LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS AND LIFE IN THE VALLEYS
Last night, when I boarded an auto to go home, there was a middle-aged man waiting for the bus. I asked him if I could drop him anywhere on my way. He got in, happily. Once in, I enquired where he worked and where he lived. He lived quite close to our Society… and, he worked as a security guard under some security agency. For the next ten minutes, till we reached home, this man kept narrating to me about the ‘exploitations’ made by the Security agencies of their guards. This man said that he had been changing agencies, almost, every two months… as he was made to work more than twelve hours a day for peanuts… Then, there was no weekly holiday given to him… He was asked to work on shifts, randomly… He had a family – two young girls, an ailing wife and, he was unable to pull through all that he was going through…
I heard him out, with all my sympathies… What else could I do? He was a stranger… and I knew that, by all probability, I might not meet this again.
It was the end of my day as it was his, too… We both were coming back home… Both of us had worked very, very hard… We were tired and tensed. Both of us were looking forward to spending some relaxed time with our respective families…
And, this morning, I had left for work about 7.45. I got into the waiting auto… This man was quite an aged man. I felt the positive vibration the moment I boarded. “Aayiye saab, baitiye; namashkar,” he greeted me, “Achch jayega aaj ka din!”
I was immediately turned on!
I did not know this man… Yes, a stranger he was. And, even before I could say a word, he made me feel so good about myself: “Sir, you are a good soul… It is my privilege and good fortune to ferry you across. I am blessed. Thank you!”… Well, this was the hidden message of his simple words: “Aaayiye saab, baitiye; namashkar… Achch jayaga aaj ka din!”
For the next ten minutes, till I reached my office place, yes, once again, I allowed the stranger to speak…
By the time, I reached my workplace, I was charged!
This stranger told me that he would return home only at 9 in the night… He had a family… an ailing wife and two married children - a daughter and a son… three school-going grandchildren… He told me that his wife had high diabetes… but, he was happy!
Happy that he could still work for such long hours… Happy that he could marry off his daughter to a decent family… Happy that he could graduate his son… Happy that his grandchildren could study in English medium schools… Happy that he could meet the cost of his wife’s medicines through his own earnings… and, very importantly, he was happy that he was able to look forward to each day that came along!
Once, a traveler was walking from a village in the mountains to a village in the valley.
On his way, he saw an elderly man working in a field. “Sir, I am on my way to the village in the valley,” the traveler said to the elderly man, “can you please tell me how is life like in that village?”
The elderly man looked up to the traveler and asked, “Where are you coming from?”
“From the village in the mountains, sir?” the traveler replied.
“How was life like, out there?” asked the elderly man.
“Horrible sir, just horrible!” complained the traveler without even blinking. “None of them could understand what I spoke… Their food was disgusting… They made me sleep on the floor…and, that’s why I am out of that place… I would never ever see that place again!”
“Well, then, my friend, the life in the new village for you will be the same!” said the elderly man to the young traveler, and went about his field work!
Some hours later, another traveler happened to see the elderly man in the field. He too was on his way from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley. When he saw the elderly man, he asked the same question to the elderly man: “Sir, I am on my way to the village in the valley. Can you please tell me, how is life like, in that village?”
And, the elderly man had the same reply to the young traveler: “Tell me, where are you coming from?”
“From the village in the mountains, sir.”
“How was life like, out there?”
“Fabulous sir, just fabulous! Imagine, we could not understand each-other’s language… So, we used all the possible ways to express and understand each other… It was sheer fun… Then, the food that they served was absolutely different… I realized how tough it was for them to live in the mountains… It made me tough too, a lot humble and grateful… The people were poor but had a big heart… Sleeping on the floor was luxurious… I have left that place a lot richer and wiser… I will miss it for long!”
“Then, my young friend, the life in the new village for you will be the same!”
How will be life like, today, at my workplace?
How was it like, last night, at my home?
How will be life like, this night, at home?
How was it like, today, at my workplace?
“Wherever we go…
we carry ourselves!”
Pics.: Ashok Ahuja