It’s been a while since I smiled. Days, no, may be months, if not months, definitely few weeks.
Let alone smiling, that we can do even if we don’t feel like; I hadn’t even felt good in sometime.
I wasn’t in a good shape physically for some time as I was on medication for the ulcers I had in my stomach. I couldn’t go two hours without eating anything or else a sea of acidity would start roaring from my stomach through my chest till my neck.
And hell, I can’t eat anything just like that because anything with pepper or spice or salt would add up to that fire.
I would always carry a cucumber and an apple with me in case I am not able to find any other suitable thing to eat.
During night, I would lie down to sleep immediately after having food so that I don’t have to face that horrible thing again if I am awake for longer time.
I would also carry my food with me whenever I will go out with my friends.
Imagine my first five start visit after getting the job, on a new year, with my friends, and I am carrying my bland food with only a pinch of salt with me.
Yes, that’s how I had my first five-star hotel experience. My friends munching on butter chicken and all and I am feeding myself boiled cabbage with chapati.
This was just one side of the problems I was in.
Financially I was doomed. With a well-paid job.
Financial liabilities, wrong financial decisions and growing medical expenses.
You see, when you are not doing well physically as well as financially, the third dimension automatically get on their side i.e. emotional side of yours.
Staying miles away from my family was also not helping me either. As I had been transferred few months back only in the city, I couldn’t ask for transfer again that too straight away to a northern state from South.
All these things led me to a depressed state, not like I would be drinking around and fussing with people, in fact just the opposite. I would be with myself, even when I am out with my friends, I would talk and gossip and all but somewhere deep inside me I knew I wasn’t with them, it was someone else.
During weekdays, I would have less time with myself due to my job, so I would be better than I would be on weekend when I would have more time to spend with myself and my thoughts. And then my self-appraisal or self-degradation would start.
Why I am facing all this?
What is wrong with me?
Will I be able to come out of this mess?
What if I am never able to live my life the way I want to?
And the most haunting one: Did I do wrong with somebody?
I have always been taught that your Karma is your biggest teacher in life. You get what you sow.
And here I was facing problems from many sides. So this was the most haunting question for me.
Did I do wrong with somebody?
Am I such a bad person that all these things are happening with me.
These questions will multiple their decibel level whenever I would be alone, dealing with the burnings in my chest and stomach in the middle of the night and have no one to look for help as I was staying alone in my one-Bhk flat.
This was the time when Sundays I had started visiting temples as well.
See, when nothing was working for me in the outside world, I thought it better to improve my relationship with the people who are assumed to be controlling what is happening here.
I thought going and meeting them would comfort my inner world, and it surely did. So I continued my visit to them.
That was the only time I would go out of my house other than for office and my weekly outing with my friends along with my home made food.
I had not eaten outside for months altogether. I was too afraid to risk that with those deadly burnings.
Even when I visited the temple, I would be tempted to have my favorite Badam Tea and Mysore Bonda from the outside shop but I wouldn’t.
Until one day after coming out of the temple, I mustered courage to go and buy one plate of Mysore Bonda.
It’s been a horrible day until then. End of the month, not much of the money left in pocket to do what I wanted to, (frustration number 1), had been dealing with same repeated horrible thoughts of karma since morning (frustration number 2), had a bitter argument with a close family member (frustration number 3).
Basically I was too frustrated to care for my own body, do hell with it, I will eat what I want to, at the max what will happen, I will be hospitalized, that’s all. I will not die right.
With those thoughts I took my plate of bonda and started eating.
I had just taken first bite of it in my mouth when a girl of approx. 6-7 years came near me. She was wearing a yellow color frock which had gone brownish due to plethora of dust on it. It was torn in places and patched in other places. Her hair was in a mess but with all of this, her face had managed to maintain the innocence of the childhood.
She looked at me with expectation, money or food or any other help I didn’t know.
But even before I could think that, my body moved towards the shopkeeper and my tongue ordered one more plate of Mysore Bonda.
She waited patiently while having a look at the shopkeeper. Once done, I took that plate and handed over to that girl and believe me I am yet to come across a happier face and body.
The moment I handed over that plate to her, her hands started trembling with happiness; she was too happy to stand straight as if she had got some treasure and that happiness somehow passed in my body as well.
She looked at the plate, she looked at me and then she looked at the other end of the road, her mother sat there.
She called for her mother who crossed the road to take her back.
I was too filled with that sudden experience of joy.
I finished my plate in ecstasy, an emotion which I had forgotten to associate with. Then I paid to the shopkeeper and moved for my home.
Just few steps on my way, I had an urge of looking back and what I saw when I looked back can never go away from my memory.
As if it had happened few moments back.
That little girl, sitting beside her mother outside the temple gate, holding that plate in her left hand, a bonda in her right hand, little bit of chutney on her lips and her eyes looking at me with the biggest smile I had ever seen.
She smiled again and waved at me.
I waved back and turned for my way but not without noticing a tear rolling down my eyes.
Several thoughts crossed my mind suddenly.
Hey, somebody smiled because of you, you are not that bad a person man.
May be your Karma is not that bad, may be your punishment is coming to an end.
It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
That day for an outsider I had helped that girl by buying her food.
Only I knew what she gave me that day I couldn’t have bought with all the money in this world.
A hope, a smile, a belief in myself and my karma, and more than that a will to carry on forever no matter what.