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when its time to say goodbye

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The past 2 weeks, I lost two dear people to me, one a school friend and the other my beloved boss.

Both due to cancer. While my friend died in india, and I don’t have much details, I can detail something re my boss george.

Last November, george got this cough, which he could not get rid of. It took a month to diagnose the cancer in his lymph as the symptoms were very misleading. Soon they also found growths in his spine.

Weekly we used to get updates from his wife, who also worked with us. The entire group of us, used to call once a week to chat, but with the growth of cancer, this too became a burden for george.

A month ago, he was transferred to a hospice. It is a place, uniquely equipped to keep a terminally ill person in physical and emotional comfort. No more drugs are administered except painkillers. 7 x 24 palliative care is provided.

Last Thursday morning george gently slipped away from this world to the next.

Below is a moving article by atul gawande. Of Indian origin, he is an oncologist practising in the usa and a great writer. I have read a few of his articles. He is very highly thought of both, in the medical and literary circles.

Please read the attach article. There is something in it for each of us.

Thank you.

Hospice medical care for dying patients : The New Yorker
...Last Thursday morning george gently slipped away .....

Many years ago a friend of mine, with whom I used to play tennis, suddenly passed away. That brought home to me the reality of the fleeting nature of life. It made me realize how much we need to value the moment, the moment we live in, the moment we share with family, friends, and neighbors. The moment that we can treasure and the need to conduct ourselves in a way others will treasure the moment they had with us.

For some unfathomable reason two songs come to mind, one from ancient Sangam Tamil times, and one from the modern John Lennon times. First the Tamil song that enjoys celebrity status, at least the first line, namely, யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர். Look at the haunting tone of the the verse.

யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்
தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா
நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோரன்ன
சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே, வாழ்தல்
இனிது என மகிந்தன்றும் இலமே, முனிவின்
இன்னாது என்றலும் இலமே, மின்னொடு
வானம் தண் துளி தலைஇ ஆனது
கல் பொருது இரங்கும் மல்லற் பேர்யாற்று
நீர் வழி படுஉம் என்பது திறவோர்
காட்சியின் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின் மாட்சியின்
பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே,
சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனிலும் இலமே

Is this not a beautiful poem by கணியன் பூங்குன்றனார்? This small little Tamil song packs in all the 18 chapters of Bhagavat Geetha. Serious scholars date Bhagavat Geetha to about 9th century CE. This Tamil poem is perhaps about a millennium before that. Who is to say such quintessential Tamil sentiments did not play a role in the much vaunted Bhagavat Geetha?

In this verse, brimming with melancholy, பூங்குன்றனார் is cajoling us to not take setbacks seriously, our life is no more than a great flood that comes down after a fleeting great rains that may even have the power to move boulders. But, in this life, the joy and pain is only our own making. So, don't get overawed by the great, and even more importantly, don't show contempt for the common folks.

What wisdom, savor it my friends....

Now the song of John Lennon:

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

A beauty isn't? Love for the immediate love and at the same time love for all the people who made a difference on our lives, some living, and some long gone.

K, my deep condolences for your double loss.


I guess we have to come to the stage in life where we hear about the loss of some of the persons we grew up with. When we hear it, there is a pause for few seconds before digesting the loss. Suddenly an empty feeling. Please accept my condolences.
The past 2 weeks, I lost two dear people to me, one a school friend and the other my beloved boss.


Sri Kunjuppu, Death occurs all around us. We read in newspapers about death due to various reasons.Normal death due to old age, diseases,accidents, gory murders.

It moves us in varying degrees - when the dead are close relatives, distant relatives, friends, familiar, countrymen, unknown. It exhibits as weeping , depression,silence, fasting ... ...or just a deep breath.

It is In 'yaksha prasna' in Mahbharata, where one of the questions the yaksha asks the pandavas is 'what is the most surprising thing in life?'.
Yudhishtira answered correctly that'' all around we see death every day,every moment.but it never occurs that one day we also will be dead'
(the above is not a quote but a reproduction of what I understood-s k).

In the famous 'Bhaja Govindam' Adi Sankarachary has dwelt upon death and disease in a very nice way. Stories about SriBudha's views on 'death'.

While condolence and consolation is courtesy, time only can heal the grief of the bereaved.

That is why our elders used to pray for

"Anaayesena Maranam

Vinaa dainyena jeevitham"

( A death without pain, a life without diseases).
Let God grant this boon to everyone.
here is a poignant article on the curtain closing of lee kan yew, the architect of modern singapore, as viewed by himself.

Days of reflection for the man who defined Singapore - The Economic Times

Dear Kunjuppu,

"We don’t have the ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors," he (Lee Kuan Yew) said three years ago in an interview with the International Herald Tribune, "a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and common destiny."

How true of India ! Yet our leaders and politicians behave as if they can manage easily!!
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