Those who have nobody have God with them. I am not telling this, it is written in the books!
I am not a staunch believer in God. I believe the Earth will be a better place without Religions, Hatred, Smokers and Communists! As I have evolved, I have refused to be cowed down by most of what has been preached. And I tell my 12 years old daughter not to believe anything just because someone says it is holy!
But this Kishore Kumar song immortalized by Amitabh Bachchan in Laawaris has something in it. What I am writing here is purely from a Nonconformist's point of view. It is about me, the people around me and about goodness in life! Being obsessed with 'Good Life' we have become oblivious to 'Goodness in Life'.
I was 5 years old when my kid sister was born. This little creature was an absolute Darling. I wanted to take her on my laps and play with her. Darn the elders, I wasn't even allowed to touch her because I was too young. Ever since, I wanted a Baby Girl of my own. Only problem was I didn't know how I could acquire one!
My passion for a Baby Girl was rekindled when I was 22. It was thanks to an adorable kid of my friend's elder brother. I was determined to have a Girl child and name her, "Samskruthy". She came 6 years later and has made the life a lot more meaningful and beautiful!
Luckily my wife too believed in one child norm. We agreed to stick to one child if our first born turned out to be a girl. We would have perhaps liked to have a second child if the first one were to be a boy. Since our daughter came 12 winters ago, we have been a contented lot. But this wasn't the case of a lot of relatives, friends and well-wishers.
Within one year of my daughter's arrival, people were asking questions about the boy. Well, you should have a boy after a girl, they said; two children are a must to complete a family. I used to ask them, "What if the second one too is a girl?". They would reply, "Well, that is fate!". Thanks Folks, but no thanks! I know some people who have gone on and on till they had a son, after four daughters! And this wasn't in 200 BC.
Not that I was averse to a second girl child. Girl, boy or a hermaphrodite; I just couldn't afford a second child. Or so I thought. People who had the first child around the same time as we, went ahead with a second child within a few years. And we went on dodging the queries.
I sometimes told people, "We are trying really hard. Don't you see I am taking holidays frequently and going to hill-stations and making an all-out effort? It is just not happening". Pat came the advice, "Both of you get check up. Your sperm count could be low". Wow, a Doctor was getting advice here! Small mercies!
As time passed, our Socioeconomic condition improved. We had our own home. We could afford a new Car. We were going on frequent short holidays. But the only thing lacking was a boy! If and when I took little boys on my laps, I heard people murmur, "They are yearning for a boy. Hard luck they just aren't getting one".
Well, it is twelfth year of hard luck. I still don't have the courage for a second child. Most of my colleagues and friends have two kids. Some have a girl and a boy, some have both boys and many others both girls. Somehow Doctors tend to have more girl children.
My friend K. N. Ramesh has a nice explanation why Doctors mostly have girl children. He said, "God knows these Doctor fellows will take wonderful care of Girls and hence he gives mostly Girls to them. I too am an HMT". HMT stands for "Hennu Makkala Thande" in Kannada, that is Father of Girl children!
Our adorable little one will be twelve this November. But the thrill of seeing her for the first time is still fresh with me. The invaluable feeling of "Wow, this is my own little Doll. No one will ever prevent me from cuddling her" is still lingering like the aroma of the earth after the first rains!
Only a few weeks short of forty, I still am badgered by people with, "It still isn't late, you can try for a second child". But why? Why should we have two children? "If you lose one child, touch wood, there will be another!". That is some logic!
Losing a child is a pain beyond words and I know parents who have lost two children and live a life of total despair. "You can't guarantee anything here. If you want guarantee, buy a washing machine" was a well quoted quotable quote. We don't live worrying about what we might lose, we live to relish and cherish what we have!
So I believed it was a correct decision to stick to one child. I know some of my colleagues who earn much lesser and still have two children and are still happy. Some of them have told me, 'Children will come and add to the family. The expenditure will not count much. We have managed with a fraction of what you earn!". They are right in their place.
