The past one year has been rough – what with the deaths of a few close family members. Just as I am slowly settling into 2015, in quick succession come three harsh blows from life: first, that poignant announcement from Prof. Oliver Sachs, next, the untimely death of a beloved mentor and friend, Prof. Paula Pitha-Rowe, and now, the sudden passing of my ever-the-most-favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. One by one, my favorite people are leaving me, and I don’t like it one bit.
Oh, I know the facts of life… I know death is inevitable. I know this is the only life we have, and it is largely upon us to live it as beautifully or as poorly as we can. But death is depressing in its finality. Every time someone connected to my life dies away, it is like a limb of mine is torn away forever. I shall not read another brilliant book written by Sir Terry or Prof. Sachs, nor animatedly discuss research work and detective stories in equal measure with Paula, nor pick up the phone on my birthday and wedding anniversary to be wished and blessed, unfailingly, year after year. Such is the wretchedness of death – it leaves behind memories in those who are left behind.
And yet, during such times of utter despondence, I continue to turn to – and draw solace from – the words of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate, one of the most beloved poets of India and the author of India’s national anthem. Written originally in Bangla (the vernacular of the people of Bengal), this poem speaks of the continuity and endlessness of life despite the pain and grief in our daily lives.