July 26, 2005 – Mumbai, Marol Naka, 3.30 in the evening – it had been raining heavily for a while then. There was a power shut down in our office and some of us thought it’s better to try and get home before the local trains stop plying. It wasn’t an uncommon scene in Mumbai for the local trains’ service to be shut down due to heavy rainfall.
We got out of office thinking it was one of those routine heavy rains. Little did we know the adventure that was awaiting us. When we stepped out, there was water till our knees. I was slightly panicking because that was my first experience of Mumbai’s heavy rain. But my colleague was reassuring. So, we began walking. In about half hour, the water level began steadily rising and it was now till my waist. Another half hour or less and the water level rose till my neck. By now, the slight panic had grown into a massive fear. I had no idea what to do. We wanted to get into any building on the sides but we couldn’t. The current was strong and we couldn’t distinguish between the gutter and the gate. One wrong step and we could be swept away in the water. Frozen with fear, I was holding on to a lorry. One of the men helped me to get on to a bus for safety.
As we sat in the bus we noticed that water was getting into the bus as well. The fellow passengers decided that we should try our luck and walk to Andheri station while there was still light. They spoke of the danger of getting stuck in deep water through a dark night. Petrified, I approached a tall man and sought his help to walk through the water. He agreed graciously. We walked and walked for hours. If it was not for the people who pulled me by my hand and hair, I would’ve been swept away in the water for sure for the number of times I slipped. Death and I encountered a few times that evening! Miraculously, after many hours of ordeal and thanks to many good Samaritans, I made it to my guardian’s place, at about 10 in the night. My aunt was shocked to see me. She couldn’t believe that I made it in that heavy rain somehow. My parents breathed a sigh of relief when they knew I was some place safe.
I sat down, and I could still feel the water current passing through my body. I cried for about an hour. I couldn’t believe I had survived. It was a miracle! In those moments, when I thought death was just around the corner, I had only one wish – to bid a final goodbye to my parents. I did not have anything left unsaid or undone. I was happy with the way I had lived my life and had no regrets. All I thought was – God! Couldn’t you think of another nicer way for me to die?
Today, when I look back, that is the most profound experience. I realized that we have not come with a guarantee tag like a Prestige pan. Our life might end anytime. What if this was the last time I’d be meeting someone? Would I be any different? The answer to that has always been a yes! And so, I choose to celebrate excellence, of life, others and self. Life is too short to be worrying or angry. If this was my last day, all I want is to be happy. I love living life fully – for who knows when might be the last moment. The last time I shared this experience in my training, one of the delegates went home and broke a 10 year silence with her co-sister. Happiness is a choice! Living this moment happily becomes just as important as planning for the next.
Breathe fully! Live fully! 🙂