Friday, November 22, 2013

The Guardian Angel...

‘Preethi Sagar’- the oldest restaurant in our locality has been closed for almost a decade, in its glory days it was a place to reckon, now that the roads are being widened the building is being taken down piece by piece.

As I walk past this structure which has probably been reduced to rubble by the time you read this, I am reminded of all the evenings I spent here gorging on hot samosas and masala dosa’s as a kid, but as the saying goes, ‘the old must make way for the new’.

I know where I’m headed - the grocery store (again, the oldest in my neck of the woods), I am absolutely sure that the store is out of milk, but since I conveniently forgot to buy it in the morning I have no choice but to keep looking. There’s a song stuck in my head, I am neither able to stop it from playing nor am I able to recollect the correct lyrics so I’m just humming the tune to myself trying to be as discrete as possible.

I become acutely aware of the fact that my phone is back at home and somehow I am damn sure that this one hour window is going to be the time that everyone is going to want to call me.

I suddenly notice a silvery sparkly thing lying on the road, I pause to look at it and then I realize it’s just the wrapper of a chocolate turned upside down, I start walking again and then it happens-

A multitude of branches from an old tree at the junction come crashing to the ground.
I stare at them from a distance not more than five feet away, for a moment the busy world around me pauses, the windshields of the cars parked below are smashed and so are the mirrors on the motorcycles underneath.
It takes me a while but when I finally return to my senses I take a deep breath and sigh heavily knowing fully well that if not for the silver foil on the street that caused me a delay of a few seconds I would have been seriously injured.

I look around to find the distraction that apparently saved my life but I cant find it, its gone.

There are days while I’m riding my bike when I feel tempted to give into the feeling of letting go of the brakes and pulling down on the accelerator.

The music in my ears, the palpable rumble of the engine, the wind blowing gently against my body, The perfect setting that creates a feeling that nothing could possibly  go wrong and as I am about to make a wide angled turn on the highway a voice tells me to slow down, I don’t want to, I really don’t , but the voice inside is persistent, so I slow down and just around the corner I see a broken down truck that I would most certainly have rammed into if I hadn’t reduced my speed.
So I wonder, Where do these distractions arise, where does that inner voice come from?

What keeps you from falling when you suddenly trip over a stone in the middle of the street?

Is it just a heightened sense of proprioception or is there an invisible hand reaching out to hold you just as your face is about to hit the ground.

I asked this same question once and person at the receiving end of my query was a man whom I have come to respect a lot over the years that have passed.

Jose Ettan. 
WhenI first met him he was pursuing an MBA at Christ University Bangalore, It was the Jesus Youth annual retreat called ‘Harvest’ and He was sharing with us the story of his life.

It was an incredible story, dealing with homelessness, poverty, hunger, an abusive step father and a baby sister he had to take care of right  from the tender age of 5 years Jose ettan had seen it all and survived it all and for the most part of it he did it with a smile on his face.

As he stood on the stage that day and praised God for all that he has been through and what it has all led him to now I couldn’t help but stand up and ask him what gave him the courage to go through all this pain and suffering.

He looked at me and said, “During those tough times My mother would cheer me up by telling me that everyone has a Guardian angel watching over them, keeping them safe, and that belief kept me from feeling alone all my life”.

For some reason the skeptic in me refrained from disagreeing with him, somewhere deep down inside I knew there was some truth in what Jose Ettan was saying.

Rob Zemeckis ‘Castaway’ is a truly remarkable film.
Following its release the film drew praise from the audience and critics alike.

Tom Hanks’s portrayal of Chuck Noland - a man in the best years of his life, stranded all alone on an island following a plane crash brought in rave reviews.

I actually watched the film the first time expecting a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ like story filled with adventure and thrill but to my dismay the film was completely the opposite, understandably, as a kid, I was disappointed.

I felt compelled to watch this film again a few days back.
This time around, things were a lot different.

I realized that this film was more than just a tale of survival, it was a deep examination of life and its pursuits, an attempt at understanding the meaning of some things that seem purposeless at first but eventually form the basis of our existence.

While on the Island there are three things keeping Chuck alive, the hope of returning home to his loving fiancé-Kelly, an unopened package with a unique symbol on it that he hopes to deliver after he is rescued, and Wilson- a volleyball turned friend whom chuck converses with.

No rescue team arrives and four years go by.

He still holds on to the time piece with his fiancés picture in it, Wilson is still around and the package with the symbol is still unopened.

One morning a large part of a portable toilet washes up on the island; Chuck uses it as a sail in the construction of a raft and heads out into the ocean, a storm nearly tears his raft apart.

The following day, "Wilson" falls from the raft and is lost, leaving Chuck overwhelmed by loneliness.
Wilson !
He weeps bitterly and throws the oars into the ocean.
It’s obvious that He has finally given up.

A cargo ship finds Chuck a few hours later and rescues him
There’s a huge crowd waiting for him as he arrives back on land, he doesn’t care much for them, there is only one person his eyes are searching for - Kelly, but she is not there, Chucks old dentist shows up instead, and guess what  Kelly is married to him and they have a kid.

One evening Chuck decides to meet Kelly.

He arrives at her doorstep drenched in the heavy rain that is pouring outside.

She lets him in, the tension in the room is palpable as they both struggle with the uncomfortable silence inside.

Chuck doesn’t complain, or fight or accuse Kelly of anything, he just listens to her as she starts talking about her family and her attempts to find Chuck after the plane crash.

I realize something right then.
I understand why Chuck looks to be at peace.

I guess its because - When you truly love someone all you want is for them to be happy even if it does not mean that they get to be with you.

It’s getting late now and chuck decides to leave, Kelly gives him the key to his old car and he starts to drive away.

She chases him down the road and they kiss, they profess their love for each other but, realizing a future together would be impossible due to her commitment to her family, they part

With Wilson gone and Kelly a part of someone else’s life Chuck has only one thing left to do.

In the last scene we see him on his way to delivering the package that gave him a reason to survive all these days, he stands outside the door of the farmhouse, nobody’s home.
He writes the words ‘This package saved my life” on a note and leaves the package at the door.

We now see him standing at a crossroads; he is wondering where to go.

A pickup truck comes along and pulls over near him, a woman steps out and gives him all possible directions explaining which road lead to where, Chuck thanks her, and she leaves.

As the truck drives away he notices the same symbol embossed on the rear of the truck that was on the package he’d just delivered, and he smiles.

The symbol my friends was a pair of angel wings.

It’s probably just the sentimental idiot in me talking, but maybe, just maybe, in some part of the world, at some quiet corner there is someone watching over you and me, maybe all our trials and triumphs and failures in life are all about finding our way towards that one guardian angel who will show us where to go and give us a reason to stick around.

To everyone like me who is in pursuit of that special someone, here's what Chuck Noland and I have to say-

 “You keep living, you keep breathing, cause tomorrow the sun will rise, and you never know what the tide may bring in”.

Until Next Time