Written by Nandini Sethi
I was too young to see what I saw;
To experience what I experienced.
A long time ago, I had made a decision to live life how I wanted to:
I was young and bright, but my innocence was corrupted by difficult circumstances:
I had just learnt how to say “Ma”, when she passed on,
Just learnt to grieve when the responsibilities of my siblings fell on my shoulders;
I was too young to be this mature, but I decided to grow up anyway.
Devoted and bright-eyed, I began my journey as a man in the corporate world;
I was cheated and pushed around, bullied and stomped to the ground,
But I didn’t let it faze me: I never had the option,
I was too young to even look after myself, but I had two sons back home that needed me more.
There was a time when I never thought I would stop,
But when I was begun to be offered a seat on the public transport,
When not even a smidge of the black remained on my head,
I realised I had had enough of this. I was too young to be asked to retire, but I was asked anyway.
Things weren’t so bad after that;
I took pride in watching my sons grow from temperamental boys to independent men,
And as I stood by making arrangements for their weddings and then the weddings of their children,
I thought to myself, “aren’t I too young to watch my granddaughter hold the hand of a man other than myself?”
I grew to enjoy retirement,
I never had the luxury of time before, so at first I didn’t know what to do with so much of it.
I bought a house, I bought new clothes, then I bought a flat screen TV for my room;
Hand in hand, my wife and I sat on a plane like young lovers for the first time, vowing to see as much of the world as we could.
Very soon after that, a moment of enlightenment came to me,
When one day I opened my eyes, expecting to be greeted by the bare walls of my room,
I was met with with blinding fluorescent lights and a drip in my vein.
How did I get here?
I had so many questions,
I wanted to look for answers, look for a familiar face,
But for the first time in my life, I lacked the energy,
I don’t know how,
But I knew this was my life,
Coming to an end.
I was afraid and anxious, but like the trajectory of my life thus far, I grew to understand.
I looked back:
A son without a mother, I felt privileged being able to raise my younger siblings,
A man in the corporate world, I made friends that I would cherish for life,
Retirement, the world wasn’t large enough for my wife and I.
I kept my promise, I lived life how I wanted to,
But somehow, somewhere, I felt like something was incomplete.
I was 81, but I was too young to see what I saw:
The needles and the machines and constant beeps that reminded me of my lively spirit, but failing body.
It brought me immense pain,
But even in that loss, I learnt many lessons:
I know how much I loved and how much I was loved,
Now I just feel silly calling myself too young.
~ Inspired by the life of Nand Kumar Sethi