“The Cobbler, always, wears the worst shoes!”
This was the phrase I had first heard from our English teacher in tenth-standard. Almost forty years back, that was!
Our teacher had told us - why?
“The cobblers are experts in attending to other people’s shoes; but, when it comes to their own, they are miserable… They are too busy, and too poor, to attend to their own shoes!”
Then, in the Church, I would hear another Biblical phrase. The Father would decipher the same meaning out of these words of Jesus:
“Physician, heal thyself!”
“The physician is so busy treating and healing others that he can hardly notice what is wrong with his own body,” the Father would explain to us. “Often, he neither has the willingness nor the capacity to heal his own sickness!”
Thousands of years have passed since the birth of these phrases… Still, nothing has changed: The Cobblers still wear the worst shoes… and the Physicians still are bad in healing themselves!
And this, too: We all do… We all ARE… The teachers, the Counselors, the Politicians, the Cops, the Decorators, the Designers, the Chefs, the Money-lenders, the Beauticians, Bureaucrats… the Sales-guys and the air-craft crew, the actors, models and ad-people…
Yes, we all have, always, been experts in reaching out to others… helping, guiding, counseling, teaching, grooming, creating, building… and, in the process, making lots of fame, name and money for ourselves…
Still, when it comes to us… our own lives…
well, we have been miserable…
The Cobbler-and-Physician phrases still chime, like a thousand distant-bells!
Once, a woman went to Gandhi to seek help. Her son was addicted to eating sweets. The mother had failed to prevail upon her son, and now had come to the Mahatma as the last resort.
“Bapu, my son adores you so much… and, I am sure, he will listen to you,” the worried woman pleaded before the saintly man, “Please advice him to end his bad habit!”
Bapu remained quiet for a while and, then, said to the mother, “My dear woman, please see me along with your young-son after two weeks.”
The woman was surprised. “Why two weeks?” she asked in her mind, “Bapu is such a great soul… Why does he need such a long time for such a small problem?”
Nevertheless, the woman went back home and returned to see Bapu after two weeks as suggested.
This time, Gandhiji did not waste any time… He looked into the young-man’s eyes straight and said: “My young friend, eating so much of sweets can ruin you… Stop it!”
The young-man, it is reported, gave a promise, right away!
But, the woman had a question to ask: “But, Bapu,” she said, “why did you need two weeks to tell my son this?”
“Two weeks I needed to stop my own sweets-eating habit, my dear woman,” the Mahatma confessed wearing his famous broken-teeth-smile, “I only needed a second to advice him, today!”
That’s how it is… for all of us – the Cobblers, the Physicians, the Teachers, the Mothers and the Fathers… and the Bapus and the Babas of this world…
Yes, for all of us…
Pics.: Mukesh Ahuja