Human mind is a complex and super-active machine that remains busy all the time. Sometimes, it stores your experiences in its memory box, whereas at other times, it helps you visualise a rosy picture of the things to come. Belying the twin concepts of time and space, it helps you live your past and future in the present. It also has the unique quality of weaving stories, some of which vanish as soon as created, while the rest stick. Anything and everything can become the subject of these stories — we, our dear ones, a scene, or a person around us.
Our thinking is coloured by our social attitudes. A rickshaw-puller, huffing and puffing while he pushes the pedal, makes you brood: “Poor thing, how hard he has to work!” He, however, carries on without care, to earn that extra buck that will go into buying medicine for an ailing parent; paying the school fee of children; or just putting food on the table. Lo! The story has even started.
But to think that that their lives are devoid of joy and glee may not always be correct. You can find that out, if you are able to read stories that go on inside their minds. This particular incident goes back to the late 1980s when my sons were small. We were in a busy market in Patiala, trying to cross a road choked with traffic, when someone tugged at my shirt. I turned and found a boy of 5, in a vest, knickers and rubber slippers too big for his feet; and girl of 3, his sister perhaps, in a frock.
I thought he would beg for money, but no (here my story went wrong). He said: “Auntie, sadak paar kra do (Help me cross the street)!” “How sweet!” I thought. We made a chain by holding hands, with the younger children in the middle and grownups at the sides. As we started, my mind came up with many stories: “Perhaps they have lost their way and a fretful is waiting for them at the door. Or she sent them for some purchases, and they lost the money; or perhaps they are running away from their drunkard father…”
All these stories were wrong. This young boy, who was looking at future with positivity; and for whom poverty was not a deterrent in the way of enjoying life as it came, was weaving his own story. As we were trying to cross the road, dodging the traffic, he spoke up: “Hutt kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi!”