There are only some things a man regrets in his life. For me, it was the day I chose to keep moving. I had always been under the impression that I was not ‘most of the people’, always, until today. Looking back, I regret doing certain things. Certain things that have since become my legacy, certain things that still haunt me. What happened to me? I was never the kind to regret over the decisions I made. In life, I have always despised regretting. Yet here I am, regretting and wondering how life would have been if I only I had chosen wise. But then again, how was I to know? That what was wise and what was not? I was no philosopher, and I definitely was no saint.
“You are never going to succeed in your life.” My father used to say.
“But father, I am successful.” I would say. “I have everything a man can ever dream of, more money than I know what to do with, more money I can spend in my entire life.”
“And yet, here you are, in this old care home, defending your actions.”
“I am not defending my actions, father, and I come here because I want to show you. I want to show you and tell you about everything I have achieved. It has been twenty years. Twenty years and you still think it was my fault. I have been coming here for all these years, trying to prove myself, trying to show you all that I have built.”
Every time our conversation ended on the same note. I could never talk to him, every time I tried to reason with him he would repeat those same words. You will never succeed. Success? I am the richest man in India. All the top magazines named me the business person of the year. Every man on the planet wants to do business with me and he says I will not succeed. What is this if not a success? Old man! Sitting there on his chair in this darned old home care and judging me. What does he know of success? I have enough money that he could have earned in a hundred lifetimes and yet he preaches me on success.
Every time our conversation ended on the same note and every time I would visit him again. I don’t know why I did that, perhaps because he was my father or perhaps because I thought this was my only salvation. Whatever it was, I came to visit him every week. Every week for the last twenty years.
Every night after the visit I would sit alone in my house and I would wonder, “Is it possible that the old man is right?” No, it cannot be. The mere thought of that incident gave me horrors. On those nights, I would sit and remind myself that I was right. “I did what I had to do and I did what was right.” I would remind myself. Even though I comforted myself and even though I gave myself enough reasons to believe otherwise, somewhere in my heart I held myself responsible. But today, I need not comfort myself. Today, I can be brutally honest with myself and honest will I be.
Looking back, I see how dumb and stupid and young I was. Aren’t we all? I believe this is by the far the biggest flaw God has provided human beings with. Regret and Sorry. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we live and lead a simple life without regretting or without feeling sorry? I guess I am not fit to answer. Why should I be? After all, I am no philosopher and I definitely am no saint.
It has never been easy for me, in life. I once heard someone quote a saying from Ramayana, it was perhaps said by Lord Rama, “Don’t regret the decisions you made in your life. It is they who define you.” Well, it was easy for him to say, being a God himself. Ask me and I would tell you what it was like, living with all the decisions you made. Not knowing the consequences, not knowing the effect it will have on you and on the people you have. But, there’s one thing that I agree on, it is our decision that defines us. Of this, I am a witness. My decisions have defined me, on every single step of my life. People don’t know that. No one does, except me, and I have been trying to run away from them my whole life, but not anymore. Now that it has come to all this, I don’t see where I can go. I don’t have anywhere to run. More than anything, it is that day I regret the most in life. That day when I went to see my father, I was resolute that this time I would not let the old man preach me. This time, he will listen and I will talk.
“You have come, at last. I was wondering if you will show up.” There he was, already mocking me. I could almost hear him say, “You will never succeed.”
“Yes father, here I am.” I saw him as he snuggled into his bed. This was odd.
“What has become of you, my son? Your mother and I have waited so long to see you. Where do you go my boy?” He was weeping. This is not what I had expected.
“Papa, it’s all right Papa. I am here now.” I said as I held his hand.
“Why did you leave son? Your mother… she waited so long. She would not eat since you left. Why did you leave us, son?”
“I am here father. I am here.”
“Promise me you won’t leave us again, ever again. Promise me.” He could barely talk. All I could see were tears.
“I promise you, father. I will never ever leave you again. Never.”
“You are a good son, your mother and I, we are so proud of you. We were just talking and I told her that you will come. A foolish woman she is. I told her not to worry too much, that you can take care of yourself, but she wouldn’t believe… Now that you are here, she will finally understand.”
I could feel my cheeks wet. Perhaps I was crying, I tried hard to fight back those tears. I had not cried, not in many years. Tears were a sign of weakness and I was not weak. I cannot be weak. Perhaps it was time I let go, it was time I let go of all my fears. It was time I let myself loose. With his every breath, I was living. That day I cried, I cried like I was a baby and I did not stop. I wanted my mother to hold me and say that everything will be all right. If only she could kiss me. If only I could hold her hand. If only my mother wasn’t dead for twenty years.
I kissed him and rubbed his hand until he fell asleep and then I slept, and to this day I know that was the best sleep I ever had. Right there, holding my father’s hand.
I woke up to the sound of people talking. The place was filled with people, old men and women standing, staring at me and talking. I saw a doctor standing next to where my father was sleeping.
Nobody said anything. They didn’t have to. It was all there, in that room, in the very atmosphere of the room. I had never in my life seen someone die, but I could sense death in that room. I was numb and could barely walk, but my legs moved. I walked out of the room and behind me, I could make the sound of Doctors explaining to me what had happened. I could not listen. I could not make the sound of their voice; it was faint, so faint. There was this buzzing sound in my ears and I could not listen to anything. My vision blurred and my legs trembled. The ground beneath my feet was shaking like there was a sudden earthquake. At once, I could feel my whole life trembling in front of me, and in a sudden thud, everything collapsed. And it was then when everything went dark.
Today, I have got nothing on me but regrets and pain. I could never be a good son to those wonderful parents. That day, twenty years ago I left my family just so that I could live rich and die rich. What did I gain? I left while my mother cried and cried and begged me to stop. Yes, we were poor, and yes we did not have all the luxuries of the world, but there was one thing that I had; family. That day I did not only leave my home, I left my soul. I went and conquered the world, all this time losing my own soul. I killed my mother, and I killed my father.
Well, I guess this is it then. They are here to take me and the funny thing is I can’t even run. My whole life I was dead and it is in my death that I live. I feel so light, so relaxed from all the pain I endured. I always wondered how I would die and now that it has come it almost seems funny.
“Today, I lay here, waiting for them to take me to the grave. The whole world is here, watching my lifeless body kept for display. The whole world is here and yet I have no one to mourn me. I guess this is what it all comes down to at the end. I guess the old man was right all along. I was never successful. I earned a lot of money but none of it could buy me real tears. As my body lay here, on this cold wooden box, I see my life more with more clarity. I see what I have and I see what I leave behind. I have nothing but regrets.”
I died as long as I lived and now that I am dead, I live. My whole life I was haunted by the ghosts of my past, but not anymore. Now that they are with me, it is time I join them.
This is my legacy.