GET TO THE TOP . . . THEN WHAT?

The effect of speedy migration known as an Urbanization, Pluralization of beliefs, Power of internet and Globalized lifestyle has altered the worldviews of our centennials. Well, my statement may sound passive but flipping from the pages of millennials’ worldview I hope I may sound profound.

We (millennials) studied “Roti-Kapda-Makan (Food-Clothe-Shelter)” as the basic requirements for human survival whereas today (centennials) has altered that idea to “Paisa-Rutwa-Shakti (Money-Influence-Power)”. Today, we say, ‘If I have money, I can buy the best food, clothe and shelter – If I have influence, my lifestyle will be recognized among many – If I have power, my food, clothe and shelter is secured.’ But as a matter of reasoning, the popping questions here are, “what’s wrong to strive for the best life?” – “Is it bad to be an Elite/Affluent Influencer?”

Once Sir Abraham Lincoln said,

“We can Complain because rose bushes have thorns,

or Rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”.

This profound statement of Sir Abraham Lincoln perfectly displays the paradoxical nature that consists of every materialistic achievement we make. In response to the “how” of dealing with the paradoxical nature, God declares through the passages of the Holy Bible –

Oh, mortal man, I have created you in My own image, giving you the wisdom and knowledge to discern what is good and evil!

This day I set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

I have also given you the freedom to choose life by listening to me or to choose death by listening to your mortal instinct.

As I grew up with somewhat world desire for MONEY – INFLUENCE – AFFLUENCE, the day was about to dawn for me to drop my college bag and pick-up my office back-pack and to start to buckle my formal shoes every morning. Alike every fresher, I thought to catch up with him, who has always gone the extra mile guiding me for a godly moral life. As I went to meet my beloved Subash Uncle, I noticed a different smile on his face which was evident to say how joyful moment it was for him. Before leaving his home, he gave me some advice which has always been very evident for me. He said,

“Son, God willing one-day you might become the most successful person with many accolades but REMEMBER in the eyes of the LORD you are A SERVANT. Never take pride in what you’ve achieved. As God blesses us with the manifold of blessings, He has also the right to take it away whenever we turn unworthy to be the possessor of those divine blessings.”

Secondly, “the three greatest evil weapons that stand in our way of life are – ‘UNTAMED FLESHY DESIRESILLICIT ACQUIRING OF GOLDHUNGER FOR GLORY’ (easiest way to remember these three – ‘3G’ GIRL-indicating opposite gender, GOLD & GLORY). All the temptations in the world are grounded to these 3 realities, once trapped to any of these will ruin our life, often there is no rescue from it.”

Generations come and generations go but, in each generation, the utmost desire of the human heart is always to get to the top. But alas, every time we witness an honest cry from the top confessing, “It was hard and compromising for me to reach here. But as I stand here, I FIND NOTHING!

Alike the rich man in my second last article who cheated the whole world just to get to the top but alas, there on the top, he was unable to face his 5-year old son. Often, we quote, end justifies the means” whereas profoundly thinking, “it is your means that decide how you will end”.

 

DEEP WITHIN – XIV

All seem to be falling in place for everyone connected to RPCA and the on going tournament. Having Aman back in the team and Punit showing the right attitude of the game, the morale of the team was boosted high and they literally conquered every match they played. The opponents fell apart in front of their team spirit and skills. Sooner the tournament ended with the team lined up by RPCA lifting the winning cup.

There was joy and celebrations everywhere but there’re two persons who were still struggling with mixed emotions deep within their hearts. They wear plastic smiles while celebrating the team’s victory amidst the whole bunch of youngsters yet they didn’t have peace of mind. One was struggling with a guilt conscious of giving family ahead of ethics and another one was dealing with his decisions being thwarted again and again. 

The night of the victory ended with lots of merry making but a few of the very chosen people received one SMS from Mr. Vikram Shah, inviting all of them to his house for an urgent meeting the very next day around 6 PM in the evening. 

The time finally came, when all the invitees arrived with many questions in their heart for such urgent call by the most respected man of RPCA. They all were welcomed by Trisha, Punit and Shobhna as courtesy without being aware of the reason themselves. When they were inquired by the invitees, they had nothing to say except to express their ignorance about the invitation.  

When everyone gathered and took their seats, Mr. Vikram stood up as all others remained quiet. 

