I have a confession to make.
I am really scared of losing people I love.
Every year, listening to wise men speak about things shows me aspects of myself i would rather keep hidden.
From myself and the world.
But I am. Call it insecurity if you want to. Call it a lack of self esteem if you want to. I do not think I deserve the wonderful people I have around me. Every day they are there, I call myself blessed. At times, I feel phony, as if I do not deserve their presence in my life. For what I am. For what I offer. For what I give. They always give more. They do things they didnt have to do. For me. Its immensely gratifying, yet a big cross to bear. To be wonderful for wonderful people. Am i phony? Or am I that good? People find answers to these questions by the time they call themselves grown up. They feel entitled to the attention of people. But I never do. It always surprises me. Maybe there’s something deeply insecure about me. Or maybe theres something insanely honest about me. Maybe this is what they call the feeling of gratitude which makes for a fulfilling life. For what is gratitude if not a silent prayer – oh god when i wake up tomorrow, please let me hold the same cards that I hold today? What else is gratitude but flipping fear and insecurity inside out?
I do not know.
There are only two ways people I love can be wrenched away from me.
Death and disaster.
There isnt a third way.
So I keep preparing for disaster.
I have seen deaths and disaster up close. Maybe more than the avg millenial in his cocconed life. Maybe I trace this insecurity to a day in my past when I had to hold my best friend’s younger brother’s body in my arms after he died for no reason whatsoever having fallen asleep and fallen to his death from the perch of his 10th floor balcony while studying for his 10th standard board exam the next day. He is wrapped in a white shroud with only a wound on his head to show for it. Lying on a cold steel table in the government hospital, his family distraught, the onus of getting his body back home falls on me. I pull back the white chaadar, there he is. A bandage on his head, sleeping peacefully. Just asleep. I hold his hands while another friend of mine holds his feet and we yank him off the table. I expect him to laugh out loud any moment when his torso gets pulled by gravity while his arms and legs are held, and he unwittingly gets into a pose which is one of the favourite games of gujarati kids when their parents swing them side to side quite similar to what the western world calls Birthday Bumps. The nonsensical children’s rhyme pops up into my head which we sing – tinga toli ghee ma boli… I suppress an urge to burst out laughing. Death affects us in strange ways. There are no tears, he isnt my brother, just my best friend’s.
But he could be.
Sometimes when I see my wife and my kids sleeping with their head covered in a blanket, i unwittingly imagine the worst. Or maybe i prepare myself for the worst. I thank my stars and count how many lucky years I have had with them already, I count how many years I have been friends with my best friend for the same reason. Every time I talk or meet with them, I tell myself that this could be the last time and I give everything I have, I dont hold even a sentence back. I count how old my father has turned without turning old at all, allowing me for many more years to be young and insecure and irresponsible. The wonderful time in my head is time borrowed from disaster and death. My solace is in math, in piling up the numbers the way a batsman keeps hitting centuries to hide his fear of zero.
There are two ways the people I love can be wrenched away from me.
Death and Disaster.
So sometimes I do my best at times to trigger disasters. Its better that way. Why not now, I tell myself though i dont hear it until afterwards – when the world is at my feet and I am living my dreams. Why give fate a chance to roll the dice? Why not hide the dice under the mattress and pretend to sleep on the mattress till fate tires and leaves me alone for another day? Why not roll the dice myself ?
But I wake up with my cards intact for another day.
Today I love my people. And in their own way, they love me back. As much as we can. As much as we want to.
Death and Disaster be Damned.