I somehow tend to think the other way. It is true that love multiplies. You can never run out of love for your child. But just because you have a second child, your employers will not give you a hike. The facilities my daughter is enjoying now will have to be shared by two. Pregnancy, delivery and the associated costs and responsibilities have to be borne by us. With two sets of aged parents, this will not be a cakewalk.
Being a single child herself, my wife has done fabulously well to take care of both her parents and mine. We live very close to my in laws' place. We are doing our best to be of assistance to my Father in law suffering from Alzheimer's and a bewildered mother in law. With my parents, we have a pretty decent life with our daughter being the fulcrum of life for all of us.
A new life coming into this crowded set up looks extremely unlikely to us. Most importantly, the nice kid that she is; my daughter is not ready to share her father or mother. So we have outlived and outgrown all advises and sermons. When I look at some middle class people struggling to cope up with the cost of living, I pat myself on the back for being smart! I know some people who have had two kids in no time and find it tough to make ends meet.
Amar is a Nepali boy working as night watchman for my cousin. He does all and sundry chores for my cousin's family. He must be just about 25 years old. His wife is a frail and pale looking girl all of 18 years. She doesn't even understand Hindi. They have two kids, elder boy is two and a half and younger is already one. Due to difficulty in finding a house in Kochi he went to Nepal and left his wife and kids there.
Last month, he found out to his horror that 2 year old daughter of his friend succumbed to fever at his native place. He rushed back to his place and brought his wife and kids back to Kochi. When they landed to live at a place near our home, he came with just a bag, wife and two kids.
His wife was running fever. They had no bed to sleep, no vessels to cook and no bread to eat. Both the kids were sick. His elder child, once a bonny bundle of energy had become a mass of bones and very little else. Lesser said the better about his younger child. Practically, they had nothing to live in a place like Kochi; except those two rooms in a shared house given to him by my cousin.
This place is a dingy old house with many small rooms. Sindhu, my Father in law's Nurse lives in the other part of this house. Her husband, mother in law, grand mother and two boys complete her family. The day Amar landed with his family, Sindhu was overwhelmed by their plight.
She was lamenting about the pathetic situation of this Nepali family. I just joked, "No worries, they will manage to survive even in one room without a roof and no food to eat and with everyone running fever. They will still manage to beget two more children in next two years". Sindhu laughed but wasn't happy. That is the difference between me and her. I was really callous and am honestly ashamed of myself.
Sindhu went home, prepared food for the new family, fed the kids and their mother and gave some medicines for the fever. She helped them to clean the place, set up house and start life. This she did without understanding a single word uttered by the kids or the girl. Even those kids and the little Nepali girl didn't understand most of what was spoken by their savior.
But they understood that here was a genuine human being to help them tide over the crisis. The girl has recovered from the fever. She has started to look after the house. The kids are gradually becoming friends with Sindhu's kids.
They are kids and will learn quickly. Even Sindhu's dog has become friendly with these strange looking small eyed visitors. This dog has never liked me or my daughter and always tried to scare us off. I had warned Sindhu to keep the dog under control, lest it bite any of Amar's family. Perhaps the dog knows better!
I write this with utmost humility. It is ridiculously easy to help people when you are securely placed. You can donate huge amounts of money. You can build temples, schools or orphanages. If you are educated, you can scornfully look down upon lesser privileged people as ignorant, superstitious and silly. You can preach them to educate, to work hard and to be progressive.
It takes a heart of utmost goodness to help others when you have a million problems of your own. Sindhu and her family have shown exactly that. They are an extremely ritualistic lot with a million superstitions. But at the end of the day, they have helped a needy family to relocate, reorganize and start a home and a life!
The song mentioned in the beginning of this post perhaps means little to me and people like me. It is dedicated to people like Sindhu, who believe in God and believe in being good to others. It makes no difference if we believe in God or not, but it makes a big difference if we believe in Good! If there has to be a God, let Goodness be it!
This unforgettable movie with Kamal Hassan and Madhavan has left a deep impression on me. And I believe in this philosophy: Anbe Sivam!