Monday, December 24, 2007

When death comes calling… a few conclusions

By Shevlin Sebastian

Fact: An assistant sub-inspector, M.C. Elias, 47, died after suffering a head injury while trying to disperse SFI and ABVP activists in the NSS Hindu College campus at Changanassery on Friday, October 26. Elias was hit on the back of the head by a rod while he was trying to pacify the two groups. The campus had been tense because of recent college union elections.

Comment: On Friday morning, when Elias read the newspaper at his house, he could never have imagined that he would be on the front page in the next day’s newspapers. He could also never have imagined when he was told to go to the NSS Hindu College that it would be his last assignment. Could his wife, Sherin, a teacher, have imagined, when she said goodbye, before leaving for work, that she would never see her husband alive again?

As for the children, Sherin, Akhil and Sneha, at one moment, their father was at the centre of their lives, but now, they are staring at an immense and painful void. What about the young man who bludgeoned the police officer to death? Could he have imagined, as he set out to do battle for his student’s union -- the mood angry, the adrenaline surging -- that he would soon be snuffing out a man’s life, shattering the happiness of a family and, probably, destroying his own life and his family’s, if he is caught.

Two facts are evident from this incident: the randomness of a tragic event and its earth-shattering impact on people. And secondly, whether we acknowledge it or not, at every moment of our life, death is hovering at the edges. When we step out into the chaotic traffic, ride an elevator, watch a cricket match or amble around in a park, death can strike you down, no matter what age you are. It could be through an accident, a sudden heart attack, a mob stampede or a bomb blast.

And yet, immersed in our day-to-day life, consumed by ambition, greed and power lust, we forget that death exists. Elias's sudden death should make us realise that the only two permanent events in life are birth and death, while the rest, though important for survival, like a family and a career, are transient.

Nothing lasts!

Of course, all this is no consolation for the Elias family.

But a constant awareness of death should, hopefully, help us to become better human beings: loving and compassionate. And for all the young men in the world who itch to wreak havoc, here's some food for thought: any violence that you mete out on your fellow human beings is, at its core, an assault on your own soul.

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