Last Thursday we were invited to a wedding reception by friends of ours, whom we had not met for thirty long years. Their daughter was getting married. Thursday also happened to be the last day of ‘St. Mary's Feast’. Our Vahan Chalak, Suresh had taken a day off to attend the feast. During my morning walk I was contemplating on how to reach the marriage hall in the evening. I was considering Ubering, self drive or hiring a driver for the evening.
Just then I heard a voice wishing me ‘Good Morning Sir, how are you?’ – It was Raju.
I first met Raju when he was fifteen and working in Jalavayu Vihar as an errand boy. He was extremely hardworking with a very pleasant disposition. I used to call him home to undertake vacuuming, taking out items from the attic, polishing brass items and so on. I always sensed a bit of harmless restlessness in him and he exhibited a strong desire to improve his position in society. One might say ‘climb up the ladder’. One day he told my wife he wanted to learn English. He probably felt that learning English was very essential in climbing the ladder. We gave him some books to help him pursue his ambition. Then on he would always insist on speaking to us in English. Regardless of his limited vocabulary and lack of grammar he used to communicate with us only in English. Sometimes it was all gibberish and unintelligible, but he bashed on regardless. Overtime he improved his spoken English.
On the work front, he graduated from an errand boy to a gardener and in no time at all, had become a car cleaner. He started cleaning my Maruti Omni in right earnest. During this tenure he also learnt how to start a car, take it forward, reverse and probably go around the colony. We encouraged him to appear for a driving test, which he promptly did and got a valid driving license. In quick time he became a qualified driver and got himself a good job. He continued to work hard and in tandem continued to improve his English. Today he speaks simple but grammatically correct English. He started sending SMSs to wish us on festivals and important occasions. One day I received a friends request on FB which I promptly accepted. Thereafter, I keep getting some messages and forwards from him. He is now on ‘What’s App’.He even has a 'Twitter' account.I am yet to graduate to Twitter.
Along the way he financed his sister’s education and encouraged her to complete her B.Ed. and also got her married. Two years ago he got married and now is a proud father of a lovely eight month old girl.
After exchanging pleasantries I enquired whether he would be free to drive us to the wedding reception and back. He came home at 1900 h and willingly drove us to the wedding hall some 14 KMs away. On the way back, I noticed he was visibly upset. He expressed his disapproval at the way people splurge money on marriages. He said “Sir, each wedding must be costing 1cr rupees, what a waste, instead these people should put their money to educate poor people from the villages. Nobody will remember the wedding after a month but if one educates a person, he will remember the gesture throughout his life”. I totally agreed with him.
His observations of life did not end there. He said, “Only two things which matter in life are ‘good health’ and ‘peace of mind’, rest all are less important.” On the way we saw a large herd of goats being sold for Bakrid. I said ‘It’s odd that we have three major festivals to celebrate within a span of 7 days – Ganapati followed by St Mary’s Feast and Bakrid. Our driver philosopher said, “There is only one God, because we do not understand this phenomenon fully, we debate endlessly, propagate our own perspective and confuse the public”.
He then fired his final and deadly philosophical assertion, “God is there and shows himself to everyone on two occasions only, one at the time of birth and other at the time of death”. Moments after the birth, he appears and welcomes the child to be a part of his creation. The child is engulfed in this ultimate experience for a moment and totally forgets the episode thereafter. A moment short of death God appears again, creating an envelope of divine happiness thereby making the ultimate passage one of bliss and not pain. Dead man cannot speak. The mystery that surrounds God continues.
I do not know if this profound philosophical claim exists in some religious text or it’s a ‘Raju original’.
Either way, it’s very interesting and thought provoking.