The Last Lecture
No, this is not about the famous “Last Lecture” written by Randy Pausch. But the hero in this story is also a college Professor. [ Day 31 of “One Day One Blog” — #Missionaccomplished ]
I love flashbacks. They come at such promising junctures in each narrative. But I am going to break the rules and start with a flash back scene.
The year was 2003.
I had a Professor of Finance in college. The campus corridors were filled with scary stories of how his victims fell. Much before the classes started, the seniors filled our ears with stories of academic gore (looking back, I can see how they exaggerated a bit).
The mandatory credit course which he taught comes in the 2nd term and lasts 3 months. More than half the class spent the 3 months in mortal fear. In hindsight, I am not sure why we were so scared. It is not that we had thin skins and could not handle humiliation. In fact, most of us had mastered the skill to such an extent that it should have been on our resume.
It is important for our story that you know about the type of student I was . I was terrified of authority and I also truly believed that I could never comprehend subjects such as Finance and Statistics. The scary tales passed along the corridors and the hostel rooms were more than sufficient to put me in a mind-numbing, body-paralyzing fear — hardly the best way to start a lesson, you will agree.
As a way of saving myself from some very humiliating stories ( including how much I scored in that paper) I had blocked out the entire course from my memory.
While I may have painted him out to be quite the dangerous person, he was also one of the most highly principled individuals that walked the corridors of my college. Incredibly intelligent and totally rocking the “tapori” style ( as we kids called it), the man had quite a fan following. But I digress.
The Prof was famous for his “Last lecture” which he delivered at the end of the 3 month course. My husband (who was also my classmate) assures me that I had indeed attended the session. But as a well adjusted individual whose way of dealing with issues is to block them out, I had completely erased these episodes of my life.Or so I thought.
[ end of flashback]
The year is 2017
I am at home in Kochi, now married to my then classmate, Chandu. And I am playing a song from a 1959 Raj Kapoor movie — in repeat mode.
It is my go-to song when I need a little pick-me-up. Perhaps you too have one such song?
When I get bogged down by existential questions like what exactly is the purpose of this life? Am I on the right path? And so on and so forth, I listen to this song. Especially the first stanza. It never fails to give me a perspective on life.
This is how it goes:
“Kisiki muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar
Kisika dard mil sake to le udhaar
Kisike waaste ho tere dil mein pyaar
Jeena issi ka naam hai “
And here is my attempt at translation:
“To give yourself up just to see that someone smile
If you can, borrow someone else’s grief (so that his burden becomes lesser)
If there is love for someone in your heart…. That is called Life”
This songs embodies my life’s philosophy. I use this as a point of reference when I feel a little lost. This is what each line says to me:
1. To give yourself up just to see that someone smile
I would give myself up, in every sense of the word, to see the smile my little niece bestows on me.
Last week, she came down to Kochi to visit. I was fast asleep. As soon as Chandu opened the door, the little tornado ran into my bedroom and threw herself at me. I was barely awake when someone switched on the lights. I looked down and her smile cut through my haziness.
If all I ever get from her is that smile, I would happily give myself up for that.
2. If you can, borrow someone else’s grief
so that their sorrow is halved….
As any self respecting teenager does, my brother and I grew up complaining about everyone we are related to do. As we got older , this brood grew with the people who got married into our family. Meanwhile, I also extended this “family” with our special friends who are now such an integral part of my being.
When one among them gets hurt, a part of my being cries with them. I would so happily borrow their grief as mine if it would ease even a bit of their suffering.
If this is the only thing I “achieve” in this life, I will consider my life’s purpose fulfilled.
3. If there is love for someone in your heart….
As I would give myself up to see my little niece smile, there is someone who would give himself up just to see me smile. After 14 years of being in each other’s lives, that love which gets tested often ( trust me, it does) just shines brighter everyday
So, yes… this indeed is living the right way!
Now I mentioned earlier how I was playing this song in repeat mode.
Chandu ( who is clearly tired after hearing it for the tenth time or so) asks,
“Why are you listening to this so many times?
Me( with an Oh-I-am-so-wise-look): “Chandu , if there is something called a “Life Song”, then this should be mine. Every time I lose sight of what is important in life, this songs guides me back onto track.”
After a moment’s thought, Chandu: “When did you 1st hear this song”[ If there is one thing Chandu would change about me that would be my lack of knowledge in music.I am famous for never recollecting ANY of the songs I hear]
Me: “I don’t know…..somewhere on Youtube, I guess”
With one of his know-it-all smirks, Chandu: “Do you not remember the famous Last Lecture of Prof B where he signs off with this song?”
[ The bulb goes on in my head]
It took me nearly 14 years to realize this… even when I stubbornly refused to learn the finance lessons he tried to teach, he still managed to teach me about what is important in life.
A humble salute to a great teacher from an old student.
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Dear Friends, On May 1st 2017 I took upon myself the challenge of writing one blog every day for this whole month. Today is the end of the challenge. I will continue to write ( perhaps not every day). My deepest love and gratitude for everyone of you who helped me on this challenge #OneDayOneBlog #missionaccomplished 🙂