he was a common man. A poor man. A poor man with a wife.A poor man with a wife and three children.
A man whose numerous accounts of unparalleled kindness are ever present, often in volumes, on the lips of everyone that knows him.A man who was on a windy November night returning to his home from work. Work was cleaning and running errands on a department store. Work didn’t pay nearly enough for a proper life. With three children, a wife and himself, there were a lot of needs. Yes, there were wants too, but those were brushed away as quickly as they arrived because to harbour desires for the extravagant wishes like a chocolate or a soda was monumental stupidity. No, the needs needed fulfilment but even the needs were not being fulfilled. Yes, he had a difficult life. And yet he still managed to find ways to help others, to be charitable where charity was accepted. So the outcome of what was to happen on that windy evening was almost predictable.
It was a starless night as most nights are in this polluted city. The way to home included a small alley which was notorious as a site for mugging. It was dangerous but it was the only way. He was unafraid. He had never been a victim and he had a pleasant intuition that the hundred rupees in his pocket were safe.
On his way through this dark and secluded alley he was approached by a beggar. The beggar looked miserable. He was merely skin and bones with ruffled hair entangled in dirt. His clothes were torn in several places and showed evidences of numerous attempts to prolong its survival. His eyes were sunken and reflected the misery he had suffered, perhaps since the day he was born and will continue to suffer till the day he died. Which his appearance suggested wasn't too far away. The beggar looked more dead than alive.
"Can you spare some change?" the beggar pleaded.
The kind man didn't have any. "I'm afraid I don't have any. I'm sorry." he said.
"Please sir, be merciful. I haven’t eaten in four days. Please be kind and God will be kind to you. Help me sir. I beg you." The beggar then burst into tears.
The site of a grown man crying was unbearable. Can any circumstance be worse than one which reduces a grown man to tears? It was terribly unfair. But life was unfair. It would have been easy to keep that thought in mind as a consoling comfort and walk away to worry about the problems that were concerned with his own fight for survival. But such consolations were never enough for this kind man. Life is unfair because we let it be so. The only reason the unfortunate suffer is because the fortunate do nothing about it. And he certainly was more fortunate than the beggar. So what else was there to do but to give away the hundred rupees nestled in his pocket? And that is exactly what he did. Without the money he would go hungry, but the beggar would starve. It was in the end a simple choice. The right choice.
Or so your pre-instructed mind would make you believe. But was it the right thing to do? There are always extenuating circumstances. He was a family man. There were four more human beings relying on him to bring home some money so that they could together, as a family, fight as best as they could the realities of poverty. The difficulties that envelope such struggles are almost insurmountable and his actions had made it even more impossible. His inability to control his charitable nature would now lead him to a disappointed wife and three disappointed children. He was lucky that he had an understanding wife. She was understanding to a fault. She would, as always, do her best to work around his luxurious expenses. And it was just that. A luxury. For how can someone so encumbered in poverty have the audacity to give away his last rupee?
Was this man that different from an alcoholic husband? If an alcoholic man is single what can you fault him with? He is not responsible for anyone but himself. If he wishes to spend his money on something that helps him get through the day why shouldn't he do it. Until drinking alcohol becomes illegal he has done nothing wrong. It is another thing if when inebriated he becomes a nuisance to people around him. But until that happens how can we condemn him for spending his money the way he wants.
But everything changes if he is a family man. Because he is then responsible not only for himself but for his family. It then becomes wrong to waste money in selfish pursuits. And the same should apply to our kind man.
Why should his selfish pursuit be lauded? Yes, it was selfish in his part to do what he did. What would've happened if he had refused the beggar? He would've felt horrible. He would've carried the guilt of not having helped a man in need when he had the capability of doing so. But his duty towards his family would've been fulfilled. A hundred rupees may not have washed away their worries but it would've helped. It would've meant a happier wife and children at the price of his inner torment. He would suffer while his family felt better, isn't that what being unselfish is?
But he gave away the money. And felt good doing it. Everybody feels good when giving. If they didn’t  no one would ever practice charity.
If he were a single man his actions would've been laudable. It would mean he was sacrificing his benefits to help a complete stranger. A true triumph of the good in mankind. But he was a husband and a father. He had sacrificed not only his but also his family's livelihood. He had willingly sacrificed the happiness of his family just to help a complete stranger. Is his responsibility towards his family not of greater significance than to practice charity? Now disappointment fills his home while his heart and mind are at peace. He feels the warmth of having done the right thing. But his wife suffers. His children suffer. To be content with ones action while others suffer as a direct consequence; is this not the definition of being selfish?
A man who is not able to look after his family.A man who would rather satisfy his need to help others than to provide for his family. Could you call him be a good man? What if one of his children were to fall sick and the price of treatment was the cumulative amount he had given away to help strangers? Would he still be considered a good man?
There are always extenuating circumstances. Life is a labyrinth of cause and effect. Can there be actions with all positive consequences? Can a man be truly unselfish and be a good father, a good husband and a good human being? Who would you call a good man? Who would you call a hero?

