How do we count the days of our lives? How would we like to be remembered, how do we remember the important days of our lives? Do we remember the good days, the bad days, the happy days, the sad days, the day we met the loves of our lives, the day we lost our most loved ones, the day our children were born? Or do we remember days that may not look so important to others but has a special meaning to us, like the day our dog died or the day the cat gave birth to kittens, something seemingly insignificant to others but which otherwise means a lot to you?
The week gone by was an event full week, full of events. By event I don’t mean some gala function or gathering or party, but important events in life like birthdays and anniversaries etc.
Sunday the 21st was my younger brother’s birthday. We are a family who always make a big to-do over birthdays, and that day was no exception, or so I was informed. Plus it was the day his new daughter got baptized, so it was an extra special day back home. Even though I wasn’t there I can imagine everyone running around in a tizzy, late for church as usual, the baby crying and kicking, the phone ringing, the Sunday morning bathroom rush - just another busy Sunday morning. My sister and sister-in-law agonized over what the baby should wear at the baptism as she was still too small and could not yet be fitted into a fancy dress, and finally she went out in an ensemble that was all white, they told me. The little family was invited to dinner by my brother’s best friend who shared the same birthday with him. In fact, when they were born our two families lived in the same building, way back in 1981.
Monday the 22nd was the birthday of my other sister-in-law, my older brother’s wife. It was also the birthday of one of my girl friends at work, and she came all dressed up in a beautiful sari. On Tuesday the 23rd one of my friends gave birth to a baby girl, her second daughter. She called me up a few days later and sounded very happy, and I could hear voices in the background, her mother and female relatives who were there to care for her.
Wednesday the 24th was yet another colleague’s birthday, and there was the usual hullaballoo of cutting a cake and smearing it on his face and singing Happy Birthday with the worst group of people I've ever sung with (although I'm no songbird myself I can tell when someone sings off-key).
Thursday the 25th was pay day, so it goes without saying that it’s the best day of the month, every month. The next day was the 21st wedding anniversary of a team member so as the clock struck midnight congratulations and handshakes and unfunny anecdotes about married life floated about. Again a cake cutting ceremony followed (it almost seemed like we were looking for excuses to celebrate), but no smearing on the face this time. Just a bunch of people, most of us unmarried, celebrating the wedding anniversary of a friend, no doubt each one with his or her own thoughts about marriage. I reached home at around three am, and was roaming around in cyberspace when a headline hit me “Michael Jackson hospitalised.” TMZ had already reported that he had died, and I was shocked to the core. It was so sudden, so out of nowhere. BBC and CNN were still a bit hesitant to say he was dead, but a few minutes later they also joined in, reporting his death. A sudden wave of sadness, a feeling of loss engulfed me. I immediately downloaded his songs, and watched his videos on Youtube. It had been many years since I last saw the videos, and it was weird knowing that the energetic young man in the videos was now dead. Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.
I started thinking about death. If I die tomorrow, how will people remember me? What legacy will I leave behind? Who will cry when I die? Will people remember me for a long time, or will they feel sad for a few days and then go on with their lives? Death is something that will come to all of us; there is no escape from it no matter how much we avoid thinking about it. And what's so sad about it is that we cannot take any of our material things along when death’s cold hand reaches for us. We leave everything behind; we cannot take a single thing with us. No matter how many riches we accumulate, no matter how many material things we collect, in the end they belong to someone else. Nothing is truly ours. The world will remember us for the good deeds we did, for the great works we left behind, for our remarkable achievements and successes, that I believe is the only thing worth leaving behind.
Friday was uneventful, but the death of Michael Jackson had made it a sad day, and I spent every free minute I had listening to his songs, and I'm still listening to them as I write this.
This morning I got a phone call from home - my niece turns two months old today. Another reason to celebrate. In the midst of death and sadness, a new life slowly begins.