A friend shared with me a poem “You Start Dying Slowly” by Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet. The funny part is, this information is a hoax. An article in Latin American Herald Tribune reports, “Muere Lentamente” is the work of Brazilian poet Martha Medeiros.
It is remarkable how this Brazilian poet, despite not getting the acclaim and recognition for her work, is taking it all in stride. The article says she is not losing sleep over it and has “enough of a sense of humour to laugh at all this.” That speaks volume of a person who is not dying slowly. You can read the full poem here. https://7minutesonline.com/2017/03/13/you-start-dying-slowly-poem-by-martha-medeiros-which-has-been-erroneously-attributed-to-pablo-neruda-for-a-long-time/
I have chosen to share some important lines from the poem.
You start dying slowly
If you do not appreciate yourself
When you kill your self-esteem
If you avoid to feel the passion
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
We should take some time to find out what in you is dying slowly. Whether it is a job you have long wanted to resign from, or your desire to migrate to a place where you feel like you truly belong. It could be even for once wear something else instead of black, or to order Bhel instead of your favourite Upama, or maybe you want to eat pani puri from the street-side vendor! We’re all in a rut somehow. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and to finally live life fully!
What happens is that we are stuck into our day to day routine. We do the same things every day, eat, drink, go to the office, come back home, watch TV and go to sleep. Most of us are afraid to change. Afraid of what? I do not know? We also have apprehensions about talking to persons not known to us. We think twice before we call a long lost friend when we get his/her phone number after a long search. “I hope that I am not forgotten. Now the person has become a big shot, will he talk to me as a friend?” All these small things always keep on pulling us back.
I have tried to explain how the thoughts in the poem are real-world things. These examples show that you have a destiny in your own hand provided you don’t start dying slowly every day!
A friend called me and said, “Pramod, do you have some time for me?” I said, come over. When he came home, he said, “Can we go out?”. We went about 10 km from home and went to a lakeshore. I could see that he was completely stressed out. He said, “Pramod, I wanted to commit suicide, but my wife convinced me otherwise. I was travelling and staying in a hotel.” He was working in a reasonably decent organisation and had no work-related problems. He further said, “I just don’t feel like going to my office. Somehow, I hate the atmosphere in the office though personally, I have no issues.” He said many things, and in the end, after about 45 minutes, he asked me what he should do? I said, “Change the job.” He said that since he did not have any job offer how he can leave a well-paid job? I asked him, “Will you all starve if you don’t get paid for one month?” He smiled. Next day he resigned, within 8 days he got another good job. He bumped into me after a year or so, all smiles and fresh as ever.
Another friend was a couple of years junior to me in engineering college. After second year he decided to leave the course as his calling was theatre! He took a degree in arts and managed to get a job in an insurance company where they allowed him time for his passion! If he had not dared to follow his dream, I don’t think he would have been happy, ever!
Leading actor Dr Mohan Agashe did his MD in psychiatry after his MBBS degree. I need not tell you what he has achieved in the acting field, including a Padmashri! But most will not be aware of his work in the Medical field. I called Mohan today to get the details about his work in the medical field. In post-Independence India, there was hardly any work done on Mental Education, Services and Research. Mohan conducted a study for the nation vis a vis, state of Maharashtra. He generated a project report on the subject. His report was accepted by the Government of Maharashtra in 1988, a decision was taken to establish the Maharashtra Institute of Mental health. Established in 1991, this institute trains people to take care of patients who need psychiatric help. Thanks to Mohan, the pioneer, who was instrumental in starting formal Mental Health training in India. I am sure Mohan must have been advised by many to take up medical practice after he completed his studies which were sensible advice. Still, Mohan continued to pursue his acting passion along with his medical career. Rest as they say is history!
There was an eleven-year-old boy who was passionate about cricket! How can an eleven-year-old be so passionate that his middle-class parents allowed him to stay with his relatives, to help him to follow his passion and dream? At the tender age of 16 plus, Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket for India. Basically, this happened because he had passion. Hard work, discipline, for next, so many years were things which helped him play for record 24 years for India!
Friends what Martha has said in her poem is aptly displayed in the caricature below.
Opposite of “You start dying slowly” is you live your life royally! To live life royally, you don’t have to do things royal! You should do small things in life that you want to do! As per the latest term used these days, create a bucket list of things to do before you die! Make sure that you follow your dreams. In the real world, there is always discrimination by the colour of skin, height, smartness, sex, money and many other parameters. But we should not forget one thing. We, humans, are all a special edition, created by HIM. No two persons are the same. We should be proud of what we are. We should have self-confidence about ourselves. Many a time we do not understand our own abilities, our expertise and our own self. Be proud of what you are and what you have achieved. But for that, you should have tried your best in whatever you did.
I want to apologise to Martha Medeiros. She has inspired me to add a couple of lines to her poem! Friends, you also suggest your own lines!
You Start dying slowly
When you do not show empathy for others
When you do not want to give back to society
When you don’t help people in need!
Martha, thank you for allowing me to take liberty!