Life Is What You Make It – A Life Lesson

We are all quick to crib about the problems we have, the material things we lack and how life has been unfair to us. I have done that too. Many a times. But I deeply regret.

It took me almost four years to gather enough courage to meet one of my classmates from college who was just blocks away from my workplace till a few months ago. I had planned to meet him many a times. Twice I had hired an auto and halfway through decided to return back without meeting him. I lacked the courage to face him.

You must be wondering why someone needs courage to meet a classmate. So here’s why.

He was the most intelligent and the most energetic guy in the whole batch across all disciplines. You would never find him sitting quietly for longer than a few minutes. His energy most of the times left many irritated for he would ask question after question during a lecture and the lecturer as well as we would get irritated. After all, we were nowhere close to what he would be asking them. I remember how I had once begged him to allow me to concentrate on one of the electronics projects we were working on. His sole intention was to help. But we wanted to learn it ourselves.

After college, I wasn’t in touch with most of my friends. Life took over.

Orkut arrived. I still wasn’t connected. And then in 2009 I joined FaceBook. And slowly I started connecting with school friends, teachers and college mates.

I connected with him in June 2011. Twelve years after college. I was a completely changed person. He too was a completely changed person. But I wish he hadn’t. My friend was studying at a prestigious university in the United States when he met with a near-fatal accident. He had a serious spinal injury which rendered him a C4 quadriplegic. He hasn’t shared any details of his accident and I didn’t probe.

Quadriplegia is paralysis caused by illness or injury to a human that results in the partial or total loss of use of all their limbs and torso. The loss is usually sensory and motor, which means that both sensation and control are lost.

Yes, he was unable to use any of his limbs. In short, he lacks sensation neck down.

I got to know from one of my other college friends that she had visited him sometime after this accident and he was not able to move at all.

I could never gather enough courage to go and meet him in person. I was always worried of how I’ll face him. I am extremely sensitive and didn’t want to make it difficult for him. Hence I kept postponing.

This January when the other college friend of mine informed me of her visit to India and a wish to meet me and my family, I was extremely touched. We were not the best of friends in college. But we had shared three beautiful years in the same class, on the same benches, listening to the same boring lectures on linear algebra, quantum physics, electronic regulators and computer programming. Sometimes we even shared the same plate of Chole Bhature or a Samosa or a Bread Pakora with sixteen other partners in crime. The first thing I asked her was whether she’ll be meeting this friend of ours. When she responded in affirmation, I tagged along still fearing if I should.

Finally I met him this afternoon and I am glad I did. It was necessary for me. Not so much for him.

He is now the Vice President of a company he has founded himself and is doing pretty well. His family is extremely supportive. His brother quit his dollar paying job to join him. His father is always by his side.

He regularly takes physiotherapy and other exercise sessions and is now able to use his hands to some extent. I saw him operate his mobile phone with a pencil attached to a band on his hand. He moves around on his special wheelchair with lots of controls that he can handle himself.

I believe that this would not have been possible without his will power. When most people gave upon life at the smallest instance, my friend chose to survive and excel. He is a really strong willed person and I pray for his wellbeing. Really proud of how he has emerged out of it. The rise of the Phoenix in his own words.

I pray that nobody has to face such a condition. And I also wish that in case we ever have to go through something difficult in life, we must have the mental strength and will power to accept and overcome the same.

I also came to know of another batchmate who was studying in Australia and was killed in a racial attack. His family could not even get his body for the last rites. So much in the name of racism. Sad.

Compassionate we have to be. Tolerant we need to be. Kind we must be. Strong-willed we should be.

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16 Replies to “Life Is What You Make It – A Life Lesson”

  1. I so wish the world could read this post and follow the guidelines especially at the end. How easily we judge people. May we all be more tolerant. Rekha, don’t beat yourself up. Guilt is the worst part. You met him when the time was right. That is what matters.

  2. I know that this is probably going to sound a bit odd, but i guess sometimes ‘meets’ are pre-written. So maybe this was the best time to meet him. As for the world being compassionate, sigh. We’re so quick to pass judgement on everything. Here’s to hoping that we all be a little bit more tolerant and raise more tolerant and understanding kids. I know you’ll do a superb job with your little ones

  3. I’m glad you met him and realized that he had made the best of a bad situation and that he didn’t need anyone’s pity! He seems to be a very inspirational person indeed!

  4. Rekha, if you hadn’t met your friend we would not have had the opportunity to know about his strength and never say die attitude through your post. Your meeting with him was pre-determined. His family has rallied around him and that is his greatest source of strength.thanks for sharing this post wih us.

  5. We get so lost in this race of life that we forget to thank our stars for whatever we have.. We need to learn from your friend , we really do…This makes me think about the important things in life and how much we run after things that don’t really matter in the end…hmm

  6. He is definitely the most willed person. And a true inspiration. Such people are far and few to be seen. Actually it was good that you postponed meeting him. Now you know even the worst possible circumstances can be turned around with determination. Thank you for sharing this, Rekha.

  7. Here, I thought I was the one with all the problems in the world!! There can’t be a better time to read this post than Now.. I have been cribbing about how God has chosen to ignore all my requests. I think this post is an answer to all the worries in my mind! Appreciate the life and comforts we have and make the most of it instead of questioning Why, what and how!

  8. Rekha, those last four lines of yours. What to say after that? The only words that come to me after reading this deeply touching post is – thank you! Thank you for writing this and for sharing about the courage of your friend. Makes one really introspect on one’s situation in life, one’s blessing and what really matters.

  9. I second, Beloo. Thank you for sharing his tale and for your last lines. All of us must step back and make an effort to be more tolerant, understanding and compassionate.

  10. Very motivating write. Thanks for sharing it. Though was feeling extremely sorry to know how destiny has confined this highly vibrant & energetic person to a wheel chair, was glad to read about the time & support from his family & the undaunting indomitable spirit in him to fight the hindrances & progress gradually. His life & your concluding lines are highly inspirational.

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