Vivek Sharma is a small-town boy (raised in Kanpur) whose ardent desire was to pursue his dreams and acclaim that service of pride and respect in the Indian Air Force. As a teenager, it was his one and only objective. But due to some minor physical condition, he was rejected. The process of being rejected was not an easy one for that young boy who was ready to sacrifice his life for that role. He was depressed and felt dejected. He was so heart-broken that even though he was an atheist, he went on to recreate the scene from the movie “Deewar- Khush toh bohot hogey tum aaj!”. He was venting out his frustration on that temple stone (as a stone cannot hit you back but hurt you enough to drain out your energy) until the temple priest pushed him out from there.
He cried for 2 days, went on without eating. But he knew life isn’t meant to stop here. He joined Bsc. 2nd year back and was gradually coping from rejection. After graduation, Vivek chose to make a career in healthcare industry which he felt was a white collared respected job. He joined one of the top pharmaceutical firm and meanwhile met his present wife Sweta and fell in love (he mentions it as rising in love though) with her. He got married in 2008 to Sweta, the girl he was and still is madly in love with, shifted to Bombay, had a high paying corporate job, bought his own house within 13 months without any family backup, a car subsequently and had a lovely son named Amogh and joined IIM Calcutta to pursue his post-graduation study. He was a happy family man, who was satisfied and contented at the end of the day. Probably we all call it a well settled life, right?
In reality, there is a certain way you want to live your life. But for a few like Vivek, “It was life who chose him to live it in a certain way,” as he says. September 10, 2014 was the evening that changed their lives. Mr. & Mrs. Sharma lost their only 5 years old son Amogh- out of the blue, for no reason at all. Amogh went to school as per routine, came home, ate, played with his mom, slept and never woke up. There was no reason backing up that child’s sudden death except for internal bleeding of oesophagus that too with no known cause. Losing their only child had changed the atmosphere of merry to melancholy for that family. They were entering the phase of depression. Sweta used to cry all day. And it used to drain out Vivek of everything. They were barely living but surviving.
Sweta, Amogh & Vivek
It’s comparatively easier for women to vent out their emotions but often men get caught up between letting their emotions out or being the back-end support and gradually emotions start piling up and it starts messing with the wiring of the human functioning. The thick layer of depression was eating Mr. & Mrs. Sharma both in and out.
Earlier Vivek used to take the local train to travel to his office to Nariman Point from Mira Road. But now he resorted to driving his car which used to take 3 hours for him to travel one way. Travelling alone in the car was his only escape, he couldn’t cry in front of his wife as it would further worsen her condition but being a human, he had to let it out. And that was his way of letting it out, crying in his car. Away from everyone, sequestered. Day by day it was becoming difficult to see Sweta suffering, dying of excruciating pain. And one day, it had reached the saturation point for him. He thought that he and his wife are anyway dying every day in agony, why not finish it once and for all for good. Yes, he planned out the suicide attempt for both of them, he was going to attempt it.
But did not.
That day, something happened (which he has narrated completely in his book “God Is Not Fair?”) and he took a different turn. That day he chose the road not taken and started his mission on the path to recovery.
Vivek says that all the work he has done, fell into place due to a divine intervention, an omen which he had felt every time. He didn’t commit suicide because he felt something, sensed an omen. As stated earlier, he was an atheist and still is not religious but spiritual. The satisfaction that the high-end corporate job was not able to give him, he is getting it today.
He went to see his friend who is a doctor in his clinic and encountered with a pair of a mother and daughter who left his friend’s cabin crying. The girl was 30 years old working with a reputed firm as an engineer with hefty CTC having a history of successful kidney transplant but wasn’t able to get married due to the transplant history. The mother had asked the doctor to find a man who have had a transplant too for matching him with her daughter. A week later he went to a conference held in Delhi where he met his oncologist friend who shared some similar stories with him. These two instances were again divine signals for him that there’s more to do in his life for others. “I am alive today for my partner, living for my family and that’s my selfish reason for survival”, said Mr. Vivek. And there he realised one needs a partner for living, for continuing. Even though you are fighting the toughest battle of your life, you will fight even if you know you will lose. But why! For your family, for your partner.
He started an online portal named “divinerelations.in”, a matrimonial platform designed specifically for patients with chronic diseases, survivors of critical illnesses and disabled people. A platform where people have a common ground to connect with, match and add value to their living. As his family and friends were aware that he was working with oncologists and cancer patients, one day, a friends’ wife who means to him more than a blood relative, Alka Arora from Moradabad called him to ask for a favour. She had a student whose mother was a breast cancer survivor but had lost all her hair due to the treatment. And being from a typical Indian society, she started to withdraw from going outside and meeting people. Vivek’s Bhabhi, as he addresses Alka Arora, asked him to arrange a natural wig for that lady. When Vivek enquired about it, he came to know that this generally costs around 15k-20k. It gave a shock to him and he got determined to do something in this area. Being a marketer at the day end, Vivek had a word with one of the wig makers in Mumbai and he suggested that if he arranged for natural hair himself, the cost could be bought down to 5k as it was meant for charity. And there he started another initiative named “Grow & Give” encouraging young women and students to donate a certain length of their hair to help the cancer patients in the process of recovery.
