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  • Writer's pictureJSIA Bulletin


There is a rarity of cases in which the history of any individual's life is entertaining to read unless they contain a touch of admirable decisions with undertones of humility. Seldom I have found in my own life such examples that could be deemed worthy to be read by someone. Nevertheless, a memory sticks to the back of my mind - an assignment in school, the topic for which was writing about an inspiring figure in our lives and how they motivated our thoughts, decisions and actions.

For me, that was my maternal grandfather who started working at the tender age of 15 to support his family.

As I wrote, I imagined what it had been like for him. Waking up at the crack of dawn, putting on scruffy clothes, jumping on his bike and pedalling through the early, misty morning as the first rays of the sun kissed his bright, young cheeks. I wondered how he felt gazing upon the many happy faces with lonely eyes as he sold incense sticks to a family of four. Coming from a family that had squandered away its riches, I was fascinated by how he could let go of his pride and ego, and trudge down to the streets every day to fill the stomachs of those who continued to sleep in peace back home.

As the goosebumps set in while I wrote; so did the sweat. I wondered whether I was worthy of his sacrifices. He was a man, as I had known him since 1994, with an indomitable spirit but a hard and virtuous mind forged by the fires of his young life. And I remember having sown the roots of a thought that puzzled me then and continues to be elusive to me today.

How can a human being let go of their ego, especially when his past generations came from a family of some material wealth?

I remember how a tear rolled down my cheeks and wet the dried ink on my school register when a thought struck me like lightning on a rainy day. He, in his mind, had been able to strike the right balance between desperation and fear. Which then allowed him to cultivate an unshakable constitution.

So, as my fingers tried to conclude his story, I realised how his entire life had been the epitome of the human struggle. The constant battle between mind over matter. And if not then, maybe now, I realise that my life too is similar to his. For when people say that you must simply compete with yourself or anybody else, I wish not to compete but to at least live up to his standards. To ensure that when I leave this material form, I do so with the same grace as he did.

I do wish that I can tell all my family members and my friends that I consider my mind to be a whirlpool of every misdeed and every virtue that humans are associated with. From being someone who suffers from depression to getting addicted to material things and drugs, to finding my voice and realising my passion, I realised some time back that me being able to speak in a somewhat raw manner might help all those who feel the same find their voice too.

And so, I compete with my grandfather daily on a philosophical plane.

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