Posted by Marred | at 12:00 PM | 1 comments

The Freedom Dive

Is death the ultimate freedom, a final escape from the anguish and misery that is unfortunately inherent with life, a concluding act of defiance against an existence that forces us to confirm to the tyranny of torment and failure?
As I walked towards the abandoned bridge, on that September night, to jump to my death, I had to answer “yes, yes it is.” It had to be. There was no doubt in my mind. No, there was no place for doubt. What there was in its stead was certainty, absolute certainty. I was about to abandon all my worries, I was about to forget all my problems, I was about to bid goodbye to every situation that had made me miserable, to every event that had heaped more despair, to a God that showed no mercy, to a Devil that offered no propositions. A goodbye to the world, this cruel world. A goodbye to life, my life and every desolate memory that came with it.
The bridge was dismal. Abandoned after a better, wider bridge was built about a couple of hundred meters away. Out with the old, in with the new. The parapet was broken down. It was no longer capable of providing the service it was built for. It could no longer protect. In its damaged existence it was now a hazard. It was a failure. Weed encroached on every crevice filling every inch with its cancerous existence. The entire structure shook with every burst of onrushing water underneath. It could no longer withstand the demands that came inevitably with its existence. A radical overhaul was necessary. Either that or a demolition, an end to rid of all its problems. A termination of its continuation. Death.
But when I approached it, it appeared to me magnificent, an apt place to end this meaningless fight for survival. The sound of the water that rushed beneath seemed no less beautiful than the most glorious symphony, calling me to get closer. Every crescendo asking me to jump. Jump and be free. Be free. Oh! It was beautiful. I couldn’t have chosen a better place. Everything was in its place.
Everything except a shadow. A shadow that stood atop the parapet and looked down and gasped repeatedly in perfect timing. Gasping and then gasping again. A gasp of sorrow. A gasp of tears.
She was crying.
I ran. I held her. I fought her resistance. I brought her down. I didn’t let her jump. I couldn’t let her jump.
“What are you doing?” I screamed.
She gasped again. “What do you think I’m doing?”
I felt stupid. She was here to do just what I was about to do. What right did I have to stop her from jumping? Had I been a few minutes late, I would have been atop the same parapet and would not have known that moments before she had felt just the way I would feel then. And as she had jumped I would have jumped. As she had died I would have died. So why stop all that from happening now? Why not help her up, stand by her and together jump  into oblivion? Why not?
But she seemed so young. What could have been so wrong in her life that could have led to this? “Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“What does it matter to you? Let me be. Leave me alone”. She didn’t gasp. She wasn’t crying anymore.
“But why do this? Why end your life?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
Why shouldn’t she?  Well, because she had her whole life ahead of her. But wasn’t that the same for me? So what reason could there be, what justification could there possibly be for me, who was contemplating suicide moments earlier, to try and change her mind about the same thing? None.
But I didn’t care. Perhaps it was because I felt her problems whatever they were couldn’t possibly be worse than mine. Perhaps it was because I did not wish to see someone so young die when there were so many things to live for. Perhaps it was because I was trying to save myself as much as I was trying to save her. 
  “Because you have your whole life ahead of you. I know your problems seem insurmountable, your miseries never ending and your sorrow intolerable but take a step back and look at your life. Your life is bigger than anything you can imagine. Your life is bigger than your singular ambition that you’ve held in your heart since you were a kid. Your life is bigger than your one true love that you lost. Your life is bigger than a job you could not succeed in. Your life is bigger than you.  If you could just stop and think about it you would find that life is full of options. If you cannot do ‘A’, do ‘B’. If not, then ‘C’ and so forth and so on. And if you survive today, tomorrow will bring new opportunities. Can you tell me with absolute certainty that your tomorrow will be worse than today. Can you tell me without a doubt that there’s nothing that could happen tomorrow that will make your life a little bit better. If you can tell me and if you can tell yourself in all honesty that ‘yes, tomorrow will be worse than what it is today.’ I will not stand in your way. But if not, then why not give tomorrow a chance. Yes, it is true just as you cannot guarantee tomorrow will be worse, I cannot guarantee that tomorrow will be better but I can hope and so can you. Hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for happiness. Hope for elation. Hope for ecstasy. Because the future is not yet written, the possibilities of what your tomorrow could be is infinite. But to realize those possibilities what you need to do is survive. Yes, survive. Survival, the most primal and the most important instinct of all living organisms. And you need to survive. Survive, not because you may one day change the world, but because one day you may not need to. Survive, not because you may one day be the greatest woman who ever lived but because one day you may be a woman who lived a great life. Survive, because one day you may cease to exist and begin to live. Survive because suicide is not the answer. It is not liberty; it is the declaration of accepted slavery. It is not a final act of defiance; it is the insignia of your failure. It is not a brave choice; it is the lack of all choices. Will death solve all your problems, will death rid you of your misery, will death ease your pain? It will not. They will simply stop to exist but so will you. Death is not freedom. It is the end.”
I did not know I had these words in me. It was like someone else was speaking from within. I did know however, I believed in every word that was spoken. I knew just a small speech made on an old bridge wouldn’t change my life. But a small idea had crept into my head that my life could indeed change and I knew the same idea had found a place in her mind as I saw her walking away into the shadow of the night. She didn’t thank me. She didn’t need to. Though it would seem that I had helped her, I believe it was she that had actually helped me.
For it did not matter what would happen with me from then on, because in this existence that I had so easily branded to be meaningless, somehow, I had saved a life. 

Posted by Marred | at 4:58 AM | 1 comments