Monday mornings are unique in the truest of the sense always offering the contrary admixture of emotions. While they do open door to a brand new start to life leaving aside all the grudges of the past week with a new perspective and new hopes, they also imply the end of the weekend, the most cherished part of the week . . . and no sooner do the realization of ‘Thank God Its Friday’ creeps in, the revelation of ‘Oh God Its Monday’ comes knocking – Ding Dong!!!
Caught in the similar web of motions and emotions, I started my routine commutation to my office with my brother. The joy of having a younger brother entitles you to the luxury of putting him in the driver’s seat with you surrendering to the adjacent seat catching those short naps with your choicest songs being played in the background – a subtle way to respond to the struggles of Monday Mornings.
While dangling between the intermittent phases of sleep and awake consciousness, I was experiencing a strange phenomenon. With the sound of dying music soothing my ears, my unconsciousness self was experiencing a fall into a pit, a bottomless pit. I was going down and down and down…it was scary for sure. (Perhaps) just when I was about to hit the ground, my brother called my name to let me know that my dropping point has come. ‘Oh…What was that?’ I thought in the interim and then shrugged it away in laughter. It was not the first time I had experienced that dream. And what did that signify; I remain more clueless than ever (more on this someday later…I do have this habit of digressing from the topic).
Khair. . .as I walked towards my office, which was across the road at some distance, I saw one elderly man (he must have been around 60-65 Years old) who was pulling some cycle rickshaw on the busy Gurgaon Road. It was an old cycle rickshaw whose back was covered completely with a temporary structure in a manner that it formed a small compartment behind the rickshaw. The compartment was lavishly decorated with the pictures and imprints of Gods and deities (I could see almost all the colors used in the decoration in one way or the other) and carried the text पैदल यात्रा – सालासर (Walkabout to Salasar, which is a holy abode of Lord Hanuman in Rajasthan). Just in front of the rickshaw, there was basket meant for keeping things wherein a mid-size idol of Sai Baba was placed – attired with red cloth Baba emitted divinity and that yellow garland added to His mystifying grace.
The roads in Gurgaon tend to get extremely messy during the morning hours experiencing the screeching rush of people rushing to reach office. There are cabs, privately driven cars, two wheelers, three wheelers, cycle rickshaws and lord knows what else. Each one of these appears to be running so fast and furious that it becomes a daunting task to cross the road amidst the proceedings. The commixture of roads, flyovers and subways further add to the woes. And if you are relatively new to the place, you are bound to get perplexed. The elderly man was in the similar state of impuissance as he was trying to carve out his way amidst the convulsion of traffic and limitations of the governing rules. He was lost on the one-way track, completely oblivious to the way out and needless to say the world out there was too busy in its own struggle to absolve him from his tussle.
As our shadows met, his eyes shone with an acute sense of optimism. ‘Bhaiyaji zara raasta dikha do, yahan toh kuch bhi samajh nahi aa raha (Brother, kindly show me the way, there's lot of confusion here)’, he said. While talking to him, I came to know that he was going to Salasar in Rajasthan and wanted to be directed to the road towards Jaipur. I took him along with and walked with him to the desired path. Inquisitively, as I explored him further I came to know that there was one more person with him, who was sitting in the compartment. As we walked past the flurry of cars participating in the mad cat race racing fiercely running to bog down each other, I learned that the person sitting inside the compartment is his friend and both of them regularly go to Salasar every year on foot. But this time they were on the verge of canceling the pilgrimage as his friend’s leg got fractured and he didn’t want to go alone, though his friend constantly persuaded to go and carry on his routine visit. And then he thought of about hiring the rickshaw and take his friend along with, ‘Itne saalo se jab saath jaa rahe hai toh ab akale gaya toh kya gaya bhaiyaji (we are going together since so many years and now what’s the point in going alone)’. He smiled and thanked me for showing me the way. I smiled back and we both walked on our respective tracks…after walking few steps I stopped and went back to him and handed him my lunch and some money saying, ‘aap sahi kah rahe hai baauji, akele mein kya maza (You are right Sir, what’s the fun in being alone).’
As I retraced my final steps to the office, I remembered a forwarded message which I received on my WhatsApp few days back. . . I am reproducing the same below with the English translation (as the one received by me was in Hindi).
An anthropologist in Africa was doing a study on the habits and customs of an African tribe. He decided to play a game with the children of the tribe. He got some candies and sweets and decorated a basket with these. He then placed the basket at the foot of the tree and invited the children to play a game. They all had to run a race and whosoever reached the basket first will have the whole basket of candies and sweets. The children were lined up and the signal was made for them to run and complete the feat. What happened next, surprised the anthropologist…Instead of running hard to outpace the other and win the race, the children took each other by the hand, ran together and completed the race. They divided the candies and sweets within themselves and started munching them merrily.
Surprised and astonished, the anthropologist went over to them and asked as to why they ran the race together when any one of them could have easily outpaced others, won the race and thus the whole hamper. The children responded, “Ubuntu – How can one of us be happy when all other are said.”
I liked the message a lot and read & re-read that again; it stumped me every time. Was it for real and just another fictional post doing rounds on the social media? I confronted Google Baba and found that Ubuntu philosophy did exist (couldn’t and didn’t ascertained the validity of the story above).
As a primer for the tyros like me, Ubuntu is a philosophy that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.” It is all about human kindness and cohesiveness which finds its root from one of the Bantu dialects of Africa and places thrusts on a common bond between all of us on which we and our survival depends. The more elaborated and candid peep into Ubuntu thought process comes from African Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
When I read about Ubuntu, I did ponder about the whole cycle of human evolution over the centuries from primates to human tribes and then the gradual transformation (both physical and technological) of tribes to advanced human groups and nations. While the trajectory of these transformations has always hinted towards the positive end with improvement in almost all aspect of human living, it (perhaps unknowingly) surely has taken us on a backward spree as far as human sentiments and emotional aspects are concerned. I remembered heaving a deep sigh that day wondering whether even the remains of such philosophy is present in today’s world amidst the civilized mass? But today when I confronted that old man, my belief in universal oneness was resurrected once again. I could beam with pride - Yes the doctrine did exist even today, though in fractured fashion but it did exist…And even today, ‘I am because You are.’
~Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram
© 2016 Manish Purohit (Reserved)
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