“Thank you very much for your decision not to contest any more elections. I remember there came a time when even Milkha Singh stopped running. This marathon has been on since 1977-that is 41 years….
Madam I am running behind you for the last 46 years. I am no longer a 19-year-old. Please, I am also running out of breath. Thank you.”
These were Swaraj Kaushal’s words when Sushma Swaraj finally decided to hang up her hat after 41 long years of being a part of active politics. A decision she didn’t make even at times of major health concerns including a kidney transplant during her tenure as External Affairs Minister. When news of Sushma Swaraj’s death came out, every media house gave special focus to her last tweet from only 4 hours before her death for the ominous/prophetic nature of the tweet. (“I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime.”) It did spook me. But what touched me more were these words of Swaraj Kaushal from November 2018.
While everyone mourned the loss to the country and her party, I could only think of the loss to her family, especially her husband. Theirs was a marriage and love story that caught my interest after a photo of them holding hands in front of the Parliament went viral in August 2016. A very cute picture with lots of joy in it that ignited my curiosity and led me to read up about their relationship. A number of times after that too gems like these kept popping into my feed – a tweet, a photo, something that showed the excellent camaraderie and the timeless love these two enjoyed. It was in every way ‘couple goals’ as people call it. Despite their super-busy schedules, hers perhaps ten times more so, they managed to not take each other for granted, which is the only way two people with such exhausting work lives can manage to stay in love for so long. But I am sure there would have been times when they wished they could just be with each other and not worry about anything anymore. A feeling of unparalleled sadness gripped me when I thought of how they were getting that time with each other finally and there, she was gone! Without any warning, leaving him devastated. It broke my heart to think of how they didn’t get to cherish the much-awaited retired life, only them and no more stress, worries or responsibilities. Watching him break down and cry on TV made me well up because I was worrying how he would cope with a life without her, when at the end of all the ‘running after her for 46 years’, a life of peace and lots of love was all they wished for. I truly hope that all the moments of togetherness in these 46 years will help him live on his life, that the memories of these 46 years will always compensate for the lost memories of a new life they didn’t get to live.
It kind of opens our eyes, doesn’t it? That life is just so unpredictable and we take it for granted most of the time. I am no longer talking about Sushma Swaraj and Swaraj Kaushal. I am talking about people in general. We keep thinking of doing things that we love when we retire. We keep busting our asses all our lives looking forward to a peaceful retired life. Sometimes in the rat race, we lose ourselves and our loved ones, only because our focus is a life of leisure after retirement and not the present. And sometimes we keep putting off taking a break or spending enough time with family and friends forgetting that when we finally want to, there might not really be enough time for it after all. When we finally think that we are ready to quit and relax, it might be time to leave, no matter how much we want to stay back. So when you make your retirement plan, do not forget to leave a slot for the most inevitable part of it – death, if at all we do make it till then. Think about it, re-evaluate your schedules and plan for a life where you wouldn’t feel ‘unfinished’ when it is your time to go, a life where your loved ones aren’t left aching for all the things you couldn’t do together.