A small street in the pilgrim town of Puttaparthi was getting ready for the marriage ceremony of Anand at Sai Prem Nivas, the house of Shastri's. The street was tastefully decorated with buntings, pandal was erected, the hard cement road sported rangolis of myriad colours and hues looking even more beautiful in a chain of blinking LED rope lights placed on either side of the street leading to the house from the main gopuram road. Sai Prema Nivas was decorated like a bride with flowers and countless small decorative lights. People came dressed up in different types of fashionable clothes as if participating in a school fancy dress competition. There was a lingering aroma of the different delicacies which were being prepared in the make shift kitchen with street dogs loitering around and enjoying the fragrance with their olfactory capabilities. The blaring music from the latest Tollywood and Bollywood numbers interspersed with some devotional ones and bhajans created a din which overshadowed the sweet jingling of the chimes hanging at the entrance of the groom's house. Guests sitting in small circles used to burst into peals of laughter reliving some lighter moments of their college days. There was an atmosphere of joy and conviviality.
All of a sudden there were wails heard from a house, a house few paces further inside the street. A small crowd had gathered outside this house with people having pale and despondent faces. There was a commotion, a commotion which suggested a loss, a calamity, sending a chill through my spine. All faces attending the marriage party had a puzzling look trying to ascertain the reason for this sudden pall of gloom. News was broken to us in hushed tones about the tragic death of Sai Krishna, a young man in his mid-twenties in a road accident. Sai who got married recently used to do plumbing work to eke out his livelihood. The music on loud speakers was stopped, the lively discussions faded away and even the wind stopping blowing in response to the gloominess, silencing the jingle of the chimes. The festive atmosphere started giving way to a somber emotion and there was heaviness palpable in the air.
It made me ponder deeply about the uncertainties of life which is nothing but a tapestry woven out of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, ebb and flow. One moment what is so close to you withers away without an inkling? The family of Sai Krishna was inconsolable. They were not able to believe that a member of their family is no more. Life is merciless when it decides to teach lessons the hard way that everything we see and experience is transient and fleeting. Man gets tossed again and again in the vicissitudes of life but doesn't catch this lesson which life teaches us.
But life goes on!
After trying to console the bereaving family, the invitees started the rituals of the marriage.
It was a weird feeling to witness two divergent aspects of life at the same time, one of joyousness and other of deep sorrow. This is the flip flop and the irony of life.I remembered the verse from Bhagwad Gita where Lord Krishna says:
Sukha Dukha Same Krutva Labha Labhou Jaya jayaou,
Tatho Yuddhaya yujasva Naivam Papa Avapyasi
meaning having an equal-mindedness in happiness and sorrow, gain and loss, victory and defeat,engage in the battle of life and you will not incur sin.