Monday, June 8, 2009

Lessons learnt

Some memories just cotton onto the brain for some inexplicable reason and no matter what new information replaces old information from then on, they just cling on. Old as they are, they must have found some corner of the brain where there is no substitution of cells, call it a kind of old age home for memory cells if you will. Right there is a little event that seems to have guided my life from then on.

This happened way back in time, back when we had only Doordarshan, the state run TV channel on air. News was something which my parents watched without fail and we kids would sit along hardly making able to make anything of the weighty issues and incidents being discussed on screen. The main news would be followed by the Parliament News which was an even dryer and less interesting news segment to us kids but I'd stick around just until the initial video montage of pictures taken outside the Parliament House was over. I liked to see the pictures of the Parliament house and the statues of the famous leaders that flashed through with the Parliament News music piece playing in the background. The news reader favourite lines seemed to be something about a zero hour (an interesting name for an hour to my curious young mind) and about how the House had to be adjourned by the Honourable Speaker after opposition parties stormed the well of the House (again I innocently wondered what a well was doing in the middle of the house, didn't they have taps or something). 

Anyway, getting back to the news snippet that I set out to discuss in the first place which came up in the main news. The news reader told me in his deep baritone that Kumar Sanu, the famous playback singer from Bollywood had donated some crores to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. This after a long time was a piece of news that was digestible to my infantile intelligence (at least back then, I was actually an infant). So I piped up "Out of so many crores of rupees, I wish he had given us just one crore!"

My parents seldom in agreement about any single thing on earth looked at me and went ahead in unison "Why? Why would we need one crore?" I didn't speak further during the news program but pondered over the question put to me by my parents. Sure, we could use one crore. There were all these video-games and comic books that were waiting to be bought, and then there were the radio-controlled cars from America that I so coveted. A bigger house wouldn't hurt and nor would a full cricket kit to last through the long summer evenings. At least we wouldn't have to pretend that the guy who brought the stumps was not out when he had clearly nicked the ball. I could very well take his pampered place in the playground hierarchy. Our refrigerator could be packed with rows of chocolates and ice-creams instead of the occasional treat.

Then again, I thought to myself, "Come on. Really?" 3 of my closest friends had video game systems but they were my best friends long before video games were an attraction for me to go to their house. Our flat was big enough for all of us to live in comfort, had enough walls to scribble on and was just the right size for me to bawl out mom's or dad's name when I took a tumble from the bed & they'd come rushing in. The real fun of comic books was to wait for a chance to come across a new one at a friend's place and then fight over who would get a chance to take it home. Owning them all would take the fizz out of that. The guy who packed up his stumps and went home at his slightest whim was definitely not the most popular guy on field, pampered though he may be and I wasn't actually eager to take his place. Once I had eaten a stomachful of chocolate and ice cream at a friend's birthday party and my stomach had hurt like never before.

My needs and wants have changed a lot since that day long ago in the past, but the lessons I took away haven't. Sure, everybody could use a little more of the money thing, but at what cost. Is it worth stressing yourself out or deviating from what is right for something that you thought was really needed to ensure a comfortable existence and then find that it was not worth the stretch. Yes, there are many things in life worth the stretch but not one of them can be bought with money.

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