Not all stories have a neat ending. Not all the loose ends are satisfactorily tied up and a happy conclusion reached. But nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned and moments to be celebrated in the thick midst of the chaotic, often unpredictable events of life.
During my many hours outside the dialysis unit of a famous hospital in Bandra, Mumbai, I encountered many a story. Stories of such poignancy and human complexities, that it may take a lifetime to fully appreciate the richness of their being. Today’s Satyamev Jayate episode on alcoholism reminded me of one such story. Though the details may have faded from my memory, the essence remains.
Raghav (name changed) looked like any one of the tall, devout church going Bandra residents one may expect to encounter on Hill Road, Mumbai. He was polite, respectful and thoughtful to an extent that anyone around him would feel only grateful to have his helpful, supportive presence around. He accompanied a cheerful, albeit tired senior citizen undergoing dialysis. One day, unprompted, he began to share his life story with me. Contrary to their manner and way of being together, he said, he was not the gentleman’s son. His devotion came from gratitude. Apparently, he had been rescued, quite literally, from the gutters by the old man. Raghav had been abandoned as a child, grew up on the streets and took to alcohol at an early age. With no one to guide him or care for him, he was all that could be expected of a child alcoholic on the streets.
The gentleman fighting for his life and in dire need of a kidney transplant, was an advocate of Alcoholics Anonymous. Raghav said that he was responsible for transforming the lives of scores of alcoholics. Giving them a new lease of life, a return to dignity. Raghav had been more or less adopted by the childless couple and he was indebted to them. He spoke of the gentleman with great reverence and gratitude, describing many scenes of transformation to me. We both sat in silence for a long while, when he ended by saying he could not fathom how such a man was facing such a health crisis. Sometimes there are no satisfactory answers as you stew in the situation.
But I do know that the gentleman was mentally strong and as cheerful as ever. Had it not been for Raghav, his humble and down to earth attitude would have never given away the secrets of his generosity. And more striking than anything else, was his unquestioning faith in God and the goodness of humanity. It was as inexplicable as it was inspiring. There were no bitter complaints, no questions of “why me?” nor any argument with what was his current reality.
I knew Raghav was trying his best to give him his kidney and was pushing for all the necessary tests and papers.
As I said at the outset, there is no neat ending to this story. I do not know what happened. In the midst of Raghav’s attempts to give a fresh lease of life to his benefactor, we shifted to Pune. So I do not know how this ended. Whether there was a fairy tale ending – where the kidney was a perfect match and the gentleman lived a long and healthy life thereafter. Or it went the other way. I don’t know.
But I do know that his attitude to life was remarkable. His generosity of spirit was unforgettable. And his demonstration of love, acceptance and faith memorable.
And for those of you who happen to read this – perhaps that is the question to ponder… not how it turned out, but how it was all being lived.