Yesterday, I was standing at the entrance of an office building, which incidentally had a municipal school next door. It was around ten in the morning and the school was about to begin.
The road was jam-packed with school going children, their parents, hawkers, cars, autos, buses and what not. A typical scenario, where chaos prevails enough to become harmony.
With a few more minutes to go for my scheduled meeting, my eyes started wandering around and I was drawn towards this young woman in her twenties; a baby slung on one shoulder and a school bag on the other, accompanied by a five-year-old daughter who held her hand lovingly.
Believe me or not! I was stunned at the sight of that. The lady I mentioned looked no worse than a beggar that you see on the streets. Barefoot, her hair was cropped, unevenly chopped, her clothes were tattered and she badly needed a bath. The baby she carried was full of mud with bare minimum clothes. The little girl by her side had put on a school uniform, a small ponytail but no shoes. All three must have been living a life of utter poverty and barely living on a single square meal a day.
What a pity you might say... My first reaction was no different. But lo and behold, have I missed something there?
O Yes! It was the Smile. The beautiful smile that lit up the faces of the mother-daughter both and the baby that made them look beautiful and content. Believe me when I say that it was the most delightful sight. The mother lovingly held the daughter while the daughter was jumping with joy. As they neared the school gate, the mother put the baby down, hugged her and gave her the dusty school bag. The daughter, all eager to go to school, cuddled the baby that was happily wandering barefoot on the main road by now. The mother pulled out few coins from underneath the layers of her clothes and the exuberant daughter ran to the roadside hawker to buy some sweets. She came back and the mother checked her bag for books before kissing her goodbye. The daughter happily ran inside the school gate. The lady turned and almost faced me. Her face was full of affection for her child who was living her dream.
I couldn’t help but ask her where she lived. "On the footpath beyond the railway line," she answered with pride. Yes, it was unmistakably that. It was her own daughter and she came here every day to drop and fetch her after school. I was dumbstruck. It was like a splash of cold water on my face. By the time I could say anything, she walked past me.
I was left with many questions but with no answers to any of them.
The first… Where did this zest for life come from? What inspired her to walk all those miles when she could barely afford one square meal?
Did they possess the elixir of happiness that eludes so many?
Why do we live a life of anxiety and stress when we possess all kinds of materialistic wealth?
What is it when we say, that life has been unfair? Can our RESPONSE to adversities in life change them into opportunities?
Do we really need to crib about the tiny little things in life like the gym being too crowded, not getting our favourite table at the restaurant or having to watch a bad movie?
Do we really value what we have or fail to recognise the fact that we are far more blessed than millions of others who are much less fortunate?
Worth thinking about isn’t it?