The ephemeral nature of our life

As I shuttled between my cube and a colleague’s cube at work trying to mentor him, I saw my IM blinking. It was a person in my office who also lived in the community I did. “I am working from home…” he typed. Sure it was going to a request for some favor, I had almost started typing I was with another person and can help out after 3:00 PM when I saw what he typed next. “S left for work and saw smoke from the court on which your home is…” My heart was in my throat. For one instant my mind ran through all the possibilities of what could have caused a fire. Images of my stove, my iron box, oven flitted past. Nope. I woke late and did not have time to go near the kitchen. In a state of controlled panic, I dialled K’s number. Check with our neighbors I said. K took over and I went back to work. A few minutes later the details were out. It was one four or five homes down from ours. The fire brigade was out in full force said our neighbor.

My mind went blank. I tried to remember something. Anything of the home or its inhabitants and realized I had no idea who lived there. Vague impressions of people a couple parking and heading into their home is all I had. I googled and found this short mention in our local news page.

“Emergency crews have been called to a reported house fire this afternoon.

Initial reports indicate a male victim with extensive burns. A medical helicopter has been called to the scene.”

Somebody was hurt. I had no idea who. I have lived there for a while now. I feel shamed and upset. And shocked. How does one handle it if you go to work one morning and come back to what used to be your home? The house will be replaced, insurance will take care of part of the costs yet, what about the intangibles? The memories you create. The sense of security? I am probably overreacting because it has hit too close to home. Literally.

Every time I settle into a gentle rocking rhythm in life something comes along to give me a jolt and awaken me to the possibility that the peace is an illusion.

7 thoughts on “The ephemeral nature of our life

  1. Very true, Laksh. There are many days I feel like this especially when I hear of an accident/loss in the news. And when you know the person or family involved, just associating a name and face to the event makes it harder to comprehend. If someone is not home on time or the phone rings really late in the night, my mind goes berserk travelling at the speed of light in a million directions…I always took it to be a part of my super-paranoid personality. I should say that motherhood has taken this paranoia to a completely higher level and I try to cope with it everytime I hear of such things. I guess it is a part of life. It sure knocks us into cherishing what we have and quit cribbing about the small things!

  2. I like that word, ephemeral. Indeed, life is made up of ephemeral moments that form memories. Sorry to hear about the fire and yes, it does jolt you and remind you how really fragile we are as well as all these things that surround us or we surround ourselves with.

  3. @Kiran: True!
    @Devi: I can so relate to what you say. Not the motherhood part but generally the sense of panic I feel with late night calls and unexpected messages.
    @Mads: I hope so too. They have all be evacuated and are in a hotel for the next week while crews are airing out the house and their belongings.
    @Nalini: I like it too. Makes it feel mystical.

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