Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye! 

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye  

Kabhi To Hansaaye Kabhi Yeh Rulaaye 

These are the lines of a famous song by Rajesh Khanna in the movie Anand and sung by Manna Dey. I am surprised that for different situations in our lives, we always have an appropriate song available from Hindi movies!  

The meaning of these two lines is  

Our life is a great puzzle. Sometimes it makes us laugh, and at other times it makes us cry! Out moods change with the situations we face in life.  

Today morning, I was in a great mood as we had crossed the figure of 200 friends and spouses participating in our COEP batch of 1971 Golden Jubilee celebrations. We are going to celebrate this grandly and are trying to get as many confirmations as possible. We are planning for a date one year hence, as many of our engineering batch mates live abroad. Some have confirmed, already. Besides this, many of our friends stay far away from Pune-Mumbai area. They also need time to plan. Some friends go and visit their children staying in foreign countries. We want to increase participation as much as possible. Now we are targeting 300 nos. I was delighted and by talking to others made more plans. I was happy! I was on cloud nine.

An hour after this, a childhood friend from my Bombay days called. I had a sore throat issue, so I sent him a message that I could not receive his call. He called me again after half an hour. So, I took the call. He said, “Pramod, you don’t speak. I understand your difficulty, but I want to share something with you.” Then he shared the plight of a common friend from childhood. We were a group of about ten to fifteen boys, and our fathers were police officers. Our families had typical middle-class ethos. The idea of living life in the early sixties of the last century was play like hell, whatever game we could play. Outdoor games were cricket and football. Indoor games were carrom, table-tennis and badminton. During exam times, all of us would study (our parents thought otherwise), and we did reasonably well in our education. Many became engineers, some doctors and a few became bankers. Now, this friend did his bachelor’s degree in science and joined Air India.  

With the usual twists in life, our friend was blessed with a child. The child was perennially sick. The child’s illness was a significant drain on his finances and his family life. He took early voluntary retirement (or was he coerced?) in the first decade of this century. Maybe he got a lump sum which he thought may be useful. (He forgot about improved longevity) He moved from Thane to rural area near Pune; probably he did not have enough money to live in a city. He would rarely come to Pune, which was natural. But my friend (who phoned) was in touch with him.  

Ten years back, his daughter passed away. It must have been a blessing on his finances, but emotionally the husband-wife must have been stretched to the maximum. My friend offered to help him with psychiatristhe also suggested that he move to an older people’s home. (My friend was willing to support there financially!) Things did not work out.

My friend got the news that our man had started waiting near ATM’s and had started asking for alms! ( He was falling short on his quota of cigarettes!) Even hearing this news brought numbness in me! It is the tears part of the Zindagi! How could person from such a background reach a nadir in his life?  

Humans always say that childhood is the best part of life! There are no responsibilities, and there are no plans. We meander in childhood, collecting joyous moments most of the time. The saddest part of childhood is when parents would not allow us to go out and play or it could be a tragic day was when we could not pinch that four ana coin to buy a cola! Life was straightforward during childhood. When we get into the humdrum of life, but we are not aware of it. We get many lessons during childhood that we ignore. Now when I retrospect, I realise that our friend was not sharp like most of the others in the groupDoes it mean that if we do not absorb the experiences at all the stages of life, it is going to hit us badly at some time?  

I had spoken to this friend a few months back after fifty years. (We had lost touch) He has three siblings, but they are not supporting him. It is, of course, one side of the story! But had the siblings helped him irrespective of friend’s response, matters would not have reached this stage. (Maybe!)  

Writing this piece has been stressful, but nowadays writing is a therapy that I have found which brings peace of mind back to me. Some people get it by going for a walk, and some go and climb hills. Luckily, most of my friends have remained away from alcohol in such situations. It is a drain on your pocket and your body.    

The filming of the song displayed above is done beautifully. The hero is down with cancer and is taking a stroll on a beach. The song starts with the hero playing with colourful balloons but never showing the churning going on in his mind. The churning is indicated by the waves which break on the shore. In the last part of the song, the lyricist says we have enjoyed the fun and frolic of life together. But in the end, we must go alone. That final part of the journey is always done alone!  

I am still not very sure how my friends’ life will move forward. At this stage of life, a shortage of funds, the stretched relations between husband and wife can create a tough situation. 

It looks like I am in a filmy mood today and the situation reminded of another Hindi song from the movie Guide. S D Burman sings it. I am giving below part of the lyrics. 

No one is there awaiting you 
No one is looking forward to your arrival nobody felt your pain, and no one shed a tear for you whom can you call your own? 
so where will you go, o traveller 

The video link of the song is below. 

I am awaiting my friend to give me the update, but honestly, I am not very hopeful. Once a person gives up hopes, it is difficult to bring him back.  

The latest update that I got is not very encouraging. Our man may require institutionalisation. Who would have thought that the situation will reach such a stage in life!

Regarding another blog of mine, a friend commented, “Pramod, we have crossed the threshold where we make can many changes to our life.” But maybe he is right or, maybe he is wrong too! One should keep on trying. Friend, some younger people also read my blogs so it may be useful to them to do the course correction.  

One thing for sure, this episode has churned my mind! The beauty is I consider myself a big optimist!