I’d barely rolled a few paces before I realized that my phone was at my work desk. So, I pulled my car over and dashed to my apartment. I live on the first floor of a 29-floor building; I don’t even have to wait for the lift. Taking the stairs is a great way to squeeze in a little cardio anyway!
As I walked into the building, I noticed my neighbor (he lives on the floor above me) waiting for the elevators. He was wearing a mask, and I hadn’t seen him in months but recognized him anyway, although he didn’t until I waved my hands and spoke to him in Malayalam (my mother tongue). There are only two Malayalee families in the building.
I wanted to chat but was getting late, so I continued walking towards my apartment. I unlocked the front door, went straight to my study, picked my phone up, and locked the door on my way out.
I saw my neighbor again; he had decided to take the stairs, our eyes met, he smiled and said, “Sorry, Sunil, I didn’t recognize you with the mask on. How have you been?” I said, “It’s alright, I understand. I’m doing great, thanks!” without actually stopping.
I’m pretty sure he understood I was in a rush (I was getting late for my jiujitsu class). I think so. I wish I could find out.
He passed away in his sleep last night; it was a stroke. He was 52 and left behind a beautiful family — a wife, daughter, and son. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. How could this be? I’d just met the man the last evening (probably the last person he met outside his family)! We waved, nodded, and spoke! I’ve got so many questions that don’t have an answer.
All I know is this — death is the ultimate truth, and life is fucking short. You don’t know if today is the last day you will be speaking to the person in front of you. I mean, I could leave my life right now! There are no guarantees in life but choices that make a living one so worthwhile.
Be kind, loving, patient, respectful, and most importantly, generous. Not with your money, although that’s good for the soul too, but time. It’s the most valuable asset you have. Please share it generously. I wish I had stopped to talk with my neighbor. I wish I weren’t in such a hurry.
Rest in peace, my friend.