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A Lesson For Life

It was 7:44 when I left my office building. My head was spinning and my legs were trembling - my dreams had shattered. Finally, my worst fear had come true. I was asked to put down my resignation. Recession had taken its toll on my company too.

We were all hearing about possible retrenchment in the organization from the last 2 weeks. I received an E-mail today from my group head saying my services were no longer required. I was paid one month’s salary and asked to submit my resignation letter. I am a 28 years old, a newly married man with ongoing EMI's of Home loan and car loan. I am a construction professional and had been working with a giant real estate firm.

I started walking towards the bus station. “How in the world will I manage those life taking EMI's?” “My life is over” “How will I get a job in these times of recession?” “I hurried too much in purchasing my house and car” “How will I break this news to my newlywed wife?” I was talking to myself and walking towards the bus station. Loud horns, yelling from chai walas, shining adverts & hoardings - nothing in the world could draw my attention.

Everything around me had changed ever since I received that e-mail. I can pay the EMI's and survive for the next 6-7 months with my savings if I live miserly. I will definitely find a job in the next 6 months. I tried to console myself. I felt good but it did not last very long and I again questioned myself - "What if I don’t get a job?” “How will Megha react when I tell her all this?” 

My bus came and I quickly jumped into it and collapsed on the first seat I saw. The bus was pretty empty that day. A middle aged guy of around 40 came and sat next to me. I still don’t know why he chose to sit next to me when there were about 30 more empty seats in the bus. The man smiled at me but I was in no mood to smile at anyone. I turned my face and made it clear that I am upset and in no mood to talk. I noticed a bundle of 1000 Rs notes in his hands.

“The guy is a great actor. I never miss his movies.” The middle aged guy said, pointing towards a big Amitabh Bachhan cut out on the crossroads. “I just saw ‘paa’. “What a great movie. Have you seen it? You must see. Well, I am Arvind. And you?” I was really irritated by then but somehow controlled my temper and did not react at all. Apparently, he seemed to be in a jovial mood and was looking for someone to share his happiness. I was certainly not the right choice!

“Where are you going Mr.?” Arvind asked me. He was not undeterred with my lame reactions and still wanted to chat with me. Finally, I lost my mind.

“Look Mister, I am in no mood to talk to you. I am not at all interested in you. I have lost my job today. I have a wife and burden of EMI's and I don’t have any idea how I will manage everything. I am in the most painful period of my life so please shut your mouth or go somewhere else. People like you never understand other people’s problems.

Have you ever faced a scenario like me? Then I would surely see see this smile and joy on your face disappearing in an instant. Holding these 1000 Rs notes in your hand, do you think you are the king of this world? You rich people will never understand the problems of middle class people.” I shouted at Arvind. He was listening very carefully and still had that smile on his face. It angered me even more. I turned my back and closed my eyes.  

“Everything will be fine” Arvind said and put his hand on my shoulder. Surprisingly I felt better.

“I am sorry for being rude but as you see I am in trouble and have difficult times ahead.” I regretted being so rude to Arvind. “No, it is completely all right. I understand. But you will definitely come out of it. Have faith, this difficult phase will soon pass. Does your wife earn?” Arvind started digging deeper.

“Yes, she is a school teacher but her salary is just 15,000. How would that help during these times of inflation?”  Arvind laughed loudly. Though I was not too happy to hear him laugh at Megha’s salary, I had a moral duty to ask him about himself as he tolerated my nonsense. “Where are you going? To home from work, I guess.”

“No, I am going to Motilal Hospital to visit my wife. She had developed a tumour in her chest but with God’s grace she is fine now. They will discharge her in a few weeks. “Oh Holy lord. That must be devastating for you.” I exclaimed.

“No, I am happy that she has survived this scare. I think God is too kind to me. My wife was diagnosed with tumour and I lost my job after 3 days. This way, I got a lot of time to look after my wife and my 11 year old daughter. My entire family lives in the village. They can’t be of any help. I was the only one to take care of my wife and daughter.

I had to pay 1 Lac Rs in the hospital and I had no arrangements. But look at this money, God is kind to me. I suddenly met my old friend in the hospital and he offered to help. I have promised to return this money in a year. 1 year is a long time and I trust God. I know that some arrangements will be done by the time the day of repayment arrives. Hey, my stop has come. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.

Remember one rule ‘God never gives more pain than one can tolerate.’

And he disembarked from the bus. He taught me a lesson that would stay with me my entire life. Relieved and happy, I bought flowers for Megha on my way home and told her everything about my job loss. She supported me and we both promised each other that we will never lose our faith, we will never lose hope. We will always smile and trust God irrespective of the circumstances, like my friend Arvind.

Contributing Story Teller  H. P. Shah is a civil engineer and works for a real estate firm.

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