Written by Jaspal Singh Rana
Some conversations and images stick in your mind, and they make you wise, too. I had a very profound conversation with a man last year. It was a Sunday afternoon. I was feeling grouchy, lonely and irritable. Things had not been going well at work. My savings were running low, and I had been complaining incessantly. I was turning into a chronic whiner. 'I am tired, I have had enough of it. All this running around, these frustrations of everyday life.' I roared while flopping on to the sofa. 'Why don't you go out for a walk.' My wife suggested in her dulcet voice. I glanced at my watch. It was five o'clock. I did not want to spend another evening at home wallowing in self-pity. Weaving my way through the sputtering auto-rickshaws, whooshing scooters, trundling handcarts and ramshackle buses that puffed out clouds of billowing black diesel smoke, I reached a narrow stretch of road that runs parallel to the Ganges. It is a place where most people come to stroll, pray or spend some quiet time. As I started strolling, I saw a man who was playing the tambourine and singing a Bhajan. An old man was sitting on his haunches and selling trinkets, while near him, food hissed and simmered in a pot mounted on a makeshift low 'challah' lit by firewood. I struck up a conversation with the old man. 'How much do you earn?' I asked. 'On a good day, I make about two hundred rupees.' He answered. 'How do you manage?' I asked probingly. 'I am happy with whatever Ganga Ma gives me.' I was astonished to hear him speak like this because in my infinite wisdom, happiness and money were synonymous. 'I am happy because I have so much to thank for.' He said, while pointing to a limbless beggar who was sitting nearby. I never feel unhappy just because I earn less. Happiness is a state of mind; you can be happy if you count your blessings and not troubles. Life is never going to be perfect. You want to be happy or miserable, it is your choice. Happiness is inside us. You seek happiness as if it were a thing hidden from you. You can seek more, but you should also feel happy and show gratitude for what you have.' His words stirred something in me. I realized that I had so much, yet I was miserable. He was right, I had not been counting my blessings. I had forgotten to weave the thread of gratitude in the fabric of my life. It had been a long and meaningful conversation, the sun was setting, but my spirits were soaring. I closed my eyes, and a sense of gratitude started flowing through my heart. I looked at the evening sky and mumbled, 'Thank you, God.'