The thing with epiphanic moments are that they are so relative, so deeply personal and so intimate that usually nobody aside the people going through them can see the world for what it really is. Stripped of all pretenses, it is such a simple , strighforward thing to live on earth. Sadly these epiphanic moments most often follow the death of someone you know. All the layers are stripped clean and there you are, left with the rawest of emotions, waiting to be acted out upon before the pace of daily living again cocoons you from the truth of life.
I don’t mean to be poetic about all this but it is sounding rather grand isn’t it? Yesterday Usman Sahab passed away. Usman Sahab who had joined college the same year as I had- except as a teacher. The young, impassioned, traditional teacher who laughed from his belly and was highly excitable, spurred on by the most random of things. He was incredibly, humorously insistent regarding rules and procedure and yet casual enough to sit with us, having tea imitating our class fellows. Over the last 15 years, our contact was friendly, respectful and he was always excited to see what his students turned colleagues were upto. I saw him just 2 days ago at the 21 Chairs exhbition at the IVS- and he was being his usual self, balancing on a chair, laughing upraoriously and he waved an excited salam across the room and then we crossed over to each other so he could see Leila. He made the “family complete” comment which usually has me riling in its typicalness but somehow on Usman Sahab with his language and demenaour, it sat perfectly. He asked about my sisters and asked my opinion about the show. And after a few minutes of sparring over a chair design we moved on, meeting others.
I keep going back to that day. Did he have any feeling, any inkling that he should start wrapping up life that day? That in another day he would be no more? If we did somehow get the feeling in ourselves, what would we do? Make amends with those we have hurt? Love our family and friends more? The depth of how much one can leave for later was a bit overwhelming . I suppose there is a reason death comes suddenly.
So while for the last day or so, a lot of us who knew him have suddenly been looking at the world through clearer eyes, the rest of the world of course goes on as before. Obliviously happy and busy in the daily tasks that stitch each day together. I am bombarded with thoughts and questions of whether I have done enough to leave behind a legacy of some sort- and I’m not talking art wise or great achievements wise but even just thought wise. When I am gone, for what will I be remembered? What aspect of my personality will leave a gaping hole in some people’s lives? Our own mortality suddenly becomes a glaring reality and sudden trips are planned to parents houses and calls made to forgotten friends to “catch up”.
Personally I think I kinda like these moments of awakening. You are desensitized for a bit, you think a bit and if you are amongst those lucky few who can, you act a bit. You call up that friend. You fix that relationship. You print those photographs. You hug your hims and hers once more. You write a few emails. And then wait patiently for the everyday blur to descend so you can stop feeling quite so much all the time.