Feathers from a mute Nightingale

"On a bright sunny Saturday morning and just when I was about to get down from my train I looked up to see him and gave a smirk at him for one last time. The greatest of my prides are not what have bought, but the ones that have earned and carried within me".

I was sitting and reading my book at the Cantonment railway station in Bangalore, since I had booked an early train to Chennai, I waited; while peacefully reading my book. After a good 10minutes, somebody suddenly broke the silence with an “Excuse Me”….. I looked up with a jolt, and saw this stunning young man in his middle twenties; tucked in neatly ironed trousers and flashing a colorful sweater and groovy canvas shoes. I replied with a soft ‘yes’ and he asked me if the D5 coach would halt at this place. I replied, am not sure but told him that the train sure would halt and that he has to figure out where the D5 actually stopped. He took my note and sat down and soon took out his iPhone and started yapping graciously to his girlfriend.

As I continued with my book I heard the train horn from a distance and closed my book to get ready for my 370km journey south bound. Once the train halted, I figured out my seat and settled myself comfortably, and all of a sudden I looked down to see a familiar canvas shoes right opposite to me, and when I looked up, it was the same lad who has questioned me on the position of the coach earlier. I smiled and said ‘hey its you’ and he just replied back with a ‘Yo’!!!

The train was now zooming past a few unknown stations and suddenly again there was a ‘hey’ and I looked up to him and said ‘yes, what’s up?’ he asked me if I was from Bangalore, and I replied yes…. He said, ‘oh kewl, so how long have you been here?’ I replied with ‘4 months’ why? He said, ‘so are you now happy with Bangalore’s lifestyle?’ I said, well I’ve always liked Bangalore as a city, and what’s with the lifestyle? He replied “well do you like the pups, the discothèques, the clubbing and the chicks?” I now closed my book and gave him a stare on his eyes, and told him that I wasn’t any of that a person, and that I work in Bangalore and that’s all I ever knew.
The next reply what came for me, I just wasn’t ready!! He said ‘What a loser you are man!”………… I looked at him again and smiled at his face and said “Excuse me – Me ….loser huh?” he grinned back and said ‘yeah’…. I kept my book aside and sat straight, and looked at him on the face and asked him “So who’s the winner in Bangalore; mister, you tell me”

He now spoke…. “Bangalore is all a great city man”, you have these pubs and stuff, go for clubbing, take a few chicks with you, or your friends, buy a bite of marijuana, stick a pill, go dance around and see how your day goes. You will go crazy and you will want it every single day…. Go to MG Road, there are tons, of pubs, get in and get some time, instead of wasting your time at home. Look at the bright side, you get to take chicks to the pubs, walk them in free and while leaving you get to have them too. How kewl is that?

All this while I was listening to every single word of his and was looking at his body language, the way he expressed his lifestyle to me with such great excitement. I knew deep inside my heart I have always been the person, only a one I’ve always wanted to be, and not that I’ve not seen or seeing what’s happening around me within this world. But still getting labeled a ‘Loser’ and being explained about the ‘Perfect Life Strategy’ was still worth a crusade. I have now neatly completed 27 years of my chatoyant little life and have met my share of people and styles, having worked in 4 countries across 4 continents with people from 30 different nationalities; for me what I was hearing in front of me wasn’t any new. In this so called life have lived, I can take the example of a zillion people who have come forward to tell me that I haven’t lived my life at all. Yeah! For the world beyond me, life is an all new kind of a game, a game where truth, honesty, morale’s, family, ethics and virtues are bare benchmarks of the past and fail miserably against today’s winner who seem to be gamble, infidelity, dishonestly, truth and despicability. They prior don’t hold strong ground anymore. And yes I know it, and am very much aware of it. But No!! I am me and I can never let myself be someone else who this world wants it to be. I am happy to myself and I can touch my conscience and tell myself that I am living a good life and I’ve earned that for myself and none have the right nor the potency to hold me wrong.

Living in a city alone by myself, it’s not that difficult to go wrong. I am old enough and I need no one’s permission to do things at my own will. But I always wonder why, when everything or almost everyone does it and I don’t. I ponder over the fact that life has always had these dual variables of what is right and what is wrong and it’s the people who get to choose what they want. But how do they choose it, solely depends on their soul. For all these long, have held certain values higher than anything else in regard, and like a source of all wisdom, I have held those values and guarded them amidst four walls. Because in the end, those values derive the true self within me. The one who I really am.

Suddenly he stopped talking and took out a cigarette and handed one to me and said ‘Come let’s go to the door side’…. I replied saying ‘I don’t smoke’. He laughed at me and said ‘Are you kidding me?’ I looked at him straight in the eye and replied ‘I don’t smoke and please keep that piece of rot away from me’ he immediately took it back and told me that he badly needed a smoke and he comfortably found himself a lone washroom where he went away to tuck and smoke. My eyes followed him till he vanished and I looked out through the window, replaying back years till I was exactly 3 years old. My mind stopped and played back……That day!