You all must be surprised of this sudden invitation from me. That was obvious. The tournament was won despite of all the turmoils in the beginning of it but there were few things that we kept undone and had poked me all these time… I want to make everything straight and clear before all of you, those who were very part of the trains of events that we all went through.” Mr. Vikram was looking very grave and serious making everyone’s heartbeats skip. 

They all waited desperately for him to continue further so that they can understand what actually he means. Among the invitees there were Manan, Aman, Sanjay, Mudit, Mr. Sharma, the coach and two of the most respected and trusted board members of RPCA. Even Mrs. Shah, Trisha and Punit were expectantly waiting for Mr. Shah to proceed.

My son, Punit is very dear to me, but I could not spend much time with him thinking her mother will be looking after everything. That was a mistake on my part to take things for granted. My absence in my son’s matter didn’t help him with his mannerism though he learnt it in a harder way. I apologise to her and to two of my adorable children for all these.” Mr. Vikram lowered his head as Trisha walked up to him and hugged him tight saying, “Oh Papa… you are the best. Don’t apologise to us in front of so many.” He hugged her back and replied, “A crowd to witness what we promise and confess always stay in our minds engraved, my baby.” 

Shobhna was sitting quietly with her son alongside her. They both exchanged looks with each other, feeling sad about their most loved one, yet felt very proud of his presence in their lives. 

Mr. Shah asked Trisha to sit down as he intended to speak more. He turned to two of the board members and said, “You both were my closest and most trusted friends, why did you then just nodded in agreement with whatever I said or decided? I am annoyed with you both…”  

Both of them were surprised and looked at each other without even uttering a single word. 

Don’t look so surprised; you know I was not right for selecting Punit, my son, over Aman, the more deserving, yet you allowed it, just because I said it so… But I apologise to you both for making such a bad decision and apologise to Aman for doing something which went against him though he showed immense character to subdue the negative feeling and played spirited Cricket to his full capacity. But his pretending of a fractured leg did disappoint me.” He added…

Aman could not say anything as well and was feeling embarrassed to hear such a respected man apologizing to him. “I am so sorry, uncle… I mean Sirr…” He could just say that and lowered his head.

“Mr. Sharma, I disappointed you the most.” Mr. Shah looked at the coach who was already expecting him to address. 

No… Sirr… You didn’t… If you would not had taken that decision then we would not have got Punit back on track.” Mr. Sharma responded quickly as he was the most straight forward man as Mr. Shah was in that room. 

You are right, Mr. Sharma. But still my decision was wrong and I didn’t even look at the dossier prepared by you. So I apologize to you as well.” Mr. Vikram said with a gentle smile on his face. 

Mr. Sharma stood in respect and folded his hand and acknowledge it giving Mr. Shah full respect. 

We all had thoughts, emotions and grievances deep within our hearts, yet those who are bold enough, spill it out in the right manner. I thought of doing so as I was troubled deep within my heart for going against my ethics, my morale.” He added with command, as he felt relieved sharing his heart. 

Aman will be the future captain for next tournaments, hope he won’t be sitting with a fractured leg…” Mr. Vikram said, as all laughed finally after such a long serious pause.  “And I know my son will have no problem with my this decision…” He added looking at Punit who smiled knowing his father’s heart.  

They all joined at the dinning table to savour the delicacies prepared specially by Shobhna, the woman of the house. The joys of victory was more evident today than yesterday as all of them present in that house felt it deep within their hearts before retreating.

THE BEGINNING

DEEP WITHIN – XIII

It was the reunion of the Shah family that brought the winds of change in their household. They made the rule to have breakfasts and dinners together so that they all could stay connected, and there was no communication gap between them. It brought Vikram back to Shobana, made him realise that she can’t do it all alone, she needs him, his support. The frequent fights, the arguments, the rows of heated exchanges died down, and a healthy, happy atmosphere emerged in place of it. And the most significant change was in Punit, who had learned to be kind, yielding, humble. No more tantrums with the maid, no more lashing out at the driver.

He daily went to school and then to the academy for practice. His team was no more doubtful about his position as the captain; they all could see this new person emerging out of Punit who was full of team spirit and dexterity and leadership quality. No one was happier than Mr Sharma; he could see his team winning the cup this year only if Aman was not sitting on the sides and watching the practice instead of being out there on the field. Punit often went to Aman to seek his opinion; his counsel and Aman gave it to him without any regrets. He could see Sanjay and Punit working together well.

It was a week before the tournament; it was Punit’s’ birthday. And unlike every year, where his father threw him a massive party at some exotic destination and invited the rich and the famous of the society, this year Punit wanted a simple get together with his family and friends at his home.

