Yesterday was the birthday of a friend of mine from my old college days. I hadn’t been able to keep in touch with him for some time now, so as I woke up in the morning I promised myself that I will dial his number in the afternoon to wish him and also catch up on his updates. With this feeling I entered office and started settling down into the day’s tasks.
About half-an-hour later, one person from the group that has been hired to mop the floors and keep them clean (house-keeping staff) came up to the Human Resource (HR) guys who sit in the cubicle behind mine, and asked for a leave from work. After being prompted for the reason, he said that he just got the news from his native place that his son had met with a fatal accident (he had drowned), and so needed to go visit. The calmness with which he said this really startled me. The HR guys said that he could take off immediately and that they would inform his contractor later.
It felt strange. I’ve been seeing this person for about 3 months now, working day in and day out, and have never thought that he too could have a family life. He comes across as a genuine sort of guy who could never shout at anyone and who would always take the first step back in any argument. Its almost like he is used to being ignored by the busy people running all around him. He was distressed, but surprisingly his face showed little emotion.
The thought stayed with me for most of the day, well after he had left and we got back to our daily activities. Later as I picked up the phone to call and wish my friend for his birthday, I couldn’t help connect the two events. On a day when he would be celebrating the occasion of his birth, some person somewhere would be mourning a death. Come to think of it, on a planet where the human population is fast approaching 7 billion, this pattern will be followed every single day. Contrasts do not come starker than this.
Perhaps, this is an indication of how we should value our lives, while we have the chance to do so.