Ramakant alias Romu ran away from home, when he was just twelve because the school of his village dropped him like a hot potato. Out of all subjects in the class promotion test, he failed and his score in the subjects made him a laughing stock in the school. The jeering smiles on the faces of his other class-fellows and mostly when teachers fondly called him “Romu donkey”, made him decisive about fleeing away from his home because in the end, he thought his father would beat him black and blue.
Romu had no option but to go to the mega city- Calcutta. For the first time, he saw the milling crowd on the streets and lost his loneliness in the frantic rush of the town buses and trams. As he moved looking for jobs, he began with a series of odd jobs and finally ended up washing the vehicles, which carried wares from the other ends of India.
“Life only bestows you the best when you go through the worst. It gives you your so-called soul-search when you struggle like an insect. One the one hand, you see the cruel hand of destiny, on the other you get the healing touch of divinity”- Romu told me.
“Hmm”- I concurred, while listening to the travails of his life.
As Romu grew up on the streets of Calcutta, he lost his identity for people named him differently. He lost the count of his age for every year presented him with the need of searching for a new means for survival. People refused him jobs as he had stubbles on his face. They disallowed him entry inside their houses as they were afraid of his first feel of manliness.
Finally, one day he was disgusted with the never-ending vicissitudes of his life. One day he left the metropolitan city and came back to the serenity of his own state. He stayed for one year in a temple of Goddess Kali and worked as a caretaker. The temple’s administration made him work from the wee hours of morning till nine P.M. in the night. As every one slept, Romu looked on and on at the statue of mother and kept praying till sleep seized him. But like every other occasion, his job as a caretaker of the temple was also short-lived. The priest had his own plans to sack him and in his next job, he landed up in a dingy hotel as a boy to serve people with food and water and wash dishes.
He was starving and then one day he made up his mind to pull cycle-rickshaw. He lacked strength when more than three people insisted on sitting in his rickshaw. One day, his most dreaded nightmare turned up as he lost control of the rickshaw and one child fell from it and died on the spot.
Romu confessed to police that he lost control and was responsible for the mishap. He prayed to the divine mother to end his life. But then something unexpected took place. The father of the boy withdrew complaint from police and freed him from all legalities.
Romu was free again. As he again took up the job of rickshaw puller, he met another man, who gave him an auto-rickshaw and asked to pay him money as and when it was convenient for him.
Life took a U-turn from that day.
People were amazed to see him acquiring one after another auto-rickshaw. While he paid the man the money for the vehicle, who gave it to him without any documented evidence, he met another man. As he enquired, he came to know that he was a banker.
“Why do not you take another vehicle and rent it out”- The banker proposed. Gradually Romu bought nine auto-rickshaws and happy with the flow of income. He was wealthy.
In our conversation, he disclosed that his only son was a very good student. He was planning to send him to the elite college of engineering and management.
“If I was rich by the time he was born, I would have sent him to the best school of the place”-He lamented.
After some days, I saw Romu in a severe quarrel with a person. He was arguing. It would have got finished in a fisticuff. But I dislodged both of them from the apparent fight and sent the other person off.
As I queried from Romu, I was bewildered to see him frustrated once again. The blithe expression on his face was gone.
“I am feeling terrible due to pressure of my business. My blood-pressure is uncontrollable. Simple thing raises my hackle”- He said.
“I do not know the cause of this sudden change. There is trouble from every side”-He added.
I held his hand and made him sit on a slab of stone. He gulped the glass of water from my hand and sighed off in calm.
“Romu, do you know what’s wrong with humans”- I asked him?
“Just see this road before us. It was dilapidated when I rode my bike twenty years back. I thought, the miserable shape of it would be there forever. In fact, it remained like that for a long time. My bike jerked innumerable times as it fell in its holes”-I said.
“One day, I sat alongside this road and pondered over the Philosophic truth about the nature of every inanimate thing in the world. After a long period, work began and the road improved. Gradually it was turned in to a thoroughfare, with rows of plants along side it”-I added.
“Now the old road is gone. So like the story of your life, it is the truth of transformation. Every thing in the world would change. There is nothing to worry about misery and happiness. Transience would carry everything away. It is the tale of transformation”-I proceeded.
“But as humans, we make the mistake. We get carried away, when there is prosperity and begin making dreams and plans. Again when life alters its side, we react. But the non-living things are different. They remain in unconditional surrender to the almighty without reacting slightly. Just take the instance of the lifeless road”-I added.
“You need to accept the good and bad that your life bestows on you. But you do the opposite and always resist the change your life brings you. You forget your life and pleasure of living but keep on constructing plans and dreams. The outcome is tension”- I pleaded.
Romu listened to me with his mouth agape. His eyes moistened at the flow of my words. He rose and came over to hug me.
That was the last when we parted company.