As I take a walk down memory lane, the day still remains vivid in my mind’s eye. It’s like it happened just yesterday; it actually occurred nearly eight years ago, when I was a tiny fifth grader.
A close family friend, Michael Uncle, had a German Shepherd named Storm. Storm was just as magnificent as his name- fierce, loyal , smart and simply adorable, he was capable of following instructions in three languages! So when Storm had a pup, what better name to give her other than Gale!
I remember watching Michael Uncle feed Gale with drops of milk from a baby’s bottle. And when Gale began to barely open her eyes, I would wonder at the beauty in play before me- God’s inexplicable mysteries. And when she would yawn, showing her small budding canine teeth, I was simply convinced that divinity still exists in our lives.
I remember skipping home from school, a happy-go-lucky child, looking forward to a weekend to be spent reading Ruskin Bond and playing with Gale. And that’s when Dad greeted me with ..... the News.
Gale, hardly six weeks old, had caught an infection and.... died! Just like that! In a fraction of a second, all gone! A life completely sniffled away! It was probably the first time I experienced facing the death of a loved one. I was baffled, angry, and upset at the injustice in the world. In all my fifth grader innocence, I scribbled down my thoughts in a battered old diary, hot angry tears pouring onto the pages, and I blamed God for the blatant cruelty.
Today, when I think of that day, I wonder how precarious life is, how perilous. Like a child perched onto a see saw, trying to maintain his balance. No wonder the fourteenth century Indian philosopher Adi Shankaracharya wrote in his work “Bhaja Govindam”, “ Life is just like a droplet of water on a lotus leaf...”
We hardly have any control over things that apparently stretch into the future. It’s just a mirage in a desert, but we mistake it for an oasis. One never knows what happens in the next second. We need to focus our attention on things we can do at the present. NOW is the only time we can afford to invest in. Let’s take time off our busy(?) schedules and focus on the finer aspects of life. Turn “scars into stars”, replace frowns with smiles; substitute the dark with spark! Because... “You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast, time is short, the music won’t last...”
P.S The above verse is from “Slow Dance” , a poem written by a terminally ill girl at a New York Hospital. I wrote this article, partly as a reminder to myself, so that I count my blessings and invest in NOW, instead of drifting away into the world of cribs and complaints.