Conscience Called

17 Sep

Sometimes other people’s honesty can have a profound impact on the way you perceive yourself, leading to introspection that can change your life forever. It doesn’t have to be a bang-and-whistles speech – it could be just a throwaway moment in ordinary conversation.

There is that story a professor of mine shared about attending her mother’s funeral, for example. The way she told it, she was sitting at the kitchen table with her aunt who said to her, “You know, you die the way you live.”

I forget the context in which this came up, but I remember other things – the fleeting, faraway look on my professor’s face; the dip in her voice as she said to us: “And I thought to myself, what a terrible thing – to die as you live. I wondered then what people would say of me and I hoped they would say I was kind.”

I don’t think anybody else was really paying attention. At least, I remember the topic changed pretty quickly thereafter. But it’s always stuck in my head, perhaps because I’d just emerged from a rather unhappy two years of deep unkindness that I had perpetrated and suffered in equal measure. That whole mess had ended mere months before that class, marked forever in my mind by the passing of a woman known to be unkind to those who loved her best and needed her most.

That day it all came together and knit itself into a lesson people had been trying to teach me for years to no avail – that a bit more thought and flexibility could do wonders for my personality. I knew how to apologize and mean it, but that day it occurred anew to me that nine times out of ten, life gives you ample opportunity to avoid creating situations that end in meaningful apologies.

It’s been ten years since that day. I’d like to think that I’ve changed and evolved since then, to what degree I’m not certain but enough that I’m satisfied not to be the same person I used to be. Or rather, I’m satisfied that everyday I try to be a better person than the one I know myself to be.

That itself is growth, I think.


Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Personal


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7 responses to “Conscience Called

  1. Bhel

    September 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Very honestly and very well written. “You die the way you live” is going to be a line I will remember.

  2. Piyush

    September 20, 2010 at 3:31 am

    whoa did you see the latest episode of mad men ??

    *spoiler alert for people who havent seen the episode*

    Sterling Cooper uses the same quote when the secretary dies. Something along the lines of “she died the way she lived, among the people she answered calls for”. I immediately thought of this post.

  3. munimma

    September 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    This sounds suspiciously like you are growing up. “life gives you ample opportunity to avoid creating situations that end in meaningful apologies” – well said.

    On a flippant note – Can you imagine Borat as Balsara?

  4. All's Wells That Ends Well

    September 21, 2010 at 1:51 am

    I was addicted to (episodes of) The Invisible Man that aired weeknights on DD, way back when. Here‘s wishing the great author a happy 144th!

    “you die the way you live” — raw deal then for those of us who live the double life huh? As if dying once weren’t bad enuf..

  5. sitaji

    September 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

    What a lovely and thought provoking my dear. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Amrita

    September 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Bhel – thank you. All credit, of course, to Gabrielle who said it first.

    Piyush – that is high praise, my friend! 😀 Yes, I saw the epi. I can’t believe they killed her off. Who’ll say racist things that make me laugh now?

    Munimma – that terrible thought has come into my mind a time or two as well 😦
    Re: The Mercury pic. I suspect my answer is going to disappoint you 😀 because I think it’s a case of stunt casting that might actually work. I know he’s got the goods (although I dont know what his pipes are like) and I want to see it for sure. And god knows he’s hairy enough, lol. I don’t know what they’re going to do about his height though. Hobbitize him probably.

    AWTEW – you know that angle hadn’t even occurred to me until now? Gee, thanks! 😀

    Sitaji – thanks for coming by! 🙂

  7. Rishi

    September 25, 2010 at 3:12 am

    You write well..

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