I was 3 years old then, and one fine day, my dad’s eldest brother had come home and had spent the whole evening with my family and was finally getting ready to leave. He bid bye and while we were following him towards our main door, he dropped a cigarette butt on the floor and walked past it. I noted the butt still burning orange and stood right behind to see what it really was. After sending off my uncle my dad was slowly walking back towards the house and noticed what I was about to you. I was slowly reaching to touch the cigarette butt and take it in my hand, and before I was inches away, I heard this loud thump on my back. It hurt so badly and I couldn’t take the pain and started crying loudly. My dad coming back to his senses picked me up and took me to his room. There he made me sit on his lap and looked at my face, he wiped off my tears and apologized for hitting me. He then slowly looked into my eye, and told me these few words which I have inscribed in my heart and mind ever since…. “Vasanth, I don’t know if you’d understand or sense what am about to tell you, but that little thing, is one of the most dangerous things you can ever touch, and if you’re my boy, promise me before God that in no ways possible, will you ever try to touch or smoke or consider regard for it ever in your life, Promise me Son”…..With my eyes filled with tears, I clasped his palms and promised him that day…. These exact words where the deepest from my dad about smoking, and that was the first and the last time, I was closest to a touching a cigarette ever. It’s been more than 20 years now, and still that day and those words still keep chirping in my ears every time I see that little stick of white and brown which have stayed away by all modes of my life. One of the finest incidents which I still feel proud about was the 1st day of my university where my seniors sat and ragged us juniors and one of them who was really well built called upon me and asked me to buy 3 cigarettes for him and his friends. I firmly denied, but when I was posited, I said ok and went to the shop and returned with a tarnished old bag plastic bag on my palm, and when I took it to them, they asked me, why I carried the old dirty bag. I replied, ‘Your cigarettes are on top of it’ the guy looked at me and said ‘you have brought it to us, like as if it was shit’, and I gladly replied ‘yes Mr. Senior it is; very much for me’. It was the last time that fellow ever ragged me, but now and then when he saw me in the campus, he always gave that stare which never awed me ever after. After all what had happened, I can only say thanks to my heart which has always stuck to those values, they’ve eventually turned out to be the very morale’s which have shaped me and my life for a greater tomorrow.

I’ve realized the biggest war you fight is right within you… Everyday when you get up for a beautiful day, you’re already at war, every time you meet people, who try to push you to what they expect you to be, you’re at war… The war where they will fight, till they make you one of themselves. But yes, your at war, and this war is all about what is right for you and if you give it up now, your never the you ever again. I know every time I have said ‘NO’ to a friend or a stranger on a part of a cigarette or a drink of whisky, I know have won a war. A war which I’ve well played for all these years, and I know every day I learn a bit more to winning it once more for yet another day. Everyday you put these people to shame in showing your someone just different than they are, someone who carries values more heavier than their bottles, a someone who has kept it morale’s to within and not blown them to smokes.

In the end, we live a life where there are only 2 ways of living it ‘The Way we want’ and ‘The Way we should’, there is only a slight difference on the lines of these 2 and that is when we are front of a situation, when you touch your heart and ask what to do next, and when you follow it, it’ll be the ‘way we should’, but when we cast off and move the other way, it becomes the ‘way we want’ ! Living the way we should is not easy, but its like a way we look at a big oak tree. The oak grows in the way it should, and when it grows well enough, it reaches out his hands and grabs mother earth to sustain for its greater tomorrow, and in the same way, when we grow up with values; even if we face challenges and hurdles now, in the coming years of tomorrow, they are the very patches of wisdom which will hold us strong with our family and lives all together.

When I tell my friends that in a year 3 times are the maximum I drink and all I ever get to drink is wine, they got a rally of chuckles in a row. And even in the office when my colleagues laugh calling me a ‘Teetotaler’ I just laugh over them for their cognitive content of life they’ve so far understood. And all I can do in accepting with them that this is all have learned and accepted myself to be. And I take no more and accept no less. Well in the end, I could just think and feel happy of all the times I’ve not wasted sitting on a pub and laughing over ineffectual talks or gossiping about undesirable facts of people, or the amount of wealth have wasted over smoking from each and every corners of the office over an excuse called stress. Nor sitting at home with gross mortals who have all the time to sit and dress up marijuana into their sweet old buds, gosh I think when I look back on the life have lived so far, it gives me immense happiness on how much life has been good to me, and in making me understanding that its all about how you want to be, and not about what the world wants you to become. I still remember the one and only poster my dad stuck on my wall in the house I stay in Bangalore and it effulgently read “Character” – ‘We must adjust to an ever changing road… While always holding on to unchanging principles’….. And it’s the first thing I always read when I entered my house every single day. I couldn’t be truer, than to say that my dad would be the only man who was more than a friend but still managed to teach me every single thing in life, without even uttering a single word of change….. He showed me through his actions, and it was all I needed from the man I admire the most.

