Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Today morning when I was walking to the bus stop in Besant Nagar, I saw a lady near the Sri Krishna Sweets turning. I was thinking the many thoughts that come to my head these days as I walked when I reached her side.
She smelled distinctly of chewed vethalai (betel leaves). I made to walk a little further away when she suddenly called me. I looked at her for a few seconds and I registered her badly scarred teeth, red tongue, rugged face and portly demeanour. I wondered what she could want with me – the time, perhaps, which is very often why I am stopped at that hour in the morning by passers-by.
I asked her what she wanted and she immediately asked me if I knew where MGR’s house was. I was startled. I asked her again what it was that she wanted and she repeated herself. I said that he lived in Ramapuram until he died. She became visibly upset. She said “Ayyo paavam. Avar irukara varaikkum avaraala dhaan naan nalla irundhen.” This translates to “Pitiful! Until he lived, it was because of him that I lived well.” I would not have believed it if I hadn’t heard it with my own ears and seen her lips move while she spoke those words.
She continued to say that she still couldn’t believe that MGR is dead and that she wanted to see atleast his house. Her male relative, who was walking a few steps ahead of her turned back to look at her and she hurried away after him. She continued to mutter all the way as she walked unable to digest the fact that her hero had gone. She was recounting all the good deeds that he had done and the benefits that poor people had reaped during his reign as CM of Tamilnadu. She was willing to make the arduous trip from Besant Nagar to Ramapuram to just see a building where he had lived 2 decades ago.
MGR passed away in 1987. Nearly 25 years after that, this lady is able to remember him!! He definitely lingers on as a memory, as a hero, as a human being who helped them when they needed it in the hearts of many such people in Tamilnadu. Cho said in Thirumbi Paarkiren program on Jaya TV long back – “Veetla olai vechutu adhu pongum dra nambikkai oda oruthar kitta poga mudiyum naa, Tamizhnaatla adhu MGR oruthar dhaan.” This means, “If you can keep the stove on and go to someone in the hope that you will get food that day, it has be MGR as far as Tamilnadu is concerned.” Such was his attitude when it came to helping people!!
What the lady exhibited is not stupid sentimentality; it is love in its purest form. Mortality is the one single chance that we have to attain immortality. To make a difference to those who live lesser lives than us is essential.
In Harry Potter, during the limbo sequence in the final book, Harry asks Dumbledore, “And, where would it take me?” Dumbledore replies very simply, “On”. I understood its real meaning today. To live on through one’s good deeds, helping hands and sacrifices is as good as living physically. If we remember that we can move on with death, we will not be scared of it.
Going to heaven is less appealing compared to living on. Living in people’s hearts after you die is a great thing. If the people who remember you after you die are your family and friends, it is no big deal. If there is someone else, who will remember you and cherish you after you die, it is a great thing. Probably, the greatest thing.
MGR, having held the CM’s office, has touched plenty more lives than we can ever dream of doing. But we can contribute in our own ways, however small. Even if we can’t contribute, atleast we must want to contribute. As Avvaiyaar rightly said “Aram seyya virumbu.” A simple thought can change lives. How rightly foreseen!