Friday, December 9, 2016

THE SINGAPORE STORY





Two summers ago, one afternoon, a lady called me up. “Sir, my name is Bageshree,” she said, “I want to enroll my son, Rutwik, for your PD course. He has just given his SSC Board exams.”

Well, it was not just the son but also the mother who ended up being the students of THE  DAWN CLUB PD programme. Bageshree came about as an earnest learner… and, I could sense that unshakable faith she had in her talented son. She had brought him up as an all-rounder and she was determined to provide him a fine education abroad. Thus, immediately after our summer programme, she moved with her family to Singapore and enrolled her son for the right stream in a right institution… Bageshree and I remained friends through FB ever since. She has been a regular follower of my Blog and she never failed to give me her sincere appreciation… It always meant a lot to me… and, I would admit it to her as I always do with whoever gives me a word of appreciation when I hunger it the most.

Lately, Bageshree has been writing small posts on FB – mostly her heart-warming Singapore days stories (Remember R.K.Narayan’s ‘Malgudi Days’?). Right since her maiden Post on FB, I kept encouraging her to write those stories in a regular Blog. She promised me she would. Apparently, today, she had posted on FB a new Post. As I was very busy today, I failed to read it. But, just an hour ago, I saw this message in my inbox:
“Sir, this time, I posted my write-up on FB. But I promise, the next, one would be in my blog. Rutwik would be having his vacations from 17th onwards. During that period, I will take his help to start a blog. Thanks for your motivation. If ever I could start a blog, it would be just and just because of your motivation. Thanks a lot, Sir.”

Well, you did it to me, ma’am… Here I do it for you… Yes, who knows… there may not be a ‘next time’ at all!!!!

 Presenting today’s ‘Singapore story’

NO… NO ‘NEXT TIME’, PLEASE!

One fine morning, I was going to a mall. This mall was just outside one MRT station. (Mass Railway Transport). As I came out of the station and was about to enter the mall, a soft English tune caught my attention. I just looked around and there he was… an old man, must be in his late 60s, slowly moving his feet gracefully to the beats of the song he was playing on his small tape-recorder. Such a scene is very common in Singapore. These people are called  ‘Buskars’ or ‘Street performers’ and they get rewards in the form of money. (Remember SRK in ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ song – Challa ki labda phire?)

As I was watching him,  four little school-boys grabbed my attention. They too were watching this Buskar’s graceful dance. With very delighted faces, each one of them took out few coins from their money bag and put in the small money-box kept near him. They smiled at him, waved him goodbye and went towards the shopping mall.

I too started thinking whether I should put some money in the box or not; and in that thought, I entered the mall. Though, by then,  I was away from the Buskar, I was continuously regretting that I should have put some money in his box. I looked at those four little kids, (I was walking behind them then) who watched the Buskar’s dance, enjoyed, appreciated his dance moves by putting money in his box, waved and were gone, too… So easy and so quick… So spontaneous! And there was I, trapped into the thoughts what I had done and what I should have done.

I decided, then and there, that on my way back, I would put money into the Buskar’s box. After my work at the mall, I came back to the same place; but, I couldn’t find him anywhere… He had gone leaving me with my repentance!

That very moment I wondered: Why are we adults like this? Is it so difficult to appreciate others? Are our good words or actions so pricey that we can’t shower them freely upon others? And that very moment, I told myself that this must be the last time I did not appreciate the genuine efforts, talent, or any simple act of someone which is praiseworthy… that, I would praise what is praiseworthy right away, the way those four little kids did… Because, who knows… the ‘next time’ may not be there, at all!

A few days later, I was coming home from somewhere. I was in a bus. And the bus captain (bus drivers are called ‘Bus Captains’ in Singapore), suddenly, stopped the bus at the sides of the road as there was a big tree branch lying on the road, which was creating a block in the free flow of the traffic. He got down and started moving that heavy branch. Seeing this, a young boy, sitting just in front of me, got down and started helping the bus captain in moving the branch. After moving and keeping the branch at the sides of the footpath, both came back into the bus. The moment this young boy entered the bus, we all started clapping for him… one joined the other and there was a big round of applause. It was very much surprising for this young boy. He didn’t say anything, but just accepted our appreciation with twinkle in his eyes and a shy smile.

Truly, a genuine appreciation gives a great sense of happiness to the giver for making someone happy and to the recipient for being appreciated. But the timing is very important. It should be then and there and it should be straight from the heart… because, who knows… there may not be any ‘next time’, at all!

My eyes still search for that old Buskar every time I go to that mall. I really don’t know if my ‘next time’ will be really there or not… if I will be able to find him again… yes, just to tell him – the way those little kids did - what an amazing talent he had!

Will you please stand with me to give a warm round of applause to my friend, Bageshree?

GERALD D’CUNHA
Pic.: Nicole Gubin


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