Today, I got a sweet surprise when I suddenly met a family friend of us after many years. To be precise, we met after 11 years. I remember this person, often visiting our house, may be once in three months to chat with us. He was a faraway relative of us. I was quite impressed with this fellow even at the young age, mostly because of the way he talked. He was a post- grad of those days, may be only one of our relatives who had dared to go to the States to acquire a masters. As it logically follows, he was one of the most knowledgeable persons I had seen those days. He was also the most professionally successful of our relatives. One could easily make out from his attitude that he wanted to be successful on all the fronts- knowledge, money, recognition and fame.
He was quite busy those days consulting newly emerging firms and start-ups. He was advisor to many government departments, laboratories, committees and colleges. As it always happens, money failed to motivate this genius and a thirst for respect and recognition dominated his life. He started devoting more of his time to teaching. And then there was a stage, where he had nothing to do except being at this college, which was one of the best colleges India had in those days.
Within seconds, these old memories flashed in front of my eyes. He looked equally knowledgeable today also. Rather, his looks conveyed a more matured and contemplative personality. He should be somewhere in his seventies now. My minute observation could not miss a thin shade of sadness and emptiness running on his face and his entire being.
“I am so happy to see your snaps with your flute on Facebook” said this fatherly figure to me.
“Thanks, somehow I really enjoy it tremendously. I do not even recognize how the time slips away when I am with my flute.”
“You are very wise to do something like this right at this stage.” And he abruptly stopped the conversation.
“What do you do these days?” I asked him out of curiosity. I was very sure that he must be living the most lavish life. He had knowledge. Though it rarely happened those days, his knowledge was well recognized. He had a little extra of everything- knowledge, recognition, money and respect.
After listening to my question, he laughed out; which was more of an inner cry than a laugh. Somehow I felt very sad looking at the way he laughed.
“My day is almost the same as it was 10-15 years ago”, he said.
“I still go to the college early morning, to see the empty staff room. I sit there, though I have no lectures or lab sessions. I go there, sit there. For some time I take a walk, then again I sit down.”
“I was not lucky enough to realize value of a flute or any other hobby for that matter when I was young. I cannot live without this staff room now” he was speaking.
“Most of my colleagues have passed away, many bed ridden and many enjoying their retired lives. Neither students here nor the staff here know who I am; they look at me as if I am some whimsical, mad and homeless fellow. I indeed must be.”
Somewhere I realized that knowledge, money, respect and fame are too risky things to rely upon and to neglect your passions for. In a practical sense, they are more like utilities than core things to live life for. One should never neglect them, but should also be aware enough to not to get trapped in those chains. These utilities play a very crucial role in our lives but we cannot be happy if we spend our life solely in their pursuit.
On the other hand, I have seen a sculptor in Pune, who enjoyed moderate fame and reputation while at peak of his career. But, very smartly, he moved away beyond these things. This joyous grandpa is in his eighties now, giving away his art and skills to enthusiasts without charging a single rupee.
Both the grandpas above were equally knowledgeable in their fields. At the dawn of their lives, one of them feels that he has walked a wrong way, while other is still enjoying the way- being happy and making others happy.
I guess, what made this difference is quite easy to figure out. Due to challenges associated with the modern lifestyle, for most of the part of our lives, we have to prefer utilities over the core things. The second grandpa very well understood when one should start living for the core and stop madly accumulating heaps of utilities.
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