The Experience Of Life…

Published November 12, 2014 by vishalvkale

Life… Volumes have been written on this topic, and by far more qualified and knowledgeable writers than myself. I dont profess to understand or explain life; this post is more a mirror of my mind, and an attempt to come to terms with the range of conflicting emotions that rage through my mind every so often; an attempt to understand myself… with the fervent hope that others who are going through the same thoughts can draw some inspiration and learnings

This chain of thoughts was triggered on my Father’s funeral pyre, on the 29th of September 2007. As Dad was consigned to the flames, in between the tears and the memories, the one thought that crashed through my mind that all we had left were his memories; in that moment, his plot of land, his money and his worldly possessions meant nothing to me. His achievements, considerable though they were; were of no importance. This realisation, this experience {I cant call it anything else} hit me hard; it flashed through my mind like a lightening bolt…

It has been 7 years since then; I still haven’t gotten over Dad’s death. An year later, I lost my Mom; much the  same realisation hit me with double force and impact. That, and one additional thought : in the end, both went as they came; alone, and with empty hands. On that last journey, Dad and Mom went alone. All alone. As the pyre burnt, my mind wanted to be in that burning wood, with my Dad. As the waters closed around my Dad’s ashes at Rajendra Prasad Ghat at Varanasi, I wanted to be there with him… but he  went alone. All alone… as did Mom. 


As time passed, these feelings were suppressed; my life restarted . The daily grind of my life took over… the job, the KRAs, the performance… the salary and the daily needs of myself, and my family. For, as Sai Baba has rightly said, as long as we are in this body, the needs of the body and the world are a real and present fact, and it is our duty to do our duty to our family and ourselves. Further, beyond salary – the needs of pride, and of growth are also real, and vital – they fuel confidence, and ability – in ourselves as well as in our families.  Not only that, as you grow in abilities and position, the dependence, trust and confidence of your staff and their families also rests in you, as their team leader. You become far more than an individual, and more of a leader who drives the hopes and lives of your teams, howsoever small or large may these teams be. Thus, these real-world issues cannot be forgotten; one cannot and should not run away. 

Time continues to pass; but the memory, that startling lightening bolt, was never far from my mind; I would always recall that pyre where Dad went up in flames; those waters where I last saw my Dad vanish form sight.They would come back to me every so often; perhaps once every few months. And I would recall that they left everything behind. It lies till this day, by and large, the entire inheritance.

And, slowly but surely, I began to notice the real world around me : as I noted in my earlier series The Curse Of Poverty {The Curse Of PovertyThe Curse Of Poverty 2The Curse Of Poverty 3The Curse Of Poverty 4}. I began to notice both the good – {our achievements as a nation, my achievements, those of the people around me, the good in my family, the people at large} – as well as the bad – {corruption, the two-faced nature of people, crime, rampant lawlessness, excessive materialism, self-centered attitudes}. This last bit – both in myself as well as in others, to be honest. And I began  to ask questions. 

Questions to which I had no answers. Still dont. 

From one of the above posts : {And my heart screams – why, God, why? Why has it got to be so? What have we done that is so wrong, so brutally amoral that generations of Indians have to suffer this terrifying curse of abject poverty? What have we done to deserve this? My mind deserts me, and my heart goes vacant… for a moment – just for a moment – I can think of nothing else. At that point, I feel no rage, just a queer emptiness and a total helplessness in the face of such insurmountable odds

The evidence of poverty is to be found everywhere: on the roads in the form of the roadside hutments, the labourers in the sun, the carefree and scantily clad children playing around doing nothing, the poor and bare hutments in villages, the kuchha roads in the villages, the series of villages with landless peasants, villagers lounging about the chai shop with nothing to do, women with a old faded sari, the malnourished and famished children and adults both, the beggars in cities and towns alike… and my mind wonders… when will we be free of this terrible scourge? 

