November 09, 2012
[Note: I am publishing this post backdated to when I wrote it, because I was in internet detox back then]
Last night my father received a call. The caller informed that Mukesh was no more. Mukesh, as I recalled from 2 years ago, was probably one of the youngest people I had met working at that branch of the bank my dad works with. He was 33.
I had only had one meeting with Mukesh, back in 2010. Other than that, there were a couple of times I ran into him at the bank. And we talked a few times on the phone. There isn't much you can gather from such short encounters with a person, but there were some things that caught my eye. For one, it was hard not to notice him, because of his XXXL frame which, I think, was due to some metabolic anomaly. He was a jovial fellow, as some say most chubby people are. But he was also well read, quite literally, because as he told me, books were all he spent his money on, and that he had a home full of books. I intended to check out the collection someday, but that never happened; because on my vacations last year I got to know that he had moved to another city.
I'll just share my recollections of one brief meeting we had at that coffee house of which even the name I can't recall right now. We talked about life, dreams and careers. He told me how he got into banking, which was a very interesting story. He had a crush on this girl in his neighborhood, and she was prepping for the banking entrance exams. While she asked our man to help her with mathematics, if I remember correctly, he thought of taking the test himself, well, for kinda obvious reasons. What ended up happening, though, was that he cleared the exam while the girl didn't. I'm guessing it was our very familiar "let's grab the opportunity at hand" thought that caused him to enroll for the training. He confided in me that he didn't really find the work exciting or challenging and was thinking of heading for his PhD and moving into the education sector which I wished him luck for. I talked about how I was enjoying and loving my work and having fun while learning a lot. We parted after that, since it was a chilly winter evening. After that the couple of conversations I had with him were mostly around some banking procedure I wanted to know about, or general pleasantries. And all of a sudden, now this.
The incident reminded me of this part from Steve Jobs' famous speech: "your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
As was also mentioned in 3 idiots: "if you don't gather the courage now, you will wish you had done things differently when you are 60 and lying on a hospital bed, but it would be too late by then."
It's amazing how conveniently we all choose to ignore the one simple and definitive truth of life: we all are going to die. Either it will be without warning, or we would have lost so much time that we would be left with nothing else but regret. Maybe this ignorance comes from the discomfort that would happen from staring death in the eyes, maybe we think that thinking about death will take our happiness away for good. Maybe it's helpful living in denial of the single biggest truth of life. Maybe it's something else. But one thing doesn't change. Death is coming. To all of us. The time is slipping rapidly. There's only two options: watch it all happen, or do something worthy with what you have. I wonder if Mukesh had done things differently instead of continuing to work at a job he didn't enjoy if he had known this a year ago. I wonder...
[I have intentionally left out some details out of respect for Mukesh and his family]