“Hello Aarti! I’m sorry to inform you that the news is true. He has met with an accident. He’s been admitted in hospital. Multiple fractures to the spine, considerable bruising to the leg and I hear he’s hurt his head and has wounds around his mouth too.”

A friend of mine informed me that another friend of ours had been run down by a vehicle the day before yesterday, at night. I could hardly believe it! Why, we’d met three days ago and planned to solve an assignment the next day. But since he was unwell on the decided day, he cancelled the plan. Who would have thought that the very same night this horrible incident would take place?

I went with a few friends to pay him a visit. It was awful. This is a person I chat with, laugh with. This is a person who encourages me, makes me laugh and tries to make me withdraw from my shell. To see a good friend lying on the hospital bed, weakened, in pain, with a ventilator mask is a disturbing experience indeed. I am a very shy person, so I usually do talk very less; but I was absolutely tongue-tied when I saw him. I tried, unsuccessfully, to say something cheerful. But when he apologized for not having informed me about his accident, for not letting me know that he wouldn’t be around to do his share of the work, I honestly couldn’t bear it. Such selfless friends are found rarely! I somehow managed to assure him that he need not worry and to bid him a speedy recovery and made a hasty exit.

Uncertainty, sudden disasters, traumas and tragedies that come unannounced – newspapers and news channels are full of such stories on a daily basis. We read them, shudder with horror; maybe empathize with the sufferers. If it’s front-page news we discuss it with our friends and colleagues, maybe post about it on social networking sites and inform people about it via WhatsApp. Depending on the level of tragedy of the incident we remember it for a few weeks, a few days, a few hours or just for a few moments. Eventually we forget about it, and cease to give it any thought. But when the same sort of thing happens to someone we know and who is dear to us, that’s when the full impact of such terrible happenings hits us. That’s when we realize what those people we read about must have gone through. We begin to comprehend the emotions those printed lines can never convey. It affects us deeply but eventually we do begin to accept it and find a way to cope with it.

Life is unpredictable. It’s like navigating a ship across oceans. We never know when the tide might change, when the water might transform into furious waves, when the wind would begin to roar and to tear away at the sails and when we might hit an iceberg and find our ship capsized. We embark on this journey with hope and dreams, the sails of our ship flying merrily in the winds of infancy and childhood. Then, gradually, storms begin to cloud the horizon and we begin to learn Life’s Lessons. Sometimes we grasp things quickly, sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes we manage to scrape through, other times we sustain heavy losses. Sometimes we’re lost at sea, misguided, stranded, and unsure of whether we’ll ever find the shore. Life is a tricky game. Just when you think you’ve mastered it, the rules change.

It’s not easy to navigate these strange tides, especially when your entire world is turned upside down. It’s not easy to go through tunnels filled with complete darkness with no light in sight. But these troubled waters have to be sailed through, if we intend to follow our course…