“When you rise, ask you self whether you desire it,
When you earn, ask yourself whether you need it,
When you breathe, ask yourself…. whether you deserve it.”
To Raghav, these very lines cleared off the mist and revealed the existing deep valleys of differences between Fighter & Survivor, Strong & Weak, and Rich & Poor. “Why now? Why in this developed world?” were some basic questions which echoed in the hollow galleries of correct answers in his head. Raghav was, as they say, born with a silver spoon in his mouth yet he has never enjoyed luxuries. He sympathizes with the poor and grudges the rich class. From his white Mercedes when he smelled the slums he cursed the partiality, inequality and disparity and hated even more when he realized that he himself was a part of it. He wanted to know the answer of these complicated easy questions.
Well sometimes one has to take an extra step to find the real answers, to kill one’s own conflicts.
So he completed his graduation and kicked off his paternal mansions and riches. He joined a free education centre as a teacher. He took shelter in a chal(a shanty), a term he had only heard of before. The low-leaking ceilings, the door with no latch and the small cube like room amused him but did not discourage him. He founds it odd to share a toilet with 28 other families and the intermittent experience of water, but that was ok. “That’s how unprivileged live”, he used to tell himself.
To take his first class he took a local train from Borivali to Virar. To others it may seem a battle of life, but to Raghav it was an expedition. The train arrived and hundreds of people lined up to fight for that one coveted opening; one could see in to the fellow men, the energy, the intensity and want to ride that particular train at that particular time. The train was supposed to halt only for 30 seconds, and in that tiny window of time, the first battle of the service man’s common life would have been fought. Raghav noticed how everybody knew each other and they were smiling and talking about politics and inflation, but as soon the saw the train coming, friends became foes and smiles turned in to violent expressions. Raghav didn’t do anything; he was automatically taken inside the train along with the human flood.
It had been 3 years and Raghav understood the various complexities of the “exploited people’s” society. He was a part of that underworld now. He was comfortable when people used curse words around, in their normal high pitch tones. He usually smiled when people discussed about someone’s to be fifth child and understood the grievance if the kid turned out to be girl. He understood everything now, the things he used to read, things he used to imagine, he was experiencing them now; besides all this he was already in love with Geeta, his beloved, his future life partner.
Well life is so tricky with its twists and turns, and they can alter the whole direction of one’s life; for Raghav it’s Geeta’s pregnancy, the reason for joy and a cause of confusion.
“These locals are not safe, those wild beasts are just too much for her”. The chal and its’ crowd has started to repel Raghav now. The rush, the conditions and environment have suddenly begun to f irritate him. His survival and protective instincts were at their peak. “There are no schools, at least the good ones and I don’t want my kid to speak this inadequate language” Raghav consistently disturbed himself with these questions. “Geeta, are you sure our child will be safe here? With this dirt and stagnant water, in rains this place will be a hub of diseases, I want something better for …” he asks her for reassurance while touching her belly.
This sudden surge in that anonymous, intangible feeling towards the very men, conditions and situation he liked for 8 years forced Raghav to quit his meager paying socialist job and applied at a university in the city. He got it and while leaving the job he was truly relieved. He was facing contradictory thoughts; he could not understand his anxiety, his happiness and his newly present ambitions. He was getting tired of justifying his happiness to himself but when he saw his baby sleeping peacefully in a cosy cot, his internal chaos ends immediately.
He bought a new car to deal with the rain; shifted to a planned housing society along with a quality school brought a certain security to him. He desired a better university to work in then, a better house and a better saving. He wanted his daughter to be successful lawyer. And then the imminent happened, he found that book one day while cleaning and read those lines again. He smiled and this time he interpreted them in his own way, again.
“IF you desire, you may rise,
If you need, you may earn,
If you deserve, you may breathe.”