“If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou of evil luck,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.”

- from Tagore’s ‘Ekla Chalo Re’

Malia* is a distant niece of mine. She was also my student many years ago. She was a beautiful soul, well-mannered, very articulate and, above all, God-fearing. But, then, her only major ‘sin’ in life seemed to be her falling madly in love with the young man who belonged to a different religious faith!

Now, I called it Malia’s ‘major sin’. because, her parents did not approve this relationship. It was any boy from her own faith or none at all. Silly and medieval it really seemed… months of fierce arguments followed… The parents refused to relent… and Malia refused to relent either…Finally, against her parents’ wish, she married the boy she had loved…

With that, the doors of her parents’ house – and hearts as well – permanently closed for Malia. So many well-wishers tried to prevail upon the parents… but, with no success.

Soon, a little baby boy, Laksh, came along bringing in Malia’s life a new zest for life. But, just a year or so later, her world was to collapse around her, once again: She lost her young husband due to a major health condition!

We all thought, at least now, Malia’s parents would relent and accept her back… But, it was not to be!

Malia took these things in her stride, and started putting the pieces of her life together… with great dignity and grit… Perhaps, drawing strength from Tagore’s famous poem – ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ (Walk Alone):

If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou of evil luck,
open thy mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou of evil luck,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou of evil luck,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.

After many years, I happened to read this update on Malia’s FB timeline:

“My son, Laksh is in Sr. K.G. class. His school had planned a trip to Byculla zoo. Though they mentioned they had permission for today, the zoo was closed! So, without seeking parents’ permission, the kids were taken to Borivali National Park!

I am upset and not happy with the school’s decision!

First time, ever, I am feeling the school took a bad decision. I am waiting for an hour outside the school to see our kids’ faces ... They look tired.  Unfortunately, they could see only deer and none of the animals, which the kids were promised, they could see.

Finally, the wait is over…..We all got our kids safe... Hungry, tired and drained out in the hot sun!

I'm still not OK with anything that happened today!

To add to it, the school was not handing over the kids without the parents’ ID card... So many mom's are observing ‘Karva Chauth’, and, of all days, today, they were trying to show they are concerned when they actually didn't reflect over their actions before! Lots of parents will complain ... Thank God our kids are all come back safe!”

Well, no matter what a great fighter in life you are, when it comes to little sons and daughters of yours, you seem to possess weak knees. I knew, it was the anxious mother in Malia who was voicing what she did… I wanted to comfort her with some playfulness. I wrote:

 “Chalo, don't feel more upset about it... I'll organize one (trip) tomorrow to Byculla for Malia and Laksh both. After that, a steaming-hot biryani at Persian Darbar... Kush? Love and blessings to l'le Laksh.”

Malia was prompt to get back to me:

“Gerry uncle... Love you! You are a darling... Thanks for helping me smile!”

I was delighted to read that. I continued:

“Malia, on a serious note, this life is a 'zoo'... isn't it? Prepare the little one, right from his tender days, not to lose heart over small things... and to embrace with both his hands whatever comes along... Make him tough like you, but sensitive and caring. Love you both. Blessings.”

Malia sent me this honest reply:

 “I'll keep that in mind, uncle. We want our kids to be tough; but, when they are so tiny, they don't know to differentiate between good/bad right/wrong.  I am not trying to be over protective but, yea, I am concerned that as a parent I need to be informed before the school could take a decision like the one they took. I trusted them, you see, with my kid . I was thrown off guard with what happened…However, I still have faith and believe that all is well because we got to be positive and affirmative in any given situation.

A friend of Malia had beautifully and crisply summed it up:

“Anth bhala toh sab bhala!”… All is well that ends well.

There is so much meaning packed in that proverb (made famous by Shakespeare)… that, I can see a thousand interpretations of it right in front of my eyes….

No regrets Malia… No hurts… No complaints… Everything happens for making you good and strong…

And, it is so for l’le Laskh, too.


Pic.: Azriel D'Souza

Video: YouTube


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