He invited his friends, his cricket team, his coach to his home for the modest party. He even told Aman to bring Manan and Mudit along. By evening Aman was ready, wearing his best shirt and his brother Manan offered him his watch and perfume. Aman didn’t know what could one gift someone who had everything, but he couldn’t go empty-handed and bought a vintage pen from his savings as a gift. He reached Punit’s house and suddenly felt very uncomfortable upon seeing the sprawling mansion. He mustered courage and went inside; people were already gathered inside, and Punit welcomed Aman in with a hug when he saw him limping inside with his foot still in a cast.

“Happy Birthday!”, said Aman and presented his wrapped gift to Punit with a shy look.

Punit took it with a polite, “Thank You!” and unwrapped it then and there. Punits’ eyes went wide with happiness, “Whoaa! A vintage pen, I never had one, always used those with refills. How thoughtful Aman” said Punit and gave Aman a small hug. Aman felt relieved and felt at ease as he sat with all others, chatting away and laughing.

Punit got his wish on his birthday; he wanted his house to be filled with laughter and friends and love. A few minutes later, Punit’s’ mother laid the table along with the maid with trays of snacks and sweets and glasses of juices along with bowls of soups. The aroma was mouth-watering; everyone was drawn to the table at once when Mr Vikram Shah very proudly declared, “kids, all the delicacies today are made by my lovely wife who once again proved that women could manage work and home with perfection at the same time. Now! Dig In!” He said with a smile and everyone filled their plates with Cheese Cutlets and Potato Jackets and Sesame Fingers. Punit helped himself, but he didn’t miss the smile his mother gave his father.

Punit introduced Aman to Trisha and Aman couldn’t help but feel awed by her. She was just the opposite of what Punit was; she was minimalist, down to earth and soft-spoken. Her beauty was very different from what he thought about rich girls. She wore absolutely no makeup, and her dress was a conservative one. Trish herself was filling everyone’s plate over and over with food, and she made it a point that Aman didn’t have to get up from his seat, bringing him everything right there.

Time flew by, and it was the time to cut the cake. Trisha had made it herself as she was into baking and was carrying it down the stairs. Everyone was huddled around the photo booth where Punit was clicking pictures, and no one noticed when Trisha twisted her ankle. The cake fell from her hands, she was about to fall the flight of stairs and hit her her head on the wall when Aman instinctively leapt from his chair and climbed the steps in a flash and caught her mid-fall.

Trisha’s cry for help caught everyone’s attention, and they ran to help her, but there she was, sitting on the plastered foot of a very guilty looking Aman who wouldn’t dare look up. Trisha’s father held her hand, and she awkwardly climbed down the stairs, feeling sorry for her cake but thanking Aman over and over again.

“It’s….it’s nothing, please.” He said feeling a little heroic

“Sorry, Bhai, I ruined your cake.”, she told Punit.

He hugged her, “Come on, Trish, I am happy that you are okay.”

Mr Sharma had a patronising look on his face as he asked Aman, “Would you climb down yourself or do you still need help?”, his tone was bordering on a tease.

Aman got up, and everyone clapped for him. They were all happy that he was not hurt after all, and that meant he would be playing in coming games. Punit was laughing along with Sanjay, and all the other team members were whistling and catcalling. It was an embarrassing moment for Aman, but he was happy nonetheless. His whole drama was for a purpose, and the purpose was solved. Mission Accomplished!

It was the first match, RLCA vs PCCI. They were in the dressing room. Mr Sharma was boosting everyone up one last time before the game.

“Punit, you are the Captain, I think you have made a great team and well-structured batting order. I am positive your fielding strategy and balling tactics would go a long way this time. But remember, the rules still apply, so no messing.” He said sternly, and Punit nodded without any rebellion in him.

“Sanjay you are the vice-captain. Remember if Punit is not there for any reason, you will lead your team. This is your chance Sanjay, show them what you have got and project your teamwork.” He told thumping Sanjay’s back, and he nodded with a smile and his hands in his pockets.

“Aman, you are our opening batsman, our star batsman. We are all counting on you. I know you will do your best and help us attain a score PCCI can’t chase. And yes, don’t get distracted by your fans in the stands.” He said with a smile, knowing full well Trisha would be there. Aman blushed and shook hands with Mr Sharma.

They all fell in line and rolled out on the field.

