Today has been a very strange day. The morning rush of getting to work was usual. What was unusual was that I decided to wear my pista green ‘dakai’ saree complete with pearls, instead of the Saturday-denim and floaters. All this effort towards the wedding of a colleague in the late afternoon. The church where he was to say his vows, is a stone’s throw from office and therefore it made no sense to trek all the way home to change. Unlike many people I know, I consider it an insult to the host to attend a formal occasion, specially a wedding, in inappropriate clothes. Of course the attention my saree got at work can turn any one vain. After a leisurely lunch we walked to the venue just as the service began. I like church weddings. They are solemn, short and the music is pleasing to the ear. The groom sang soulfully. The bride beamed prettily. They exchanged rings and he kissed her on the cheeks (boring!). It was over. I was tired and my feet ached from cavorting in the high heels. I pictured an easy evening at home with my tea and my mother’s familiar gripe. Ah, the bliss of domesticity.
Half way home, an old colleague calls. I heard that my ex-boss's wife passed away after a tragic accident at home. I agreed to meet up with them and visit his house. Although our professional association had ended unpleasantly, this was not the time to remember that. He had come home to meet my parents when I had lost my brother a few years earlier and later he enquired regularly after my parents' wellbeing. His house was already filled with family and near ones. We heard how on the fateful Diwali night, her saree caught fire from the diyas at home and before she realized the extend, the fire had swallowed her in. He had been outside with the children who were busy with the firecrackers. The noise muffled her cries and when they finally got home, they found her burnt and unconscious in the bathroom. Since then she had been battling for life but just when the doctors gave a little hope of progress, it was brutally extinguished. The two young boys were still in shock. He looked stricken and there was nothing I could say except to hold his hand and nod briefly.
I had hardly imagined at the beginning of the day that in the next few hours, I would share someone’s most joyous moment and another’s most tragic. I cannot claim to be a close associate of either but it is only human to be touched in some way by the joy and sorrow of our fellow travelers with whom we share this journey called life.