Death is a friend who has visited me often!
In the journey down the roads of our lives, there are so many right turns we wish we had taken, and so many wrong ones we wish we never had! And yet, when we reflect on all the good and bad places that we have been to, we come to realize that the wheel was in fact seldom in our hands.
Some believe that right from the day that we are born, it’s our fate that drives us, leading us to where we are today. They say that it is tailor-made for each and everyone one of us by a higher power, as a small, yet significant part of the grand design. I am one of them.
Others however reject the idea of fate, citing that believing in it would mean that we are nothing more than dried leaves being blown askew on the winds of change – we have no control on where we are and where we are heading. It would make living entirely pointless!
Yet, whether you are a believer or not, the concept of fate is certainly intriguing.
Omar Khayyam Cautions You:
The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
I am a firm believer in fate, destiny and higher power. When I reflect back, my laughing, singing and dancing god, Krishna saved me when I was face to face with death several times.
I survived the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Many of my friends lost their lives.
Again, destiny was on my side thirty years ago in 1988, when I landed at Maldives airport along with troops in the middle of night to avert a coup attempt against president Gayoom.
Then, I was in Amritsar for one week after Operation Blue Star while the shooting was still on, in 1984 to cover restoration of Akal Takht. The entire city was under curfew with terrorists still roaming around. I survived the ordeal.
Also, Anti Sikh riots broke out in Delhi after assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh body guards. It was during these times that I was once coming back from All India radio in our office car from Parliament Street. Our office car was stopped on gun point by a Sikh jawan near Rajinder Nagar round about. My colleagues requested me to show curfew pass to jawan since I had army background. I got down from our matador and started walking towards jawan. He pointed his sten-gun towards me, and shouted, halt or I will shoot you down. He seemed disoriented and very angry. I had no doubt that he was going to shoot me.
I stopped, turned around and was back in the matador. Then we took help of an army major who helped us to cross the area. Lucky again.
I also survived twice when the aircraft I was travelling in, caught fire. Only last year in December, I and my wife boarded a Go-Air fight from Delhi. Within minutes of taking off, the plane’s left wing caught fire. The Pilot used his common sense and switched off left wing engine and headed back to airport for emergency landing.
Some people in Dwarka and Vasant Kunj saw the left wing on fire and alerted airport authorities. We were lucky, that the plane landed safely in a remote corner of the airport.
Another time, I had boarded a royal airlines flight from Kathmandu for Delhi in 1992. Before the plane could take off, it’s right wing caught fire. The Pilot immediately switched off the engine. Lucky once again.
Besides this, I had a major heart attack at the age of 54. Even doctor Trehan gave no hopes to my family. I was in ICU after operation for 72 hours. My heart was functioning at 33 percent. But I survived and with God's grace, I am still alive and kicking!
As if it was not enough, after a gap of two years after my heart surgery, I had a major road accident while coming to office from home after two years. My left foot and lower part of left leg have sleel chips as my foot was completely crushed. Even .right hip has steel chips.
I do not know what you would call it, luck, fate or destiny. I was chosen to cover the visit of former Prime Minister Morar ji Desai to north-east in November 1977 as part of press party accompanying him. I was to report for All India news and Doordarshan. My wife Uma was in advance stage of pregnancy, expecting delivery of my son any moment. My seniors were considerate and my friend Govindan Kutty replaced me for the trip. This is the same visit in which, Morarji Desai had a miraculous escape when Indian Airforce plane TU 124, Pushpak, crash landed in Jorhat, Assam, on 4th November 1977.
The five member crew of IAF's elite communication squadron made supreme sacrifice by nose diving the plane in a paddy field at Totla Gaon, taking all impact on the cockpit .All the five members of the crew were killed in the crash. All the dignitaries including Prime Minister, his son Kanti Desai, Arunachal chief minister, P K Thungon, escaped with minor injuries and bruises.
My colleague and dear friend, Govindan Kutty, who accompanied the Prime Minister survived the crash. His spectacles were smashed and he received minor injuries and bruises. Kutty showed grit and determination. He walked all the way from crash site to the place where the Prime Minister was taken for medical assistance and interviewed him. The interview was carried extensively on AIR and DD network. Govindan Kutty was given a hero's welcome on his return to AIR. We all hugged him and thanked almighty for his safe return home.
Only one IAF officer, flight lieutenant PK Ravindran survived. He was under trainee and as he was not in proper gear for cockpit, he sat in the rear of plane. Five brave hearts of IAF who lost their lives in crash were wing commander Clarence D'lime, wing commander, Joginder Singh, squadron leader Mathew Syriac, squadron leader, VVSSankar and flight lieutenant O P Arora.
I do not know what would you call it. I was not to be part of this ghastly tragedy. It was Kutty’s destiny to be part of this journey.
It was 7th November and I was covering Shah Commission proceedings. It was evening time when deputy press information officer, DPIO, (Home) K S Ramanathan came to press box and said Segon, rush to nursing home, your wife is about to deliver any moment. My colleagues in press box wished me best of luck and as I reached Vohra Nursing Home in Rajouri Garden, West Delhi, my mother and my mother in law were thrilled to see me. Both spoke together, Mubarak ho, beta hua hai, congrats, blessed with a son . That son, is now a doctor in America.
That is life. Ups and downs are part of it. Life calls the tune and we dance to it.
Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. As famous author Paulo Kahlo says, I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfill our destiny, but our fate is sealed.
Franklin D Roosevelt says that men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. On the other hand, James Russel Lowell thinks Fate loves the fearless.