Raasta bahut lamba hai… manzil milon door hai, aur jaanaa kis taraf hai abhi toh yeh bhi maalum nahi hai. Magar tabhi- doosre kshan, mujhe kuchh aur dikhai detaa hai…

Har chehre par muskan; a smile on every face; the joy on the children’s faces; the sheer delight as the mother gives them what she has to eat; the laughs of the men on the chai shop, the animated discussions of the labourers, the happy faces of the women as they talk while going about their chores, the carefree delight on the children… and I wonder in admiration at these people’s spirit… }. 

From another post : “An old lady had spread her “padar” in front of me, looking for alms. I was about to brush her off, but something stopped me. I dont know what it was, but I was halted in my tracks. I looked at her, and recalled that I routinely spend far more on personal effects… I can spend 100+ for my pleasure, but cant spare even a single rupee for the needy. Just that thought came to me, and I automatically opened up and gave her some money. I wasnt much, but it was a rupee. It was several rupees – enough for her to get a vada paav

I wont claim lofty idealistic claims like “My heart felt nice on giving” or such sentimental drivel. Truth be told, my heart was heavy even after giving, as I realised I cannot do anything of any real value, neither can I give to everyone who approaches me. Truth be told, there was even a fleeting thought in my mind : “I did something nice today” – which takes away any credit that I might deserve : true giving means you do it out of your feeling for the destitute- not for any good-feel for yourself


With the passage of time, with age and experience, with team leading and level-up experiences and the attendant ups and downs, I learnt to come to terms with these barrage of thoughts that cascaded in my mind every so often. Life moved on. And the moment I came to terms with these strong overpowering emotions rising like a tide within me – a new and far more enriching view of life came in front of me. I still haven’t fully come to terms with this; so I cannot be very specific; but I shall try to put my point across. 

When I learnt to put it all together, the ups and downs of my life, my positive and happy attitude throughout both the ups and downs, the inconsistencies of life, the inequalities, the achievements and the challenges, the crippling problems around us – and the smiles and cheer  in the midst of these problems : one glaring inconsistency, or paradox occurred to me slowly and surely. A realisation that both is a path  forward as well as a challenge, a key to peace and stability of mind and mental satisfaction. 

In the end, there is nothing, Nothing, except your memories, your words, and your nature that people recall. What then, is the purpose of life? Earning far more than what we need – not stating vairagya here – referring to more than we need for a comfortable existence? What is the point of growing in your career, if you cannot benefit your team, and the society at large? Especially, since on your death, nothing will remain yours, except your deeds?
What is the point of challenging and breaking laws just to earn money? Is it not far better to grow while benefiting people? To do deeds that add value to society, and to the community? Is it not possible to both grow in comforts, stature and position, while also being a benefit to society? To do something that will give something back to  society? To do something that put some meaning into the mundane experience of life? To do something that will make life, your job and your time on earth meaningful?

I am not a communist; or a socialist. Capitalists help the economy grow, help feed the stomachs, growths and ambitions of millions of people in India and the entire capitalist world. Neither am I trying to change the world; these are questions that I still havent answered. My point is : if when we die, we leave behind nothing that is ours – except our words, our nature and our deeds, then why not concentrate on doing deeds that ensure that we are remembered when we are no more?

The house will be transferred to your children’s name. The money will go to their accounts, and get spent. The trophies will adorn the mantlepiece or the showcase for a period of time, then get packed or junked. The records you make will be erased with time. The world will move on; but your good deeds and your contributions to people will be remembered long after you are dead and gone. 

Isnt it a far better deal to do something that will make you immortal? Isnt it far better that you utilise your talents, as well as the benefits you have enjoyed and earned in positive ways, giving meaning to your life, and your time on earth? The needs of the body and the family- all the way from food to prestige – will still need fulfillment; but cant there be a middle path, a way to do something that will help alleviate the unfortunate? Or help to benefit people {not necessarily just the poor – students, or science – as per the individual talent and capability}

Does my life have a meaning? A real meaning? If so, what is that meaning? This is as far as I have got in my thinking… till life, salary needs, KRAs, family intervenes, bringing me back to reality… this is a post written from my heart; so please ignore if it sounds a bit disjointed… this post is a mirror, a window into my heart, and my soul… 

2 comments on “The Experience Of Life…

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