By now, the train was crossing the bridge which struck me with a heads up signal that my station was coming next. I quietly got up and started to arrange my bags to alight from the train. He quickly spoke ‘Oh, are you going to get down here?’ I said ‘yes’. He spoke more ‘Oh great man, it was nice meeting you’ and if you come to Bangalore do give me a call, I will take you to the pubs I know and hook you on with a few chicks I know’. I looked at him again and smiled quietly and said ‘there are 2 ways in which life can be lived: 1) The way we want and 2) The way we should. I pretty much follow the second one and you can save all your beloved services for someone who will fall on the first category. I have grown with morale’s and have lived with values, and if you haven’t understood what values are for these many years, its very much certain you wont want to understand it for the years to come. At this point of time, he stopped smiling and gave me a silent gawk. I picked up my bags and walked towards the door deeply thinking…..

…….I’ve seen people who have achieved and won battles in life, and have ripened out to be the most successful, people who have made a mark for themselves in this world. You will find one common streak in all of them - all of them have the ability to stand up for their actions and for the values they carried so dearly in their lives. Most importantly they followed deep rooted moral values. They will never compromise on these values for a little more of anything the world could offer. I forever ponder on how to live a life like these men. And when I filter my thoughts I just come down to these final words - In the end life is all about doing the right thing, even if its way costlier and harder and punishing than the bad has to offer. Behind every smoker and an alcoholic is a shameful dastard who has given up on himself for an excuse to show he’s got a better world for himself. With my bare eyes, have seen from what wonderful people to what monsters they become. I’ve seen how families break to shatters and lives lost. I’ve never scorned a man more than a one who has lost his life and his family over his inglorious acts.

When I stepped out of the train and started walking towards the exit of the station, a voice came out from the door of the train, ‘Hey I never got your name’ I stopped and looked back at him and smiled and cried out ‘Its Mr. Loser’…… I turned back and started walking.

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are piddling matters compared to what lives within us…… our culture, our practices, our religion, and most of all our morale’s, something which all those achievers imbibe”.

"It was a bright sunny Saturday morning; I looked up to see him and gave a smirk at him for one last time. The greatest of my prides are not what have bought, but the ones that have earned and they will be the ones which I will carry here on; within me."

I was finally home.....!

Comments

Nithya said…
My path forks into two –
I look at the barren land ahead that leads to a paradise
And I look at the so called paradise that leads to a barren land.
I choose to fight reality the right way
I chose to recognize the illusion!

How many crack illusions? May be a few…the others do too, but when they’re left with nothing but guilt and regret to sit along and brood… or maybe even breakdown! Is it necessary to let others define you…your life?
We end up losing out on things we slog the most to attain… at least I gave up my dream ambition – something I worked for, for years together - not ‘cos the path was rugged and difficult, not 'cos of fear - but because I knew I would have to swim across quick-sand, filth and dirt, even without knowing swimming!
I will live with that pain forever, I know…but I will leave with a smile on my face :) …no guilt, no regrets!
I definitely am broad minded to accept the right things, done the right way. I too have chosen to stick on to morals and ethics – a few that were taught and a lot that I learnt in the course of “my life…” and I’m proud about it. Am I primitive in my head then? May be … call me one, I don’t mind.
“Loser” – well, define it. One who fails to win? When you chose to do the things tagged “unaccepted” by society itself…things that are condemned, then how does one win? Irony, right? Oh! You’ll bump into many ironies!
The funda is simple, ain’t it? Be rigid for and about the wrong things and you end up losing out big time! Vasanth, you have rigid rules and keeping them inflexible for the 'right things' is brilliant!
Now the choice is for the human mind to make; humans – rational beings… LOL!! Another irony… may be! ;)

Cheers!
IB7 said…
I have never seen you, but As far as I know you, sometimes you seems a YO kind of guy who's party animal, but as I told you personlly, -you are a gentleman and I am seeing a gentleman is writing good good words as always...like

"the biggest war you fight is right within you…"

Nice message giving blog this time Mr Benjamin. Our thoughts are similar when it comes to Values, Principles and Family. Keep believing yourself...and they will know -who's loser!!!
ipanema said…
kudos to your parents who are instrumental in your upbringing, and most of all to you who kept and learned from it. you've certainly impressed me with the values that you hold dear. in this day and age and with what i've read in your profile, I was expecting a globe-trotter who left his values flushed in his country of origin and embraced commercialism of the soul blindingly.

you made me smile with the conversation you had with the youngster. ha!
ashwini said…
You have made me proud again !!
You sure are a winner in every way, i'am so sure you'll always chose only the right option.
You are the "kewlest" person i've met !!!!
gayathri said…
"There are 2 ways in which life can be lived: 1) The way we want and 2) The way we should."

Quite true :) A very thoughtful blog i would say.
Zena said…
Great read !!!!!.....a soul searcher too...It's not what you do once in a while, it's what you do day in and day out that makes the difference...i have learnt that In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.........we all possess it !! work has taken me from slums to palaces (INDIA & neighbours only) but its been one hell of an education
The most inspiring, most beautiful people i know are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
you are one of them........Stay you!!!.
z

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