Monday, 7:30 A.M
It was a busy Monday morning when my mother had to wake me up by yelling yet another time. Her yells and the fear of not having studied anything for that day’s practical exams partnered to wake me. It was early May of 2015, and I had my second semester going on. I had woken up late, had to do all my chores and reach the college before 9 anyhow. The fear of flunking the exams, the chills of not having prepared anything were another terror.
My woes were very huge, my pain was almost terrifying. (well, atleast according to me)
Thus I finished my chores at around 8:20 and grabbed my bag and the keys and rushed to the college on my bike. “It is a short 20 minutes journey if I keep riding at a pace like this”, I said to myself, shooting down the accelerator. The roads are usually filled with the school-buses, other college kids, and the office-goers. The traffic added to my worry of not reaching on time. It was a constant battle of the gear, clutch, accelerator and brakes. Somehow, fighting all the rage, I kept going.
So I reached halfway around Gota, just before the Bridge. There was this little kid with a little bag in his hands. This kid of around 10 was wearing a pale yellow shirt and blue shorts. He was asking for a lift to the riders on the road. I observed him from quite a distance on my way. Although I had paid little attention due to my hurry. I couldn’t help but notice his worry, just like mine. From the looks of it, he looked like he wanted to go to his school, but he wasn’t very fortunate to afford a vehicle to reach. Thus he was borrowing a lift. Just when I thought I was the most unlucky person to have such a dull schedule, there was this moment.
I, in my rush; sympathised for the kid but couldn’t wait long enough to give him a lift. The kid had looked at me with hope and I despise that act of mine till date. I rode off with pace to my college and somehow made it at 8:50. Gave my exam and went home with a bittersweet feeling.
Tuesday, 7:20 A.M
This time she didn’t have to yell. I woke up pretty early. It was the same as the day before. The terror of not having read anything for the exam, the fear of failing it. But it was nothing I hadnt done before. The only difference this time was that I didn’t have to hurry, didn’t have to worry about reaching late, because I had done it the day before and was quite confident about managing it further (giggles). Again I did the dailies, grabbed the bag and keys. Furthermore, I strode off.. this time a bit consciously.
Same woes, same fear, backed by a little experience. Although I still managed to curse god for this boring, monotonous life.
Everything was same like the day before. The scarce yet annoying traffic, the buses and everyone’s rush to their respective workplaces. Once more I reached at the point like yesterday. The little kid was there too. He wore a different shirt, but the same shorts. Today too, worried and asking for a lift. I had spotted him and reckoned him from quite a fathom. The kid looked at me like the same feeling as before. HOPE. I also had a feeling of rage on myself for not helping him the other day, and this moral epiphany of mine made me hit the brakes pretty fast.
The bike stopped at some distance from him. The kid had a smile on his face and rushed. He grabbed the seat quicker than I grab pizza. I smiled when he said “Shukriya bhaiya”.
We were now riding over the bridge when I asked him “kaha jaana hai?” (where do you wanna go?)
“ bus idhar ye rasta ke khatam ho waha chokdi pe”(at the crossroads) he said.
Since I was quite a bit on relaxed on time this day, and wasn’t worried much, I was a bit curious. So I threw a question at him.
“Kahan padhte ho?” (where do you study?). There was a weird moment of silence for some seconds. The kid didn’t say anything for a while. He sat there like he was paralysed, my eyes were on the road but I could feel it. I thought he didn’t hear me.
So I asked again: “kaunse school me padhte ho?”
The kid again was silent for a fraction of time. This time I couldn’t resist and turn back. He looked pale, his face was blank like all my answer sheets. I think he probably felt a little embarrassed. Somehow he managed to contain his discomfort. He gathered some breath and sighed, “idhar road ke side pe agarbatti ka factory hai na, udhar kaam karta hu bhaiya” ( I work at the Incense stick factory by the end of the crossroads).
Shit, I almost slapped myself for making him uncomfortable.This time it was my turn to go paralysed. I couldn’t utter a word. There was another brief moment of silence. The kid was strong enough to grab a hold of the situation. He gave me a vague smile. It was like fresh strength was radiating from his face at that moment. There was a divine glow on his face when he pulled that off.
He took his eyes on the road and asked me to stop the bike..“Bas idhar utaar do, aapka bahot shukriya.” A glowing smile lit across his face.
His smile was something that could be the perfect moment for a photographer to capture, a painter to paint, a writer to describe, and an actor to portray.
One pair of shorts to wear on consecutive days, one cotton bag to carry, and having to ask for a lift everyday. This 10 year old kid who WORKED at an incense stick factory, was stronger than me in all aspects of life. He didn’t even have a bicycle to reach anywhere and yet he didn’t complain. I on my bike, was complaining about not having a car. He couldn’t afford school. I in my A grade University – complained about not having enough facilities. The kid in blue shorts was way happier and contented with his life than the guy in the blue jeans. The kid in yellow shirt made the guy in flamboyant tee ashamed. With his ability to smile, with his glowing radiance at the least of luxuries. His misfortune was greater than mine, but so was his happiness.
I reached my college with a very strange feeling of happiness and confusion. I could not focus on my exam, but it was like it stopped mattering at that time. That lift I gave to him was an emotional lift for me.
That day, I had learned a life lesson. I couldn’t stop but ponder over how little my problems are, and how big I was making them to be. That entire day I wondered how all of us complain about all our little problems and how actually tiny they are. Somewhere, in some corner of the world, there is someone who is ten times happier than you with 10 times less than what you have. These are the people who collect your trash, who mow your lawn, who clean your cars, who serve you tea, who make your panipuris, who guard your apartments, who MAKE YOUR INCENSE STICKS. These are the people who we should learn from. Learn to smile in all situations, to make the most out of the tiny moments, to create a positive environment wherever we go.
We all have our troubles. All of our woes’ volumes are different. What matters is how we manage to outlive them.
Our volumed woes should not make our smiles silent. Period.