The most beautiful lessons of life often lie hidden in the most ordinary events of day to day life. And so often, we are too preoccupied with our own selves to be able to see them, and to perceive them. Life passes by, and we move on-towards some distant dream….some virtual treasure. At the end of the journey, we look back at the paths we traversed, and wonder where we went wrong.
I shall quote a few examples from my own life in the last couple of weeks.
Saturday was a quiet day at work, and of the few patients that I saw, there was this elderly Muslim couple, who had come from a long way off. The man had come to seek treatment for some chronic illness that he was suffering from. The woman fascinated me, for in her eyes, I saw so much vitality. She was the picture of someone fiercely guarding the tiny flame of a candle that had little left to burn. When I was done with examining the man, I conversed with the woman, and we exchanged our thoughts. The prescription was a challenging affair because I had to strike a balance between the cost factor and the need factor, since they came from an economically deprived segment of society. When I looked up from the notes and prescription I had penned down, I saw her holding out a toffee for me. I looked at her with a question mark, and she blushed with embarrassment as she told me that she had bought it while they were waiting for the bus. There was this unspoken question in her eyes that seemed to ask if I would accept this inexpensive, insignificant token of love. I was moved. I accepted that tiny bit of sweetmeat from her and held it in my hand, realizing that this was priceless. The couple left, but I was speechless for a very long time. I had just been treated to one of the most beautiful lessons of life.
Yet another incident was also to do with workplace. So, we had this 8-year-old child who had sustained a fall and wounded her lower lip so badly that the cut almost split her lower lip into two. She was screaming, partly from pain and partly from fright. Putting the stitches was not easy at all, and the surgeon certainly did a wonderful job at suturing. Everyone beamed when the last stitch was through, and the surgeon concluded with dressing the wound. I had almost closed doors to that event, when I heard laughter. I went back to the scene, and I saw the nurses gathered around the child. For the child was still frightened. She refused to close her mouth, partly because the dressing on her lip intimidated her and partly because the memory of all the pain had not subsided. She refused to let anyone touch the dressing, and her eyes were still brimming with tears. All the nurses began taunting the child, until the child finally found herself distracted. In the meantime, one of the nurses fetched some ice cream, and held it out for the child. She accepted it, although she continued to look on in suspicion. As she slowly devoured the ice cream, the nurses kept up the taunting. The child relaxed and she was all smiles by the time she was done with the ice cream. I realized how unseeing we could be. The surgeon’s effort was so obvious, but for the child, what she received in totality was the most important factor.
And finally, I shall treat you to a vision that made me smile. I always find myself fascinated by banjaras (by their nomadic life), and I always stop to talk to them whenever I get a chance. So I spotted this banjara girl, sitting by the highway, selling bells and pots made of clay. She might have been about 20 years of age, and I found her strikingly beautiful. She was dusky, and she was clad in ethnic attire, with bright bandhni prints. She wore heavy earrings of metal, and also a necklace of black metal. She had beautiful eyes that shone with the sheen of her jewellery. I talked to her, and she told me about her life back in Rajasthan, and the dry months when the whole community was forced to move out and make a living from trade. As I left, I waved at her. She gave me a wide smile and waved back at me. As passers-by took in the scene, I saw what they saw. A city-bred woman, clad in a crisp cotton saree with a bandhni print, with expensive ethnic earrings and a wrist watch, smiling and waving at a dusky rural woman selling wares on the highway. The only commonality was the bandhni print and their smile!