We’re all just walking

I usually don’t watch WhatsApp video forwards. In fact, I find them exhilarating painful. I’m least interested in some geriatric Irish folk, figure skating to Bollywood music, or birds flying in astounding formations over arctic glaciers, or even some spooky CCTV footage of a drunk guy looking into people’s homes in Dadar Parsi Colony in the middle of the night. I detest people telling me how good the morning is and can’t fathom the infiniteness of human stupidity when I’m egged on to smell the morning roses on a digital screen. My iPhone storage is always full thanks to a bunch of retired social media addicts who have suddenly decided to find wonder, bewilderment, curiosity, surprise, and amazement in the universe by way of their smartphones. I don’t need their help for that; I have two little girls at home and every moment is filled with these emotions.

I usually hit delete just by looking at the still shot of the video. Some of them have no image to denote what’s in store, so I’m often compelled to watch for at least 3 seconds to ensure I don’t miss out on a masterpiece. I must confess, I do come across some every few months. The decision to delete without seeing it also depends on who’s sent it. I just lost out on a few friends with that revelation, but to win them back, I shall say that I have in my network a few people whose forwards I won’t skip. (Now, no one knows whom I’m referring to and we are safe to continue.)


In the midst of deleting my daily dose of videos, I chance upon a slightly distorted still shot of aapro Boman Irani in a cream suit and olive green tie with a matching hanky in his front pocket. I’m not judging, just setting the scene. There are only three people in the community whose names prefixed by aapro brings a sense of great joy, pride, and endearment, the other two being Zubin Mehta and Ratan Tata. I can’t guess if this is another clip of Boman singing “We are the world” or an encouraging snippet from one of his motivational talks from across the globe, where he galvanizes people from all walks of life to achieve greatness.


It’s impossible to hit delete when you know you’re assured a couple of minutes of rejuvenation in either the form of laughter or inspiration, and so, unhesitatingly, I press play. And I see the man in a completely different avatar appealing to the community to be a stem cell donor for a 40-year-old lady from Australia suffering from leukaemia. All that was required of you, if you were between 18 and 50 years of age, was to show up at one of the designated places and offer a swab of your cheek. The age criteria unfortunately excluded half the community, but it was a heartfelt message with the simple intention of saving a life.


It’s comforting to see people make these small efforts to help others in distress, be it an illness or a financial calamity. Our community is filled with people who are simply eager to help. There are so many individuals, organizations, welfare groups, NGOs, and social workers within the community, and all they want is to help without seeking anything in return. To help this Parsi family from Australia, volunteers within the community are conducting drives across several continents, and I salute every person involved in this initiative.


Being a brain tumour surgeon, I see families devastated by the diagnosis of cancer on a daily basis. It’s heart-wrenching to have honest conversations with them, conversations of truth, trust, trials, and tribulations. It’s impossible to put yourself in their shoes because you’re not and hopefully will never be. But the good news is that we are making advances in the field of medicine nearly every day. Surviving some cancers is becoming more of a possibility as remission rates go higher and the quality of life is enhanced.


So, as per the instructions in the video, I head to the chosen venue in Dadar. On my way to the Madressa, my car broke down and I had to push it the last 500 meters. Being a Maruti 800, it’s easy to push with just one hand, with the added benefit that I could generate more than enough of the saliva they needed from my cheek. I seriously hope I’m a match. The father of the patient was present at the venue. He mentioned that her elder sister didn’t turn out to be a match, and hence this effort to find the right donor. I had a brief chat with him and reassured him that she was sure to find a match, since all Parsis are related in some way or the other. He nodded in unison, slightly bemused. Boman, in his video, says that the effort is a mammoth one and discovering the right donor “is like finding a needle in a haystack”. But, I believe, with luck on your side you can even end up finding a farmer’s daughter in it. They call it serendipity.


The same night, I had dinner with a Parsi couple well into their late eighties. They come every year from Chicago to Panchgani, where they have donated thousands of dollars from their pension fund to run a college of nursing. They have bestowed an equal amount to the Dadar Athornan foundation. Being married over 50 years, they chuckle about how they still fight for wardrobe space as they share a closet. I said, “Why don’t you just get another one?” The wife retorts, “My husband says, why get another closet when we can donate that money to the college or spend it on our priests?” The chicken I had just eaten began to flap its wings in my tummy. These people were from another planet.


They continued dinner reminiscing stories of 50 years ago, asking if bus number 64 still went from Babulnath to Maheshwari Udyan, a weekly ride they used to take to feed the poor. Surprisingly, the bus hasn’t changed that route till date. So vivid were their memories, so character building were their stories, and they did not require any equipment to capture their moments – it was all done within their heads and hearts. They had a real, solid, deep engagement with the world. It is not without reason they keep saying, “Those were the days…”


I wondered if we made such people any more, people just wanting to use their time, money, and effort to help other people. And the gratifying answer to that is a resounding “yes!” All of us inherently want to aid and comfort someone who requires it. We see it daily, all around us. As a community, we may be dwindling in quantity but not quality. The quality of our thoughts, words and actions is still pristine. We may never need to be at the receiving end of a stranger’s kindness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a noble benefactor to someone else. We may never receive, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot give – and keep giving. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other home.


Navroze Mubarak.

One Comment on “We’re all just walking”
  • S.D. Wadia says:

    Dear Mazda,
    Leaving a little note to say that I follow your articles in Jame and am quite a fan of your writing. I enjoy every piece and wish you lots of happiness in life as you go around spreading mirth, education and enlightenment with your writings. Stay blessed always.


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