“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
A person is on a death row. Less than twenty-four hours are remaining on the clock before the power switch is pulled on. Preparations have began for his final journey. The electrocution chair being checked for its readiness, his last meal taking shape in the kitchen. The realization has sunk in, that he will walk, in few hours, his last walk of his life.
What do you imagine is going on inside his head? Has he made peace with himself, accepted the judgment for the sins he has committed? Or he is still cursing himself for the way things happened, the way his life turned out to be, wishing things were different -an alternate reality -where he is living happily with his family?
He is no different than us as far as feelings and emotions are concerned. For he still experiences all the emotions that boils inside us. He is obviously sad. He might get angry at himself or God for making him the man he is. It would be hard to believe but he can be happy too, for a fleeting second, may be because his family is secure, at least.
But still there is one emotion that has totally deserted him in his final hours, an emotion that is fundamental to the existence of humanity on this earth, in fact the very reason for its survival. It is the one emotion that is totally absent inside him, the emotion that we call hope.
He is devoid of any hope for his life is akin to the hands of a clock that is running its final course, its final hour, before the power inside it runs out. The end of his existence on this planet is as assured as the rising of the sun in the east. And the life which was propelling his body, his thoughts, his feelings, his perception of reality would cease to exist in some time, extinguishing into the thin air like the tip of a smoke.
We on the other hand have hope. Come what may, we all hope of things getting better. We fall down, we get beaten. We fail, we lose our jobs. The things that we hold so tightly are erased in one second in the face of natural disasters. In some situations we even lose our dignity. And if we are extremely unlucky, and we would be eventually one day, we would even lose the people without whom we can’t imagine our lives.
In such moments we feel that our life has come to an end. The air leaking from our breaths, our heart getting squeezed as if sucked out of life. We cringe in our pain, lose our senses and wish that we die, and for a few moments we die in some way. For we have forgotten hope. But only forgotten. For the hope never dies. It lives on.
And then after that long night we rise again, face the world and march on. It’s encoded in us, hardwired in our brain, this feeling of hope.
It is the reason we get up every morning despite of our sucky lives. It is the reason why we go to the office having horrible bosses and mind numbing politics. It is the reason we love again even when we are knocked out of our breaths the last time we fell in a one sided love.
This was the reason why the land of farmers and middle class rallied behind one man, against the mighty British Empire, and that one simple man with a hope to free his country became Mahatma Gandhi. It was the reason why one woman fought against all the pain and suffering and in process became Mother Teresa of the world and still shines as the beckon of selfless altruism and love for the entire humankind.
All great men and women were simple people, but had high hopes, both for themselves and the world. Something we all need to have, and with only hope we can take the first step towards the journey that can make a real difference in our lives and in this world.