DEEP WITHIN – XII

Punit!! What are you doing here? You should be home by this time,” said Coach Sharma surprised.

Just came here for some clear thinking . . . didn’t expect to find you still here. But when I saw you, just thought to get some things straight,” said Punit.

What things?,” said Mr. Sharma with a low tone of suspicion.

Punit started with a lower that usual voice, “It was my father, right, who influenced the Board in my favour when you had already made up your mind about making Aman the captain?”

Look, let matters of the Boardroom remain within the walls of the Boardroom. I choose not to discuss anything regarding it with you. But son look, you are in the blooming youth of your life. The way you look at things now, the way you behave now will continue to impact your future. If you will have cemented good relationships now, they’ll always stand by you. However, if you continue to nurture your arrogance you will find yourself all alone one day,” said the coach wrapping his arm around Punit.

Tears streamed down Punit’s cheeks. He stared blankly at the ground with not a word.

Then suddenly, he got up to leave.

Punit . . . listen . . . Punit,” ran the coach behind him. But, Punit jogged himself quickly out of the arena.

He was unusually calm in the car as the driver drove him home.

For a change, his parents were at home that evening as he reached home. As the maid opened the door, he handed her the cricket kit and quietly went up the stairs. The driver and the maid exchanged quiet questioning looks.

Punit bolted the door to his room and flopped himself on the bed and wept inconsolably. The happy scenes from Aman’s house flashed before his eyes. The singing and merriment – it was such a different picture than what he had thought.

How wrong I was! I always thought that money gives happiness because you have all that you want. I thought that poor people are unhappy and miserable creatures. But, here, my family has everything – yet there is no peace, no joy, no love, no understanding, no one has much time for each other. And, Aman’s family literally has nothing compared to what I have. Yet, the peace I felt as I stepped into their house is unexplainable. Why is that missing in my house? I have hardened behind these hard polished walls. Punit went on tugging his pillow as thoughts flooded his mind.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Punit continued to lie on the bed, ignoring the knock. The knocking grew persistent and louder. He got up from his bed and went to the washroom. He saw his teary face in the mirror and could not believe that it was Punit Shah – the one who boasted with his collar up day in and day out. What had become of him today? Why was he crying after all!

The knocking turned into banging. He quickly washed his face and rushed to open the door with a wet face.

What happened Punit? Its not that you slept off . . . you came in just now. What took you so long to open the door,” demanded his angry father.

Er . . . I was in the washroom,” mumbled Punit. It was unusual for his father to come up to his room and knock the door.

Mr. Vikram Shah observed Punit’s swollen eyes and understood that he had been crying for some reason. However, he chose not to raise it up and just turned and descended the stairs.

Punit left the door open and strolled back into his room.

The maid walked in with a tray of snacks and steaming hot coffee. The mixed aroma of deep fried vadas (Indian snack) and the coffee filled the room. As he walked upto the tea table in his room, the image of the hot samosas and merriment in Aman’s house danced before his eyes. Tears started welling up once again.

Hey, hero what’s up?” It was his sister who had entered the room.

Punit could not control himself any longer. With the half-bitten vada still in his mouth, he held on to Trisha and started weeping.

Trisha was taken aback. “Hey, what happened? Come on tell me, did someone tell you something.”

Trisha did not know how to react. She had never seen Punit this way – at least not since his childhood days.

Why can’t our family be happy? Why can’t we all be together?” muttered Punit tightening his arm around Trisha amidst sobs.

WHAT IF…

There comes a time in your life, where you like the things the way they are ..but what if things were different? What if going back into my past, I’d change something really HUGEand that in turn makes me lose everything I have today?

What can I say – my TODAY is far from perfect! But then if I have to look at my life in the other way, I look at my life as

“What if my life turned out just the way I wanted it?” I can only begin to imagine

A frequent passing thought.. and at the end of it, I say to myself ‘Thank Goodness’. You think I’d know myself really well, and what I’d be capable of, if I had to have it my way!

A few right choices, a couple of right connections and a whole lot of the sly factor,I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing or living in the place I’m living. I would be – well.. Unrecognizable! I wouldn’t be ME. Actually I would be Me, but a different kind of Me – not many of who would like me too much.Image result for time machine

Working in top management

..lording over hundreds of employees working under me

..changing cars with changing trends

..a house that comforts me in every way, needless to say – money would never be an issue.

..married to a woman who looks after my every need – I wouldn’t need anything else would I?

