“The sun rises and sets on its own; I only have the day in between.”
Living in a city like Delhi has its own idiosyncrasies. Life is cheap across geographies, but this truth is not as profound elsewhere as it is in big cities.
Lakhs of people living obscure lives, grinding for their daily bread in hope of a better tomorrow – most are birds of distant lands trying to locate their moorings in the city. With nests precariously balanced on the vagaries of circumstances – life is uncertain. Work-home-work, they are slaves of ‘who has time?’ penury. I am one of them.
Then it happened one day. And it was sudden.
As I zipped to work on one of the many gleaming roads Delhi was gifted for hosting the Commonwealth Games, the car in front of mine screeched to halt.
It was some seconds before I fathomed the scene. A young man, probably not more than 30, was lying in a pool of blood on other side of the road. It was a road accident – he had fallen from his motorbike. He was across the road divider, but I saw him. He was dead.
Delhi may be increasingly becoming a city of Bandukwale but Dillwale have not yet abandoned it. A group of good souls sprang out of their cars and stood solemnly around the body - someone checked for signs of life - probably waiting for the cops to arrive; human sympathy owed at least this much to the dead – that the body does not lie abandoned. They shielded him. His family needs his body, at least.
The accident was a high-speed one as the deceased’s one shoe had flung 10 feet to the other side of the road.
It lay in front of my car.
A black leather shoe shone in the dewy winter morning; it seemed as if it was given a fresh coat of polish that morning by its owner, before he set out from his home to fulfil his dreams. Motorbike crushed to the divider, a story ended that morning.
I don’t know his name; I have no clue about his religion or profession. He may have had a family, probably a young wife and a baby at home. May be…
I just saw his shoe and “a man’s shoes tell a lot about him”. The gleaming shoe stood testimony to his aspirations of a better life in the big city. He was prepared to battle it out… all gone in a flash.
A young nerd tailing my car honked me out of my ethereal thoughts and I drove on.
But it struck me… do I have a plan B in life? I always knew it but never acknowledged how fragile my life is. It just needs a bad stroke of luck for the painting I have worked on all these years to be spoiled before curtains go up.
Am I so defenceless?
Worried, I thought I should work harder, earn more to secure my family. I do believe with all conviction that I for sure – and may be many others like me - eke out a ‘glorified poverty’ existence.
A month or two without pay, I will sink beneath the multitudes of EMIs, bills and payments that I have to pay each month. My choices are limited, and I don’t stand a chance.
Then one day, a faceless man told me or had I talked to myself? “No amount of money can secure your future. Can you buy love ‘in bulk’ and store it for your family and friends? Can the sense of security your presence brings to your family be bought? Is peace of mind a tradable commodity?” A single big ailment in the family can wipe out my entire savings.
My child is only three years old; my wife may not be able to survive on her own in this city. I knew it always but never accepted that I was helpless; we as a family were helpless, till I saw the black shoe on the road.
Money was important but it was not just money. The answer to the quandary had to be more sublime that just plain cash. I sought out the answer for one query: “How to control the uncertainties in life?”
I read many books, talked to many, including myself. Churned it all in my mind space and here’s what I found.
First step: Send out good signals to the world. We are all like radars, we send out signals by way of actions, emotions and intents. The more positive the outgoing signal better would be the quality of the incoming reception. Create positivity in the world and get it back in equal measure – law of Karma for some.
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” - Swami Vivekananda
Second step: Accept for a fact that everything is transitory in life. Family, job, nothing, yes NOTHING, is under your control or permanent. Sense of control makes us selfish, iniquitous and non-empathetic. Let go of it and experience freedom.
Third step: Talk to yourself, talk to your soul – the only constant and true companion. It will never guide you on to the wrong path.
Following this path is not difficult, it is very easy, believe me. And, the way forward is not just for the bandicoots like me, who have come to urban jungle from far way lands, they are universal.
I had started out in search of Plan B, but I have realised there’s no Plan B. We have only one life and one chance, Plan A.
We are not in control, in entirety; accept it. Don’t fight it, embrace it and manage all that in our control with care and tenderness.
Live life with love and conviction, attract positive emotions, people and see it transform and grow into a big banyan tree that will shelter all who are part of the process from the uncertainties of life.
And, for the man with the black shoe, hope he had a Plan A.
“When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”