Sunday, 25 October 2009

Thank you for being Happy

When you step out of K.K. Manzil at #3333, Anegundi Road, Mysore, the road stretches from the seemingly quiet Eidgah area to your left into the bustling old city market area joining Sayyaji Rao Road, right into the middle of a speeding life where standing still is punishable by death. And this transitory road passes right by my doorstep. Facing me on the threshold of my home is another house which is almost half the age of my century old manor, and is known through the ages by a catchy name. Sher Ka Bungla (The Lion’s Bungalow).The reason for this name is the relaxing lions built on the corners of all the bungalow’s roof.

Towards the left of the Lion’s bungalow, one can always find a few rickshaws waiting.

How many times I have travelled to school or college using these rickshaws, I couldn’t count. There were 3 auto drivers I remember specifically. An elderly man named Sardar Bhai, who drove an old front engine spluttering vehicle. Maula Bhai, who was a maverick among the drivers, and the third one whose name I never asked, but he always smiles when he sees us, so we’ll call him Hasmukh Bhai (spare the eggs).

This time when I went, his smile was as prominent as ever. He had been sitting in the nearby tea shop, talking to the passers by and the tea shack frequenters. He saw me and walked with a quick step to his vehicle. Greetings were exchanged and he asked me how I was, where I was coming from, and where I was going to. He made a passing comment how I didn’t see him the last time I passed by from that place.

I asked him how he was doing. As we ask almost everyone. He replied with a reply he probably gave everyone, but the tone was as though it really mattered to him that I asked.

He asked me about my life in Dubai, and my job. And that is where I started feeling queasy. I tried changing the topic from MY life to the happenings around my old area. I asked him how was Sardar Bhai. I could sense his smile go quiet, he turned around with a grave look and whispered that Sardar bhai had passed away almost a year ago. Then he turned back around to keep his eyes on the road. And he proceeded to tell me that from all the people I knew, He was the only one still about. I didn’t dare to ask him what he exactly meant. He figured my queasiness and changed the topic, He told me about how people who used to give them new clothes (read used clothes) during festival time, forgot him and his friend this time around. This was followed by small talk. But my brain was already in hyperspace. Far far away from the snaky ride up the DhobiGhat area, my mind was free running through the past.

These men, seemingly unimportant as they may seem, at one point of time, played a very important role in my life. They were, metaphorically speaking, the men who gave me piggy back rides in their rickshaws to and fro the places I had to go. Agreed that they charged me, but what separates this relationship from a pure business transaction, is that even today, after almost 6 years, they still care to ask me where I am, and smile when they know that I have progressed from a uniform clad school boy to a decently dressed young man. In that smile, they give you the warm feeling that even though life for them is at its saturation point, that they have done all they could and this is a last plateau of their career graph, they still are very happy to see that your graph is snaking upwards.

My own uncles probably wouldn’t grin as much as Hasmukh Bhai did.

Needless to say, guilt hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I felt guilty at how I had used them. They had given me a step up, and not only had I taken their hands, I’d taken a step on their shoulder, paid them for it, and moved on. And never as much as thanked them.

That’s right, it all comes down to a little feeling of gratitude I never had for them, or showed them, which made me feel like a miserable pathetic materialistic human that I am.

How much would a rickshaw driver earn?? How much property would he leave for his children? You can answer that question as well as anyone. We stand on the threshold with potentially the whole world before us, our entire lives waiting to be “cashed” in. And these men are at the end of that road, without having made any contribution to their lives.

Yet, they made a contribution to my life. And the best part, they never rubbed it in, or felt jealous that I had moved on, while they remained pinned to their fate in time.
This made them much better human beings. Humanity is derived from being human. And if smiling at other people’s fortunes isn’t humanity, I don’t know what is.

I said a silent prayer for Sardar Bhai’s soul. And an apology, that I never really thanked him for being happy for me. How he passed away, how many people attended his funeral, what his family went through, I may never know. What I will know is this, that he left a mark on my heart. And I know that I am not the only one.

When someone wins a major award, they stand up and thank the Almighty, their parents, their friends and family members, their pets and lovers (I’m making no connection trust me).
But if we all looked into our lives, we all have a Sardar Bhai and a Hasmukh Bhai who’ve made maybe a miniscule, but a pivotal contribution to our lives.

This is a big thank you from a lousy human, who might never have the ability to undo this aspect of his past, to all the people who made a contribution to me.

This is to all the auto drivers, Sardar bhai, Hasmukh Bhai, Maula Bhai and Saleem bhai (My school automan). To all the baker men who gave fresh hot piping biscuits on cold nights and cold drinks on warm ones. To all the provision stores guys who were a source of love in form of stickers and teasing jokes amongst the boring days. To all the maintenance and non-teaching staff in schools and colleges whose eyes pop wide when they see me so grown up (physically atleast). To Ibrahim bhai at the canteen, with his sons, To Babu bhai at the photocopy & tea shop and Chandru at the STD Booth, to the bus drivers in my old school, and To the didi who cleaned my messy room and helped me tidy up my stuff, I love you all, and sorry I am so late in realization.

Thank you for making me the person I am, and the person I will be.

May Allah reward you for your deeds, forgive your sins, bless you in this life and the next.


Arjun M said...

its the same feeling, going back to school... more happy than most teachers are the watchmen and the "uncle"s - the caretakers and the gardeners, who shared tea, drinking water and stuff when we stayed late after school for practice or preparations...

their sincerety and warmth can never be replaced!

susie said...

reminds me of carpenter uncle of my school,
:) and the watchman uncle and how we used to sneak out during lunch time to go to the nearby restaurant and the canteen wallah and how we used to trick him to give us that extra bread in the biriyani and david sir whose sole job was to check if our notes were in order and complete...

Lavanya Snigdha said...

I remember my teacher and my really god friend... more than what we learnt in class its the conversations we had about different things that helped me get by the most troublesome of times...
Somehow they remain the people who we will always look up to.. their love and affection is so sweet..

Nikhil Joshi said...

... and all through that you still didn't ask Hasmukh bhai his real name. Pthu, magane.

Meetz said...

MashaAllah hobbezy May God bless you for being a person sensitive towards his world!
Gratefulness is the highest virtue of all :)
JazakAllah :)

farh said...