What does it mean to us?
Would there ever be anyone who heard about the incredible survival story of Reshma and not captivated by it?! Besides amazement, if one is to intensely reflect on the story of Rehsma, it is possible that a life changing meaning could emerge out of it.
Of course, meaning depends on interpretation which in turn depends, so to speak, to a great extent on the way we relate ourselves to the story; what we do, the way we see the world, what we aspire to achieve, challenges we have experienced and are still experiencing, among other things.
Reshma is a life lesson not simply by virtue of being an exceptionally incredible survival story of exceptionally horrendous disaster but because it teaches us lessons of what tenacity, perseverance and hope is really like. It is something that defines what optimism is.
Mediocre biological explanations-that Reshma survived because she happened to have access to food, water and air- aside, not that it is untrue but that it reduces the exceptionally unique aspect of the story to something that amounts to triviality in light of the significance of the story as a life lesson, the focus, seen from a personal level, should be on the life changing aspect of the story; the aspects that relate to hope versus despair, life versus death, and perseverance versus giving up, among other things.
I never heard a story like Reshema in my life. In recent years, the world witnessed underground entrapment of miners in Chile which lasted for over two months! Albeit, the length of the duration, the nature of the entrapment was, now we can say, far less challenging compared to Reshma for a number of reasons. In the case of the former, they were about 33 and had the advantage of consoling to one another, had access to daily essentials, and more importantly they were communicating with their families and the outside world. Even nothing like a story of Rehsma emerged out of the world trade center disaster in 2001. Reshma is totally different. I have a feeling that Hollywood will never think twice to produce movie on stories like Reshma and I will certainly watch out for it.
What is exceptionally exceptional about Rehsma is that not only she did not have the luxury, it would feel so in a situation she went through, of having someone to console her like in the case of entrapment in Chile but that she lived real life and death situation for a longer period and that her existence under the rubble was unknown to anyone else.
We can only imagine the meditative routine it requires, the serenity and the mental strength it takes is enormous. Living in a state of coming close to the unknown and living in a situation that represents utter danger day in and day out just by herself is really extraordinary.
Just think about how it feels like to doing an eight hours night shift alone and imagine what it would feel like to spend seventeen nights and seventeen days under the rubble where your voices can barely be heard or not at all.
The lesson we draw from the story from a spiritual point of view is not less inspiring. The way the crowed was celebrating Reshma when she was pulled out from the rubbles, as I watched in on TV, sounds spiritual –“Allahu Akber!” It does not matter which religious congregation we are from; the story does indeed relate us to the idea of the divine father right away. Well, an atheist may find more meaning on the victims of the disaster rather than a miraculous survival story Reshma. I wonder what an atheist would feel like in a shoe of Reshma. My guess it that it would be transformational. World trade Center disaster survivor Sujo John narrates how impacted his spiritual life.
I cannot really wait until Reshema gives us her account of the ordeal and how she withstood it. No matter how she perceives and interpret the ordeal she went through, it is also open for every one of us to reflect up on it and give it our own meaning. Among other things, it is very relevant in terms of changing bad attitudes about death and life, in terms of revisiting principles in how we pursue the things we like- whether we have a cause for activism or some other personal goals, and in terms of learning undesirability of losing hope.
By Dimetros Birku
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