A friend, in one of his introspective moods, told me, “Raj, let’s be honest. What have you and I achieved in this world? Have we done anything of any significance to anyone? When one of us dies, our entire life story will be summed up thus: “He was born, he lived and then he died” What else is there to write?
In that respect, Edith Shain is better off than either of us. She suddenly became a celebrity, decades after World War II, asserting that she was the nurse kissed by a sailor in Life magazine’s memorable photograph of V-J Day in Times Square. That was her solitary moment of fame. She died last week. Here tombstone can read, “She was born, she worked as a nurse, she kissed a sailor and died”.
Or take the case of character actor Mac Mohan who died last month. He may have acted in 175 movies, but he is remembered only for his role of Gabbar Singh's sidekick Sambha in Ramesh Sippy's blockbuster "Sholay". That was his only claim to fame. His epitaph can read, “He was born, he was Gabbar Singh’s sidekick, then he died”.
I remember reading a news item many years back about a lift operator in a hotel. Apparently, a leading actress was staying in the hotel and got into the lift. The operator seized the moment to give her a hug. He was reported and was handed over to the police. Now, the poor operator could have gone up and down in his lift a million times and ended his career with nothing to report. But he had sterling stuff in him. ‘Carpe diem’, he shouted while grabbing his opportunity and..the actress. So, when he dies, his obituary can read, “ He was born, he operated lifts, he hugged a leading actress, then he died”. How many of us can claim to have such an impressive CV?