Fragility of life
- We come into this world and think we’ll be here forever. But, we are just fluttering by
Feb 12, 2017-
One day, back in 1990, I lost my mother to stroke. One of my relatives had come to get me during the lunch hour at school. When I reached home, I found my mother’s lifeless body on the floor, draped in a white fabric. Everyone present was crying, except for my father—his tears had dried up. Later that day, they made me sit down and shaved off every single hair from my head. They also made me set fire on the pyre that engulfed my mother’s body. It was difficult to watch my mother burn into ashes and I cried my heart out. I didn’t understand death at the time.
A few months later, I had stayed back in the classroom even after the classes were over for the day. There was a big chart on the wall—illustrating the lifecycle of a butterfly—that had caught all my attention. I didn’t realise I was lost in it until someone called out my name. It was the conductor of our school bus. By the time I looked away from the chart, the man was already grabbing me by the hand and dragging me downstairs to the parking lot. There our bus—the last bus in the lot—stood, with the teachers and students impatiently waiting for me—the missing boy.
After winding through the city, the bus dropped me right in front of my house. Inside, my father was reading a paper from the morning. Like always, he asked me how my day had gone and in reply I told him about the butterfly-chart that had gotten me hooked. I even asked him to buy me the chart. He promised to get it for my birthday. But, I didn’t want to wait for so long. “No daddy, I want it tomorrow.”
The next day when I got home from school, my father hadn’t arrived yet. I waited for him at my neighbour’s house. When he finally appeared, there was no chart in his hands. The fact that he had forgotten about it made me upset. As he fished for the keys to unlock the door, I stood there looking up at him for an answer. But, he said nothing. It was only after dinner that I mustered enough courage to ask if he was getting me the chart.
“Oh, I’m sorry son,” he said before reaching out for his briefcase. From the briefcase he took out a book—a thick hard covered book. “I couldn’t find the chart so I brought you this book. And it looks way better too.”
I had to agree. As soon as I flipped the pages, I realised the book was everything-butterfly. It had beautiful pictures and all information I needed. I gave him the warmest smile and the tightest hug. The book had brought me so much happiness.
With every other day that followed, my fascination with butterflies grew. I would spend long hours reading about butterflies from around the world. I would sneak out to the garden and chase butterflies.
One morning while chasing a butterfly I happened to smack it down to the ground and one of its wings detached from its body. I immediately picked it up with its broken wing and rushed indoor. I tried to glue the wings together but it only disintegrated further. Before I knew it, the butterfly was dead.
I felt horrible. I had just killed something I loved so dearly. When I started sobbing, my father came to check on me.
“Is there any way I can bring it back?”
“I’m afraid not, son. We can’t ever bring something back from death.” My father sounded rather hollow. He was distracted by the picture of my mother, on the wall.
That day I realised people are like butterflies as well. We come into this world and think we’ll be here forever. But, we are just fluttering by. Some soar high in the skies reaching for the sun, some never rise above the ground, and some don’t even make it out of the cocoon. But ultimately, all of them just disappear into nothingness without leaving any trace behind.
We forget that our lives are as fragile as that of a butterfly.
Published: 12-02-2017 09:29