Sunday, May 24, 2009

Proximate cause

I had just moved into my apartment after being away for a decade .I was busy getting things organized like getting gas and telephone connection, fixing a paper boy, cable connection and such like. Most of the residents in the colony were new to me. None came forward to check whether I needed some help or to introduce themselves. They acted as strangers busy with their own work. My tenant had kept a well maintained garden with many flower plants roses,jasmines,sunflowers,and different varieties of crotons. These needed some attention. It was a week after my arrival I stumbled on Govind in my backyard early morning. He was cutting branches from the crotons in my garden for transplantation in his garden. I had seen him going for morning walk daily in his track suit and canvas shoes but we have not talked to each other. He was living in the adjacent block. A fifty something, he had not paid much attention to his appearance with unshaved face, unruly hair and a much worn T shirt. I did not fail to notice that his hands were muddy showing that he has been at this work for quite some time. He was startled by my unexpected appearance and mumbled something as he got up. I smiled at him and told him “It is perfectly ok. Make yourself comfortable but take care not to damage the plants.” There was a look of surprise in his face as he presumably expected me to be upset. He said “Sorry for taking these without your permission. Your earlier tenant used to allow me. I am Govind in the adjacent block residing in ground floor flat .” Our friendship commenced on this positive note grew as we exchanged greetings daily as he passed my house and occasionally walking together for short distance.
One day I had been to his flat at his insistence. What a surprise it was to find a beautiful home with cozy furniture, carpets, curtained windows, well painted walls with soft music playing in the background. There was the fragrance of incense as he had just finished his daily puja.He was clean shaven in a spotless white dhoti and shirt in contrast to the disheveled appearance on the first day. He introduced me to his wife who had brought us steaming cups of coffee. He had taken voluntary retirement after a heart attack and was doing some consultancy work from home. A well read man he could engage himself in conversation on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately they had no children.. Gardening was his hobby to which he devoted considerable time. We discussed about this common topic frequently and he had offered some plants that were not there in my garden. I found him a helpful person when he brought his gardener to remove the weeds and tidy up my garden. When I went to the nursery I brought for him some flower pots and left them in his garden without his knowledge. When there was a power failure once in my flat very late in the night which he happened to notice, he spoke to the Assistant Engineer on his own and got it fixed within an hour. We were becoming good neighbours and enjoyed each other’s company.
There was a wedding in the family of another resident in the colony. I was going in my car to the marriage hall that was close to my apartment around 9AM when I noticed Govind’s wife walking slowly . As I thought she was alone and as the hall was not far I drove without offering her a lift. It was after thirty minutes I found both Govind and his wife entering the hall. Evidently he has been following her as I did not notice him walking side by side with her. There was big crowd in the wedding hall and I could not talk to him. I came back after an hour and had a short nap. Around 3PM I saw an ambulance standing opposite their complex that had eight flats. I presumed someone must have taken ill and did not make further enquiries. It was around 5PM that the Secretary of the colony rang my door bell with a wreath in his hand. Shocked as I was, I asked him who was the person who had expired. He said “Don’t you know Mr. Govind after returning from the marriage had a massive attack and passed away before medical help could reach him.” He added he had walked both ways in the hot sun and that could have been the proximate cause for the stroke.
I was numbed by guilt. Had I stopped the car on seeing his wife and looked behind I would have seen him too and would have taken them in the car and brought them back. I blamed myself that it was not the sun but my foolishness and carelessness that was the proximate cause for my good friend’s end.


  1. Way too often we assume things and go ahead in life. If something we realise very late. True is the saying - Better late than never........but we have to differentiate that saying with this too - NEVER TOO LATE.......

  2. Cheers!!! KPji-- good one, throws light on some small facts we turn a blind eye unintentionally, but later we realise it was incorrect.


  3. oops!
    actually i had something else in my mind as i was nearing the end ... i knew something was amiss, but reading your last few stories, i thought that 'deathines' had disappeared from here ... but here it rises again ...

    this one is for everyone .. we just ignore some small little things thinking it s alright, or there is someone else to take care of the needs until oneday we realize it s all too late!!!

  4. Strange how one thing that we miss out on leads to an explosive consequence-that which makes us saddled with guilt forever.

  5. A well-written story with a moral. Thanks, KP.

    The best approach, in my opinion, to dealing with such guilt is to learn the lesson and move on. In any situation, we may be able to do upto a certain extent. The final outcome is what God wants.

    I have often been told that my comments and posts are too full of God, but that is the way I experience things: I feel Him in all circumstances and experiences.

    Best wishes :)

  6. You know certain things are so ingraved in our mind that we tend to behave in a certain way.PPL actually dont give lifts to women since they think that it wont be a good idea..which I think is true but sometimes this behaviour stops us from looking into the matter.if the protagonist wud have stopped and exchanged greetings he wud have got to kw that his frined was following his wife. Though it was also foolish on his frineds part to visit some place vithout arrangng for convenc.But what has to happen happens..we should just b carefull with a herd mentality..smtimes it closes r mind and stops us from thinking differently..even if it for the best!
    Great story, thanks:)

  7. Sorry for the typo errors...the story has a great lesson for all of us to learn!

  8. I think you have kicked away all those blocks, sir, and your spirits are back...the story has come out beautifully. Very well narrated!

    It's true that we should be aware of others problems and needs...and act responsively. But at the same time, as Ayeshya rightly said, we have to remember, "Thy will shall be done"

  9. Hi,

    A good story and illustrated for me that guilt and shame and blame are not needed they destroy people.



  10. Namaste....

    I don't think you can take responsibility for your friends death. Would it have been kind of you to give them a ride? Yes however lack of consideration (which all human's are prone to from time to time) is hardly cause for someone's death. I believe when it is your time to die it is your time. He would have had a heart attack even if you would have given them a ride. Let's say you did and he had the heart attack do you think that would have prevented him from dying?

    It is unwise to play the "what if" game, the outcome is never desirable and it will only serve to psychologically traumatize you. Simply honor your friend by learning from the experience and extend a hand to someone in need when you can and forgive yourself your humanness.


  11. Another gem from your mines (mind) Sir...

    I agree with Rush and Raphsody. We should not feel guilty about unintentional acts which may or may not have resulted in impacting others..



  12. At times we blame ourselves for some unintentional acts..It's unavoidable..At times such experiences teach us great lessons too..
    anbudan aruna

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  14. Hi,
    Came by to say hello and wish you well.
    Hope you are having a good day.