A third person then stepped in to say, “We ALL remember him….despite what my teenage thoughts may have made me say or feel, in retrospect, I’m thankful for the role he played, in giving me the life I live today.” This, I feel, is an amazing response, and quite the benchmark for how we ought to feel about all the unpleasant people we encounter through our life journey. Easy to say, but quite very difficult to practice.
But this discussion also set me thinking about something I read recently. Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” asks readers to visualize the event of their own death. He then asks you to imagine “What you would want people from your family, friend circle, workplace, and any community organization to say about you and your life? What character would you like them to have seen in you? What achievements would you want them to remember? What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”
Over the past couple of days, social media has been full of eulogies for the great singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and what is astounding is that so many of them are from ordinary folk you and I know. SPB touched people through his music but unknown to many of us, he was also deeply involved with helping others – whether it was sponsoring chess champion Vishwanathan Anand’s team in the national team championship in 1983, or raising funds for charitable causes through his stage shows. Did you know, for example, that he set up the SPS Charitable Foundation in memory of his father? Through this platform, he was involved with providing financial help for a plethora of organizations involved with education, palliative care, serving the disabled, flood relief, cine musicians, orphanages, and on and on the list goes.
|Image courtesy: The New Indian Express|
I watched a video clip on Twitter in which SPB is seen surprising a blind fan hailing from Sri Lanka. Another video showed me the legend’s humility as he touched the feet of the ‘doli’ bearers who were to carry him to the Sri Ayyappan shrine at Sabarimala. I read online about how, in August, when SPB’s health condition was steadily declining, the same temple did something it had never before done – it performed a musical puja to Sri Ayappan for SPB’s recovery, and after this, one of the temple musicians rendered the Naadaswaram to his award-winning “Shankaraaa….naadashareeraa…”
Well, if we had to correlate SPB’s life with Stephen Covey’s questions……you can fill in the blanks for yourself.
I haven’t told many of you this. On the night of 5th September this year, my nephew Shreeharsha passed away from issues that traced their origin to long-standing health problems. He used to write, too, and had even penned a piece of our visit to Haridwar and Rishikesh in 2015. (You can read that post here)
In his short journey of 31 years, he touched all our lives with his unique wit and humor and inspired us by his refusal to let his physical handicap limit his abilities to enjoy life and true to his name, spread joy. Harsha was a great fan of the Bengaluru Football Club, and a vociferous supporter, often traveling to different parts of the country to support his beloved team. Closer home, he was the inspiration for my son to get actively involved with football.
After Harsha’s demise, we, his family, grieved his passing, reminiscing about the things he did and said and the way he lived. Quite surprising to us was the outpouring of grief from his larger circle of friends and even mere acquaintances. Twitter and Facebook were filled with posts from his friends, colleagues at all the places he worked and of course, hundreds of BFC fans. A common thread that ran through all their remembrances was his positive spirit and ability to make people feel comfortable after just a few minutes of interaction.
As I told my niece, Harsha’s sister Rajashree, about this phenomenon, she exclaimed, “I wonder where he found the time to do things to create such an impression on so many people!” As we pondered over this question, it struck me that impressions get formed by what one IS as a person – when that is impactful enough, there is never the need to DO something separately to create an impression.
Whether it was the lab assistant or SPB or Harsha or me or you whenever our time comes, it is the way we live our lives, the things we do and say as we pass through this life’s journey that will sustain in our wake.