“My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, then you’ve had a great life.” —Lee Iacocca
This was the line that struck me when reading the book Lee Iacocca,Chairman, Chrysler.
We had a ‘Student Appreciation Day’ in our school, Saturday evening. It was something which i didnt want to attend for reasons of some clash of principles and some bare facts, which are immaterial here in this discussion. But i attended it along with my pals, albeit a good 45 mins late.
The chief guest was a girl Sailaja, who is differently abled physically, owing to a terrible accident in 2001, in which she lost her mom and dad and suffered serious physical trauma. She is disabled from the neck down currently.
But you know what grabs your attention when you look at her for the first time, in spite of knowing all this? Her smile. Yes, her smile. Not to say, hers is the most smiling face Ive seen till date! I mean just look at her. There she is smiling away contendedly, and we are left bewildering, what are we feeling sorry for? Is it for her, or is it for ourselves?
All through the function, she was taken care of some guys whom i guessed were her cousins and brothers…guess what? Im real bad at guessing. All of them were her friends. Yes friends. All of them were boys and have been taking care of her since 2001!
Each of them is now employed, and take turns and take care of her, day-in and day-out. One of the friend’s mother comes to her place at Gandhinagar from Vanasthalipuram[roughly a distance of no less than 20 kms] when she is needed.
And all the friends bought Sailaja a car for travel sake.
It happens very rarely in your life that you get to see, the values that you believe in, grit, determination, true friendship and all. And then you see it before your very eyes, happening as though it was the most natural thing to happen. The stealth with which the realization hits you makes your mind numb.
All i could of then was nothing. When one of the teachers asked ‘Poorna, why are you smiling?’ All i could muster to tell was ‘Not smiling sir. Just that any sort of words are failing me now…’
All that i could think were ‘What vaue systems are they living by? What are they holding close to their heart now? What is of priority to them?’ Standing there i couldnt think of any individual alone. Not Sailaja. Not her friends alone. But all of them as a whole. And all that spirit of life that was prevailing. The spirit of life. Its celebration. The grit, the determination that goes into it to smile. And the love of her friends for her.
All that I could think of then, was, if I put to the same test, would I be able to live by atleast 1% of what they are performing? They are acing it nevertheless. All my problems, tensions and the unnecessary confusion I go through or am going through, is it all even worthy? If I/we could live atleast 50% of what they are living, that would be quite a fulfilling life to me…
Im still reeling from this mind-numbing, life-altering experience.
And the good news is, she is engaged now. Her fiance is in US and they have the consent of his mother too 🙂
Sailaja aims to complete her graduation. She is to appear for her 3rd year exams soon.
Ill be posting on this more regularly now on.