Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smart not Hard

Once below a time, a man had a hard time meeting his daily amenities. He was industrious. So industrious that he had little or no time for rest. Rest was waste to him.

His hard work didn’t pay him the successes and wealth he deserved.

He landed himself dead tired on his bed at home. Sleepless night would ensue, his thoughts lost in thoughts. After an infinite blinks, he would have a nap or two.

His penury perplexed him. He wasn’t as successful as he had envisaged. All through his life, he led a melancholic and poor life, just fit for rats and the like.

He resigned to himself believing in his karma and , ‘some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them’, echoed resiliently on his semi-deaf ears. A tear drop on the floor would usually break his trance.

He was sure that a bad karma was at work. He felt increasingly tired and loathed his life.
And at 65, he signed his last looking like a nonagenarian.

On a funeral pyre, his face told everything: he died of exhaustion and much sorrow. His face wasn’t peaceful. There, on the funeral pyre laid a man defeated by life. His body was reduced to ashes. He was history now, gone into oblivion without knowing one simple truth (and secret) of life: It’s not how hard you work; it’s how smart you work.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Beautiful Ordeal

The place is beautiful. The people here are beautiful. The stray dogs that visit our campus are beautiful. ‘Beautiful’ is the only word I can think of. It is a preternatural setting, like an artist’s stroke of brush creating world beyond this. I occasionally single myself, all alone, sitting on the porch overlooking my school. The children play games; some of them invented by their fragile mind. The games they play with their flip-flops seems too complicated to comprehend. I try to construct the meaning but I fail. I don’t know who wins or how the game is won.

Children are beautiful. And I am here for them. To be their guardian. Their role model. Idol.

I am some 400 kilometers away from home and 5 days ‘official’ walk away from the nearest motorable road. I feel I am far away from civilization. I long for home and my cute little sister. It is her bubbly face that I miss the most.
I came here on my own accord. I trotted along the dusty path with my new-found colleagues, hiked passes and mountains, almost half dead with heavy backpack, almost doubling its weigh every second.

I regret choosing that school time and again. I curse myself in silent anguish. My colleagues comfort me and I think it is just transitory. Everything will pass… like a dream. But no! I think of my best friend placed in a higher secondary school near a road point. What a lucky human, I murmur. I try to comfort myself silently. I smile and crack silly jokes with my traveling companions.

I tell myself: it’s good for your health, your heart: walking and getting tired is a healthy exercise… sweating is good. Drink more water and I drink gallons. I try to recall lessons from my college days about fitness and exercise. This kind of rigorous walk is going to make you fit. At the back of my mind, I fear my heart may be strained as I can hear its beating till my neck and ear. ‘Dhoo-wak dhoo-wak’, it goes with uncompromising gusto. I need more oxygen, the air seems too less.
I scold myself woefully, ‘You dolt, you tried to be spunky that placement time, now look at you.’ That self scolding felt too pestilential to be true. I trot ahead a phantasmagoric path foreboding a bear or a branch or a rolling stone. But the sanctified mule track gives me solace concomitantly.

I can see my colleagues’ brow raised at my waylaying. They understand my plight and console me. I curse my backpack and my heavy trekking boot. I am the slowest. I am not aware of my fitness. I doubt my fitness.

The sweats marathon down my face palpably. My legs ache a million needles; pleading for not-so-well deserved rest. I allude my companions for rest by limping and rapid breathing. A mountain pass that usually take three hours to ascend the summit takes about four and a half due to my dawdling.

We reach one village. The hostess is so kind and her hospitality too commendable. I get my well deserved rest. I slumber down as soon as my head touches the husk-made pillow. I wake up a dreamless sleep and I am jolted back to my reality by the interior design of the house. I am no more at home. Or in the concrete building. We pay our gratitude to our hostess in the form of money. I silently feel that our audacity for barging in her house too late at night and making her cook food can never be appeased by our small soelra of insignificant amount of money. I hesitate to take out Nu. 150 from my wallet construing the minuteness a substitute for her generosity.

