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A newspaper boy from a humble background gave the author a beautiful life-lesson. Read on!
Recently, when I returned after visiting my friend in Chennai, I realized that life is too short to crib about a moment. It is better rather, to learn a lesson and move on. Each passing moment is a teacher. Learning doesn’t happen by chance, one must seek it with fervour and assiduousness.
My friend shifted to Chennai last year. Married for only a week, she took her own sweet time to adjust to the new locality and new people. As she adapted to the new surroundings, there were several new changes in her lifestyle and one of them was to make rangoli outside the main door of her apartment. Every morning she would do this task diligently not as a burden but more as a choice. When I visited her last month, even I started enjoying this habit of hers. But whenever we would sit and decide on the design, our attention would be perturbed by the newspaper that would land flying, on her terrace.
‘I don’t know who does that,’ she would say.
I decided to investigate and find the culprit. As I waited on the terrace for the action to happen, I spotted a rail-thin young boy fiddling with his bag. He had a dried apricot face. His mannerisms piqued my interest instantaneously. Within ten seconds, he found what he was searching for- it was a newspaper. A smile of wild exhilaration spread across my lips. I had found the culprit. I shouted at the top of my voice and called him upstairs.
The boy was caught unawares. He looked at me with questionable eyes and then followed the command. By the time he came up to the second floor, I told my friend about it all. She made him sit outside and gave him a wigging. The poor boy didn’t even argue once. And soon he had tears in his eyes. On asking politely about why he threw the newspaper in my friend’s house every day, he said, “Didi, this is not my job but my father’s. Since Appa is really unwell, I am working his shifts. Every day I try to throw the paper in Ms Achpal’s house but it lands in here. I am very sorry.”
Though we could not understand Tamil, we could take help from the English keywords that he used. Pitying his condition, my friend offered him some of the apple pancakes that she had made that morning. Reluctant at first, he took them expressing genuine gratitude.
The next day when I was standing at the terrace sipping tea, I spotted the same boy again. But this time I just observed him. When he threw the newspaper, his elbow did not cross 15 degrees however hard he tried. He didn’t chuck the paper. He bowled the paper. I pulled my friend to the terrace and elbowed her to look. This boy was a born cricketer. I called him to my friend’s house again and he panicked the same way. His lissome body did not do justice with his talent. I felt bad for him. But I wanted to know more.
“How old are you?”, I asked.
“Didi, I am 15 years old. Did I do anything wrong again?”
We tried making him feel comfortable by initiating a small talk about where he lived and whether he went to any school.
“Yes, I go to the school after I finish distributing all the papers. And after school, I go to the Sri Sagar’s and clean the tables.”
“I saw you throw the paper today. Your hand moved just like Ashwin’s.”
“Yes didi, I used to watch him play when I was little. Even now I watch him on TV and try to move my hand just like him.”
“So, do you want to become a cricketer?”
His hesitant smile gave the answer.
“Life is cruel, didi. When I cannot afford to study, how can I afford to learn cricket.”
“But you cannot give up,” intervened my friend.
“I have not given up. I will never. I always find time for things that make me feel happy to be alive. My father always says that if you seek happiness in the next place, you will never be happy where you are. So, I try to find happiness in my circumstances.”
By that time he had become more comfortable talking to us. We asked about his family and also offered him more pancakes. He said he loved them.
While packing my bags and bracing myself for the return journey, I couldn’t help but think. There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same direction. So, it doesn’t matter which path you take. Some might take a shorter route and some might be stuck on the road that runs through the woods. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his/her path is wrong.
Life is too short to grumble. We become stressed when we find ourselves in the smallest of problems. But, we forget that there are bigger challenges out there. Anand (the newspaper boy) had taught me a lesson about life. As Author Dianne Schwemm says in her book, ‘In The Year I Turned Sixteen’, “Call it the magic of pancakes or the magic of the supreme power, suddenly everything finally made sense because, paradoxically, I finally accepted that it never would make sense. Life is not wrapped up with a tidy bow- it is full of frenzy and is disorganized. It is so unpredictable and so are the people who live it!” Our only goal should be to be happy whatsoever the situation is.
Image Source: Pixabay
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