We were a young lot, a team of 18 people, managing a Airtel Centre at Brigade Road, in Bangalore. In third year of it operation, year 2004, we had carved a place for our selves in the mind of the customer and the brand owners. It was time to celebrate so we took off to a resort for a days outing nearby.
A plush resort with large open space, green cover, tall tress and a swimming pool, lot of games and sumptuous lunch. My wife and my son, less than a year old were on this trip and along with my dad and brothers. This business of airtel franchisee was owned by our family.
All of us were super excited and right from the word go, we were into fun and action. Some games, a little pep talk and then we all were into our lunch. A pompous meal for the team and then again a little more of game. I had very light lunch, post which I decided to relax in the pool which was the far end of the play area, on lower ground. There was no one in the afternoon hours in the pool. It was empty and I was happy to have it all for myself. It was a tempting sight. I got into the shorts. Went uphill and then began running downhill across the green grass and jumped high into the air, taking a high dive into the pool. I must have been way over 6 feet into the air, add to it another 6 feet of my height ( actually 5”9”, I just like to feel as a six footer 😉). With my legs curled up to my chest, I plunged into the pool with a great force ( F=mgH, given m= 60kg, for those with scientific bend to figure the force of my plunge). it was a carefree dive, after all there was no one in the pool. Every thing was great until this moment. Now i don’t know swimming and I remember checking the pool in the morning with a depth of 6 ft on one of the side.I had my mistake jumped onto the side with the depth of 21 feet, presuming that its 6 feet on all sides.
As i was going down the pool, I didn’t hit the floor in time . I looked down, saw the floor of the pool but couldn’t understand why hadn’t hit it. As my head moved up, I saw a red mark on the side wall indicating 21 feet of depth and my eyes widened. What? 21 feet… I had never jumped this deep in my entire life. This was bad. My rate of descent had slowed down and I wanted air. As soon as I hit the floor, I pushed my feet against it as hard as i could and started moving up but the ascent was slower than required. My chest was getting crushed with the demand of oxygen and as i crossed the 14 feet mark, my strength gave up. My mouth was open. Instead of air i started inhaling water in to my lungs. A few seconds into it and demand of air still wasn’t dead. I looked up the upper surface of the pool was with the reach. I had passed another mark on the side wall. But there no more strength left in me. I was inhaling and exhaling water Instead of a vertical descent, my body was now half horizontal, half upward and the ascent had further slowed down. My body gave a final spasm for air and then my body consciousness withered away as if it wasn’t there at all. I knew my moment had come.
Even from with the pool I could see uphill where my father was seated on a chair majestically like a Rajput king, my wife ( think of actress Pallavi Joshi) was standing next to him in a pink sari and my cute little one year old one was in her arms, smiling in white green top.
My first thought as i saw them was, “ What will happen to them, now?”
A wave of water moved and their sight flickered as if it was an image.
“Whatever has to happen will happen, I can’t do a thing more. I am going” another thought emerged. some kind of wary mindset eased out.
“I had told myself, whenever my times comes, i will chant the Namokar mantra”.
All of these thought were within a fraction of a second. On that last thought , I started chanting Namokar Mantra. It has five lines. I mentally chanted the first one “Namo Arhantanam” and then my mind kind of shut off. I regained in a split second and stared chanting of the second one “ Namo Sid…..dhanam and before i could go further, I again shut off. I was aware but couldn’t chant further, there was no energy, no control left in me. I guess the supply of oxygen to the brain was consumed and it was on reserve mode. Passing out and waking up and passing out.
As I was passing out, I saw a dark hand reaching towards me, it grabbed me by my hairs (Now, Don’t look at my profile pic. Its a recent one. A decade plus back, I had flappy long hair, I still long / don’t long for situation wise.😊), pulled me out of the pool and rolled me on to the edge of the pool. I landed on my stomach and I started throwing out the water in my lungs. I coughed and coughed and coughed, spitting out more water, inhaling air. By this time my wife had come down to the pool. She was by my side and I was still coughing. She asked, “what happened?” . I made a gesture and could blurt out, “some water entered my mouth”, trying to downplay the situation. I was having problem in breathing and I was constantly throwing out water, She knew better and shouted out to call the family. I pulled her sari and signalled not to do so. “ I will be okay, (cough)…, in a minute. She accepted, sat down by my side patting my back. More water out and air in, I started getting back into my senses, in a little while. I was uneasy and irritated with some water still left into the lungs and forced a conscious effort of throwing it out by coughing hard. Recovered, I looked around, I could not see the man who had pulled me out. Pool was as empty as it was when i had jumped. My team was busy with sports in the ground area, some of them were happily on the high ground and to my knowledge there was no other party or family at the resort on that day. Resort Staff knew better of controlling young energetic , bubbling guys and girls. They had left us to be…
So, Who pulled me out? From the corner of my eye, I saw a man with dark complexion and a snub on his face . Unsure if he was the one who pulled me out, I stood confused, before I could say anything, another bout of cough overtook and by the time I looked up, this man was gone. I rushed out . opened the door and looked around only to see my team playing, I focused at the long stretch of climb toward the exit area of the resort. It was the only way out, resort was surrounded by high boundary wall on all the three side but no one was there. I rushed back into the changing section, scanned every corner but couldn’t find the man. I went out again,,,, No one…. all of my team members were playing but my eyes looking for that one soul to say thanks to…. I couldn’t spot him anywhere. He had vanished into thin air.
Whenever i think of that day, this question is always there
Who pulled me out? Pool was empty when i jumped in.
Who was that dark man? Where, how did he vanish? Was I saved by Him?
Was it that my time hadn’t come and I have finish role,? I am very sure of this, had two more close encounters and survived, defying docs and their final words of my finality.
Was it the power of mantra that i am still alive?
Was it my kids destiny that pulled me out of the jaws of death?
(on a second thought, it could be my wifes’ destiny. We can’t go anywhere without their permission, can we?😜….look at least i coudn’t / didn’t go ….. husband v/s wifey).
Whatever it was, one thing is certain, it was my brush with the greatest truth of Life, with Death.
Another thing i am certain of is the realisation as i embraced death was the regret of not doing enough for family and others. It helps me put behind the grudges against the near and ear ones. I don’t want to feel the same whenever my times comes and i know that i have done my bit for some of them and i am due to do more for some of them. For others, It helps to be compassionate joyfully without any sense of reciprocation. ( I would like to think so but Swamiji knows better🙏).
Without letting go of our attachments of relations and assets, our body and desire to live at all cost, it may not be possible to remember god in the last moments. To accept death is the first step which enabled me to remember him. Letting go has made me commit to helping a few in the past with money which is what I had sparse then and a commitment to part a portion of it the moment I make some to ensure that I feel the true happiness at least in bits. It has helped me look at my kids as individuals to be treated with the same respect that we give to elders. ( the only case, i am still trying to put it to practice is with my wife…. Oh Wait , i mean, I treat her with respect as a goddess to adore, durga at most/rest of the time to avoid…… respectfully😀😀. You know what i mean, right…. husband v/s wifey
Tango with the Truth of life, its Termination, death, whenever the Time comes, could be a quick Touch and go affair, with little Time for Thought of letting go and God, so I Read, Think and Contemplate of Him, Let go, be Compassionate in preparation of the final exam, we all will face in our time.