I plod along up and down a snaking footpath halfheartedly. I think countless thoughts. It makes me doubly tired. What stands out strikingly among my thoughts is an empathetic thought of how our servants of the government keep up with the hardships of daily rural ‘civil’ life. The way they accept their life and serve the rural hamlets is beyond my brain could picture. I empathize the pains and sweats. I don’t want to think that I have to stay ‘there’ for some years. I may not be able to move my legs. I won’t reach my school otherwise. I can’t imagine how I am supposed to stay there.

And then I reach ‘there’. I reach here. Now, it’s ‘here’. I am standing in front of the entrance gate. I can see the school. Then I say, ‘It’s so beautiful’. I think of Switzerland but it’s not. I go in. The leafless trees seem to bow before me for my great accomplishment and sacrifice. The roofs rattle against the winter breeze. I take that sound for applause. The sky is chillingly clear. It’s almost 6 pm. I nearly collapse.

I use my last packet of energy to reach at one of my colleague’s home to rest and to revamp my energy. All seems so harsh and hard to get. Everything is precious here. Nothing is wasted.

I give a deep sigh of relief. I am where I should belong for some years. It’s evanescence. I was right there in my cemented room watching a movie and I am here now, sitting near an hearth in a smoke-stained kitchen trying to put in some firewood. And strangely enough, I find this a piece of heaven. I forget all the hardships encountered during the journey.

As night sets in by seconds, my ordeal goes packed with yesterday. Tomorrow is new, I say this to myself.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Own Hallucination

Students from various schools in Thimphu congregated at Changlimithang stadium by seven o’clock in the morning to celebrate an occasion. I was one amongst thousands at the stadium, and weather was just perfect with cool morning breeze gently touting my sleepy face. It was a historic occasion and  I was eager to participate.

After a while, I don’t recall the exact time; the chief guest started delivering his speech. We stood still on our feet; head slightly bent, with hands behind our back in a respectful posture- listening to the speech. Little did we know how hot that particular day would become; it was unbearably hot by fore-noon.

My poor legs were in agony and I desperately wanted to sit down, but as I could clearly see the chief guest standing on his feet and delivering the speech; I was determined to endure my pain out of sheer respect. It took two hours or more for the speech to end and we’re ordered to sit down on the ground by our principal. I was delighted with that, but our heads were still exposed to the unforgiving heat of the sun. The celebration itself took another few hours more, and in the scorching sun most of us were quite dizzy and exhausted. Sunburn came much later that day.

Then after what seems like eternity to me; the celebration ended and students dispersed lethargically from the stadium. I was very giddy and extremely thirsty, and wanted to do nothing more than to have some sip of icy-cold water. As I peered towards the main gate, to my delight, holding a bottle of cold water was my maid-servant Yanki and she seems to be looking for me in the crowd of student that was passing by the gate. I sprinted towards her joyfully shouting her name as fast as my aching legs could allow—for a nice soothing drink.

I dashed happily toward her and yelled out her name loudly again, and when I was just about to get near the main gate her sight fell on me at once and she gave me her usual lazy smile. Without saying another word I grabbed the bottle and gently pulled towards me, but to my utter shock and dismay- she didn’t let it go, in fact she was tightening her grip on the bottle.

Annoyed beyond measure, I glared at her face panting. By then I didn’t have any energy to yell at her, so I said nothing. A moment ago Yangki was standing in front of me and now as I looked closely at her for a second time, I was staring at a complete stranger’s face, and she had a puzzled expression on her face. Oh my god, I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was just a hallucination but very vivid one, and Yangki was never there. I was equally shocked and puzzled as she, and I let go off her bottle at once. I was mortified and I quickly apologized, and speed-walked away from the gate.

And then, as I looked outside from the gate, I saw my family except Yanki - she went back to her village a few months ago. I was very happy to see them and I demanded a chilled Frooty which I devoured it empty in a few gulps.