Up till now “Grow & Give” has got more than 300 donations and helped 40 females as it takes 8 donations to make 1 wig. At present, Vivek has two daughters but deep down the family still feels the void, hollowness left by his son, “agar apki ghadi ki headlight kharab hai toh apka dhyaan aas paas ki sab ghadiyon ki headlight par hi jata hai.” He saw few cases where people committed suicide and 50% of them weren’t even facing chronic depression, but rather had taken an irrational impulsive action. Just like it was about to happen with Vivek and his wife that day.
One of Mr. Sharma’s friend suggested him to write his experience for people who need it and he started doing the same. But penning those moments down again was the toughest struggle he had to go through, reliving those days again. He used to cry while writing and thus would write in his office after working hours. It took him 2 years to finish the book. Subsequently, he interviewed 52 well-known people across the nation who had the history of surviving a very difficult time in their lives wherein most people questioned their worth of living, and emerging into a new person afterwards. The story of overcoming their depression and difficulties in life. Out of 52, 30 people denied of publishing their story probably because of the taboo associated with depression in our society. Out of 22 remaining, with 5 most motivating stories, he published a book named “God Is Not Fair?” comprising of 6 eye-opening stories including his own. The story of winning the most rugged battle, battle of within, from within and against the within.
The podcast still stands as the most successful venture in changing lives of the people. Through his podcast he helped 50 people to overcome depression including 5 people who were probably at the edge of taking a drastic step for themselves. He would give his contact number through which people used to connect to him and he states that sadly, majority of the crowd was in the bracket of 18-36 years of age. One of the guys had called him when he was standing on the edge of the wall of the top floor and was about to jump. A week later he received a text from the same guy saying, “thank you for preventing me from making the most stupid decision of my life”. The podcast is on air today as well, every Monday at 7.00 a.m. on Gaana, JioSaavn, Raga, Spotify and his website www.thevivek.in. This podcast has gained an audience of 4.5 lakhs, in just a year’s time.
Often, he is questioned “why the title God Is Not Fair?” that too with a question mark. He says “We always have someone to blame when things don’t go as per our wish for example, we reach office late; we blame the traffic. But when there is no one to blame in person, what are we supposed to do? We point our finger upwards.” When we move ahead, we rethink that what we perceived as a wrong happening to us; does it have a reason behind it. And it every time does.
After completing his book, Vivek still wasn’t satisfied with the work he was doing, it didn’t feel enough for him. He met a person who was the Indian Operation head of a podcast company and with his guidance, he started his podcast under the same name “God Is Not Fair?”.
Major D. P. Singh is a Kargil bomb attack survivor, India’s first blade runner and founder of the “The Challenging Ones” which helps the amputees to overcome their disability and develop and perceive it as their strengths. Major D. P. Singh’s story is also published in Vivek’s book. When asked what the best moment of your life was, Major says- “The day I was bombed while fighting for Kargil War. If it never happened, I would have never started something like this. Even though today I have several of splinters still there in my body today, I know a fact that I am not the only one. And everyone out there needs help, and I can!”.
Even Mr. Sharma says, “Whatever I am doing today there’s a reason behind it. A story, an experience behind that which made me fragile, but I didn’t break. And I will try every day my level best for saving every other person from breaking.” And therefore, the questions mark, is God really unfair? Or is there a reason behind God being unfair to you- “God Is Not Fair?”
Vivek, Sweta & their two daughters.
Today Mr. Sharma is a social entrepreneur, a businessman and a philanthropist. According to a research one death affects 108 lives associated to it, and it becomes a vicious chain. He runs a website (www.thevivek.in) where you can ask for help preserving your identity through the contact form. He conducts sessions in colleges, schools and corporates to create awareness. Runs a podcast on a regular basis which you can listen to from anywhere. He is no less than a guardian angel, a saviour. Saving, influencing and changing so many lives at once.
To do some good, one does not have to go through necessary difficulties. Help your friends, relatives, colleagues and people around you. Tell them about this foundation. Be their guardian angel. If you can ignite a ray of hope even in one single person, you’re doing your bit. And at the end of the day above all, you will feel satisfied. That’s what all us need right! So, think again when you say, “God Is Not Fair”!