Wouldn’t that be a nice world to live in? Pretty superficial I know but still a very comfortable one, who’s complaining!? I wouldn’t, nor would you – Trust Me! 

Let’s start from where it all truly begins, no.. no.. not birth, but MONEY  The start and End to life. While its all good to have emotions like love, happiness, joy & satisfaction in life, the truth is – that’s not what is enough, we need HARD CASH! and a little extra of it never hurts. I am always on the other side of the fence when it comes to finances, that said, the limitations keep me down to earth and always in check. It helps me understand the value of holding on to something that helps me (with the right purchases) in giving myself a better quality of life.

A story dad would often tell my sister and myself when we were younger. He was Bank manager – Bank of India, Jamshedpur and in a position where he called the shots on many of the things that happened within 4 walls. Often customers would ask him “Sir, aapka ghar ready ho gaya Goa mein?” (which loosely translates as Is your house in Goa ready?) in other words if he could get the ‘papers passed’ or ‘the work done’.. faster or you know…, he would be rewarded handsomely… and that in turn would help in building the house faster. The honest man that my dad was, he never took the bait – and of course the rest is history.

He built our home on Love, Honesty and with every drop of sweat spent at the bank working his ass off (hard work) Life wasn’t as easy as some of us have it now. So while I may personally not have anything to change for myself, or for anyone else in my family, I would like to have seen, what would life have been… you know just if…

Every one of us has an ‘if’ in our life – its normal to have that thought. Some time in my life, I did too.. (not any more)

Maybe you’ve been hurt, maybe you’ve lost someone dear to you.. and we all wish that we could start over or go back and change it all

… but that’s life, we just have one shot at it! Besides, it’s all steps to growing up. We understand that everything we do has consequences.

Life isn’t FuN and games, its way harder to deal with that we can ever imagine. However, life goes on – and everyday gives us a chance to start afresh.

There’s a saying that goes “The apple does not fall far from the tree” if that was my dad many years ago and he has no regrets on how his life panned out, I am his son and while my life has not had the same straight upward curve that his has been – I’m still happy how I’ve turned out.. a little wonky, very unpredictable and pretty average. I’d still give it my best shot and hopefully – some day ‘dad would be proud of me’.

Don’t waste time, you won’t get it back.
Don’t waste money, it will get back at you.

WHEN MY HEALTH SIGNALLED ME TO CHANGE LIFESTYLE

Few months after the birth of my first child,  I started having mild pain in the lower back. Thinking that the pain was one of the features of the post-pregnancy and post-delivery life of a mom,  I ignored it initially. “Of course”, I thought, “it’s due to the humongous changes that took place in my body”.

The pain worsened and before could schedule a visit to the doctor,  my back muscles were locked into the ‘catch’ position. Besides not being able to bend,  I wasn’t even able to walk, sit straight or turn on my side while in bed. When I was taken to the physiotherapist,  she immediately said, “It’s because of your sedentary lifestyle. Now, after childbirth, you must be doing so much work than you did earlier,  and since your body isn’t accustomed to take so much pressure, your back is locked.”

I was shocked and afraid at the same time. She said if 3 – 4 times more I face a similar situation,  then I might develop a slip disc. 

I did exercises session with my physiotherapist for a month who helped to strengthen my back. Meanwhile,  my husband got a project in Shanghai and we had to move. I was kind of reluctant to go because of the fear of getting into the similar situation in a foreign country,  where our moms couldn’t visit us easily. My physiotherapist, however, assured me that if I continued with my exercise regimen, nothing will happen. Feeling assured, I moved to Shanghai and yes,  my back did suffer from spasm, as I stopped months after I got better, but then resumed my exercise routine. If I used to get bored with the exercises, I took to dancing with my little one and also taking him in stroller for long walks. 

A couple of years later, when we returned,  my son started his preschool and so my physical activities also increased as I used to play with him. Sometimes I used to take him for nature walks in the morning or race with him in climbing up the stairs, which was great fun.

My job as a homemaker became more demanding after the birth of my second son. With the support of my in-laws, who took care of the children at home, I started working a pre-primary teacher, which in itself requires a lot of physical activities. However,  I had to quit as my husband got a job in a different city. 

Currently, I am back to my full-time job as a homemaker as my younger one has started his preschool. Until I resume my teaching job,  I am keeping myself physically active by doing all the chores myself. I didn’t hire any maid for cleaning the house or washing dishes because I feel that’s the best way I can keep myself healthy and the house immaculate!