My Muse, RajeshHe doesn’t seem to be lost in the longings and aches of yesterdays nor does he seem worried about what tomorrow might bring.
Though his stature doesn’t command immediate attention, when he speaks, his voice demands I listen. It’s a mellow voice that somehow asks to be listened to with deliberate, careful attention. I listen.
Surprisingly, in spite of his soft young voice, he doesn’t seem vague and lost in his thoughts. He doesn’t seem to drift in childish imagination too. He goes on to talk about his father. He is a determined young man. He knows he has to study and though his future seems bleak and uncertain in some ways, he knows he has to study hard to gain knowledge and secure his future.
Though he’s young, he is very aware of his time. This morning too, he says that he has limited time because he has to go home, warm his brunch and eat well before school. His mother will have already left for her job, by the time he reaches home, he adds. He rushes back home after a last minute pep talk for his ongoing mid-term exams.
Rajesh once shared a secret with me. He said, there were five weak students in his class. I felt a tinge of sadness in my heart.
I secretly hoped his teachers were aware of those give, who need extra care and a special push to elevate them to the rest of the class’s level. What surprises me most is how he takes for granted the fact that he is one of the “five lackadaisical boys in his class.” By the time he finished telling me, to me he seemed strangely comfortable in that position—part of what he calls the “Famous Five”.
I tell him he should try harder to succeed. Rajesh softly replies with a lacklustre, “Yes, it can be done”. My confidence in him drops by half. When he comes to my house early morning to study, he has a table and a chair to study and prepare for exams.
When he is with me, I see he lives in the present, with no connection with his past—especially the crude memories of his drunkard father. The harsh words his father used or the ones his mother uses to control him, his parents’ questions and their endless concerns wash away. Instead he enthusiastically talks to me about class-room activities, or his teachers’ instructions for how and what to prepare for exams. It delights me, and I say a little prayer for him and his future.
This boy, the son of my maid, is the best part of my morning. His efforts are considerable and he seems to have his eyes on passing his exams with good grades. Left to himself to do self study, he gazes into space and starts staring at the ceiling. He seems to be at ease and contented, as if to convey the message that if there is anything worthwhile in his life, it is here and now. “I have to learn this poem by heart for my Nepali exams,” he says.
What I find amazing in Rajesh, the hero of my story, is that he knows how to live in the present. He doesn’t seem to be lost in the longings and aches of yesterdays nor does he seem worried about what tomorrow might bring. Instead, he seems completely focused in the present and enjoy the moments it brings. His innocent smiles make my day, every day!
In my professional counselling sessions, I see adults give vague nods with confused expressions and ambiguous answers, which paints a dark picture of adult anxieties and mental frustrations.
What a sharp contrast they are to this 11-year-old boy, who looks at me in the eye with an adult’s maturity. In spite of the bitter experiences he’s had in life, due to an alcoholic father, he seems untouched, unaffected. Blissful. He has a positive outlook on life and his motto in life seems to be, “All is well and all will be well.”
For him, human predicaments are invisible. He is a liberated soul–completely unaware of his hidden, nasty powers and potential for self–destruction. Having seen so many children turn into disturbed, destructive human beings, I am concerned about his future. Maybe one day, this dear innocent creature will learn of the darker side of life and still accept them and look for direction. Perhaps he will come to me and ask me for meaning or the purpose of life.
Tomorrow the very innocent Rajesh will surely have many questions to ask. Who knows? He might meet people, not only his limited classmates or close relatives. He might have new experiences, he may develop his own ideas about things and life, desires, wants and needs.
Mass media is always walking side by side and the future is vast! Maybe he’ll travel to space! But, in the meantime, he is a happy and contented, he’s all set for mid-term exams and will pass with flying colours. He will put smiles on the faces of his coach, me, and his hard working and dutiful mother Radha, who toils to feed and clothe him. After all itwas her who taught him the value of a good education, but that it rests in his hands.
Seeing how she adapted to city life, working as a housemaid from house to house, is another story; one domestic worker in my house had once remarked, “Madam, Radha is a woman of strength, character and valour. In spite of all the troubles she has faced in life, owing to a non-supportive, abusive husband, she is managing her life and that of her children with finesse. She is my idea of what Mrs. Nepal should be.”
When I watch this son and mother duo enjoy their ‘here’ and ‘present’ life, it shows a story of adjustment and adaptation!
Maybe Rajesh is a quiet dreamer.
I believe man’s worth is not entirely dependent on what is given to him by his father, but by what he makes of himself. So, as Rajesh is growing up fast and dreams of being a policeman one day, I wish him the best in this life.
As for myself, I am blessed I came across him. I salute you, dear Rajesh, for being my daily inspiration.
I will continue to nurture him, and in as many ways as I can. I will encourage him to succeed in all things—big or small. I strongly believe his small successes will become a sum to add to his grand success some day.
His efforts directed by the sole aim of doing very well in his mid-term examination is a perfect message to me or to anyone who is a chronic worrier. The title of the book I’m presently reading is, Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy, written by Ajahn Brahm. Inspired by Rajesh, I am thinking, should it be changed to, ‘Don’t Worry Nor Be Grumpy’.