“It was all over in three minutes ...”

Dr. Navniit Gandhi
Sunday, September 24, 2017

She was sobbing inconsolably and words were intermittently coming out…

“It was all over in about three minutes. He was here, in front of me and then gone in an instant… It was Saturday morning and after completing our prayers, we were discussing what to make for breakfast when all of a sudden, he said he was feeling uneasy and felt like having cold water… I brought a glass of lemon juice for him. He drank the juice and as our son rushed out to call the doctor next door, he had closed his eyes. He just went away… Just like that… He is gone. Never shall we now see or hear him again. Life simply goes away in a flash…”

Just as I was wondering as to how people simply vanish somewhere in a moment, that I read the news of an Indian national, 36 years old, married just last year, who collapsed while playing cricket in Abbasiya and died instantaneously. While stepping out from the house in the morning, the thought would not have ever crossed his mind that he would never step back into the same house again.

If Life is precious, death is real. Death has always been there… all of us have witnessed our loved ones simply vanishing before our eyes. Death is as real and as old as life itself. Sometimes, we seek death when life becomes unbearable, but most often—it strikes a blow and catches us unawares. At one point of inhalation or one instant of exhalation, it all stops. Thereafter, all the cries and pleadings are in vain.

Thinking wishfully, if only we could be told three minutes before it strikes—that the following three minutes will be our last few minutes on this earth… if only… But what would we do? Of course, we would still panic and cry, but other than that---would we not become suddenly wiser? How many of us would rush to the locker and clutch all the gold and diamonds to our chest and wait? None, I presume. How many of us would put currency notes in our mouth or pockets? How many of us would make a call to the office and try to get that increment? Would you? Would you spend those three minutes saying some harsh words to the spouse? How many of us would experience envy over a relative’s new car or experience greed looking at the expensive artefacts kept around the house? How many of us would look at the property papers and heave the final sigh of relief?

None, I believe.

Guess, most of us when told that the next three minutes that follow shall be the last three minutes of life, would want to be with the loved ones; hold the hand of a parent or a sibling or the spouse or of a child or a dear friend and say that we love them and that we are sorry if we have hurt them anytime… Or probably, we would pick up the phone and tell some last words of love and wisdom to our loved ones—if they are far away somewhere. Not many would think of grabbing up a pistol or sword and killing someone in those last three minutes; none of us would probably want to engage in a scathing verbal duel with a colleague or with one’s mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. Many of us would remember God and the loved ones who have departed, while some of us would worry for the children or spouse or parents who will be left behind.

But then, is it possible to live every moment thinking that the next few moments could be the last moments? Can we? These days, a cartoon that is being circulated on whatsapp features the cartoon character Charlie telling Snoopy that,’ Some day we all will die, Snoopy’ and the dog replies that,’ True, but on all the other days, we will not’.

There is that one moment when we all have to die. Should we live, focussing on that moment? And then, there are all those millions of moments when we are not dying or dead but we are living. Should we live on, keeping these moments in mind? If both are inescapable realities, which reality should be paramount in our minds?
After a lot of contemplation and introspection, I guess it all depends on each one’s unique nature. After all, each one must live according to one’s own inner nature. However, the reason that so many of us despite taking our daily decisions and living as we want or have desired, still are not very happy about life—is that we are probably missing the point. We are assuming that the whole world is gathering things, and hence—we too must do so. And, lo! We take a dive and plunge ourselves into this rat race of amassing property and power. And while prioritising in the process, we drink alcohol or take anti-depressants or tranquilisers or medications and we feel frustrated or heavy deep inside and become harsh or lonely or cynical or simply fed up.

Don’t know if it is the truth but it seems likely that if we live always keeping in mind the last three minutes –we will cherish and value our loved ones; we will not amass or hoard; we will think all the time of what can be given away. We will think of living light and going away much lighter. However, if we think of those millions of moments when we have to live, we will amass and gather luxuries and comforts; we will keep thinking of what more can we have or buy or grab for ourselves. If our focus is those last few moments, we will speak soft and well and try not to give scratches and bruises to others. If we think that we are going to be there forever, and that there are infinite moments to live, we will first think of making our position secure in office and desperately try for the next promotion and we might think of influencing our parents to transfer the property in our names…

When all of us, during our last few moments, are going to ultimately realise that all the bickering over religion or property or ego or money was so very useless--- can’t we realise it just now, while there is still time to repair??? Ultimately, what little is going to matter is whether our hearts are light and whether our loved ones are happy… And, if we are amassing wealth and pushing and jostling people in a bid to race ahead—so that our loved ones can be happy and live in comfort—we seriously need to think quite a bit. Since thousands of years, many a wise folks have tried to teach us that things cannot make us happy and it is, in fact, quite futile to aim at a perfectly happy life for ourselves or for our children. Even if we succeed in living just about a decent life—with no major wounds and tears given to many and with our lives a little brighter and lighter each day—it would be a great accomplishment. A few people matter while living, and probably those very few people matter at the end. That is all…

What moments to focus on?

The final few or the many before them? Both are real.

The final moments will come, sooner or later. Probably, they are just round the corner or probably dozens of years away. The best part or is that the worst part – is that we will not know three minutes in advance. We need not be obsessed by them, but we can be guided by them. Without losing sight of them, the moments when we are still alive can be lived, as seems sensible to us.

And of course, a wise lesson to learn from both these realities is that we amount to less than a speck of dust. We are not important and all the huge ideas we have about the work we do or the position we hold, are quite silly presumptions. The whole universe and even our loved ones, move on… with or without us. Nothing stops; nothing is affected forever… Nothing need be taken seriously and this collection of moments—that life is, can be lived light-heartedly.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, and a freelance writer/columnist. She has been writing extensively for several newspapers, magazines, web-portals and academic publications and has authored five Books, till date.
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Express your comment on this article

Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017

Subhan Allah. Amazing words

Neeraj Swar
Posted on Sunday, October 8, 2017

Beautifully written....makes mere mortals like me think if the path that we have chosen to 'accumulate things' is worth it and how long should we procrastinate pursuing our real passion and inner calling... continue writing such inspiring articles Navniit.

Madhusudan Mulik
Posted on Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nicely written.....starting is very catchy

Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Beautiful Article Dr. Navitte . Very true and straight from heart . It touched the core of my heart. God Bless

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dr.Navniit Gandhi Ji,
Wow! Amazingly splendid article penned down by you. Words with tons of meaning which made me feel the essence of life and make us improve quality of human mankind.
Hat's off to you Madam... A big salute for your thoughts put down here.

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dr. Navniit,

Your articles always leave me with a 'deja vu' feeling. Can always identify with your narrative, thoughts and their trajectory.

'We are not important and all the huge ideas we have about the work we do or the position we hold, are quite silly presumptions.' Loved it.

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017


Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017

Nice Article. You gave a new meaning to our living. Keep writing and inspire us with such beautiful articles. God bless you.

Rachana Askarkar
Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017

Truly appreciate it ma'am. You are my inspiration for my life. Keep up the good work.

Posted on Sunday, September 24, 2017

navnit ji. this is one of the best articles i have ever read in my life of 37 years. hats off to you !!!!!!!!!!! keep writing and motivating all.

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