Ram sat staring at the specimen under the microscope and the values projected in his computer. The results were slightly different from his previous attempts. They were infact strikingly interesting. However, he realized that these new set of numbers and microscopic figures only raised more difficulties rather than what they managed to solve. It had the unbelievable ability to make him doubt himself. But that's the way it had to be. Research was challenging and that's exactly why he was upto it. His only motive in life was to spend it for something that could possibly outlast life itself.
It was Ram's 24th birthday when his father took him to an old age home for the first time. Unlike guys of his age, Ram did not get to spend much time with his grandparents. When he was in primary school, he would envy his friends who used to be accompanied home by their grandfather, while he would be picked up by their house maid. That birthday made a huge impact in his life. He realized how pathetic certain people's life turned out to be. The totally antagonistic attitude of these people was quite surprising to this young man. While some of them looked hopeless, others were hoping against hope that they would have a better life, as if they had just begun their! Ironic!
There was one particularly interesting old man who impressed him the most. He had the strange feeling that their lives had touched with a purpose. It was his meeting with this person that gave him the motivation to pursue his research. All that was required of him was patience and hard work. While on his research, he made it a point to visit this old man every week. Every time Ram went to meet him; he would take with him a gift that the old man had asked Ram in his previous visit. But the old man would wonder why Ram came to him with gifts. Gradually, work took over Ram's weekends too and he was unable to visit the old age home as frequently as he did. But that made no difference with the old man. He was as puzzled to see Ram then, as he had been when they met for the first time. Ram could however completely understand why the old man felt that way.
It was Ram's 25th birthday and he made sure that amidst all the birthday plans and treats that his friends had been nagging him for, he had the time to visit the old man. It was now nearly a month since he had last been to the old age home and exactly a year since he had first been to this place. Early that morning, Ram washed his car and drove to the old age home. He entered the brightly lit room by the corner of the corridor. The old man was seated in his study desk by the window. He didn't notice Ram walk into the room. Ram's eyes caught a yellow sheet of paper that was peeping out of a book lying on the bed. The ends of the paper were torn and Ram could bet that they were at least 2 years old. He could only read the first few lines on the paper and they said – Things to do before I die. 1) Make a cup of coffee for Ranjini. 2) Get Akash the toy car he asked for on his 5th birthday. Ram immediately recognized that Ranjini was the old man's wife who passed away 6 months ago and Akash, his 15 year old grandson in America. Ram wondered if that list made any sense to the old man now. He encountered a sinking feeling in his heart.
For a moment, the microscopic figures and the numbers that he had encountered in his lab the previous night flashed in his mind. The worst thing that Ram ever wanted to feel was to wake up one morning, thinking that if he had known everything, he might have done something different. Bringing himself back to the present, Ram gently rested a hand on the old man's stooped shoulders and stood there with a warm smile. The old man however continued to read the book in his hand. Ram had seen him read this book every time he paid a visit and more so, he never seemed to finish the book. On certain days, Ram even found him on page 14, while the previous week he would have been on page 48. But again, Ram knew that he hadn't completed the book even once and he could understand why.
After a short while, the old man closed the book and placed it on the table. Ram managed to catch a glimpse of the title of the book. It said – 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' By Milch Albom. The old man looked up at Ram and gave him the same perplexed look. Ram introduced himself as he always did and offered the box of sweets in his hand. After a short conversation, Ram felt a new renewed vigour. Ram realised that his research on Alzheimer's had to be given a boost. He wasn't going to wait for success, he had to move ahead without it. Just before leaving, Ram took the old man's trembling hands into his and they walked into the nearby garden. Far across a rainbow appeared and it looked more beautiful than ever before.
p.s. 1: Am halfway through that book. Very impressive. Try to read it if you get a chance.p.s 2: My blog's 1st year completion. I was wondering if its in the same state as Ram's research! :)