Ray Kurzweil, the futurist recently predicted that in 20 years or so we might reach a stage where we could live forever, and even become ageless and immortal. What a frightening thought. Does it not make the meaning of our lives futile. Are purpose and achievement not linked to the simple fact that we are mortal, and hence have just that much time. Living forever would be like not living at all. One would simply be frozen in time.
Why I am writing about such issues today. Simply because today the one who gave me the gift of life would have celebrated her 92nd birthday. And no one loved life more than her. Even when she was dying of cancer, this remarkable woman refused any palliative care that may have anaesthetised her as she wanted to live till the last second of her life, a life that she had ensured had been worth living. Kamala was an ordinary girl from a small town. She should have lived an ordinary life and died an ordinary death. But she chose otherwise. She fought to be educated and was the first in her town to do so. She eventually got a PhD. She fought social mores and got married in her thirties as she did not want to bring a slave child into this world and thus not marry before India's Independence. At a time when girls were mothers before becoming women, she chose to work to defend women's rights in remote villages where she reached driving a truck. And when she did marry, the ordinary small town girl became a diplomat's wife set to conquer the whole world.
Yes mama was an extraordinary woman. One who lived life to its fullest. And yet she did so because she knew life was a given gift but not an eternal one; that time was short and that you never really got a second chance. She wanted to leave her mark in whatever small way possible. Se did it her way.
Any notion of supposed immortality would rob us of the desire to achieve and do something so that we too would be remembered after our final curtain call. Life derives its very purpose from the very notion that it is limited and transient. Immortality would take away the very essence of life.
Today I remember the one who gave me life.
Meet Kamala here.