The last meal.
Everybody around the table knew how significant this meal was, for the man. That is why nobody started their meals even though the plates in front had food on them.
The big legend, with a small end. A tiny end. He didn’t deserve this, some were thinking.
He wore simple clothes for the meal, like it meant nothing more than the meal yesterday. Not strange, considering how he ignored the fact that this will be his last meal.
Every body knew it, they saw how he had lost all that weight over the last few weeks, it was like he was losing 3 kilograms per day.
They didn’t say anything, about how they thought this could have been avoided, at least delayed, if he had continued the medication, or about how this version of the end did not befit the lavish/magnanimous lifestyle that he led and was known for.
“Two years ” he said, finally, killing the ear piercing silence, “ it has been two years that I made an announcement over the internet, right?”
“That is correct, Amar” the young person sitting beside him said. He requested everybody to call him by his first name. As if the little room he had created in hundreds of millions of hearts, pumping them to do their best, and to handle emotions that had been left un“handled”, meant nothing.
One ailing author, having sold more than 100 million books all over the enterprise, and six individuals who claimed they were the biggest admirers of his works, that was what it was.
Any one who had read his works would find an uncanny similarity between this situation and the setup of his book “the last meal” that was translated to more than 140 languages.
That was what was racing through everybody’s heads as they were staring down at their food. Some held their spoons ready to dig into the roast duck, but nobody had started, except the man himself.
Every person’s life has ups and downs, no doubt about that, but this guy right here, he experienced the most intense ups and downs one could hope for.
But why wasn’t anybody saying anything? Of course, that is what happens at the climax of the book. The last meal goes unspoken. According to the book, the author goes back to his quarters, lays down, and never wakes up.
Everybody is afraid this may be the climax of this author’s life. This thought brought chills to everybody around the table.
Yes, he had done some stupid things in his youth, hurting everybody around him, tearing their hearts open and sapping out their emotional energy. But no, he didn’t deserve this, some critics had pointed. He had more than paid his penance. Those sleepless nights, when he would write and write and write true and imaginary accounts of heroism, by “small” people, the everyday guy, the guy standing in front of you in the queue for the coffee, they made many a heart race and beat, and even has caused some everyday people become heroes. Heroes, maybe in their houses, maybe in their localities, in their villages, in their cities and even in their countries. As long as you are a hero, it doesn’t matter how big or how small a hero you are, or as he said, “There are no small heroes”. The critics liked how he used the cinematic term “hero” to ask us, the “everyday” people, to be the best versions of what we can be.
There was one more thing his writings always reflected. The big question. The main thing was, as the author said at least a million times a day,
“What is the message here?”
He had lived by this all his life, well, after the meltdown, and being broke. That was 68 years ago.
“What is the message?”
“What is the message?”
This simple question, moved people to become the heroes that their parents/locality/city needed. Maybe not deserved, but needed.
When you succeed, what do you want your message to be?
When you fall down the stairs and fractured your arm and knee, what do you want your message to be?
When you end up being broke, what do you want your message to be?
When you are dumped by the girl/boy that you were sure you will end up with, what do you want your message to be?
When you die, what do you want your message to be?
This moved me. And millions like me.
What did I end up doing? I ended up creating a group of like minded people who devoted their time into cleaning up their locality. Not a very big achievement, but an achievement nonetheless.
“Think about it. If you think hard enough and long enough, you will realise that it is all about the message” the author said.
By the message, he meant the lesson that we learn from an action.
I remember asking myself one night, when the heat was not letting me sleep, What I want my life message to be.
I didn’t realise it then, but my humdrum cabin life was going to change exciting, not easy, definitely, but exciting.
Nor did I realise what caused me thinking about that. But eventually, I did.
I realised that the new fire that I had inside of me to become my own hero, and to work towards my ‘message’ was because of a book.
A book. Some author’s creation. It was then that I realised how powerful pen and paper can be.
“So, what is your message Señor Amar?” somebody asks. Not shocked to find the same thing floating around in their heads.
It was the last question that the ailing author answers in the book “The last meal”.
But in ‘The last meal’, it does not come up till the ailing author prepares to leave the hall after the meal.
I hope the lady who asked this question realises that this may be the last question that Amar answers, as he had clearly finished eating.
“I don’t know. What do you think the message must be?” he asked.
His hollow voice echoed in the room.
“I think it should be, even if you fall real hard, you are never too late to rise up.” the lady said. She learnt that from his life.
Was he pissed off? we were thinking. He was not. He seemed tired.
“Let’s be honest, I am no saviour. I am no good samaritan.” he said, “I am just a guy who is trying to pay the price for the people I hurt, you know, make it even. I am trying to prevent other people from doing what I did to the people I loved. Sorry, people who loved me.”
It took a few moments to absorb what he just said.
The people around the table remembered what one of the characters in ‘The last meal’ had said,
“Noticing death right around the corner brings crazy thoughts into a person’s mind.”
Because, He clearly had been my saviour, and millions of others like me, who lived the mediocre life thinking nothing good could ever come out of it.
I remember how in his semi-autobiographical work, he talks about how focussing on the message he wanted to give, every single day for ten years, while writing a page everyday and working on menial jobs to pay the bills, he became what he is today.
Clock strikes ten p.m.
He stands up slowly taking support of the stick he carries around, turns away, reaches the door, and stops. Just like it happened in ‘The last meal’. Man! He orchestrated his own final meal in that story.
“The message if I get the choice would be this,
“There is always a message. Even if they say there isn’t, even if you say there isn’t, even if you work for it, or not work for it. There is always a message, in every thing that happens in the universe around us. No matter how small that thing may seem, there is always a message.
“And it is our responsibility to recognise the message, to listen to the message. And work on it.”
So, my question is,
What is your life’s message?
Is it “the best brother/sister son/daughter husband/wife father/mother”?
Is it “the best inventor”?
And one more equally important question,
Are you working toward it?